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Thursday, May 31, 2012

The BBC

While I was in Singapore I took part in probably the biggest interview of my life.

We stumbled upon the producer of BBC World Asia at a swanky Nokia party at the Ritz Carlton and she was interested in putting a story together on the Music Matters event we were a part of. Ideally, she would have got hold of someone with a bit more news-clout, but I suspect she was stuck with me after other potential guests fell through.

The upside to it all was that the presenter, who I'd seen numerous times in early-morning BBC viewings, got to have her second guest ever in the studio with her - the guest previous to me being Malcolm McLaren - and her first ever "live performance".

There wasn't supposed to be a performance, I was awkwardly put on the spot, so I hope it didn't come across too cheesy to viewers :s

Anyway, this thing went out to 230 million household worldwide and it was all done live after a big night out so, all things considered, I count it as a success!



Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Bane of Our Tour


Meet Simon's pedal board or, as we named it, "Purple Heart" - the bane of our touring existence.

This thing was 23kg of awkwardness - no wheels, a shitty little knobbly handle and a big enough size to create a mission for any man lugging it from van to venue, van to train, train to train, ground to third storey...

We all took a bullet for this bastard, hence its name, and we're all glad we've seen the back of it. For now...

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tour - Days 31 & 32

Somehow two days have been lost in my writings...they're somewhere between Auckland and LA and maybe LA and London...I apologise profusely.


Number One
Going home
I was about ready for this, the long ride home. Although we somehow made it very hard for ourselves - we played a show Friday night (horrible venue, but fun) and stayed up all night to catch a flight to Hong Kong at 5am. Four hours later we arrived in a rain-soaked Hong Kong with the prospect of a further 36 hour wait until we made the trip to Auckland. It wasn't an ideal situation but at least we got to have some rest before we jumped on the final plane trip of the tour.



Number Two
Hong Kong
I arrived in Hong Kong battling stomach cramps from, I think, being dehydrated as hell on our last night in Singapore. The pain didn't really relent while I was there so it may have actually been a bit of a bug (I'm discovering I must have a sensitive stomach). So I pretty much spent the whole 36 hours in our hotel and its immediate surrounds. The best part of it all was that our hotel was no normal hotel - it was the Panda Hotel. And not just in name, this place was all about pandas, they were everywhere - and you have to love an animal that makes it seem like its only goal in life is to look good while becoming extinct.




Number Three
Welcome to fabulous...
Welcome to fabulous...Auckland! On Monday morning we descended through a thick layer of cloud to catch sight of a dull, rainy and cold cityscape - my home. As amazing as this adventure has been, there is nothing like the prospect of the comfort of friends, family and loved ones in the place where you live. That, and a decent coffee.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Tour - Day 30

Number One
A song from the road...
Enjoy
 

Number Two
Uneventful
This word looks like it's spelt wrong. I felt like shit today so hibernated away from the heat in my room.

Number Three
Photo set
Here's some more pics of yesterday's adventures.











Friday, May 25, 2012

Tour - Day 29

Number One
Flying Fox!
It was back to Sentosa Island for me today to get a few things done that I missed out on yesterday. First up was the highlight - MEGAZIP! A 450m-long flying fox that takes you out of a jungle-infested hill, over a beach and water and on to a neighbouring island. The video below should give you a fair idea of how it all went down.






Number Two
Toast Box
One of my goals for my visit to Singapore was to visit a world that could have come straight from my dreams - a specialist toast store. You see, I eat a lot of toast...I wake up almost every day and look forward to my toast fix. I'm not sure how to explain it though one reason for this obsession is that when I was young I was told I was allergic to dairy and if I wanted Rice Bubbles I had to have them with juice, not milk. Hence why I turned to toast for my breakfasts. Anyway - back to Toast Box - unfortunately the menu came from another cultural palette that I couldn't quite relate to enough to really enjoy. The coffee was great, but the boiled eggs were JUST boiled and very eggy tasting and the toast itself had a kind of spicy satay topping on it that was a little wrong. Am stoked I got to see it all for myself though and maybe one day I'll open my dream Toast Emporium in NZ that blows it away!


Number Three
Fine food and disbelief
I had been recommended a place to eat that was close to our hotel that basically only locals frequented - exactly the kind of place I wanted to go to - so three of us boys headed down there for dinner. After semi-expensive meals that were on-par with foodcourt-fare in New Zealand we finally found a great and super-cheap feed. I had a seafood Mee Goreng that was just perfect and filling for $4 AND was accompanied by a $6 Tiger quart... unbelievable - needless to say I'll be back there tomorrow.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Tour - Day 28

Number One
Sentosa Island
Today was all about the tourism. After a quick jaunt around Raffles Hotel and an extra-spicy lunch at Raffles Mall three of us decided to head to Sentosa Island, not really knowing what the hell was there. It turns out it's basically a massive resort, with hotels, golf courses, Universal Studios and a whole lot of other family-friendly activities. There's pretty beaches dotted along the coast, animal encounters, a weirdly huge sculpture of a "Merlion" (Mermaid/Lion), an oceanarium, a sky tower and probably a bunch more. We didn't have a huge budget for these kinds of things, but we decided to try out a couple...


Number Two
Luge
We had to do this. I always love a good luge in Rotorua and this one on Sentosa Island pays complete homage to the world's luging jewel. It's all pretty similar actually - you ride down a decent, but relatively short, track to the bottom of a hill where you then jump back on an open-air gondola which takes you back to the top. It was all pretty cool but the best part had to be seeing Si and Nick's luge-high fade into oblivion as they shat their pants on the gondola back up.


Number Three
Learning To Fall
After our last luge ride, Nick wandered off and returned to us with an expression of utter excitement on his face. It turns out he's always wanted to do indoor sky-diving - and here on Sentosa Island, they have the biggest wind tunnel in the world for this exact purpose. We couldn't leave without him giving it a go. It was pretty amazing to watch the pros doing flips and ninja-esque dives and upside-down spins but it paled in comparison to seeing Nick live his dream amongst unadulterated joy. Check it below.




Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Tour - Day 27

Number One
Singapore Fun Facts (so far)
* Beds are short - I feel tall for once in my life, even if it is lying down!
* Air conditioning, usually the bane of a vocalist's life, is my friend for once.
* Tap water is seldom found truly cold.
* It really is hot as hell here.
* Laundromats are very popular - three day wait for wash & dry means every possible hanging-space in my hotel room is full of undies and socks again.

Number Two
Money, money.
Ok, so I was pre-warned that Singapore would be a bit expensive, but this is ridiculous. I got the shock of my life today buying a 200ml glass of beer for $NZ13...and that wasn't even the most expensive option! I actually got really excited by a sign that said read: "Five Heinekens for $56" later in the night. It looks like it'll be a pretty dry week here for us. Though we did celebrate Matt's birthday with all the freebies we could muster at the launch of the festival we're playing at here - we will have to hunt more down. The strange thing about it all is that while drink, food and general shopping is expensive,  taxis are cheap as chips - I feel sorry for the guys really, they're missing out on all the ripping off!

Number Three
Four Floors of Whores
After the launch of the festival at Hard Rock Cafe we headed out for some "birthday drinks" (one round was all we got through on our budget) and we'd been told to check out Orchard Towers. Now, Orchard Towers sounds like a pretty tame name right? It's actually commonly known around town as the Four Floors of Whores and that's a very accurate description. We headed initially to a place called Ipanema where there were about 1000 people packed inside - of the 1000, about 200 were men, the other 800 were working girls while of the 200 men, about 190 were over the age of 40. It was absolutely bizarre, but an amazing sight. We then forced ourselves to the top floor of whores to see how convincing the local lady-boys were. They were. And now I trust no one.
I am crazy for Singapore. Matt loves birthdays.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tour - Day 26

Warning - boring travel day ahead...

Number One
Heathrow Toilet Paper
Congrats to the One Star Alliance lounge at Heathrow - your toilet paper is the best I had in Britain! (toilet paper in the UK is about as good as the stuff you wipe with it.)

Number Two
Matt's Birthday
We spent 11.5 hours flying to Hong Kong, had a five hour layover there before flying 3.5 hours to Singapore. Not much fun. I managed to knock myself out with a pill on the long flight though, so that wasn't too torturous. The weird thing about the whole travel day though was that Matt's birthday was somewhere in the midst of it all - I think we were present in May 21 for about seven hours. We're always away on the road for his birthday - the past five years - so this one was a bit underwhelming, though at least we have a good excuse to celebrate in Singapore.

Number Three
Singapore
We arrived at our hotel in Singapore at about 2am with a great appetite. The only thing open at that time was McDonalds, so we wandered down there and I had one of the best McDonalds burgers of my life - the Teppenyaki Chicken McGrill burger. Do it if you're ever here and your only option for food is fast.
Tomorrow's missions are to clean my clothes, successfully play an acoustic show and properly celebrate Matt's birthday.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Tour - Day 25

Number One
Skype
Internet has been a bitch while we've been in the UK - you either have to pay exorbitant prices or deal with ridiculous dial-up-esque speed. So it was with some irony that the crappiest place we've stayed at while we've been here has fast, free internet. I was great to see a few of my loved ones in the morning before they all went to sleep in NZ and I had to check out and head to the airport. Life for touring artists must have been a whole other deal without the internet - now, I imagine you don't feel so detached from the world.
Crappy place also pissed me off with crappy spelling below.

Number Two
Cheerio
We had a great send off from the guy we were working with on our shows in the UK, Richard Beck, at his house before we shot through. Beers and pizza on the roof and just enough time to re-charge my toothbrush and hunt for clean undies. I'm pretty rocknroll.

Number Three
Singapore
The prospects for our trip to Singapore are very intriguing to me - the weather forecast is for constant thunderstorms, while the shows are free to the public and seem to be very well organised at this point. I've also had a great email from a good friend of mine with advice on what to do there, so any free time should be well spent - barring food poisoning/influenza. My first mission when I'm there is to find a pair of jandals, fast.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Tour - Day 24

Number One
Reunited
It's been over three weeks since I tasted the sweet, sweet nectar of brown spread - but, here in Liverpool, I was offered a break to fast, and I took it with two hands. Thank you Liverpool.

NB: Marmite here actually tastes a lot like "Our Mate"...it's near the bottom of the brown spread pyramid-of-power, but at this point I'll take it!

Number Two
BBQ
We caught the train back to London, I downed a few more episodes of Sons of Anarchy on the way, and then I headed off to join some old Kiwi friends for a BBQ and a few beers. A lovely way to end my stay in the UK - even though it wasn't exactly BBQ weather in Wimbledon. I need to find some pork and chili sausages when I get back...

Number Three
Football fever
After the feed we sat down and watched the final of the Champions League between Chelsea and Bayern Munich. I'd hazard a guess that almost every pub in the UK was packed for this game and it didn't fail to deliver a spectacle - it all came down to a penalty shootout to find a winner. On the late walk back to our accomm, the streets were full and loud with Chelsea fans singing their team's praises. I wish New Zealanders, in general, had more outward passion for things other than just the All Blacks - there is nothing that I've seen in sport in NZ that can match the excitement created by even a Championship game of football here in the UK.
We're off to Singapore tomorrow, so it's goodbye to England.

Tour - Day 23

Number One
Liverpool - this land's the place I love.
I had a sleep in today for the first time on tour really - it's been tough to catch up when we change time zones all the time, so this was nice. We had the afternoon free so I wandered down the docks on this side of the Mersey and soaked up the city of my father's family. It's a strange feeling knowing this was where so many of my relatives grew up and formed their lives and how I'm now so separate to it all - it was great for once to straddle these generations and get some perspective. I checked out the new Liverpool museum, the Tate Gallery and the Maritime Museum - all great features of a much cleaner waterfront than what I remember when I visited as a kid. The port itself seemed very quiet for a city that was built around shipping - I hope that this wasn't a sad realisation for the place. 


Number Two
100% Scouse!
In one of my favorite encounters of the tour so far, I was approached by a local who wanted to know where one of the other festival venues was. Upon me telling him I had no idea, coming from New Zealand, he stated that he couldn't believe his eyes - "you're 100% scouse you are, look at ya!". My father would be proud.

Number Three
Taxis
One of the best part of my Liverpool experience was taking cabs around the city - the drivers are incredible and all possess that classic scouse sense of humor. If you ever visit the place, screw the trains and busses - take a cab and talk about anything in the world with the driver as it may just end up being the highlight of your day.