Catastrophe (Actual) Hits
Updated: Mar 8, 2022
How's it going? I promise I'll stop using mangled versions of the album name for these blog titles soon. Not now, but soon.
This was meant to be a tour diary blog, and it is, but I think I'd better start it off with some really mad, brilliant news that if you're reading this you've probably had a hand in.
With the vinyl arriving in Mid-Feb and being distributed to shops for the last Friday in the month, it's only gone and charted! I'm still trying to get my head around it, to be honest.
CATASTROPHE HITS is currently:
NUMBER 7 IN THE SCOTTISH ALBUM CHART
NUMBER 10 IN THE UK VINYL CHART
NUMBER 16 IN THE UK INDEPENDENT CHART
NUMBER 29 IN THE UK PHYSICAL SALES CHART
That's quite something isn't it? I am absolutely delighted. I had a brief sob when the chart came in, before toxic masculinity and terminal stoicism reaffirmed their grip. Like, three to five seconds of pure ugly crying, man. It's been a long couple of years.
Big love to Last Night From Glasgow, Olive Grove Records, Creative Scotland, Paul Savage and the Catastrophe Hitmakers, and to all of you who bought the record so far.
It would be amazing to keep it in the hit parade for at a least another week, so why not pick up a copy from your local record shop or from the chart-registered LNFG shop here.
But! We've just done some shows too. And it was brilliant to be back onstage. So, so good. It was a run of five dates in England, preceded by a very enjoyable Quay Session on BBC Radio Scotland. Roddy Hart is an absolute gent and it was pleasure to have a big long chat about the record and the tour with him, and to play four songs from the LP live on air. It actually felt considerably less terrifying than usual. If you've never done it, and you were wondering, playing live on the radio is an absolute whitey. If I am ever going to shomit, this is probably when it's going to happen. I think it's something to do with there being no visible audience. Just thousands of punters in their homes, cars, and places of work. The filmed Quay Session we did in 2019 with a live studio audience was much less nerve-wracking. But! I'm a professional and I'm not going to moan about playing on the radio because it's a very cool thing to do. It's a great experience and once you relax into it, it's a real buzz. And it's brilliant to be asked, of course.
You can still listen again here. Look at us all there. Big happy heads on us in Studio 1 in Pacific Quay. Taken by Mr Hart at the top of the stairs that have various different surfaces across them for radio-drama sound-use. We leave the studio in the van and straight into traffic and pedestrians leaving Ibrox. The less said about that, the better.
The next morning we fling gear from our practice space into the van, that we've flung from the van into the practice space after the BBC only nine hours before. This is one of the many things they don't warn you about - being a musician is all carring things and spreadsheets.
We're heading out on these dates as a four-piece and I've got our coffee our order down pat after all the practicing recently. I feel less resented for the fact that we're all standing in the car park in the heavy snow, as I am holding: an Americano (Bart); an oat milk flat white (Big Red); and an extra hot soy chai tea latte (Auds). Mine's a cappuccino, if you're asking.
We arrive at Tebay Services in Cumbria, a point of pilgrimage for many a touring musician, and are looked at like we're a bunch of weirdos because we're still wearing masks. This will become a running theme. When there are whole busloads of weans kicking about, I'd rather a hazmat suit rather than just a mask.
COVID has meant that booking any shows has been a leap of faith, and the re-scheduling of hundreds, thousands, of shows has meant that BC shows in 2022 will be in clumps rather than big runs. This will explain the slightly bizarre geographic decisions that follow.
Our first venue is Paper Dress Vintage in London. Hackney is unusually quiet and I try not to take this as an omen. It turns out I should've. I could sugarcoat this; I could do that thing that so often us independent musicians do and pretend everything goes brilliantly all the time. I'm not going to. That's one of the many dangers of social media being such an integral part of music (and everything) these days - false representations of reality are unhealthy and unhelpful.
It's the fewest folk I've played to in London since 2009 and it is chastening. It's far from a disaster but it is a worrying start to gigging in 2022, especially in a city in which I am used to a crowd. Those who come to the merch stand seem nervous - it is many of their first gigs since summer 2021, if not since before the pandemic started. Audrey's new bandmate Alex is there and is an absolute gent carrying my obnoxiously heavy 1974 Fender Twin Reverb amplifier out while I go and get the van, despite my imploring him not to.
We head to Toddington M1 Services (Southbound) Travelodge to get us out of London and part of the way to our next show. This is the first night of Travelodge shitehawking. Bart, Audrey and Big Red have convinced me to stop being a fanny and cease my mini-crisis about tonight's show as they rattle through the sparkling wine from the Minogue Region of Italy (#Ad). The Toddington M1 Services (Southbound) Travelodge is not the nicest Travelodge we will ever stay in, but it is far from boring.
As I sit in the van waiting for the others to check out, a man playing with a puppy in the carpark attracts the attention of a couple in their 50s in a van, one of whom is dressed as a schoolgirl. I try and block out the ensuing conversation for my own well-being. The sock immediately underneath mine and Bart's window should have been seen as foreshadowing.
We head towards Chester, and Telford's Warehouse, which is a really rather picturesque venue on a canal. We soundcheck and head to the nearest supermarket for post-show provisions for our hotel that night. I had a pre-tour grooming disaster where my clippers packed in as soon as they touched my beard leaving me feeling a little unkempt and deranged-looking. I pick some new clippers and threaten to use them backstage much to Audrey's horror. I sensibly wait until later.
The supermarket looks like it is in a post-apocalyptic drama and those handful of people who are in there with us look like they have forgotten why they came in. We see no-one in between the store and the venue. It is creepy. But Chester is very pretty.
The gig itself is a tonic. We play very well, we go down very well, and there is an enthusiastic queue at the merch who buy a fair whack of records. We have the pleasure of meeting some of the lovely pop group Campfire Social. It really is a great night and I, personally, leave the venue full of relief and joy. Tonight's Travelodge is Crewe Bartholmley booked for it's convenience, affordability, and appeal to Bart. Its frontage is Mock Tudor and its shower pressure is immense. We have another travelol party and I learn some things about everyone and myself. I struggle to remember the last time I laughed so much. I awake to see a KFC mere feet from our window.
We are on our way to Kent now. Yes, tonight's venue is about an hour from the London one. Geographical madness, I told ye. I'm excited about tonight. The Oast in Rainham was a real highlight of the limited touring we managed to do for the first record, and we're playing with Mammoth Penguins who, as well as being a fantastic pop band, are fronted by my pal Emma who I've not seen for pandemic-enforced years. The promoter, Careful Now, are exactly what you want in a DIY indiepop promoter - they're sound folk and they have an engaged audience who trust them.
The gig is a bawhair away from sold out and there are a fair few Broken Chanter t-shirts in the audience near the stage. Mammoth Penguins are class, and I practically cartwheel onto the stage. The show is brilliant and we leave extremely happy. We're back in Toddington M1 Services (Southbound) Travelodge. It pales in comparison to the Barthomley one, and mine and Bart's shower malfunctions in manner that makes it look like it is retching water onto us.
We head back to Glasgow and count the days nay, the hours, until we are all back in one another's company. Why not pop a wee digital bookmark in here and stick the kettle on?
Storm Eunice is absolutely at it. We're loading the van in a blizzard and the only contestant to ever go on to be a gladiator is battering England and Wales senseless. It's 7 hours of hoping that our van isn't going to become the star of a viral video flying sideways through the garden of some who lives next to the M6, M1, or M11. The journey is punctuated by me shouting variations on "FFFFFFFFAUUU...." as the Eunice takes the wheel with a gust, but we make it to Cambridge intact. It was pretty hairy at times, though.
We enjoy a candlelit pizza dinner in the venue while we convince ourselves that we are definitely here and that that Tesco lorry didn't actually topple onto us, leaving us all in the waiting room for the great beyond.
Tonight is show 2 of 3 this run with Mammoth Penguins. Twitter tells us that some ticket holders have been stranded because of Eunice and her windy fists.
The set is good. We play very well and it's a good laugh. Someone films the entirety of Don't Move to Denmark right in front of me which is always a odd experience. Don't put that anywhere weird, please. The merch stand is a riot tonight. Folk seem to have taken real advantage of a varied bar menu and one woman repeatedly tries to get me to drink some Irn Bru IPA (I'm Scottish) despite my numerous protestations that I don't drink. No, I won't just have a wee bit. Please don't do this if someone refuses a drink. Another person who is very much enjoying their evening tells me their friend didn't like our set, while she buys a tote bag. Music is subjective, I tell her. It's grand. Her pal who thinks we're shite stands next to her and manages a spluttered "I've just bought an 8 string guitar, you see. I like metal". Poor felly. It's grand, it's grand.
Tonight's Travelodge is next to a Cineworld and shopping centre that has been built in the middle of a nature reserve. Big dystopian vibes. Big Tory vibes. The shower was fine, but there were many lads with glazed eyes wandering about and reeking of hash. Made the whole scene eerier with the remnants of Eunice outside. A decent sleep but.
The next morning we roll into a chain restaurant, that will remain nameless for reasons that will quickly become obvious, to try and undo the damage done by Kylie Minogue (#Ad) the night before. Audrey has soup for breakfast like a pervert, and discovers what looks like half of the main character from Ratatouille in her first spoonful. I'll never forget the look on the waiter who noticed it at exactly the same moment's face as they immediately whipped the bowl from the table. It's one of the times I've been most grateful not to have had a hangover. Audrey is traumatised.
We head on to Coventry and to Kitchen Club at The Tin. It's a recently refurbished arts venue in a series of arches next to the canal and it is utterly charming. The sound onstage is excellent and we find a Chinese restaurant that does absolutely dynamite chilli tofu. All good signs. The gig is busy, we go down very well, and we sell records. See earlier comments about excellent DIY promoters. Hopefully my first time in Coventry won't be our last. A real pleasure.
It's the Mock Tudor Travelodge on the way up the road again. No party tonight. The next day brings with it more absolutely shocking weather and we pass a car that has overturned in the inside lane of the M74. Everyone looks to be OK, but it's a stark reminder of the perils of the worsening conditions.
I return the van to Edinburgh after we load out in Glasgow. I get the train from Edinburgh to Glasgow. I am knackered and a facsimile of my normal self. Runs of good shows have quite a significant come down. I apologise to my wife for my thousand yard stare and I try to acclimatise to not having a soundcheck. I miss Audrey, Big Red, and Bart and it's only been a few hours. If you ever go on tour, never take anyone you don't consider to be an absolutely excellent person.
There are more gigs on the horizon though. Catastrophe Hits Scotland. Joining me for Kyle of Lochalsh and St Monans will be Linzi Clark, whose album All I Have Now has been in my headphones an awful lot recently. The inimitable Raveloe will be joining me at The Glad Cafe, and tickets for Glasgow are going really rather fast so I'm told, so perhaps get yours asap. I can't wait to get to Harbour Arts in Irvine, as this is the fifth date that this show has had. No idea why lol etc. Adam Ross of Randolph's Leap fame joins me at The Tolbooth for what should be a cracking night. Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee will see me joined by talented labelmate Leo Mt Doubt, and national treasure MJ Henry of De Rosa. I can't wait. Get your tickets. Get em now.
1/4 KYLE OF LOCHALSH Skye Bridge Studio
2/4 ST MONANS Futtle
8/4 GLASGOW Glad Café
13/5 IRVINE Harbour Arts
14/5 STIRLING Tolbooth
9/6 EDINBURGH Sneaky Pete's
10/6 ABERDEEN Tunnels
11/6 DUNDEE Hunter S Thompson
How are you getting on? Where do you want to see the Chanter Wagon roll in to? Don't say "The Clyde", thanks. Let us know in the comments. Any bad behaviour will result in a battering.