Well, here it is, the final instalment of Winterpark Tour ’07. I write this from home, sitting on the couch watching Lost in Translation, because my intentions of writing on the plane-trip home from Tokyo were thwarted by an unexpected bout of sleep! who would have thought it? sleeping on a plane?! unheard of.

So, after arriving in Tokyo with no sleep from the Redeye trip from Helsinki, i headed to the bank, only to realize i hadn’t done my homework, and had no idea of the conversion rate between the Yen and Aust dollar. I was hoping for a multiple choice selection, but had no luck with this either, so was forced to pick a number out of the air rather randomly, i chose quite high… 200,000 Yen… so, yes… thankfully the bank did not except that offer…. and i since discovered that the exchange rate is quite easy… being around $1 to 100yen… so yes… $2,000 out of the bank wasn’t a possibility… but let me tell you… i think that i could have easily spent that amount in a blink of an eye at two of the coolest stores in Tokyo: KiddyLand and Toyko Hands… so much fun little stuff…

Needless to say, Christmas shopping is very easy in Tokyo…. and those two stores in particular had things that fitted Jordy and I’s self imposed Christmas present requirement: being light and small. Our cases already busting at the seams, we had to be quite careful at what we bought…. but any thoughts of excess baggage went out the window when we discovered the joys of a second hand clothing shop called Kinji is Harajuku… so much good stuff that is the sort of stuff you wish you could always find at Savers, but never do.

Harajuku is a part of Tokyo that has a very large park in it, and on the weekends, lots of the young hip kids (you may know the magazine Fruits…)go to hang out and bands set up small generators and their gear to play… unfortunately we didn’t get to see this, as it was a mid-week visit, but we did see lots of the shops that those fruity kids shop at. I also discovered a great second hand Synth store that had some of the most amazing music gear i’d ever seen… as a bit of a gague a to the rarity of some of the stuff they had there, i’ll use the example that they had three TB303’s sitting in a window display… now these things are pretty rare to find in Melb… so to see three sitting all together was pretty impressive… add that to the Moogs, Korgs, Studio Electronics, Roland, and Sequential Circuits synths they had there, plus a whole bunch of other things i’d never seen before. awesome…. i could have blown the 200,000 yen there in 5 minutes, no problem, had it not been for the power supply issues… not to mention the excess baggage… ohh well… good to look at anyway!

Asakusa is great for a more traditional Japanese experience with temples and street scenes that are not quite as high-rise and neon…. but close-by to it is the amazing Akihabara… or “Electric Town”… where they sell all sorts of gadgets, computer stuff, and electronics components. One store was devoted to selling multi-coloured LED lights. I wish i could have spent more time there.

Shibuya is also very cool, full of great stores, some interesting sites and excellent for people watching. It is home to the famous massive intersection that has video screens on all the buildings and walking signs where all go at once, in all directions. kinda frightening if you don’t exactly know where you’re going.

There are a few Western faces about, but not as many as i had expected. Our local host Tim, (who is a myspace friend who got in touch with me initially because he was a Crettins Puddle fan (don’t hold that against him! hehe…) ) tells me that since one of the large chain of English schools went bust last year, the number of Westerners has halved in the city.

Tim arranged a lot for our stay, including arranging some shows, printing flyers, and even booking our hotel at mates rates. It never ceases to amaze me how generous people have been throughout the trip… so cool that people have gone out of their way to help out however they can.

Our show on the Friday was a great success, and an awesome way to spend the final night of our three month odyssey. Tim had arranged a friend of his Pugs to open for us, playing old aussie punk and rock songs. Awesome stuff. Pugs, it turns out, used to be in a Mornington Peninsula band called the Marzies, that i used to mix a bit around 2001. Small world. Tim brought a bunch of his friends along, and it was a bit of an Aussie night… so the audience was a 50/50 mix of ex-pats and japanese locals.

The gig went well, with a suitable level of Rowdyness coming from the Aussies to counterbalance the rather well-mannered Japanese applause. Afterwards, we met with Tomoko from Austrade, who had brought along a guy called Greg, who works at Tiger, a company that brings out and tours bands in Japan. He seemed very interested to work with us on our next Japanese Tour! which I think will be quite exciting.

Also after the gig, a self-confessed drunken Scotsman/Canadian introduced himself, saying that he enjoyed the show, and told us that he may be able to help us out a bit….. as it turns out, he gets paid by record companies to find acts to produce… he mentioned something about getting in the ear of a few people, and the possibility of getting us to do some things over in his studio in Hoxton/London. Pretty funny really, but his email the next morning confirmed his interest… so i guess we’ll see what becomes of that!

To top the night off, we ended up at a bar close to Tim’s place, after a difficult search for a taxi… finding empty taxis wasn’t the problem… them choosing whether they wanted to pick us up was the issue…. i’m not going to speculate too much as to the reasons why… but i guess a bunch of Australians with musical instruments isn’t so appealing to the Japanese Cab driver. We spoke to some locals, and more expats who had come to the gig (one of which was a guy from Newtown in Sydney who used to love Quadbox (my friend Nat and Shane’s old band) and then as the group got smaller and smaller, and the night was getting late, there began some talk of a Karaoke lock-in.

So from 3.15am-5.15am, we sang…. and after many pop anthems and some rock classics thrown in for good measure, we caught the train home…. sitting amongst the silence of the businessmen heading to work…

That’s a strange thing about Tokyo trains.. and perhaps Tokyo in general… it’s soo quiet… people don’t talk on trains… or on the street… well sometimes you hear a couple of words, or quietly spoken phrases, but you simply don’t hear people yelling, or talking loudly on phones.

It’s kinda odd…. but don’t think that this is a representation of the society being reserved. We also saw on one late night train ride home, two business men… one so drunk that he was asleep with one eye open, and one shoe off. He had a friend, maybe not quite as messy, but just as asleep sitting next to him. I guess it’s for this reason that they sell ties at the train stations… so the business men who wake up at the station after late night Karaoke sessions, can head to work with a new tie on.

What a funny place Tokyo is… 5 days was not nearly enough.

But 4 hours sleep the night before a flight sure makes it a lot easier to have a kipper on the plane!

Merry Christmas.

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I’ve been super slack in the trip updates later, loads has been happening, so i may have to condense a few things.

BERLIN: Firstly, Jordy and I have now been in Berlin for 10 days, in a great apartment on Kastanieneallee, which is central to pretty much everything we need here. we have 3 trams that lead to all good parts of the city, and are within a short walk of the U-Bahn… we’re here until Dec 3, when we head to Paris.

So far in Berlin, I have done touristy things, done a walking tour, seen a couple of bands (The Arcade Fire, and The Brunettes), been to an underground ‘squat party’ where we had to climb through a window to get into the place, had a jam session with our new Berlin mate Ben, and last night went to the infamous “Panorama Bar” which opens at 1am… and goes until at least midday Sunday… i made it till 7am, and daylight… Jordy lasted till 10am.

But also it’s great here, just because i’ve been able to unpack the suitcase, and set up a little mini-studio in the apartment, and have spent the nights writing some new songs.

After finding out our ‘Bastard Club’ show was cancelled, we’ve been on the hunt for more shows, and despite not having one yet for Berlin, we have managed to pick up 2 in Paris, and one in Prague (next weekend), and have a tentative 3 shows in Tokyo! Speaking of Bastard Club… the reason the show was cancelled was because the venue closed down… and as luck would have it, or in our case wouldn’t have it… the remnants of Bastard Club are about a 2 minute walk away, on the same side of Kastanieneallee, as our apartment.

LONDON: And on the topic of shows, i guess that’s a good way to take a step back, and mention the time spent in London. Our show at the Buffalo Bar was a huge success. We had quite a large ex-pat contingency, but on top of that, we were very well received by the locals,  the djs and promoters…. and we’ve already been offered another show there, which we had to decline, because of being in a different country and all….

To be honest with you, i wasn’t really expecting much from London town, maybe because last time i visited, i found it a bit chaotic, and crazy…. but i was actually pleasantly surprised at Londoners, and had a fine time staying on various people’s couches, and traveling on the tube all over the place.

In terms of night outings, we saw Jordy’s mate Chris do his DJ thing on Friday night in Camden, went to a crazy Gypsy Camp Halloween party with Victor and some band he was producing on Saturday night.. it was underneath a freeway, and was very strange…. but we left by sunrise, and felt the pain for it the next day.

We also caught “Ulrich Shnauss”, a German Laptop Muso, play on the Tuesday night, which was really good. I managed to end up in prime ‘nerd spotting’ realestate, and got to see what he was doing up close…. for those who care: MacbookPro, Ableton Live, Native Instruments Guitar Rig, a bunch of midi controllers, and at one point in the set, he sent the whole mix through a flanger on old 80’s Yamaha Digital rackmount FX unit, on a really slow setting that made the room “Whooooshhhh”. awesome!

BERLIN: Berlin really is one of the most amazing cities in the world. it’s full of vibrant people and places… the history is really remarkable and unique, and is quite confronting if you think about it for too long… and there are constant reminders pretty much everywhere you go, with numerous buildings with bullet holes and shrapnel damage from WW2 still obvious. And then there is the wall, and the divided city, which turned 18 years re-unified whilst we were here.

It’s funny talking to people we know here about it… stories of coming to visit Grandma over in the old east, and waving at the people from ‘viewing towers’ in the old west. The presence of division  still lingers a little in collective memory….i’m not sure if i’m feel at all qualified to talk on the subject… but what it does make me realize, is that Australia is very lucky.

well anyway, the 2nd hand flea markets still sell old GDR 12″ vinyl and hats/badges, pieces of colored concrete that they claim to be part of the old wall. But also, they do good Currywurst and Pommes!

Jordy and I have explored various parts of the city together and alone, Kreuzberg, Charlottenburg, Mitte, Tiergarten,  Friedrichshain, and of course our hood Prenzlauerberg, and i think whilst not even close to being able to claim ‘local’ status, I have a much better grasp of where is where, and what is where, and how to get back to where i need to get to.

It’s been fun not really having an agenda to follow, or any places we particularly have to be, and whilst a lot of the locals keep asking ‘why are you coming to Berlin now?’ the weather’s so bad!, I’ve actually enjoyed the briskness and the grey industrial landscape.

Ben has also been excellent value as local host, taking us to some great parties and random nights out that we would never have found out about if not for some insider knowledge.

Ok… so if i could try and sum up Berlin in one story… maybe it is the time we are walking back from a dinner out, and we walk past a shop front that has a lot of people all in white coats talking to each other… we stop, and ponder for a minute…  a hospital? no… no beds/reception…. a theatre production? no… no audience…. hmmm. ok… so, Ben asks one of the white-coated people out front what is going on… and the man responds in a calm, well measured voice (in german)… “what? don’t you remember the last time you came here?… we need to schedule you in for another appointment, and gives hims a card with a web address on it…. i still don’t exactly know what was going on there, but i’m assuming it was some art instillation piece that involved people pretending to be in a mental institution.

odd.

Some other fun things have been:

Mick Rock’s photography exhibition opening… which showed his pictures from Syd Barret, David Bowie and Freddy Mercury/Queen (he took the photos from the Queen2 cover, which had Bohemian rhapsody on it… which inspired the famous video, etc,….) Mick Rock was there to give his own personal discourse on each of the photos too… which was really interesting… The comment ‘what Freddie wanted, Freddie got’ was quite funny.

Visiting the Ableton live computer software head office… where i walking in like a complete music nerd dork, and made a fool of myself, as i gave a Winterpark CD to the receptionist, who for the first minute or so had no idea why i was there… in fact… for the first minute, i had no idea why i was there!… but i did get some free stickers out of it.

PRAGUE: Speaking of gigs… last weekend Jordy and I caught the train to Prague to play a show at Shakespeare and Sons Bookstore/Cafe/Bar, which was a great little place, we had a good turn out of Ex-pats and friends of the people we were staying with. We met some really nice people, and saw some really beautiful places. The Christmas markets just around the corner from where we were staying were an amazing site at Sunset, and the castle and the bridge are incredible to see, especially at times without so many tourists.

We also went out after our gig to a crazy 70’s/80’s and 90’s eurodisco… lots of locals… massive venue, it was so ridiculous it was awesome.

That said, Prague has a slight undertone of sadness to it in my opinion… im not exactly sure why…  maybe it was just the time of year.

Paris to Berlin

Our train ride to Paris from Berlin, was an overnight ‘sleeper’ train… Great! we thought… we can sleep… train rattling sending us to sleep ever so gently…. ohh how wrong could we have been.

We hop aboard with our ever expanding cases/guitar/extra bags to find that what we thought would be a private carriage, was actually a 6 bed bunk affair… with 3 of the beds already taken by very strange middle aged single men. We forced our luggage underneath and above every nook and cranny we could find in the rather packed space, and then i resigned myself to the fact that this wasn’t going to be as pleasant as i had though.

I quickly headed to the dining cart, with my laptop under arm. Jordy left the dining cart pretty soon, after she spilled her ‘bubbled’ water all over herself, and then got told off by the rather frightening german dining cart man for drinking water that wasn’t purchased from him… well actually all he said was “No!”… and pointed at the water… and then said “NO!” again. He was quite rude. I couldn’t quite face the middle bunk, so i proceeded to have a couple of german beers/

Whilst this made the prospect of getting into the so called “sleeping” carriage a little better… it didn’t really help with the actual “Sleeping” part… as the man underneath me, had a rather unfortunate cold, which made him sniff and cough (quite bizarrely mind you) throughout the journey… ohh and that’s exactly what you want 2 feet away from you in a space that has no fresh air.

Paris

Well, i was quite excited to get to Paris, and after almost getting ripped off by a so called “Taxi” driver… who went to grab our bags, but we had to stop him, and ask him where his car was… which he couldn’t point it out… and then, after getting a legitimate Taxi driver, he proceeded to over charge us by 6 euro, 1 euro per bag apparently…. ahh… the french… what a lovely start to the day, after a 12 hour train ride with no sleep.

But, after we finally made it to Phoene and Anne’s house, in St. Denis (north/east Paris), we managed to find some comfort in their small, but rather cute apartment. Phoene plays in a couple of bands, books shows, arranges tours, and waitresses in a trendy french cafe. Her ex-girlfriend, housemate and business partner Anne works as a freelance graphics and web designer. They are both really cool girls, who are happy to share their living space, and immediately offer Jordy and I a couple of extra days free accom, which was awesome.

After some much needed sleep, we get up and grab all our gear, jump on the Metro, and go to  to play a show. It’s a funny little venue… an old wine-storage space downstairs, with a curved ceiling, and somewhat ironic 80’s record covers pinned up on the wall. We play our set, to a somewhat luke-warm crowd, but a couple of interested patrons come up afterwards to say how much they liked what we were doing, which was nice. After us, Mikka Sykes, a singer/songwriter from Portland/USA got on stage… it was just him and a guitar, and whilst he was very good, the rather obnoxious crowd didn’t give him much of a chance, and small PA couldn’t quite keep up with the crowd noise.

Mikka and his traveling friend, a girl from NYC, who had just recently quit her job at Unicef (for numerous reasons… but which i can tell you about another time) were also staying at Phoene and Anne’s… and were all about keeping the Rock’n’Roll dream alive…  so we stayed up talking about touring, politics and unicef until the wee hours of Wednesday morning… i think i went to bed at 6.20am, but the others had another bottle of wine after that. We also joined in on Phoene and Anne’s regular party trick of Scanning faces on the scanner… i think the pictures are online somewhere now…

Wednesday involved Jordy and I doing some site-seeing and trying to hide from the rain… (which is pretty much the first time we’ve been seriously rained on since our time in Reykjavik).

Mikka and co. stayed on Wednesday night also, so there was another late-night-mid-week party at the house… this time i lasted until 4.30am…

So, by the time our 2nd Paris gig came along on Thursday, we were quite exhausted! But, it was a fun night, we played before some DJs, and as one of the girl’s friends was leaving to go back to the UK, and the night had a good vibe about it.

The rest of our time in Paris was all about the rain and the site-seeing. We got drenched before we went to the Louvre, and saw some amazing art. I was somewhat baffled at the amount of people taking flash photography inside the gallery. It was quite off-putting. The Mona-Lisa is even harder to look at that i remembered, and there is a constant cue of people lining up to sneak a peak. It’s strange, i actually think another of Da Vinci’s paintings of Saint John the Baptist is much more interesting… and i could get within an arms length of it.

Monte Marte… Moulin Rouge all that… nice, apart from the people who are trying to sell you those pieces of string that you get tied around your wrist…  and who yell and swear at you if you tell them to go away.

Big Flea Market area, also kinda cool, but really overpriced antiques, and every second dodgy person trying to sell you a fake D&G belt… now… do you really think there is that great a market for that?

… and whilst i’m Boo-ing Paris… what’s with the coffee prices there? 5.50 Euro for a cappuccino? unbelievable.

anyway… i know some of you lot love Paris… and i sort of understand the appeal of the place… it’s quite pretty….big history… Liberty…. all that stuff…. but the best thing about Paris for me was the nice Parisians we were staying with.

Eindhoven.

Well, Eindhoven was a pleasant surprise after the Metropolis that is Paris… a nice little Modern Design City. Not really much to say about the place, except the weather was splendid, the bikes were in abundance, and both Jordy and I were in relax mode! Our host Lucy was very welcoming, and gave us ample space to lounge about, and recoup… do laundry etc… She also had an awesome video projector and wall that we watched films and episodes of Flight of the Conchords on. A lovely dinner at a Spanish place, two good nights sleep and clean clothes and we were off again towards Amsterdam.

Amsterdam…

…is a funny place isn’t it? lots of bikes, lots of tourists… Jordy and I went to the Van Gogh museum, and saw some of the classics up close…. we also had a couple of beers at the dodgy hostel we were staying in, and then hit the town… after a quick wander, and some Thai food served to us by a New Zealander, we ended up going the a venue there called the Paladium, to see a US laptop mashup Laptop DJ called “Girl Talk”, (who we had tried to go and see in Paris… but when we arrived at the venue, it was closed.)

After a couple of tracks, and the guy running around the stage throwing confetti in the air to get people moving, he grabbed a couple of people up on stage to dance… tehn a few more got up… then the whole stage was full… it ended up being one of the most ridiculous nights ever…. with the whole crowd going mental around him… then one person took the poor guys shirt off… and then about 15 mins later, another person took the guys pants off… and there he was, rocking out in the middle of a crowd of people, all sweaty in front of his laptop with nothing but boxer shorts on…. hilarious stuff.

Helsinki

Throughout our travels, we’ve been meeting people along the way who have been really nice and helpful, one of these people was Hanno, who we met in Prague… a German, living in Scotland, who happend to be staying at the same house we were staying at….  He put in a couple of emails to his friends in Helsinki when we told him we were looking for gigs, and people to have coffee with… and much to our surprise, we started to get some emails from Marianne in Helsinki, saying that she had some gigs lined up, and a place to stay for a night if we wanted!

I think our Helsinki experience would have been vastly different if it wasn’t for Marianne and her partner Timo, who took us out, showed us the sites, marked cool shops on the map, arranged two gigs at a weeks notice for us, took us to an awesome flea market, fed us, gave us free clothes from Timo’s online clothing store, welcomed us into their home for our final night, gave us Finnish chocolate and drove us to the airport! I mean, talk about the all-star treatment. Totally hosts with the most….

The shows were both at cool little cafes, and apart from a small hassle with one of the DJs whose timeslot we apparently cut short… they both went down a treat, with pretty good crowds listening in. It was not really a band-venue-type-crowd who sat and watched attentively, but both shows were fun none the less.

Helsinki also has some great Christmas markets and really cool design stuff going on throughout the city. It is a very hip place… well educated people, and all the Finns we met were very articulate and had a rather unique political and social outlook on the world…

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  PART 1. AIRWAVES

So, i can’t really start the next chapter of this tale without telling you of the crazy time we had getting from NYC to Reykjavik… with a short little 20 hour stop-over in London town…!! it goes something like this… fly 6 hours… get on tube… get on another tube… get on a bus… crash at Chris’s…. wake up… buy beer and chips… go to a surprise party…. eat pizza….get on a bus… pack again…. sleep…. wake up… get on a bus… get on a train… get on a plane… get on a bus…get in a cab…. crash on Buzby’s couch… go to Airwaves festival!

Crazy i tell ya. but fun none the less!… well actually transit is not so fun.. but the festival has been fun.

Probably the best thing about it compared to Pop Montreal, is that all the venues are much closer together…. and we have been staying right in the middle of it all.

Buzby is a electronic musician who i have only really conversed with over the internet until meeting him on Wednesday, and he has very generously offered space up his apartment for both Jordy and I for our stay in Reykjavik… which is pretty bloody awesome considering the cost of accommodation, food, alcohol, and everything except for heating bills here.

It’s right on Laugavegar… which for anyone who has visited Reykjavik will know, is the main street…. for those who don’t know the city… Central Reykjavik (101/Old Town) is like the size of Brunswick St. in Fitzroy… and his place is as if we were living above the Evelyn…. so yes… pretty central to things.

anyway… it’s pretty cold here. it was -3 degrees when we arrived.. but fine… and since then as gotten wetter, but a bit warmer… maybe like 6-10 degrees?

but that said it hasn’t really affected our experience to much, because the apartment is always warm thanks to the wonders of geo-thermal heating, and also, we’ve been in sweaty rock venues all week!

Highlights of the festival were seeing US sister act “Smoosh” UK act “Friendly Fires” (who we hung out with a bit afterward…  and i was excited to learn that the bass player also makes music under the monkier “Wax Stag” and he wrote one of my recently found favorite tunes called “Short Road”… here is a link to it…

http://www.myspace.com/waxstag

or here…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOlJekxPY7M

and then there was the wonderful rather amazing Trentemøller… (Karl, i was thinking of you throughout the set!)

and also some bloody ace new bands one called “the Ghost”   http://www.myspace.com/theghostband1

who are from the Faroe Islands, (if you’re on myspace… add them as a friend) and a Reykjavik band called FM Belfast, who i’m sure will be absolutely huge…. and we had the pleasure of playing with both of them at a funky little clothing shop called “Naked Ape”… at one of the “Off-Venue” events that we played at. These Off-Venue shows are pretty much parties that the shop owners put on… with free beer/gin and tonics/soft drink for anyone who attends…. they happen in the late arvo/early evening before the main venues open up… a great idea, and heaps of locals came along, as they are open to all, not just festival pass holders.

Saturday night, we caught Annuals… well actually I caught Annuals, whilst Jordy was learning the icelandic phrase for “What’s going on” by some rather enthusiastic young icelanders… and then the first half of Block Party… who were ok… but not really raising the roof…

.. but the roof was raised by FM Belfast at a late show… and then it nearly came crashing down on us, as the guitarist from Reykjavik! (the band that is-see earlier Montreal email about them) monkey swung along the hanging pipes along the roof during their electro cover version of “Killing in the name of”

which you can’t hear here…  http://www.myspace.com/fmbelfast  but you should check them out anyway.

After seeing him swing from the rafters… we went and introduced ourselves, and between kissing Jordy squarley on the lips and saying to her “Let’s not get too crazy baby” and he and the other Reykjavik! guys thanking me profusely for seeing them at Pop Montreal he gave me a card and told me to call him in the morning… his card tells us that he is actually the PR guy for Mr. Destiny, who ran the festival. random.

so anyway, i did call him, and we ended up getting a free dinner with him, and a couple of Poets who were in town the week earlier for a poetry festival…. and what’s possibly even funnier is that he didn’t actually remember meeting us the night before! but was all quite cool about it, and told us stories of his days as a fish gutter, and which fish smelt worse on the inside, and also proudly showed off his R! tattoo that he got whilst in Montreal.

ohh, a bit out of order here… but Jordy and I went to the Blue Lagoon Airwaves Party on Saturday afternoon before our show.. which was kinda just like going to the Blue Lagoon, but with a couple of people DJing and a bunch of drunk tourists thinking it was Ibiza, jumping around in the water.

funny. but we did cover ourselves in the ‘cleansing’ mud, and felt quite good about it all… until i put my hand in some mud in one of the warmer patches of the lagoon only to find it not as ‘cleansing’… but instead full of hair… i tried not to think about it too much after that, but i did keep my mouth a bit more closed.

and yes…the shows we played went down a treat, with a bunch of people picking up the free cds we left out… i think we probably got rid of maybe 40? not sure on exact numbers… but Eythor (Buzby’s housemate, and our default sound guy) was saying that people were saying good things about us in Icelandic. The Naked Ape one was a bit more happening that the one in Kormáks & Skjalda (the men’s suit store)… but both had a really good vibe about them.

ok… so onto the week ahead, and we’re getting up early to have a day of driving northwards to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula…. yes, hiring a car for the day.. driving on the opposite side of the road for the first time… should be interesting i reckon…we’re charging our camera batteries!

ohh, and speaking of cameras!! i can’t finish this email without telling you of the ridiculous amount of press and photographers at Airwaves festival… it seemed that every 3rd person had a press pass, and at every single show there was a paparazzi style shoot-a-thon… even for support acts…. and even at the ‘off-venue’ places! i think we got snapped a couple of times!.. but we havn’t seen our pics in the paper yet.

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PART 2 TRAVELS

 It was my first time driving on the right, sorry wrong side of the road… and it took a little getting used to… the round-abouts were initially a challenge, as trying to work out where you’re meant to look for on-coming traffic is a little strange. But the only other thing that kinda threw me was continually going for the gear stick with my left hand, and only reaching the window handle instead!

Once we found our way out of Reykjavik it was surprisingly easy to drive around, as there was very little traffic… but the other challenge was just to keep my eyes on the road, and off the spectacular scenery!

I’m not exactly sure if i can properly do it justice with words (of with photographs for that matter!)… but to put it in an Australian context, imagine the view of the great ocean road on one side of the road, and then the Grampians on the other side of the road, and then whenever you go over a hill, the scenery changes dramatically, and suddenly turns into a moss covered lava field, then a glacier! Every twist and turn something new and amazing was around the corner.

We did a little bit of off-road driving, but not intentionally, as roads would suddenly turn into gravel, and often with loads of bumps and holes.

But Jordy and I were stopping at almost every twist and turn, to jump out of the car, frantically snap as many pictures as we could before our fingers and faces became numb, and then would jump back in the car again.

The drive home was equally amazing, but probably a little bit scarier, as it was dark, and the rain was coming in sideways directly onto the windscreen…. the lack of street lights also made it a little crazy, but luckily i found a truck to drive behind for the last 45 minutes coming into Reykjavik… which made it a lot easier to feel drive in the dark on the wrong side of the road.

The rest of the week in Reykjavik involved sleeping in, catching a couple of hours of daylight, finding the cheapest food in town, hanging out with Buzby and Eyþór, playing “Halo 3” on X-Box… (which i’ve never done before… pretty much a shoot-em-up game… that Buzby insisted i stay playing until 4.30am!) I have to admit, it is quite addictive… but  my dreams were a bit crazy that night.

We also got into the Icelandic way, and would go out every night… but only after midnight…. till about 2.30 am each night midweek… which seems crazy, considering that a pint of beer costs 600 icelandic Krona… which equals something like AU$12… so you can begin to understand why everyone wants to start drinking late.

By Saturday we were ready for something new, and thankfully Buzby and Eyþór transformed their house into a Dancefloor for a party…. It was a good party, which went till about 1.30am, when everyone left (including the hosts) to go out onto the main drag and to “Runter”… which basically means bar-hopping… we ended up in Sirkus where Icelandic Celebrities hang out, with a few locals we had met along the way, and stayed until close there… which you would normally think would be when there were only a couple of the stragglers hanging on… but in Reykjavik, means the whole bar still sardine-style packed with the lights on, music off, and people still wanting more.

anyway… needless to say, Sunday was a bit of a write-off, and by Monday morning, at 8am, we were walking through the newly formed snow to the bus-stop, and then, sitting on the airport, marvelling at how the rather drab-temporary looking grey concrete houses that looked so ugly and un-inspired on the way in, somehow looked so much more in place, and kinda beautiful in a landscape covered in snow. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Well, it’s been a week of fun filled NYC action. Jordy and I have been going absolutely mental with some shopping, taking full advantage of the shopping delights that NYC has to offer. We are now overloaded with American Apparel, and some cool retro t-shirts/jumpers/jeans from a shop in Williamsburg that is filled with everything that you always wanted to find at Savers, but never could.

We’ve also been hanging with Aussie friends Lou, David, Andrew and Jarrah, for some mid-week drinks and catchups, which has been good fun.

The apartment is in a great spot, really close to everything that we want to be near to… and on a pretty safe street…. i say that because the Hells Angels NYC headquarters in just across the road, so i figure as long as we don’t touch the bikes, we’ll be fine!

We went to see my favourite band of the moment ‘Maps’, who were doing their first ever NYC show on Friday. The support act was one of the worst bands i have ever seen… well… the bad was ok, but the singer and guitarist were sooo bad, it made it really unbearable to watch…. imagine coldplay with a total cheeseball singer who looked like he was meant to be in a high school musical version of guys and dolls, and a guitarist who wore way heavily ’emo’ eye makeup, and was so obsessed with himself that he overplayed everything, and yet was also jumping around inappropriately and playing the wrong notes… so bad.

anyway… i’ve said way too much about them…

Thankfully Maps were totally as amazing as i had hoped they would be… the crowd really got into it, and the band were very understated and grateful.

They pretty much played their entire record, and it was all awesome. harmonies were spot on, and the sound of the band was just ace…. so good.

check them out: www.myspace.com/mapsmusic

we managed to grab three of the band members after the show, and gave them demos. so hopefully they’ll have a listen, and want to play shows with us when they come to Australia….

after that, we wandered the streets, met up with Lou and Jarrah who were watching the grand final at some ‘exclusive’ party full of Aussie celebs like Crissy Amphlette. ha!. we didn’t have tickets, but got Sorbet in Little Italy instead… which was a good way to finish an evening anyway!

So, yes, all this shopping has also involved me dragging Jordy around to as many guitar shops as i could find… in search of the perfect axe.

after much deliberation, soul-searching and financial contemplation, i have bought an amazing 1974 Fender Telecaster Deluxe. It’s had one of the pickups replaced, and a third middle pickup added, but apart from that it’s original, and plays and sounds absolutely amazing. It also has a Fat Strat-type headstock for all the people who know about those 70’s teles. awesome.

I’m not gonna say how much, but let’s just say that it’s a classic… and is worth what i paid.

onto Saturday night, and catching up with Jordy’s mate Jay Bulger… yes, that is his real name…. male model/film script writer/boxing fan/southerner. First we had a drink in a bar called “Johnsons” which is on Rivington in the Lower East Side. a cool, but divey bar… filled with locals who all seemed to know each other, and a man with a dog that looked like it didn’t want to be there.

After a couple of ‘free-poured’ vodkas, we ended up meeting with Jay in an apartment on the west side of Soho that also doubles for a venue for weekly Ping-Pong tournaments…. bizarre… we watched a boxing match where Jay was giving a running commentary in full (and over-the-top put on) sour-thern draawl… about how the white guy should win…. i won’t go into the PC-ness of it all, but considering Jay’s extroverted nature and that we were in his (black) friend Bill’s apartment,  lines such as “reload those muskets” and “if he wins, we’re gonna re-draw the line of the south to 14th Street” were both funny, but also a bit wrong.

anyway… onto a random party on a roof-top in the east village, where we got to try out our Australian accents on a few locals, well… i think we have to define “local” here… i’m not sure how many people actually are from New York in New York… i think that most of the population is actually from somewhere else… but anyway… let’s just say we did have a bit of a novelty factor…

Jordy also met up with her mate Tiah who is a famous model, who Louisa tells us dated actor Adam Brody (oc’s Seth Cohen).

It was a completely bizarre experience topped off with the walk home, which involved us coming across a bunch of  people outside a nightclub all starring up at a a naked man in his apartment with curtains open and lights on thrusting his pelvis… thankfully we couldn’t see what was happening underneath because of the angle, but the bouncers on the street told us that this was a ‘regular occurrence’ for this guy… and by the number of people watching, and by the occasional smiling glances out the window by the thrusting man, we assume this to be true…. so very strange…

anyway… Jordy and I have laid pretty low today. had a good bite to eat with Lou and David for lunch, a sleep and then some more good thai just up the road. I poked my head into the laptop jam night, but not a whole lot of people there this week. I’ll go back again with laptop in tow, and jam another time.

So on monday, Jordy and I decided that we should probably be tourists a bit, but cheapo tourists… so we did what every other cheapo tourist does, and catches the Stanton Island ferry to Stanton island…. past the statue of Liberty, and with it’s pretty damn impressive views of downtown Manhattan.

So, our gig in Brooklyn  was quite successful, we were on quite early, and it was a monday night, which in Australia means ‘put your name down at the bar, and you can play’… but in NYC where the city never sleeps, i hope it holds a little more cred. The Union Hall is a great space, with two indoor Bocce lanes, and a wall full of books, and old pictures that make it seem the Den/Study of an active member of the Freemasons, or some other secret society… open fireplaces, pictures with men in strange red hats, and all that…

check out the website to appreciate it for yourself:  http://www.unionhallny.com/

anyway, the band room was downstairs, and despite being on early, we managed to get a fair sized crowd into the room, mainly thanks to our NYC friends, and their friends! but also some extras brought in from the other bands playing.

They also had a mounted projector facing the stage, so we were able to do our whole proper visual show, which was an added bonus… and Jordy got to try out her new designer dress too!

Also, it was great to catch up with Victor, who had been under a general anaesthetic that afternoon, but still managed to have a few drinks… probably not under doctors orders…. and kick on with the rest of us…

We’ve also shot our video clip for Wall Kids with Jarrah and his crew in the back streets of Williamsburg, on a very brisk morning!

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