November 18, 2017
"If I had to choose between The Beach Boys and The Beatles --"
"Don't f&#k&n say it. You'll be outta here."
How do you define chemistry?
I don’t think I can do it in a musical sense. It’s not something you articulate as much as something you feel. What I can say is that I felt it last night in a deeper way than I have before with the band. I think we all did.
Sarah and I once talked about playing from the head vs. playing from the heart. As the tour goes on I feel it coming from a different place. Last night was very much a heart show. It’s about a sense of freedom in my playing. A new level of comfort. I’m beginning to feel like I can play how I play, with my signatures and textures working within the arrangements. I really love Sarah for allowing all of us that space.
I don’t know how the shift happens. Sometimes it’s a combination of the room and the sound and the energy and knowing the songs. Mostly I think it just takes time. The longer you play together, the more connection you feel. A tour like this accelerates the process, of course. A lot of bands take a year to play as many shows together as we have in the past two weeks. We’ve been tempered in the fire of performance.
Playing with pros like Sarah, Ken, and Deni makes a huge difference too. They know how to listen. How to lead and how to lay back. How to take care of each other as we play. It’s a beautiful and mysterious thing, and it contributed massively to a show last night that for me was a turning point.
Our venue was a tiny old bar called Immeldorf-Weisses Ross in the sleepy medieval town of Immeldorf. Here we met a character for the ages: Walter. Walter is a quick, sweet, gentle guy who lives in and runs the venue, which is actually an ancient guest house. Wood beams. The smell of time. It reminded us of a tavern in the Lord of the Rings. We didn’t know what to expect when we loaded in, but we set up and soundchecked and as always hoped for the best.
That's exactly what we got.
After we soundchecked we sat down to a fantastic Thai veggie curry that Walter made for us. Such rich flavours. Nice heat. Rice and herbs. The man knows his way around a kitchen. It was easily one of the best meals we’ve had on the tour. After that it was on to our billet – another lovely B&B – for a few hours of rest.
When we returned, the place had come to life. There were people crammed into the main floor bar area. Bottles clinking. Laughter. We had an opening band from Nurnberg called High Hedgepig. Really nice and talented kids. We hung out for a bit on the main floor and then the whole party moved upstairs to the actual music venue. High Hedgepig went on and killed it. They have kind of a bluesy/soul sound – the sort of groove that would pair well with a super cool London band called Hiroshima Hearts. The crowd loved them.
Our show? One of the best. One of the best in terms of our playing. One of the best in terms of the audience reaction. One of the best in terms of the whole vibe. We had a wonderful time and the audience was so receptive. We had Melanie from High Hedgepig come up and sing Amy Winehouse’s Valerie with us, and then we did three encores before finally ending the night. Have I said how great the audiences are in Europe? I can’t say it enough. It’s so heartening for us to play to people who are interested, who participate, who get into it with us. That’s really what makes it magical.
Also, I want to give a shout-out to our German friends Schmmi, Lexi, and Kerstin for making the trip yet again – thanks gang!
It’s funny how things go after shows. Sometimes we get home with loads of energy and we stay up laughing and talking, or we try to connect with people back home. Usually Sarah goes straight to bed because she’s an adult human being. Last night we all pretty much crashed. The Virus of the Van, the constant travel, the late nights. Sometimes the combination catches up to you and it’s just time to sleep. We also didn’t have wifi at the B&B, so that temptation wasn’t there – a good thing in my opinion. We slept well. We woke up smiling. We really are having the best time together on this tour.
I don’t normally skip ahead a day in my posts, but I think those of you who have been following along for the past ten years will want to know that, while I haven’t written a lot about it lately, our priorities haven’t changed and we remain as obsessed as ever with our collective first love. Today we were walking through town in search of breakfast and Deni suddenly lit up like a Christmas tree.
“Hey guys, look! Coffee!”
And on we go.