11/05/13 Bucks Student Union, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire

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For you or me it might be unusual to stand on top of a woman lying on a bed of nails whilst you play the saxophone. Well, not if you’re part of Slamboree, the raucous DJ/live band/circus party band. At one point backstage a juggler was teaching me to throw a hat correctly to land on my head whilst a rip-to-remove velcro dress was being tested out 2 feet away. I needed all my concentration skills for that one.

That’s right, to quote a line on the new Paper Aeroplanes album (out this week – double underline), I might run away with the circus. Really I might. Ever wondered why running away with the circus is such a cliche? (God what is it with quoting paper aeroplanes songs today…) It’s because they know how to have a good time.

We’re at Bucks New Uni’s end of the year … Read the rest

09/05/13 The Angel, Woodbridge, Suffolk

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I ain’t gonna lie, there have been times over the winter where I’ve thought “Is this really worth it? These new songs are rubbish.” Ah hello self-doubt! It’s like the friend who just puts you down and you wonder why you’re still friends with, but sometimes pushes you on to work harder and be better.

This past winter, when wrestling with a particularly difficult song, I would sometimes imagine packed-out, storming, successful nights like this one in Woodbridge just to taunt myself about how far away from all that I was. “Ooh these new songs are your best” people would be saying at my imagination gig while I looked down at yet another page of rejected lyrics.

Oh, if only old me could have seen new me at this gig! It was such a banger! And the new songs were at the heart of it. What a relief.

Looking back, … Read the rest

04/05/13 Miss Peapods, Penryn, Cornwall

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I’ve just finished one of those amazing books that breaks into your mind, jumbles all the furniture around, leaves a diamond and a turd on the kitchen counter and then laughs merrily off into the night. That’s right I am elated, confused and reaching for the Domestos. It’s called A Fraction Of The Whole and it reminded me a lot of another book I loved – Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintence. They’re both father/son relationship stories told through a haze of infuriating and brilliant amateur philosophy and they both suggest that intelligence doesn’t make you happy.

I’ve definitely been trying to be intelligent in my songwriting recently, and lo and behold, the same bloody thing has happened to me. Sitting around trying to be intelligent made me isolated and self-indulgent. The more I think, the more I think thinking is my most unattractive attribute. It is doing … Read the rest

Canada Tour Blog Part 2

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Sometimes after a run of great gigs I find myself about to start the next one thinking “surely this one will screw up”. Maybe I do a rushed sound check and the panic and self-consciousness sets in, which feeds itself until it’s some sort of Jaba the Hut / Henry VIII fat king, laughing at me from behind its ugly dribbling face. The more self-conscious I feel, the less natural I act, and the less natural I act, the less natural everyone else acts too. “ooh I’m not sure about this guy… maybe he’s no good…” chatter chatter chatter… it spreads and suddenly everyone closes up like traders on the stock market. Or meercats or something.

The reverse is also true though, sometimes it doesn’t take much to make me feel confident and comfortable, a comment or tactful bit of space from someone, a last minute change to a setlist … Read the rest

Canada #1 – Fancy a room like this?

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It’s permanently set up for live music, with drums, piano, guitars, amps, a double bass (yes John Parker) and a pool table. Speaking of pools, there’s actually a swimming pool under the stage which they don’t really use. The trapdoor is under the drum stool…

If there’s one thing they have here in Canada it is space. It’s not much more expensive to build a big house than a small house, so they figure why not make a room like this? After 20 hours of travelling to a foreign country, this is what you want to see when you arrive.

I’ve been working on a song forever now called Watch Yourself, it’s been the source of a lot of love and stress for me, perhaps too much. I even broke down into a sobbing mess about it last week, not much of a cryer so that came as a … Read the rest

Open The Box!

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Last year I did a long series of tour blogs, really honest ones, and it turned out to be a real Pandora’s box of the thoughts and emotions that build up in me when playing music live. I couldn’t stop and did one almost every day.

This year has been Pandora’s Box in reverse – I couldn’t bring myself to open the damn thing! Aggh it just sat there in the corner. Sorry about that. How about a re-cap of the year so far, old-tour-blog-style?

So there we were with half a baboons hat and a retired geology professor. Not a bridge in sight and only 4 minutes until soundcheck…

Ok the truth is more prosaic! The last year or so has been about going from someone who plays to people in London to someone who plays to people throughout the UK. Two long tours later and I think me … Read the rest

#31 Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry

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There’s something quite intoxicating about a silent crowd.

When you first start doing gigs the crowd is like a wild lion to tame, and more often than not you expect to get mauled. Rise up through the ranks and one day the crowd might become yours – silent, compliant and rolling over like a house cat.

But be warned, don’t forget the value of a few claws, a few play fights. Those who can’t help but shout things out, remind you they’re still there, rage against the dying of the house lights. Otherwise that generic film line starts creeping in… “Hmm…. It’s almost… too quiet…”… Read the rest

#29 Greystones, Sheffield

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Everyone comes to a gig via their own route. You might have just broken up with someone, maybe you had a great day at work, maybe you miss someone, maybe you want to party, maybe you want to talk to no one and be miserable.

As well as that everyone has their own relationship with the music. Is this song uplifting or depressing? Is that song about relationships with others or our relationship with ourselves? What does it all mean? Your favourite song may be someone else’s least favourite.… Read the rest