The four of us, Sahil - our keys player for the night and Silky, literally seconds before stage time at the 100 Club. Battle Cry was playing while this pic was being taken... Honestly, I'm exhausted. Completely mind, body & soul bollocks'd. You would have known if you've listened to the episode of Silky's podcast 'Lifer Musician' where I mention I can have a tendency to immerse myself to the point of complete and utter obsession in whatever it is that has my attention at that time. At the moment it's our first ever headline tour which kicks off next March, but we'll get to that later. This year has been mental. In March we went on tour with Death of Guitar Pop for 7 dates and I've gotta say, it was an absolute blast! We hired this splitter van off Ellis's old man (Ellis works for Hookings management), it's basically a Mercedes Sprinter with 6 seats, a fridge and a tele thrown in the back with some room for our instruments. Well, the wasn't 'thrown' in the back, Ellis's dad, John done a bloody stellar job on that thing and it made us feel like proper rock stars tearing around the country in it. The night before the second gig at The Cluny in Newcastle, I went to go and pick it up from Buckhurst Hill I think, I could be wrong about that but over that part of Essex anyway. We had a fridge!! What an absolute touch I thought to myself, as the 18 year old still in me somewhere came racing to the surface. I drove home with a boyish excitement thinking of the tour as part work, and partly 15 lads and a few lasses traveling round the U.K. on right old jolly up. Well, this fridge which was by far my favourite part of this impeccable vehicle combined with my brain which can be like a bit of Swiss cheese sometimes, didn't get us off to the greatest of starts. When John was showing me all the gadgets and toys the van had, his final words to me were "make sure the fridge and the tele is turned off when you park or it'll drain the battery lively!" We (I'm happy to share the blame) forget to turn the fridge off before I parked it up for the night. So when the boys turned up at mine, loaded the van and were ready to hit the road, we had less battery in the van than an iPhone 6 belonging to a social media troll at 10 o'clock at night. Absolutely zilch! Thankfully Keano being the hands on, practical geezer that he is rescued us with some jump leads and 2 hours behind schedule, we were on our way!
Lunchtime at one of the many, many service stations we hit while on the road... As I mentioned, the tour was amazing! Being on the road playing to sold out venues with your mates is a dream come true. One particular night stands out for me which was after our gig in Glasgow at the Classic Grand. Myself, Laura, Andy, TopKat & his brothers, Hammerhands, Keano, Silky & Topkats dads and a few others ended up in some plush bar/club called Corinthians, Silky's old man was ordering buckets of beer like you've never seen with seemingly endless bottles of Moet. We were absolutely shit faced! I remember walking back to where everyone was plotted up from a trip to the bog, upon my return Laura said to me (only in the way your significant other can) "why you walking around like your Charlie big potatoes? Walk normally". Apparently I was leaning back as I was walking but I swiftly made her aware that if I attempted to walk normally I'd hit the deck in under 5 seconds, I was just trying to hold it together and keep my balance. If I had to pick a favourite show supporting Death of Guitar Pop I think I'd have to say either Manchester or London. Although us and DOGP have a lot of mutual fans, as the support band you're never sure as to how you'll go down with the fans of the headliners. There's fans of ska who are open to other kinds of bands and genres, and there's the hardcores. The hardcores you're not winning over as a mod band for love nor money, so the more hardcores DOGP attracted on any given night, the harder our support slot was. One of our dear fan club members Paul Hayes uploaded a video of us playing Lucky Day at The Garage while he was mid conversation with one of the hardcores. It was hilarious because this dude Paul was chatting to obviously wasn't feeling us but he was at least diplomatic enough to say 'these are alright (downward tonality), mods not my thing', but the reason London and Manchester were my favourite were because the place was absolutely rammed for our set which as long as you can win the crowd over (which I think we did on both nights), makes for an electric atmosphere. Actually, thinking about it, Sheffield was just as good. Ah fuck it you know what, the whole tour was the bollocks, END OF! Lots of alcohol, endless laughing, a few after parties and all shared with your nearest and dearest, lovely jubbly! In amongst the chaos of being on tour, we released our second studio album The Day the World Stood Still on the 31st March. I personally thought this was a step up from 6:36 to Liverpool Street though my opinion doesn't matter, what matters is what the fans think. I'd been bigging it up in the lead up to it's release because I was adamant it was a better album. Of course though, the night before release day and all sorts of thoughts are running through my head. Thoughts of doubt and second guessing myself and what the fans might think. I think it's fair to say that most who've listened to it would agree it's a more accomplished record, that's not to say 6:36 isn't at all accomplished, it's just I was 23/24 when I wrote 6:36 and 31/32 when I wrote TDTWSS. Anyway, aside from the manufacturer who's turned out to be a grade 'A' wanker, informing us that the vinyl copies would be delayed, the album went down a storm much to our delight. The following night after the end of DOGP's tour was our own sold out headline show at the 100 Club in London. I'd been pretty relaxed about our gigs with DOGP thought the tour, I always know that I'm gonna give it everything I've got so the performing aspect of it never bothers me, my biggest fear is tripping up a jack lead or accidentally head butting the mic, I felt quite nervous about this though even though at the time I'd never have admitted it. It was a first for me as it was for the other lads, playing a sold out headline show at such a prestigious venue. A lot of my friends and family were there, but moreover a lot of Block 33 fans who hadn't seen the band live yet, we had to deliver!
In my opinion, we did. It was an amazing night and one none of us will ever forget. Let's hope our gig next year at The Camden Underworld is as good or can even surpass it! To hear 400 odd people singing those songs that I'd written in my old room at my mum & dads like their lives depended on it was unreal. Seriously though, it was unreal!!! I remember going in to the kitchen with Eye of the Hurricane in its infancy saying to my old man "let me play you this tune I've just written", now there's hundreds of geezers arm in arm or with their clenched fists in the air singing it back to me. Mental. Once the tour and the 100 Club gig was over, there wasn't too long before festival season started. BABY I'M READY TO GO!!
I had to be a fanboy and get a picture with Saffron from Republica at Sign of the Times. I loved her music in the 90's and now we're smack bang next to each other on a festival bill 25 years later.
In amongst the tour and these festivals were days off work to do the gigs, bank holidays, stag do's, weddings abroad, diamond jubilees, pre booked holidays and bloody all sorts. Jamie and I are self employed, it's now June and we're skint! We'd been just about keeping our heads above water due to so much time off work all year so far, We said to each other that come June and all the bank holidays etc are out the way we'd hit the day job like a couple of raging bulls charging at a red flag. So that's exactly what we did. Festival season was now in full swing and we had slots at Stone Valley north in County Durham, Kubix in Sunderland, Doon The Watter in Scotland, This is the Modern World in Brighton, Isle of Wight Scooter Rally and I'm sure there's another one or two that have slipped my mind, the whole summer's a bit of a blur. That's a lot of travelling on top of already an average of 750 miles a week at work. Now let's make one thing crystal clear, I'm not looking for you to play me the worlds smallest violin by telling you this, but simply giving you an insight in to the ups, downs, lefts and rights of being in a DIY band. As exhausting as it all was we had such an amazing time, getting out and about playing gigs in towns, cities and places you may not have otherwise gone to, meeting the fans from around the country that bother to turn up and buy our merch is something I'm sure that will always make me feel alive and more importantly, happy and fulfilled. I think that pretty much brings us up to where we are now which is Tuesday 20th September, the day after our beautful Queen was laid to rest. The 20's hey? Fuck me gently, can you believe this decade so far? A global pandemic which literally shut down the entire planet, an inflation rate not seen for 4/5 decades, a war between Russia and Ukraine which let's face it, could turn in to a world war on any given day (sorry to be so morbid but it's true), then the Queen dies. Politically and economically things aren't great at the moment but I really hope you as you're reading this are in a good place, or as good as can be. Life's short and fragile man and it's too precious to be anything other than happy. I know that can be easier said than done but if you're reading this then you're likely a music fan, hopefully you're so immersed in the bands and artists you like that this global shit show isn't derailing you in anyway. As I said at the beginning of this blog, I'm fucking knackered! I feel like I could do with going to one of them retreats where you sit there in a group with other knackered people, just be knackered together for a week or so eating good nutritious food, drinking nothing but water and sleeping for 9 hours a night (my average is 6 hours 30 according to my fitbit) and do everything else possible to unknacker ourselves before we inevitably return to the mundanity of every day life in a continent fuelled by capitalism... Ahh who am I kidding? I'd only be sat there in amongst a group of extremely tired hippies, frantically trying to figure out why the Sheffield ad for the tour sells more tickets on week 2 of the month when Manchester is week 3. Just in case you weren't aware, we're going on tour next March/April. We're coming to Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Glasgow, Sheffield, Aberdare, London & Southampton, you can get tickets here. Anyway, like I said, I'm obsessed! Obsessed with the growth and success of this band to the point of lunacy and for that I'm thankful! Thankful to my folks for allowing me to find my own way and passion in life, thankful to Silky for nurturing it and thankful to my darling Laura for putting up with it. Over and out! Love as always... Dan x