Just about the ideal act when it comes to talkin’ travel, London-based Aussie/English indie-poppers Allo Darlin’ do love a romantic tale about people they’ve seen in places they’ve been (evidence: their last album was ‘Europe’, the new one is ‘We Come From The Same Place’). Not that their actuals travels have always been quite so romantic, as singer Elizabeth Morris attests. Be warned, the following reminiscences may contain inappropriate bodily functions.
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‘Romance And Adventure’, from We Come From The Same Place’
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“I think my favourite would have to be the last time we toured America, and we took The Wave Pictures with us. It was the kind of trip I think we'd all been dreaming of doing since we were teenagers. Especially going with The Wave Pictures, as they are such an English take on an American band.
“Hank Williams' house in Alabama, sunset in New Mexico, driving through the desert at 2am, playing pool against the locals in Lubbock, Texas, the Golden Gate Bridge covered in mist, driving back into New York City: so many clichés, and for once in your life you let yourself live them. I felt surrounded by the great things of American culture, like Allen Ginsberg and soul music and milkshakes. The end of the tour was like the end of Stand By Me. It was a real coming of age time, and I think we were all sad when it ended.”
“Well, luckily for us we haven't had that many bad tours. There was the time a guy with a sledgehammer broke into the bar we played in Montreal and tried to attack the waitress, or the time we drove through a gunfight in San Francisco, or the classic day our much-maligned van started smoking and finally died in France after we tried to fix it with gaffer tape. But one recent weekend in Spain really stands out. This is a pretty gross story, so if you're squeamish maybe don't read it.
“It was a weekend festival, underneath an amazing old Castillo near Alburquerque, the Spanish one, really in the middle of the desert. We had to drive quite far to get there, and we didn't play until three or four in the morning. At about 5am, after The Wave Pictures played, we had to pack up all the equipment and drive to the hotel, which was about 45 minutes away. As Paul and Fran were packing up the gear they noticed that there was this sticky stuff and horrible smell on Bill’s bass case. Closer inspection revealed it was human poo. Bill said, ‘Why has someone pooed on my bass? Were we that bad?’
“Clearly there weren’t enough toilets backstage and people decided to relieve themselves behind our van. We had then managed to drop and cover all the instrument cases in it. Horrible doesn’t really begin to describe it. I just remember Paul saying, ‘I did not sign up to this when I joined a band!’ He was very brave and did the lion’s share of the cleaning, for which I will forever be in his debt. We cleaned all of the cases back at the hotel. The next day one of our number was extremely hungover, and kept being sick in a Sainsbury’s bag the whole seven hours back to Barcelona. It was by far the worst tour we’ve ever had.”
My favourite foreign venue…
“It’s a tough call, but these immediately spring to mind:
“Cafe Kairo in Bern, Switzerland. A beautiful little cafe near the river, with a nice music room downstairs, gorgeous food, and a lovely hostel for bands to stay in. Nice crowds, too. Kind of a perfect venue as far as I’m concerned.
“Schubas in Chicago, USA. Beautiful big room with a disco ball, lovely veggie food and a great crowd both times we’ve played there.
“Black Cat in Washington DC, USA. Another great American all-ages venue, wonderful veggie food, run by guys who used to be in DC hardcore bands, and I think Dave Grohl is on it, too. Not too glamorous, just all the stuff that you really like to have is there and the staff are lovely and very helpful. Wonderful crowds, too.”
We're surprisingly popular in…
“Ha! I’m surprised we’re popular anywhere! I don’t really look at the statistics, but it is always amazing to see there are people in the Philippines listening to our music. The Philippines is the most exotic place in the world to me, I dream of going there one day.”
The best/worst exotic foodstuff…
“Being veggie you really miss out on the gross food, as it generally involves some kind of animal part. I know Bill has a particular fondness for strawberry laces in America. I think we get most excited when we go to an American diner and there is the menu like a phone book, with a sweet waitress who calls you ‘honey’ and pancake stacks towering like skyscrapers. Raclette in Switzerland is also extremely delicious!”
The most interesting item I've brought home…
“Normally my luggage is too full for any add-ons. I did buy a Miriam Makeba record in a lovely record store last time we were in Hamburg, which I adore.”
The most intriguing human I've met on the road…
“Wow, we meet so many lovely people, and so many strange people, too. Music really brings out all the characters, I could write a book about them all. But, I'd have to say my favourite human I’ve met is my husband, Ola.”
The worst on-tour injury/illness/infection…
“That would be Paul being struck by a really bad case of tinnitus after the CMJ festival. It was horrible for him and we couldn’t do much to help him, we felt so helpless. Look after your ears, kids!”
My essential travel item…
“Couldn’t pick just one. Earplugs, Nurofen, a book you haven’t read, a pen and a notebook to write in. Something to swim in. Sun cream. And some kind of treat, like fancy face wash or something that smells good.”
My essential travel tip…
“Don’t concentrate too hard on taking pictures – there’s too many these days – but do try to write something every day that will help you remember. You’ll treasure those words more than a photo on Facebook. Go swimming when you can, and try to take care of your health!”
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Interview: Si Hawkins
‘We Come From The Same Place’ is out on October 6th through Fortuna Pop. Find Allo Darlin’ online here. See them live as follows:
18th - Sticky Mike's Frog Bar, Brighton
19th - The Maze, Nottingham
20th - Deaf Institute, Manchester
21st - Unity Hall, Wakefield
22nd - Henderson Halls, Edinburgh
23rd - Star and Shadow Cinema, Newcastle
24th - Scala, London