Our heroes have been up, down and round and round this fair isle for the last couple of weeks. Now, after a foray North to Edinburgh and back down to Newcastle, the dust briefly begins to settle as the jaunt has a two day break.
Hundreds of miles from home and 48 hours from the next gig in Norwich, Ruts DC take stock. Here, living breathing Ruts DC guitar-hero Leigh Heggarty shares his experiences of the, er, glamour of life on the road with The Damned. Meanwhile, regular correspondent Segs Jennings tips back his hat, scratches his head and wonders what the next 48 hours might bring…
Have you ever seen The Prisoner? Of course you have. You know the opening sequence where Patrick McGoohan/number 6 wakes up in what he thinks is his home but then looks out of the windows and discovers that he’s somewhere that he doesn’t recognise? Well I know how he feels…
As you may be aware Ruts D.C. are currently supporting The Damned on their U.K. tour. We’ve been travelling on two tour bus (us and the crew on one, The Damned and co. on the other) with 12 bunk beds on each. We generally leave the venue at 2 am and travel through the night – meaning that you wake up somewhere new each day. To begin with I found this rather disorientating, but it’s amazing how quickly you adapt to it. Well, I’ve found that I’ve adapted quickly, to the extent that as I write this I’m wondering how I’m going to return to a ‘normal’ life. Mind you, I don’t really have a normal life, so I think I’ll stop wondering how I’m going to return to it… but a few people have asked me how this touring lark all works, so I thought I’d have a go at writing about it here. The day generally goes something like this :-
Wake up. That’s a relief, as it means that we got there in one piece.
Clamber out of the bunk and attempt to find your clothes. They’re exactly where you left them last night, but where was that? You could do with a bit more light sometimes; well I certainly could – either that or I need to get some glasses that I can actually see though instead of the ones that I’ve currently got.
Time for some breakfast. This generally involves stumbling into town (I’ve often teamed up with Captain Sensible’s guitar tech Jon) and trying to find some food that you like the look of and, maybe more importantly, can afford. As a namby pamby poncey vegetarian this often means that I eat too many eggs (and we all know what that can cause now don’t we children?) and/or beans on toast (and you know what that can cause too…) Hardly the end of the world, but you do find yourself wishing for something different sometimes. Still there’s always the porridge at Yates’s – which reminds me, have you ever noticed how many of the young ladies who work behind the bar in Yates’s have tattoos on their hands? You haven’t? Maybe it’s just me.
With load-in due at one o’clock most afternoons you then (depending on what time you got up of course) have a choice. I generally try to have a look a round town (is there a guitar shop? There go the wages!) as it’s nice to get an idea about where you are, and then see if the venue is open; there’s no shower on the bus but there’s usually one somewhere backstage. I generally try to have one as soon as I can – there are a lot of people in the buses, and most if not all of them will want to use it at some point. In the meantime you can read, go back to sleep, make phone calls, catch up on emails, try to write a song, have some more food, hurry up and wait…
The Damned soundcheck usually starts at 4pm. I tend to check my guitar and equipment around this time, and if necessary change the strings (perhaps it would be better to do that earlier the day Leigh, it might stay in tune better during the show?) as well as checking that all the leads on my pedal board are plugged in and in good shape. Our soundcheck is at half past five so I’ve got a fair bit of time to check things over, which is good as you don’t want things going wrong during the show. We’ve been going on between 7.45 and 8pm each night, so after the soundcheck is over there’s time to get changed for the show (if you’re getting changed for the show) and work a set out, unless we’re playing the same one as the previous show. I’m pleased to say that the gigs have been going really well for us, and after in-ear monitor problems somewhat scuppered their first show of the tour in Bristol, The Damned have been on top form with the shows getting better and better. I’ve always been a big fan, and this tour has done nothing to change that. Nice chaps too.
After their set I generally find myself behind the merchandise stall; Dave, Segs and Molara have been joining me to sign stuff and talk to people, and sometimes Captain Sensible shows up too. Good fun. Meanwhile the crew (Martin, Jon, Alex and Todd) put the gear away and into the respective tour buses and trailer, then if there’s a local hostelry open it’s time for a drink or two. And why not?
2 am and the buses leave for the next venue. Time for some sleep before the theme from ‘The Prisoner’ plays again…
Leigh has kindly sent us some photos of the kind of opulence he’s getting used to on the Ruts DC magic bus, all three of which can be seen on the right…
Day… er… whatever…
A day off in newcastle with Alabama 3
Hello again from The Damned tour where are certainly on the last leg although most definitely NOT on our last legs !
After another well received gig at the Newcastle Academy, we had 2 days off in Newcastle… what were we to do? Some returned home, some to visit friends, some went with the bus to Whitley Bay ice rink (yes, really) where it would stay limply for a total of 45 hours. Nik and I went with it as we planned to stay in the area. There’s a reason for this.
Some of you may know that for the last 15 (or more) years I have played bass, produced, toured and played at too many funerals with acid house/country cowboys, Alabama 3. It was with regret that when they announced their current UK tour I had to inform them that I was already booked to take up my position as singer and bassman in Ruts DC. They took it on the chin and, bless ’em, they wished me the best. It’s not the first time I’ve left their ranks to pursue other paths.
So, where’s all this leading ?
It so happens that on my day off…. Alabama 3 are playing Newcastle… so I ring Larry Love (one of the two way out front men and lyricist for A3.) “Good evening Mr Jennings” the gravel voiced singer of The Sopranos answers, “What’s happening?”
“Wicked!” He shouts when I tell him I’m going to be in Newcastle for their gig. “You gotta come down and play, we been missing you, you old ….”
To be continued …
All words by members of Ruts DC. This feature was sourced by Philip Thompson. More writing by Phil on Louder Than War can be found here and you can follow Phil on Twitter and check out his band Bug at their website. – See more at: https://louderthanwar.com/ruts-dc-tour-diary-part-6/#sthash.PFRCSycr.dpuf