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Blog: The Gruelling Preparation Ritual Of A Touring Band

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Off to sunshiney DERBY last night, where we were due to begin (also END) our preparations for the forthcoming tour with a big BAND PRACTICE. Things got off to a frankly disappointing start when i arrived to find The Nice Chippy Opposite The Station was CLOSED. I'd been looking forward to chips ALL DAY (AND MORE), and was WRACKED with DEVASTATION to think I'd not be getting any. I rang The Tiger, who I knew was also headed that way, to warn him, and he went off to another chippy instead... promising to get ME some too. HOORAH!

I arrived at Machine Mansions to find Francis BEMOANING the fact that he was going to have to drive to the practice, as there was a nice pub nearby, and after several repetitions of his WOES Mrs Machine took the hint and gave us a LIFT. HOORAH!

We were booked in at a different practice room from usual, as our previous place was all booked up. Practice rooms are like The Ibis - wherever you go, however the look from the outside, they are always IDENTICAL on the inside. They will be dark, they will smell of MAN SWEAT, there will be a bin overflowing with beer cans, signs all over the place telling you NOT to take bits of drums away, a noticeboard for bands requiring a drummer (no time wasters) a broken drinks machine and a man with many tatoos will take your money off you.

Our old place was EXACTLY like that, but when we arrived at the new one I felt a glimmer of HOPE. It was near the old Abbey, an area of Derby I'd never been to before, and all was TWEE and DELIGHTFUL. As we crossed the sun-dappled river to a gently quaint set of old buildings I thought "Could this be the mythical Quite Nice Rehearsal Room?" and when we pulled up outside my hopes were raised yet further. Scattered around the old barn were various MGBs and MG Midgets in various states of repair, and we clambered up some centuries old stairs to get into the building itself...

... where we found IBIS. It was quite a nice Ibis, but still, it was an Ibis, right down to the filthy toilet and the corridor littered with broken old amps. Don't get me wrong, i LIKE Ibis, and I am USED to rehearsal rooms, but still, when you've built yourself up to hope for whicker chairs and a sandwich selection it takes a while to get over it.

The Tiger arrived, bearing CHIPS, followed swiftly by The Pattisons, and we got ourselves loaded in and began THE ROCK. We'd spent the week or so beforehand in heated Interweb Conference, WRESTLING over the songs that we'd be learning up, and had come up with a pretty decent list. It had been HOTLY debated and I must admit I had my doubts about some of the choices, but they all turned out really rather well. In order to maintain some SURPRISE for the tour I'll not say exactly what they are, but it works out in album terms as follows:

Say It With Words: TWO songs
(including one we've never done before)

This Is Not A Library: ONE song
(CLUE: we pretty much ALWAYS play it. Other songs PENDING until we do the SURELY INEVITABLE album in full ... on its fiftieth anniversary)

Warriors Of Nanpantan: TWO songs
(one we do a lot, one from before The Validators EVEN EXISTED, and which I'm VERY excited about finally doing with The Vlads)

(one of which is Just In Case Somebody Dies - "Wouldn't it be AMAZING if she died while we were on tour?" I asked. "THAT'S WHAT WE WERE ALL THINKING")

Regardez, Ecoutez et Repetez: NINE (9) songs - NINE!

Obviously we'll not be doing THE WHOLE LOT at any point, but it'll be nice to go out with some CHOICE again... although there's always a chance that we'll forget how to play them all between now and the actual gigs!

It was a GRATE practice I must say - we got everything done we needed to do, to everybody's satisfaction, and it sounded really good. The rehearsal studio advertised itself as having The Best PA In The Midlands and it has to be said that it was probably the BEST I'd ever used in a rehearsal room. Clearly that isn't the HUGEST compliment, but it was very nice iNDEED ot actually be able to hear myself... even if other Validators did not seem to appreciate it quite so much. At times it also felt like there were SIX of us there - Tom had worked out the TRUMPETS for one of the songs, which sounded LOVELY and LIKE TRUMPETS, despite him claiming he wasn't using special effects, but then we could hear trumpets on OTHER songs later on too. STRANGE.

Anyway, we got packed up and left what appeared to be a DESERTED BUILDING - we took EXTREME care with our Idiot Checks, as it didn't look like we'd be able to get back in once we'd shut the door behind them - and went our seperate ways, The Pattisons to relieve a babysitter, the rest of us to The Abbey, a REALLY nice pub in a SURPRISINGLY nice bit of Derby. Do not misunderstand, I have GRATE affection for this fine city, but I've never seen a bit of it that looks quite so DELIGHTFUL before. Inside was really nice too, and we passed the final part of a CHARMING evening in convivial conversation, all looking forward to the tour, when we'd be able to do this sort of thing for five days in a row.

I can't wait!

posted 21/4/2009 by MJ Hibbett

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The Abbey is AMAZING, isn't it? I'm hopefully moving house to that area soon, at which point I will become absolutely content, and then presumably explode.
posted 22/4/2009 by Tom Vorton

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