Touring the UK with Ugly Kid Joe.
After much planning, the day had arrived to make the 14,000km trek from Perth, Western Australia to London for Hailmary’s first international tour. And not just any tour, but touring the United Kingdom with Ugly Kid Joe on their Uglier Than They Used Ta Be Tour. Pretty surreal as they are a band we all grew up listening to; and America’s Least Wanted was the first Album I ever bought, so to be personally invited by Whitfield Crane to join this tour is incredibly cool.
Hailmary’s a “bi-coastal” band; three of us live in Perth - I (singer/guitarist), Vas (drums) and Cush (lead guitar) while Mick, our bass player, lives nearly 3000 kilometres away in Melbourne. Not the most normal of band situations, but we tour pretty regularly, so our time apart isn’t that long. It was great that Mick flew into Perth a few days earlier so we could get in some much needed rehearsals, and we got to celebrate with a killer Farewell show, so we were set and ready to go.
Our flight to Abu Dhabi was delayed a few hours so we soaked up the ambience of the airport bar, getting primed for the two long flights ahead of us – 11½ hours to Abu Dhabi, two-and-a-half hours stopover and then eight hours to London Heathrow to arrive at 7.30am Wednesday morning.
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Fast forward 24 hours and London Heathrow at 7.30am hits us in the face. Holy shit! Bags collected and off we go to find our sound engineer Paulie Tipping who has flown in from Melbourne to join the tour. Paulie’s one of the best in the business, a seasoned touring engineer, rad dude, epic bass player and we’re amped he’s here.
“Bands for Vans” met us at the airport and handed over the keys to our splitter Van. Mick lived in London for a few years, so he’s designated driver for the trip and the first stop of the day is to the Ace Bros Headquarters, a backline and production company owned by two of Mick’s best mates – Charlie and Aleks. They’ve offered up their warehouse for us to stay in and rehearse for the next few days, seriously two great blokes who would give you the shirt off their back.
So whilst most people spend their first day in London checking out Big Ben and having tea with the Queen, we spent seven hours crawling through absolutely insane mass traffic to various locations picking up and the amps and drums we’d bought on English Gumtree before we left Oz. A bit of a risk buying this way, but it all turned out sweet.
We headed back to the warehouse after a ripper feed from the local fish and chip shop and unpacked our new banners and drum skin that had arrived today. They look awesome and will definitely add a better visual element to our set.
Beers, bed, night!
As a prelude to the Ugly Kid Joe Tour, we’ve hooked up three shows with a band who hail from San Francisco in the US called T Clemente and so we spend the morning getting things sorted for tonight’s show at 12 Bar Club in London.
Weather’s been surprisingly good, nice and sunny, so time to play and chill out. Got to check out Wembley Stadium too; – what an amazing piece of architecture.
First show of the tour is done and dusted! The 12 Bar Club is a really cool old school type rock bar that has a lot of character. T Clemente were great and it was cool to get a gig under our belts to blow off the jetlag and warm up before the Ugly Kid Joe Tour starts on Monday. Word keeps coming in that each of the UKJ shows are either sold-out or close to it, we’re pumped, gonna be epic.
Tonight’s show was in Barnstaple, North Devon, a three-hour drive out of London. So much scenery and then more scenery, and yep, more scenery.
We spent the drive with the volume cranked high listing to an advanced copy of the new Ugly Kid Joe record Uglier Than They Use Ta Be sent to us from Whit Crane himself, super cool. Sounding shit hot!
Good show tonight at cool little venue called the Golden Lion Tap, and another good chance for us to iron out the set - it’s coming together nicely.
Today we headed further north to Ilfracombe a cool little seaside town and spent the day doing a bit of sightseeing.
The views in this place are amazing. We climbed to the top of Capstone Hill, definitely gave the legs a work out getting up to the top but it was worth it to see the beautiful hills and the city.
Was a really fun show at the Chill Bar in the city centre. Definitely the best of the three warm up shows we have done, cool crowd turned out for the gig and seemed to really get into our brand of hard rock.
We farewelled our new buddies from the T Clemente band, really nice people, In fact nearly everyone we have met so far has been super friendly and helpful including the young locals who invited us to a party they were having after the gig. We stopped in for a drink with them, cause that’s the Aussie thing to do.
A big cheers to Ray and Jackie who not only promoted the two North Devon shows, but were also very generous in letting us stay in their second home for a few nights. Four nights in and no park benches required!
No gig today, but the drive from Ilfracombe back to London chewed up way more time than we were hoping. There was an accident of the freeway so what should have been a three hour drive turned into five.
It was great to get back to the Ace Brothers headquarters and chill out with a BBQ before we set up in their studio for a jam/rehearsal and some recording. Charlie and Aleks (Ace Bros) are filming nearly all our movements to put together a kind of documentary of our visit. Very cool and will be interesting to see when it’s finished.
Rehearsal was pretty short, we’re all feeling very fatigued, a little nervous too and wanted to get in an early night in preparation for our first show on the Ugly Kid Joe tour tomorrow.
Holy shit – Day one of the Ugly Kid Joe Tour is finally here and we are amped to head up to Milton Keynes. Kids on Christmas morning have nothing on how pumped we are.
We made a quick stop in the morning to get some last minute supplies for the tour – a two hour drive, with a quick stop at the Marshall Factory and then to the gig venue – The Crauford Arms where we met up with The Ugly Kid Joe lads and the guys from Richards/Crane.
Richards/Crane is an acoustic side project for Whit Crane from Ugly Kid Joe and Lee Richards from Godsmack and they’ll be opening the show on this Tour. With them on guitar is fellow Aussie Tim McMillan. Tim’s based mainly in Europe these days, but was great to catch up with him again after sharing stages with him in Perth and Melbourne over the years. He’s an insanely talented guitarist and real nice fella too. As they say, it’s a small world.
Show time – unfortunately we didn't get to sound check before the gig due to time constraints and had to go up there and do our best. Richards/Crane had warmed up the crowd and we were pumped. Pretty cool to play to a sold-out crowd on our first show and we got a really good response and definitely made some new fans. We are super buzzed right now but at the same time looking forward to getting better with each show.
Much merch was sold (yay we can eat) and we prepared ourselves to be blown away by UKJ’s set, and that they were - hella good.
Once again the kindness of people is amazing. The owner of The Craufurd Arms let us stay in their accommodation for free and was super helpful, many cheers! Onto Manchester.
Early rise this morning as had another visit to the Marshall Factory planned. One of the guys from The Crauford Arms hooked us up with a tour around the factory to show exactly what goes in to making Marshall amps. Paul was absolutely buzzing, particularly about the Marshall Silver Jubilee Stack and the signed Slash Gibson Les Paul. Big cheers to the super friendly Steve Hill who showed us about the place.
It was then en-route to play another SOLD-OUT show, this time at Sound Control in Manchester. A very cool venue, screens at the bar so you can watch the bands when you get a drink, and a really big backstage area to chill out in before our set, which was ace.
We had a really solid set tonight, the punters seem to really dig our brand of Aussie rock and the crowd was really behind us. I broke a string mid set and Vas busted his hand open on the kit which resulted in blood flying all over the place. We finished this set drenched in sweat but so pumped, definitely the best gig of the tour so far for us tonight.
Day off and Scotland tomorrow!
Up early to hit the road for the long drive from Manchester to Glasgow. The scenery as we entered Scotland was amazing, lush greenery highlands, epic!
We had no idea what we were doing for accommodation for the next two nights; we’ve been winging it for the entire trip and appreciating kind hospitality where it was offered. Luckily, Gaynor, a super awesome friend of Mick that he met on a previous tour put the word out and we ended up getting taken in by a rad couple called Mick and Kath who welcome us in their beautiful home and took great such great care of us. Such amazing people and we were so thankful.
We had a really chilled day with them, a few bevvies around an open fire and finally got to wash our clothes, so a good day indeed.
It’s gig day once again, and tonight it’s The Garage in Glasgow, another really cool venue. We managed to get in early and got the chance for an extensive sound check.
We got introduced to Buckfast, a drink quite well known around these parts. Mick and Vas thought it would be funny and took it onstage with them to huge cheers of the crowd. Another packed to the rafters room and once again, another crowd really responsive to our set.
Whilst Ugly Kid Joe were tearing the roof off, we were inundated with people wanting pics with us and buying shitloads of merch. We broke our merch record tonight, so we must be doing something right!
Tonight was a particularly special show for me as I was born in Scotland, so it felt good to be back here with my Scottish peeps and my brothers in the band.
Guid nicht from Glasgow.