Navigating Drakes, Snakes, Breaks and Heartaches
When working without a promoter, who might handle all details relating to a show like accommodation, equipment, money or any other detail, we are required to have these conversations each time with individuals directly involved in the organizing. This is a constant shifting navigation, an act of negotiating similar but differing terrains.
This act of renavigating plans has been something of a significant consideration during this trip. The navigation of personal expectations of tour planning are confronted by the reality of the personal lives we interact with in this project. If this was simply a promoted tour it’s highly possible would would miss many of these meaningful, learning and sometimes humbling moments.
Tragedy and challenge are part of the human experience. On this trip illness and loss of life have been regular companions. Two good people that we have worked with previously, have both died this year. These are saddening losses for their individual communities. For us this has created planning challenges but our needs are not paramount at these times.
Hopes and expectations also have their own terrain. Not all negotiation delivers on desires. We spend our last days in the UK quietly as all the hunting for shows for the final weekend came to nought. But often a door closed opens another and we managed to see the most brilliant Bob Drake perform in Brighton. And as written in the previous entry the experience of the random networking of unknown people pitching in to help out was worth the experience.
We leave the ‘western’ world and head east to Thailand to reconnect with an old friend from Tenzenmen records who now lives in Chiang Rei. We explored the option of a show here in the far north but a lack of established venues or cohesive community of oddball music makers was not available. There are rumblings of ideas and plans which sound potentially exciting, so we wish them well for these future projects. During days off we learn about local superstitions, are informed to be wary of biting ants and snakes in the grass, and acclimatise ourselves to moving around in the local heat.
Traveling south to Chiang Mai we take part in a show with two local acts. We find out about the challenges of navigating the running of shows in this area, compounded by a lack of venues, frequent sound problems in gentrifying areas, and police raids. Our night though is without any of these dramas and it seems a good time is had all round. Next to Bangkok. We play in a small venue called Jam, a space that seems receptive to noisy shows and stylings in addition to hosting the more experimental of events. The show we play has been curated for diversity with performances from free improvised harsh noise, the psychedelic solo guitar of Mitsuru Tabata (of Acid Mother’s Temple and Zeni Geva), the loose, sludgy and raucous sounds of Yoga from Hell, us and then the local punk legends Lowfat. A sonically fantastic night.
We move south again to Kuala Lumpur. Again the importance of everyday realities influences and supersedes the priorities of touring and plans adjust and evolve.
The show we do play is cracking! It is held in a studio space on the KL/Selangor boundary. The lineup is ourselves with four grindcore bands, two of them coming from Semarang, Indonesia. Especially wonderful to reconnect with so many people who had seen us play before on previous tours. It was a bit of a first to have so much recollection of memories and brilliant to still see so many ordinarily continuing to be musically active in their own way across the years.
Another navigation of consideration while we travel is the climate. Everywhere we go there are frequent conversations about the changing weather patterns. Central Europe is in the grip of a massive heatwave with the hottest temperatures ever recorded. Chiang Rei should be in its rainy season but it is dry with only one day’s rain in months. Flying to Chiang Rei the dry brown of the rice paddies blanket the ground. The irony of our participation in these events with all these flights is not lost. We hear an interesting fact (unable to verify) that at any given moment 1,000,000 people are in the air moving around the globe. Each time we travel we offset the carbon with Ekos but that doesn’t negate the placing of carbon in the atomosphere in the first place. There are new gargantuan airports being built in China, as well as Chiang Mai, extension’s in Bangkok and elsewhere. The industry doesn’t seem to be slowing. Conversely travel is good for humans, it’s an opportunity to learn, expand understanding, learn tolerance and solidarity for other human behaviors, activities and practices.
We are all navigating this mine field together, but not equally. Many will feel the sharp end of this crisis before others. The urgency is here.
We depart KL with our dear friend Joe Kidd heading to the Malaysian country of Sabah, on the island of Borneo, for a few days planned rest and exploring before playing again.