Sunday, 8 February 2009

Katerwaul's Glasgow adventure

As usual with going to glasgow, it rained. The whole car journey down it rained. I amused my self by watching the IT crowd on my ipod because the view from my window obscured by condensation and Nick and Sam had the likes of Deacon Blue blasting out of the speakers. I couldn't hear a word they said and I'm not sure they could hear me. But we got there safely. We puled up at the Belgrave Hotel on great western road about 3pm. Its a great place to stay. Me and Nick checked into our rooms and were pleasently surprised with the huge beds, flat screen TV, computer with internet and free wifi network and a Swedish sauna style ensuite. I waited for Rae to arrive and marvel at it beauty. She did so an hour later and Marvel she did.

At 7pm Rae and I met Daveheart and Graham for dinner in BLOC, our venue for the evening. We were told not to show up till 8pm because they served food till then. So we took advantage of their two pizzas for eight pound offer which was accompanied by the biggest side order of curly fries known to man or even God for that matter, seriously. While I'm on that topic why is it that curly fries taste so much better than normal fries or chips? Does everyone else agree? What is it in the curling process in the potato that brings out that crunch and flavour?

By 8:30 we were hauling our equipment into the bar and setting up. There is no stage in BLOC, just an area where they've cleared a table away by jamming into a window alcove. The first band kicked off at nine. "State Of Affairs" kicked off with what I can only describe as singable, lovable feel good rock. If Evan Dando sang for Foo Fighters and collaborated closely with Dave Grohl on songwriting duties. The crowd loved it. This made me and the others very nervous. Especially since the last out of town gig we did in Dundee didn't go down well and resulted in the only time so far we've been berated online. But when state of affairs came off it was time to sepperate the men from the boys.
Setting up seemed to have an air of history repeating itself. In Dundee I had a problem with the Amp I was borrowing in that the clean channel malfunctioned resulting in me doing the gig in nothing but distortion. Which fueled the fire for berating us on the local forums. I plugged my guitar in and what do you know... the all too familiar sound of warm dirty distortion laughing in my ear asking me "what you gonna do now?". Fortunately for me it got sorted out. And we played pretty well. The only real sketchy moment was when during the build up at the end of "December Doesn't Hurt" cramp hijacked Nick's arm a few bars early causing him to break into a random splurge of drum hits and symbol splashes in an obscure time signature. We went with it and played random notes resulting in what I like to call "free form jazz". And thats exactly what everyone else thought. Then we stopped for a bars rest before entering the heavy ending riff. I thought to myself "wow, maybe we should do that all the time." Nick, the perfectionist that he is, beat himself up most the night seeing it as a catastrophic error on his part. But to be honest if he didn't he wouldn't be the great drummer that he is. Constantly pushing for perfection not knowing just how great he actually is. I was proud of us that night and it was topped off by going home with only thirty copies of our CD out of eighty. It was great to see Adam Florence from :( an old school mate of Graham and Sam's. It was particularly nice to see Beth, Andy and Graham who had moved to Glasgow over two years ago. And for Kirsty, Graham's long serving girlfriend to finally have us play in her own back garden.

After a great gig with thanks to Sam and Jamie of 45 a-side records it was off to ABC for some dancing then some scoobie snax on the way home. So to end I want to inform you all on the scoobie snack. Its a Burger bun with a Burger, Lorne sausage, two potato scones and a fried egg wedged between it with some tomato ketchup as the moist maker. I didn't participate in this as I had already had some fish but Graham, Sam, Dave and Nick all had one. Every one finished theirs of but Sam who set his a-light and sacrificed it to the God of the Clyde.

Happy Birthday Nick & Tim

"In The Absence Of My Presence"

I understand its been a while since I last blogged, and I'm very sorry to all four of you who actually follow it. I've been very busy for the past three weeks. First of finishing "Catalyst Of Everything" wasn't as straight forward as I made out in my last post. Oh dear God no. For a start "The Sound Of Burning Letters" was dropped and replaced by "In The Absence Of My Presence", a full band re-working of the piano track of similar title on "Prologue".

Why the sudden change? Well I was pretty happy to go ahead with the original plan, that was until our producer Dave(heart or cool pants as Rae likes to call him) thought it a better suggestion to put a track that we actually played live on sampl
er CD. After the whole point in the sampler is to raise awareness of the band and what we do at shows. One thing we do not do is wheel an antique piano onto the stage for the sake of 5minutes. Albeit 5minutes of heart wrenching moaning while Graham, Sam and Nick get bored watching the audience in some sort of odd roll reversal.

Thats not to say that "In The Absence Of Prese
nce" is without its emotional content. Oh no. That would not be the Tim J Courtney way of lyric writing. In fact this song is probably the most personal of songs I have ever penned. Just over two years ago I found a lump on my left testicle. If the word testicle offends you I suggest you stop reading now. We've all made ball jokes, and yes balls are funny, dicks are funny but the prospect of loosing them is the scariest thing next to dying from cancer. And I had to experience the fear both of at the same time. One in three people in Britain will have a cancer scare of some sort and I well and truly got mine, its safe to say I shat my fucking pants.

I have never before been so scared in my entire life. The only people I told were Laura (my longterm partner) and Shaun (friend/film collaborator). I didn't want to tell my family because I didn't want them to worry them unnecessarily, even though the pessimist in me feared the worst. Phoning the doctor for an appointment was hard but actually speaking the words out loud to my doctor really hit home what I was going through. I got an embarrassing feel from my doctors cold hands and the nod she gave me made me want to cry. Suddenly I was a nine year old boy who'd banged his head and feared having to get stitches again, but the twenty something male in me held it together barely.

I was booked in for an ultrasound scan at the hospital a week later. The irony in that being that ultrasound scans are most commonly used for checking on new life not determining whether they may loose one. I arrived at the hospital with Laura and Shaun, a nurse told me to follow a blue line from the lobby all the way to a waiting room. When my name was called I followed another blue line to the Scanning room. I lay down on the table and I went through the most underwhelming experience of my short life. Not only was I scared I was going to die, but a man wiped the coldest blue gel on my stones and started scanning them with what looked like supermarket pricing gun. All the while being observed by medical student before she got a hands on tutorial of how to use the machine. I'm afraid ladies and gentlemen the coolest man in the hospital is NOT the ultra-sound guy. They nodded and shook their heads, pointed at the screen, ummmmm-ed and ahhhh-ed before eventually telling me that I had to wait a week for results while they were checked over by the doctor and my GP. Bastard.

A week went by pretty slowly. I remember being really down and one argument I had with Laura at home. We were both feeling the stress and can only apologise to her for that. Although we are separated now she was the one th
ing I would miss the most. The prospect of missing out on living my life with the person I loved dawned on me but who was I actually angry at? I remember going into work and locking myself in the toilet to cry. I didn't get a lot of alone time at Laura's house so the toilet was the only place I was ever granted the oppertunity to be a big girl. I remember the day I went to the doctor and got the results. Another doctor, another student observation session. I was given the all clear. Thank God for that.

Months went by and It wasn't until I was looking after Shaun's house I sat down at his piano, played and Am, an F then a G and wrote "In The Absence Of My Prsence", the letter I would have left for Laura had the news been different:

"I learned that today I could die.

I'll be the presence of absence in the absence of my presence.
Please kiss me before you lay me down by the river.
Follow me along the blue line for the answers.
Our memories are an old shoe-box of polaroids.
Please kiss me before you lay me down to rest in the ground by the river.
Poke me so I don't sleep.
Make the bed around me so I don't drown in these tears."

Me and Laura are still friends after a long and complicated break up. But my fondest memory of her was the nights she would come round to my flat and bug me. We'd stay up all night talking curled up on the living room sofa. We'd poke each other saying "poke poke" if the other would begin to fall asleep. There are other references in there that I think should always be kept private, other wise It won't be as personal to me.

In reading this I hope that "Catalyst Of Everything" succeeds in being an unlikely concept CD of love and tragedy.

Thank you for reading.

You can download "Catalyst Of Everything" or get it from 1-up in Aberdeen or avalanche records in Glasgow.
Download "The Beat That My Heart Skipped"
Download "In The Absence Of My Presence"