On the same day BSP launched Zeus, a free download from their new EP, I was lucky enough to go on a field trip with them on the start of their 30 day tour. It was to begin in the Western Isles of Scotland.
After a breathtaking journey, taking in some classic Scottish treats like
Loch Ness and Ben Nevis, I met the band in a pub in Oban. There were plenty of laughs as we sampled local whiskeys and discussed a fantasy film of BSP where the manager would be played by Daniel Craig and Phil (keyboards / cornet / guitar) would be played by Johnny Depp – we didn’t get much further. A burly local in an AC/DC shirt lurched over hollering “are yoo Carl MacCulley’s daughter?!” at my friend, then lunged at me going “and whooo the fuck are yoo?’ in the thickest Scottish accent resulting in some uncontrollable fear laughing! Yan (singer / guitar) said he was just being friendly so we palmed him off on Paul the tour manager who’s also massive AC/DC fan.
The next day our first voyage on the high seas was to begin. We set sail for the island of Mull then hopped on board the second ferry of the day for a sea safari!
After a safety speech and presentation on the possible wildlife sightings such as whales, dolphins, sunfish and great skuas, we were out firmly out to sea.
It was a gorgeous day but freezing on deck. It was also pretty choppy and within the first hour I toppled and head butted Hamilton (vocals / bass / guitar) who’d been sitting quietly with Abi (viola / keyboards) taking in the view. I think he probably saved me from landing in the Atlantic though.
A second wobbly incident followed when our sound recorder went flying overboard! Everyone looked on in horror as we’d been aiming to make a documentary about our unique band and their special trip to the Inner Hebrides and now it looked like some serious overdubbing and subtitles would be needed or the doc might be scrapped completely.
As if by magic though, someone from a group of BSP’s friends, (who we later named The Gang Of All That Is Good), produced a recorder out of his bag! He even trusted us with borrowing it for the duration of the trip after what he’d just witnessed as well as forgo any tapings of his own found sounds and musical inspirations from his own trip.
Whilst the Director of Cinematography was ready to keel haul our slippery fingered friend who was sitting on the naughty step mortified, a second diamond in the gang produced this lovely cartoon to cheer her up.
I was then charged with boom duties but staring at the band rather than the surroundings made me feel seasick! But whatd’yaknow, No.3 from The Gang Of All That Is Good produced a hip flask of whiskey to ease the nausea and I’m back on track – so much so we end up seeing porpoises, seals and a sea eagle!
After about 5 hours at sea we get back to Tobermory
where there’s gonna be a BSP gig in a 60 capacity arts centre, with an honesty bar!
It’s firmly in my Top 5 Best BSP shows ever. They played 2 new songs including the beautiful, beautiful “Bear” from the new EP. Abi’s singing was as gorgeous as her super cute sailor suit onesie!
As ever, Noble (axe man) was getting twitchy on the stage and headed for the crowd. After starting with a shoulder stand whilst still playing his guitar, he then went berserk, knocking over a punter and nearly glassing him with his own glass of wine (all beer had been drunk dry earlier in the evening!). The crowd was mainly bemused locals but luckily this guy was donning one of the famous Heron Addict T shirts so maybe he’d half been expecting it but maybe not…. Handstands, wheel barrows and twirling headstands a kin to break dancing were the culmination of the show.
A glance back in to the room as we left saw just one crushed beer can – as if nothing had ever taken place – but actually BSP had just rocked Tobermory to it’s inner core.
After show activities involved ping pong with poppadoms, some bizarre Paul Daniels and Debbie McGee role playing, an all night bagpipe party and being lost down dark lanes looking for our B&Bs.
Day 3 incorporated another amazing drive and yet another ferry that took us to the Island of Eigg, host to the 150 capacity Away Game Festival and home of 84 inhabitants!
Greeted by the organisers, Sarah and Johnny, with reports of the previous night’s activities ending at 7am that morning, we were taken to our digs and fed a hearty meal. Sarah’s dad gave us lifts across the island (it was an hours walk to where the band’s played) and gave us as much local info as our minds could absorb.
The scenery was some of the most beautiful you could imagine – mountains, beaches, clear waters and the flora and fauna was magical!
The show was chaotic but another blinder. Johnny from Fence / Silver Columns was invited on stage to play tambourine for “Lights Out For Darker Skies” and was grinning like a kid in a sweet shop at being an honoury member of the band. Noble cranked his energy up to eleven by doing some vigorous star jumps, then leapt in to crowd and climbed the flimsy wooden pole holding the tent up.
Once back down he selected a member of the audience with his feral eyes and swung her around windmill fashion letting her go at the height of dizziness and utterly bemused whilst she crashed in the crowd herself.
Luckily Eigg is self policed and the people are the security and no one got hurt.
Sunday was spent walking and relaxing on the beach, more whiskey, more filming and another home cooked dinner.
Monday was for heading home and I was to part ways in Inverness but I just couldn’t do it. I was having too much of a good time so Geoff Travis gave me his blessing to stay on. After a radio session at Moray Firth we headed to the Iron Works for a ‘normal’ BSP show. I manned the merch stand for a bit to earn my keep and did a bit of a Mary Queen Of Shops to the display. We sold British Tea Power Tea and Zeus beer amongst other things.
After the show, Woody (drums) showed us the artwork he’d done for the new album and it’s totally mint! He, Noble and Phil stayed up for a few more wee goodbye drams and tales of BSP’s Top 5 naughtiest moments for a forthcoming Drowned In Sound feature. Broken but still smiling, I got back to the Rough Trade office to find we’d been flooded! The goddess of indie decreed everyone at Rough Trade should experience a bit of water that weekend but I’d been the lucky one – consequently I offered another flexi at her altar!