Sleepmakeswaves On Tour With Karnivool - Part Two

16 July 2012 | 1:23 pm | Sleepmakeswaves

In which we get the topless photo from the tour we've been asking for.


Day 6 – Bateau Bay (The Entrance Leagues)

After a couple of days back at the day job, by Wednesday it's time to get back on the road. Kid, Tim and I head up in a couple of gear-filled cars to the Central Coast (Otto will be joining us by train later, after work). This is our first time playing on the coast and we're kinda curious to see what the response will be like. We roll into the back of the venue and say our hellos to everyone. Karnivool's sandwich rider is out on full display and I'm hungry again. I feel like enough of an old hand now to snarf one of the smaller triangles when no-one's looking. The perfect crime. Until I just included it in the tour diary, anyway.

The stage here is pretty cosy compared to the Hi-Fi back in Melbourne, but a bit larger than the Bended Elbow in Geelong. One thing we've learned over the years is how to quickly adapt our setup to stages of any size, a necessity if you're going to feel comfortable enough to put on a show. Shortly after we arrive, our sound guy Stu Marks turns up. We've worked with Stu for years and he's been a massive supporter of what we do, in addition to being one of the best behind the desk. It gives us a good feeling to know he'll be working the mix for us here and in Sydney.

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We have a lot of dead time to kill between Stu arriving and actually having to do our soundcheck, so we decide to head out into the main area of the club for a beer and a pub feed. The place is absolutely packed out for a Wednesday night, but no-one there except us seems shy of sixty years old. We feel a bit out of place, especially when the venue broadcasts a very loud apology over the PA for Karnivool's soundcheck, followed by a raffle for a couple of meat trays and an invitation to ride the courtesy bus home.

Otto arrives quite close to our soundcheck, which appears to be going well until his amp dies. Turns on, but decides it doesn't want to make any sound. Shit. Thankfully I'm able to rustle up the Redcoats guys and chat to them about it. Neil, their guitarist, kindly donates us his amp. He's got the goods; an Orange head going through a vintage Marshall 4x10, so Otto can definitely still pull a good tone. We finish the check and then have a quick chat amongst ourselves before we go on about how we might manage the rest of the tour with a blown amp. Looking at about $200-300 to rent one for the remaining week and a half before we head over to Perth, where we've already hired backline.

Neil's two-fingered salute

The show, when it comes, is pretty good and the crowd of 300 or 400 people seems reasonably into it. I'm not sure how many people have heard our style of music before, but we get a welcome reception and we definitely couldn't have played a show this big for our first Bateau Bay show if we were on our own. Thanks again, 'Vool.

On the way home after the show, Tim and I cruise off into the darkness to the sounds of Jakob's Solace. Killer night driving music.

No smoking

Day 7 – Sydney (Hi-Fi #1)

Kid comes to meet me at my place after conjuring up a bit of magic and resurrecting Otto's amp from the dead. Turns out the fuse was blown. Feels good to have it back and not to have to go further out of pocket on hire gear. We knock back some coffees and jam out on some prospective new material before heading over to the Hi-Fi. We randomly turn on to triple j to hear The Doctor interviewing Drew and Kenny from Karnivool, who give us and Redcoats a nice shout out (score!). We meet Tim in the Hi-Fi carpark and Otto rocks up shortly after we've loaded the gear in. Today, things feel pretty relaxed and we hang out with the Karnivool guys in front of their truck. We talk about Sydney and it seems like all involved are pretty pumped for tonight's show. We know there will be be a big crowd there tonight for Karnivool, so it will be interesting to see how it will go for us.

We have time for a nice, leisurely soundcheck. Thanks to the Hi-Fi's pro monitor setup and a huge PA, Stu is able to draw us what sounds like an absolutely massive mix out front. Excellent. Afterwards, we head upstairs to hang out in our green room, where there is beer but also some kind of weird and frankly repulsive stench that's some combination of stale, rancid and fungal. Walking into the place is like getting a kinghit to your nostrils, although if you spend a few minutes in there, you get kind of accustomed to the scent. Nonetheless, it's little things like this that remind you that you are definitely the opening band. Also, the beer is Toohey's New. Yeck. Come on Sydney. We've been to South Australia and Victoria now; this shit isn't gonna fly.

Kid, Tyson, Alex at the Hi-Fi

A bit before the show we go and hang around backstage, warming up and trying to calm our nerves down. We poke our heads through the curtain to see a room that looks absolutely packed, and the prospect of playing to such a big hometown crowd, possibly the biggest one on the tour so far, gets the nerves jangling and the adrenalin flowing. From the first song, we knew it was going to be (as Tim and I like to put it) a ripsnorter. Seeing a few familiar faces in the crowd amps me up even more and I can feel everyone in the band is getting pushed by the clarity of our onstage mix, the reaction from the crowd and the intagible energy that rolls through a really good live set. We get off stage and, drenched in sweat, panting and aching, agree that it would have been one of the best shows we've played. Thanks Sydney, it was pretty special.

At The Hi-Fi (both above and below)

Afterwards, we hang out with some of the familiar faces in the crowd. Our Sydney post-rock bros Solkyri have come down to see the show and brought along their producer Dax Liniere, who has just finished the tracking for their latest record. Dax has also worked on two releases with us. These guys are rock-solid mates and we have an awesome time with them.

Things are pretty uneventful for the rest of the evening. We're honestly too exhausted to get amongst it. Instead, Tyson, Kid, Stu and I just mill around in the green room drinking scotch and beer and talking epic shit. I would have loved to have stayed on even later, but bed and a day at work on Friday beckons me homeward.

Day 8 – Sydney (Hi-fi #2)

I roll out of bed and go to do a day's work in the office. Kicking off an hour early, I commute home, grab the 4WD and head over to the Hi-Fi. I'm starving and we try and grab some food at an overpriced and trendy Japanese sushi place. Tim and Otto get their meals, but for some reason they seem intent on denying me dinner. Then I get a text from manager Mike: “Stu needs you in the venue in 5”. Well, shit. Food is overrated anyway.

Soundcheck goes pretty well; things are clearly sounding good from front of house but there are a few monitor issues and it takes us a while to get Tim hearing any of Otto and Kid's guitars through his wedge. We chill out in the green room after soundcheck, killing time before we go on stage (thankfully the rancid stench is more or less gone). Our booking agent Dan Sant turns up to see how we are going and have a chat. Everyone seems pretty stoked that the tour is turning out so well and that we are getting a good response from the punters. Definitely a feeling that there are more good times ahead as well.

Stu thinks just like us

You meet some interesting guys on tour. There's this one guy who I think is part of Karnivool's truck crew for Sydney. We don't know his name but we do know that he calls himself (The Leather) Prawn and, decked out in his everpresent bandana and leather vest, is somewhat of a living legend to the rest of the crew. He brings along this huge wheel-mounted esky, 'PRAWN' emblazoned in gaffa tape on the lid, to all the gigs for his personal use and slices the lemon for his beer with a stanley knife, brandishing it while talking to you. You take one beer from his esky, you buy him a case (thankfully this was not a lesson we learnt the hard way). Good bloke though.

I also have a random encounter with a guy wearing a beanie as I'm heading up the stairs to the green room. He takes time to compliment my beard, pointing out that it's admirable that “I made it through the itch” before heading on his merry way. Later, talking to Mike, I find out that it's none other than Luke Gower, the bassist for COG, one of my favourite bands. Can now happily cross “receive facial hair respect from musical idol” off the bucket list.

Manager Mike and Cog Luke

Sleepwakeswaves and Cog Luke

The show goes well. The crowd, as it was the night previously, is large and there is a good feeling in the room from the punters. Maybe we didn't hit the same magic energy that we did the night before, but that kind of vibe is truly happenstance and can never be planned; we're just satisfied to have played well two nights in a row to sizable hometown crowds.

After we load off, me and Otto hang out with Redcoat's roadie Jack and watch them from the side of the stage. They had an amp issue during their line-check but it doesn't appear to have soured their rhythm at all. They play a phenomenally good set of downlow, sexy stoner rock. Anyone who is reading this and is heading to any of the dates later on in the tour should get down early to check them out if you aren't planning on it already.

Redcoats warm-up routine

The rest of the evening is spent moseying about and watching Karnivool own the stage, as usual. Their Sydney crowd seem particularly happy, rowdy and energetic tonight, even by Karnivool punter standards. At some point we manage to get a photo with a topless Steve Judd. Mike's been angling for this all tour – must be a drummer thing. Or a pecs thing. Not sure.

The topless shot! 

Eventually we head to the Townie in Newtown with them and a bunch of our crew for the post-midnight drinking. I can't remember how late we stayed out, but I do remember seeing the sun rise at some point.

Day 9 – Newcastle (Panther's Leagues)

Today I do nothing but nurse a remorseful hangover until Tim and our sound guy for Newcastle, Byron and Queensland, Brett Tollis, arrive at my place with the cars. We swing out of town, picking up Kid and Otto along the way. Everyone is pretty quiet after the late night. Epic tour fail #2 occurs when I miss the turnoff for Newcastle and have to dogleg back from Maitland, adding another 30 minutes to the trip. This was probably half to do with me being too hypnotized by Massive Attack's Mezzanine to notice the turn and half to do with Tim falling asleep on the job of watching the GPS. Our European adventure earlier this year proved the man can sleep anywhere, anytime.

Newcastle's famous penis tower

We rock up to Panther's Leagues about 5.30pm. It's fucking huge and so is the stage. Surprising it looks like we'll have more room to play than any of the capital cities we've played so far. We load in quickly and happen to bump into the Karnivool guys and swap notes about how last night finished up. Drew is kind enough to spot me some green tea to alleviate the lingering feeling of roughness. That, a schooner's worth of dog's hair and a pub meal does wonders for getting me feeling like I'm actually going to be able to do the gig.

We get told that we have our own dressing room. Swag! It's not much to look at, but we are astounded to find that, for the first time in Australia, we've been provided with a snack spread. Early in our fledgling career, we had the foresight to put together a demanding hospitality rider that we never thought we'd see fulfilled. Tonight comes close: chips, Mars Bars, water, beer, fruit, some of that disturbingly blue sports drink stuff and a variety of gourmet sangers. No Guatemalan servant boy with a dreamy face, but it's a good start. It's probably embarassing to admit how excited we get when we find this stuff. I'll let the photos speak for themselves. To deck out our green room in style, we surreptitiously borrow a couch from Redcoats, who are one door over.

Rider swag!

Tim's floor warm-up

I fuck up numerous times during our set, but I think it's still a really good performance overall. It's great fun to stomp around on the huge Panther's stage and the crowd are plentiful and very enthusiastic. A few blokes down the left hand side of the stage dub me “Wolfman” a couple of songs in and don't let it up for the rest of the set (it's only later that I find out Wolfman is some totally badass looking Manly league player). I go down to say hi to them after the set and am overwhelmed with congratulations, bro hugs, beard admiration, iPhone photo ops and a free beer. I'm feeling about as much love from the locals as we have so far on this whole run. Thank you, Newcastle!

After the show we decide to call it an early night. We load out, Tim puts 101.7 WS FM on the stereo and and we cruise back into Sydney to the tune of the greatest hits of the '70s, '80s and beyond. After a night of epic instrumental rock, you sometimes need Prince, Stevie Wonder, Split Enz and The Boss to get you home in style.

P.S. thanks to Alex Tulett for letting us know the name of the sloth movie we saw in Geelong: The Lost Future. Don't watch it.

Exhibit A: Sleepmakeswaves rider demands: