In our latest band diary, we get Jonny Gill to talk us through On The Ropes‘ escapades during their recent mini-tour.
Friday, July 12 – Nerd Hutch, Newcastle
The day started like any other. My alarm went off, I got up and put on shirt and trousers and left the house for work. A tingle of anticipation was in the air. It was weekender weekend! 700 miles of travel over three days with some of my favourite people. What could be better?
The working day passed quicker than expected and it soon rolled round to 5pm. I got changed into more appropriate pop-punk attire, an outfit made entirely of pizza, filled up the car with petrol and we hit the road.
In Newcastle we were playing in the basement of Travelling Man. Some friends of mine work there/are strongly linked to the store and I knew from them that they had opened a DIY venue in the basement, called Nerd Hutch. When Jamie accidentally scored us a London gig for Saturday (see more later) and a message from a few weeks prior was responded to offering us a show in Sheffield on Sunday I thought heck, why not ask Jack Fallows if we can do Newcastle on Friday and make a weekend of it.
It took us about two hours to get to Newcastle and the journey was pretty uneventful, other than the obligatory Q&A sessions with band members in the car for the video diary. There was much laughter.
Jamie had treated himself to a couple of beers on the way. We got stuck in a small bit of traffic in the centre of Newcastle and Jamie was desperate for the toilet, so hopped out of the car and found a nice alleyway. We continued on our journey and found Travelling Man. What we couldn’t find, however, was somewhere to park. I rung Jack and he sent my buddy Joe Lowdon out to get in the car with us and guide us round. After a little circle we ended up right where we needed to be which, it turned out, was actually before the point Jamie had evacuated the car. Sorry Jamie…
We loaded our gear in and Alex made some comment about Travelling Man being scary in its geekiness. I pointed out to him that a, I spend most of my spare time in there and b, the venue is called Nerd Hutch and that he could have figured it out for himself.
Jack Fallows opened the show with an acoustic set under the name Sleepwalk. He played some songs that he plays in his band Skull Puppies (skullpuppies.bandcamp.com) and some that he had written that weren’t used in the band. Most of these non-SP songs had harmonica, which was nice. Jack is great. I brought Jack some Party Rings because he had shin splints from the Great North Run and was not having such a nice time.
Next up were XGETXREALX. They are a three-piece – if you count the drummer, which is a Game Boy – playing hardcore punk about lad culture, straight edge and skateboarding. They are great.
After they played, Joe and I went upstairs and played Magic: The Gathering. Note: Other card games are available. I lost both games.
We went downstairs and watched the last of the bands that weren’t us, called The Lovely Wife. They were a two piece consisting of a bass plugged into two amps and a drummer. Their sets are completely improvised 30 minute facemelters. You should definitely go check them out live. The bonus is, you can never get bored of their songs because they are always different. They were great.
We got ready to play and I decided, due to the nice carpeted floor, that I was going to play in socks. Best decision of my life. We jumped around a lot. Other people jumped around a bit and people nodded their heads and such. It was a great show and everybody was really nice. Some people we didn’t know took some pictures of us and sent us them later. We had completely changed the setlist around for the tour, which was nice. Kept it fresh.
People were kind enough to donate some money – it was a free entry show, and everybody went home with something. The drive home was pretty quiet and nice. I got in with enough time for six-and-a-half-hours sleep before driving to London in the morning.
Saturday, July 13 – The Fiddler’s Elbow, Camden, London
Six-and-a-half hours later and I was awake. I got up and got ready. When getting dressed I noticed that I had bruised my chest – which is common when I play, I hit myself with the microphone a lot, but this time was special. I also had a nice mark from the microphone grill. Clearly I had gone too hard in Newcastle.
I picked everyone up from different points and we set off to the M1. We passed a sign saying “15 people ran out of petrol in August”. I got annoyed at them for not stopping to fill up, then anytime anyone annoyed me while driving I hoped they would run out of petrol too. One woman was driving at 60mph in the outside lane for no reason, so I gave her a thumbs down when I was next to her and she sped up to about 80. That worked then.
It was pretty smooth sailing and once the satnav said there was less than two hours left on the journey, we stopped for a coffee at a services. It was pleasant.
We got back to the car and set the sat-nav up again. Suddenly the time had jumped from under two hours to nearly three. I was confused but just carried on. We were still going to get there with enough time to look around Camden Market so we were happy.
We drove for about 20 minutes more down the M1 and I looked at the sat-nav again and it had changed to 3 hours and 15 minutes. After a bit of poke around on the screen we found an alternate route via the A14 and headed that way. It turned out there had been a pretty major crash.
We arrived in London at about 3.30pm. We saw the venue and thought, that looks nice, then turned round the corner and saw lots of people queueing outside. “WE’VE MADE IT!” we thought, but then found out there was a rap battle going on inside the venue during the day. We probably should have realised they didn’t look like pop-punk fans.
We parked the car up and headed to Camden Market, foolishly leaving all the gear in plain view of any passing opportunists. One of the first stalls that we happened across had something that I wanted to get for my girlfriend’s birthday on Wednesday. We stood talking to the lady who ran the stall for a while, who was lovely, and said we would come back later. She probably thought we weren’t going to.
We wandered around some more and I picked up a few more gifts for the aforementioned birthday. Camden is fab. I found my way to what I had been looking forward to most: Cookies and Scream. It’s a vegan cookie and ice cream bar. I got a double chocolate chip ice cream sandwich and it was great. They had a leaderboard up for a food challenge they do and in fourth place was Liam Cormier from Cancer Bats. That was cool.
Craig and I headed back to the first stall to pick up the things we wanted and the lady asked if we had had a nice afternoon, and where we were from. We told her we were from York and had come down to play at the Fiddler’s Elbow. She told us that was a stone’s throw from her flat and that she would come watch us later. We probably thought she wasn’t going to.
We headed back to the venue and our friends One Way Street from York had shown up. A band dropped out so I managed to get them on the bill, which was nice for everyone. We loaded our stuff in and then I headed back to the market with Tarryn and Jake from OWS for some food. I got a lot of Chinese food for £3 as they were getting ready to close. Jonny – 1, having to spend lots of money on food – 0.
We headed back and sound-checked. It sounded great and we were looking forward to playing, though my voice was a little croaky from the night before. Halls extra strong and water to the rescue.
Some friends of mine and some friends of Alex’s turned up, which was lovely. My friend Jade came, who I haven’t seen since school and now lives in London, which was nice. We had to get 10 people to show up for us to get paid, and as our set time got closer and closer we figured we weren’t going to, as currently only seven people had come for us.
The first band started to play. They were called Tortuga. They were essentially a hardcore band but without any vocals. They put a lot of energy into their performance though and were pretty cool.
One Way Street were on next. They’re always fab. Jade marvelled at Jake’s drumming skills.
We got our stuff on stage and had 10 minutes to spare, when who should walk in but the lady from the market! Craig and I were chuffed to bits. She was lovely. I asked her name and she told me it was Hanlon Lawrie (which I would later discuss the origins of with her), or H for short.
We went on stage and played the best show of the weekend. We all had so much fun and people were joining in with banter between songs and clapping along to the right bits in the songs. It was one of the nicest shows we have played as a band, I think. We also found out that for some unknown reason, Alex’s friends call him “T”. That one’s gonna stick.
We all came off on a high and handed out some CDs and stickers to people who wanted them. An old man took a CD and told me “I may be 74 but I appreciate good music, and that was bloody good music”. What a diamond. He then paid us a pound for the usually free CD.
The last band, Caught In A Crossfire came on and were great. They were like New Found Glory meets the Offspring. Lots of fun and energy. The previously mentioned older gentleman was dancing along to them. I hoped he had been doing the same for us.
We chatted to people and said our goodbyes. The promoter, Pola, came over to us and said it was a great set. I expected her to say “Sorry, but you didn’t have enough people to get paid”. Instead, she told us we had exactly 10 people pay in, so gave us our £30. I don’t know how that happened, as I counted 8, but we were very grateful for what would quickly turn into petrol.
H helped us carry our stuff to the car as, she said, we were probably parked down her street. As it happened, we were parked right outside her block of flats. She doesn’t use Facebook, so we gave traded our email addresses and hit the road.
We spotted a burger bar called Spielburger which gave us a few laughs. Craig mentioned the word “stiffy” which put us in fits of 15-year-old hysterics and Alex let out a weird cackle that completely finished us all off.
Kiel stayed awake in the front seat with me while everyone snoozed in the back – thanks for being a great wingman, K-money. After a couple of hours I stopped for a coffee and then carried on home. I crawled into bed sometime after 5.
Sunday, July 14 – South Sea Live, Sheffield
I got up about half 10 and spared a thought for Craig who had already been at work for half an hour – for my opinion of him, listen to them below. I had agreed to provide my speakers to a friend’s daughter’s birthday party so headed there for 1 (after a Linda McCartney sausage sandwich and an episode of House, obviously).
I got home from there at 5 and had a 15 minute nap before heading out to pick everyone up. We were all exhausted but looking forward to another show. We arrived at the venue, parked up and loaded in. Owen, the promoter, was also in the two other bands playing. He said it had been difficult finding other bands to play and that he filtered through the bands asking for shows in his messages and found us, which was nice to hear.
They were playing Neck Deep, Real Friends and Alkaline Trio out over the PA. Jamie and I discussed how we pretty much felt like we were at home.
We played some doubles pool while Craig was on the phone. I can’t tell you the outcome, as it will ruin the tour video. It was pretty tense.
We went to a takeaway around the corner and got some food. Jamie asked for chips and cheese. They brought it out and it was chips with some weird cheese sauce on. Jamie asked if they had any proper cheese and the guy got annoyed and said that he “should have asked for grated cheese”. It was weird.
Sleepy Eyes were first up and played pretty upbeat pop punk stuff with some posi-breakdowns. They were great.
We were up next. We were all very tired from the past couple of days but still went super hard. If we ever give less than 100% we feel like it isn’t worth playing at all. My voice held out, just about, bar a couple of squeaks when I was talking. Soothers are my friend.
We loaded the car up and came back inside to watch the headliners, Fierce Morgan. Hope and, as mentioned, Owen, were both also in Sleepy Eyes. I imagined they were pretty tired. They were a rock/pop-punk band and had some fab vocal harmonies. They were great.
We handed out some free CDs and Owen went round collecting donations from people for us for some petrol money. He was very nice. We all said we should sort some more shows out some time. It was nice.
We headed back, dropping Alex in Church Fenton on the way (hit me up if you want his address). Everyone said what a great time it had been. I made it back, made some toast and, once again, crawled into bed.
On The Ropes are:
Jamie Paddock – Lead Guitar/Backing Vocals
Kiel Hodgson – Rhythm Guitar
Craig Hodge – Bass/Backing Vocals
Alex Laine – Drums
Jonny Gill – Vocals