Posted on Mar 21st, 2017 in Uncategorized
After a Christmas break we found ourselves back out on the road in February. These shows were just weekend gigs in Finland (and one in Wales – more about that later) which meant that those of us in close enough proximity got to go home during the week – Sorry Steve! At the end of last year we made some behind-the-scenes changes and this run of shows was our first one with the new team in place and I think the changes were palpable; a happier band and crew makes for better shows and we had a lot of fun on this run!
It’s been over a year since Blackout States came out and so we’ve been trying to shake up the set and keep things interesting. Some lesser-heard Demolition 23 songs and Nights Are So Long from the album of the same name creeped their way back into the set list. Back to Mystery City re-emerged as well. And as the sets evolved we incorporated a bit of Open Your Eyes by the Lords Of The New Church (one of mine and Michael’s all-time favourite bands) into the breakdown of You Crucified Me. I love that we can adapt and change the set as it goes, letting ideas take on a life of their own – it ain’t always perfect but it keeps things fresh and interesting and (most importantly) real. In that spirit, as we finished up with a couple of shows in Lapland we closed out the final show in Rovaniemi by blowing the dust off of our cover of 1970 by The Stooges – a decision that we made after playing the last song and before coming on for the encore. We were flying by the seat of our pants but it was a lot of fun and I think the energy carried off the stage and into the crowd.
Since then we’ve been writing and working on new songs in anticipation of making a new record. I had a creative blast late last year and wrote 9 new songs for the band in quick succession. Steve and I have been working on a lot of ideas as well and he came out to Berlin last month where we got 2 more together. Although we haven’t focussed exclusively on writing yet, I feel like the new stuff is really strong and diverse and we’re already looking at a great record before we’ve even started!
Speaking of new songs, we went into the studio in Helsinki in February to record one of the new ones that I wrote last year, called One Foot Outta The Grave. It’s set to be the single from Michael’s upcoming ‘Best Of’ album and we’ll be debuting it live on The Voice Of Finland on April 7th. We recorded it with Petri Majuri who’s mixed everything that the band has released since Sensory Overdrive and he did a fantastic job. I’m really proud of this one, musically and lyrically, and I’m excited for everyone to hear it!
In between shows I made a couple of pitstops over in the UK. Firstly, Scott Sorry and Role Models had a UK tour together so I had to make it over to see a show and hang out. Scott is one of my oldest and best friends since we lived together in Los Angeles in the early 2000’s. We’ve been through a TON of goofball shit together and both came out the other side relatively unscathed so there was no way I was gonna miss a chance to hook up with him. On top of that, he’s made one of my favourite records of last year (When We Were Kings) so between him and Role Models this promised to be a killer night of music. Speaking of Role Models, frontman Rich Rags is another of my closest friends who also made one of my favourite records of last year, Forest Lawn (which has 3 Monroes on it with appearances by me, Steve and Yaffa). Do yourself a favour and take a few minutes to go on Youtube and check ’em both out. I tell ya, it’s hard being friends with talented bastards like this. It really keeps me on my toes when I’m writing songs!
So it was a quick trip from Turku to York to see these guys blow the roof off of a small pub on the outskirts of town. As it turned out, this was the place to be on a Sunday night and we had a small rock & roll family reunion with Scott, CJ & Ritch from The Wildhearts, Victoria Liedtke, Roger Segal and more friends than I have time or space for here.
Then it was back to Finland and before I knew it I was getting on yet another flight to the UK, this time for a wedding in London. I was honoured to be one of the best men at my cousin John Dawkins’ wedding at the beginning of March… which turned out to be the same day that the band was scheduled to play at Hard Rock Hell. But family comes first and after batting around a bunch of ideas for someone to stand in for me the guys decided to play the festival as a 4-piece. By all accounts they were the band of the weekend, but I’m sure it can’t have been that good. 😉 So while they were smashing up a welsh holiday resort (and Sami was buying himself a 4-foot inflatable leek), I was watching my cousin tie the knot and nervously hoping I didn’t mess up my speech later. As it turned out, I did pretty well and got a few really good burns in, as is tradition. I also felt pretty good about being the only person whose speech didn’t have jokes lifted directly from a certain ‘Best Man’s Speech’ website (believe me, I looked and I was tempted). *coughs loudly*. The party afterwards was great, and even featured Neville Staples from The Specials getting up onstage for a few songs. That’s a wedding band that’s gonna take some beating!
So now I’m back home in Berlin for 2 months off. I’m going to be spending this time working with Michael on the artwork for the Best Of album, writing and recording new songs for the next album, and doing design for a couple of other bands. If you get a second, check out the new work on the portfolio page of this here website to see what I do when I’m not playing with the band.
So that’s it for now… I’ll see you in the summer!