I'm on tour. It's not a band tour, as I'm sans artists, equipment or talent, and it's not a ladz tour, as I'm just one lad. There's no plural here. Right now I'm in Coventry on a rickety old Megabus. The notion of scanning for wireless seems as hopeful as that of finding a pot of gold at the end of the trip, so I'm going to save us all the embarassment and go all 90's, staying offline and disconnected from the world. Glancing out my window to the right I can see the trio of hate, B-Wise, Wilkinson and Iceland. Lynchpins of the British highstreet shopping industry. I don't think I like Coventry.
In a couple more hours I'll be in Manchester. I don't know the city very well and need to find my way from the bus stop to the Parcelforce depot to collect 5000 flyers (as if I wasn't already struggling under the weight of 5 days worth of clothes, toileteries, CDs, this laptop and assorted wires), to my friends house, to the venue. And only when I reach my final destination does the fun really begin.
Tonight is the first night of Kevin Devine's tour with Brand New. As the label AND press agent, I'll be locating and organising journalists to conduct their interviews, fielding last minute phonecalls about guestlist places and making sure all's ok with the merch table, in which lies a whole series of 'bonus' stress...
Kevin's album comes packaged in lovely die-cut gatefold digipak sleeves. They look incredible, or at least they would, if they were here! Due to the lavish nature of the packaging, and our Tesco Value budget for such things, it worked out cheaper to have the sleeves printed in New York - where a stencil for the cut-outs already existed - and source the CDs and booklets via our usual suppliers in Europe. The inner components arrived last Thursday. The CDs sound great, the booklets read just fine, but where are the sleeves? "They'll be with you Friday" disappeared into radio silence over the weekend, before turning into "we'll send them overnight to reach you in Manchester Tuesday" to the most heart-breaking phonecall in BSM history: "As far as I know, they haven't gone into production yet"
Lies, confusion, whatever, the fact of the matter is that the dagger was plunged into my chest at roughly 11pm last night, exactly 12 hours before my coach was due to depart north for day one of the tour. What am I supposed to do now?
A fairly sleepless night saw me up at 7am this morning, burning and printing 32 CD-Rs (the most my limited time would afford), printing paper slips, sending frantic emails, packing my bag and just about avoiding the temptation to beat the living shit out of the would-be beatiful butterfly elergently swirling above my head. I'm not a fan of ironic symolism.
So, to cut a long story short, here I am, loaded with 32 musical receipts (AKA CDs full of 6 unreleased tracks), along with 32 pieces of paper asking people to pledge their money, fill in their details and put their faith in the postal service, with the promise of a CD to come as soon as the New Yorkers pull their fingers out. Far from ideal, and with a sell out capacity of well over 2000 passing through the venue tonight, I'll be the guy stood sheepishly drunk in the corner. Escapism is never going to taste so good.
Next stop Glasgow, and the slim hope of a delivery of CD sleeves awaiting us at the venue.