To start off any successful stint in North America it is key to be fully rehearsed and prepped. Another plan is to fall off a bin and land via a railing as Elis did a mere 4 days before our flights to Austin. Cue a series of hospital visits/panics/concerns/phonecalls. My oh my (he’s fine now by the way, got a wee bit of surgery). Our dear friends 3epkano thankfully don’t mind us poaching their drummer James for the trip- so lllaasssttt minute rehearsals involving re-learning of the songs, then it’s Dublin Airport.
We fly first to Chicago and get greeted by an American dressed as a leprechaun as we disembark the plane – it was of course St. Patricks day. We have many hours to kill until our flight to Austin, so the very first port of call is to get a photo with the Japanese Army (they also were lads on tour). American Airlines very kindly dont rape us on baggage costs, but then do delay our biggest bit of equipment by a day – saved us getting a taxi with it I guess. Speaking of taxis: Myself (brian), Paul and James get the most hiphop taxi driver who plays us some insane music which covers the topics of both rimming and pre-rimming inspection. Arrive at our hotel in Austin and we attempt to find beer for about 10 minutes then give up.
Start our day with a trip to the Denny’s, which is a stone’s throw from our hotel (which is quite fancy for a band of our scruffy demeanour). Our breakfasts arrive which of course are insane in size – learn not to order ‘grits’ again as they look like a bathroom tile. We take a very sunny walk down to the convention centre and learnt this is where we get free stuff – most importantly free beer. It begins.
First show of this trip (well I say ‘show’ but…) was a wee slot in a rather scenic TGI fridays which overlooked the famous bat bridge. This show consisted of Tim and a laptop with either Paul, Frankie or myself getting up to do some ‘solidarity brother’ glock. We miss the thousands of bats flying up from the bridge out the window as this happens during Tim’s Portishead cover. We then eat in said eatery and get a bit drunk and decide to go and bring the gear to the hotel so we can go party. Outside I (jokingly) dare Paul to ask two guys who were in a pickup truck for a lift back to our hotel. Paul drops the ‘We’re Irish we’ve never seen one of these‘, and happy days – they agree. So Paul, Frankie, James & Myself jump in the open back part with boyish/drunken glee and begin our journey. The first 10 minutes were us giggling away at being driven through the great city of Austin, open-aired (and also highly illegal), “Lads on tour!” etc. Then we see the driver is passing our hotel. Oh.
They must be waiting for the correct turn (as we were now bombing on the interstate) they must be?!. 5 confused minutes pass, then the fear creeps in…..where are we going?? “Ok…if they turn left here we’re not getting raped”. “James you bang on the window..go on”. It was getting darker as we were very much leaving the city and we were still going full speed. Just before we could put our “if this truck stops we fucking run” plan into motion they pull into a hotel. This is the problem with franchising folks…it leads to 15 minutes of rape fear. We said ‘The Double Tree Hotel by the Denny’s” – they kindly drove us, albeit to the wrong one. Safe as. They drove us back to our actual hotel, the whole while laughing at us thinking they were the cast of deliverance. End up going drinking with them in the hotel bar…funny thing is the driver was a rep from fender, nice bloke. Lads on Tour.
Next morning we wake at an ungodly hour and stroll into town to play our first proper show in B.D. Reily’s on 6th – its the MFI showcase gig. Frankie unleashes his hairy ‘V’. We get a nice Irish breakfast in there and see lots of familiar pale Irish faces. Given the frantic change-over times we decide to play only 2 songs which went pretty well save for me clocking Frankie square in the face with the headstock of my guitar. Sorry Frankie.
Catch Conor/Villagers set which is wonderful, the megaloud Butterfly Explosion and the wonderful Lost Brothers. We then leave as Paul dances to/for the Dirty Epics over their shoulders while holding their CD. Next show that day was the 18th floor of the Austin Hilton. Amazing, amazing view and scenery from the stage but not many folk in the crowd. Ah well, time to get drunk so. Four Jaegerbombs in ten minutes to kick it off then down to the artists bar for millions of drinking. Impersonations of Sarah Connor in Terminator 2 lead to Paul getting topless (this will be a reoccurring theme). I steal a tiny Texas flag for no real reason. Back on the streets, and myself and topless Paul go for some arrogant street dancing. The lads go home and myself and two butterfly exploders decide to get on a random schoolbus full of strangers which is going to some party (you think I would have learned something from the pickup truck!). Drive 40 minutes outside of Austin City to the countryside where a hiphop producer called Mr Starcity greets us. Hrmmm. He lives in a mansion and has a cool converted barn. Drink some more and play/lose pool to some nice women. 6am…Time for bed methinks.
The sun has gone in, its cold, so cold. Go to Denny’s for a heartattack breakfast. Load up the gear and get kinda lost whilst trying to find our venue. Today’s show is an unofficial SXSW party at the Austin City Limits in a place called ‘The Hole In The Wall’. If you ever go to Austin, visit this place. The barman Dennis (beard, dungarees, cowboy hat) welcomes us with free drinks (a double whiskey for James) and turns out to be a lovely bloke “ehhh my irish friends!“. It’s great when the barman gets drunk at lunchtime. Bad weather delays our set which isn’t a bad thing as we get our ‘hair of the dog’ on with the jaegerfriends. We get invited to a taping of Austin City Limits across the street and myself and Frankie get as far as the studio door before being summoned back for soundcheck. The show goes well (though for the opener ‘enemies’ my fingers were numb so there was no playing for me in verse 2). Paul ends the set as winner in the volume war. Get food next door in a burger place. Tim’s cup smells funny, he informs an employee, cut to the employee handing Tim a variety of cups for smelling. Smell the cup. Stay in HITW for some more beers then decide some modest ‘last night in Austin’ drinks on 6th would be fun. Since the artist bar wasn’t opening for an hour we went into a few places for some jaeger (went to ‘coyote ugly’, which was surreal in its own way). Meet up with Conor boy in the Artist’s place and abandon all plans for a sensible night and drink like cheap irish bastards. Paul gets topless (again). In this area there is a video booth to record messages and email them to people so this was the perfect place to debut the halves/villagers collaboration we’ve been keeping so secret. Whitney Houston’s ‘The Bodyguard’, Macy Gray’s ‘I tryyyy and sayyy goodbyyye and I chookkke’, and of course 2Unlimited. Go to bed. Wake up at ridiculous-o-clock and go to the airport. Funtimes in Austin. Thanks to James for his trans-atlantic drumming and drinking, Edel for standing in on some vocals/melodica, and the folks at MFI.