Los Angeles is an appropriate place to end the Ocean By Ocean North American tour. We spent some months here in the summer of 2015 recording the album and finishing the tour feels like a homecoming of sorts.
There aren’t many other circumstances where you’re required to sleep on a bus for five weeks straight, but I consider it an achievement to have surfaced unscathed, gone out onstage and put all our energy into that last show. The place was sold out, packed full of fans and friends, and we felt so much emotion in the room. After twenty two performances, the songs evolved subtly along the way. We added sections, altered transitions, phrased things differently, it really felt fresh every night.
Last night all of us, Hey Anna, Ry Cox + friends and crew, went to a bar by a rainy and empty Venice Beach for our final night together in the US. We all talked about some of the best days of the last few weeks.
The top two places for hearing live music were certainly New Orleans and Nashville. I was mesmerised by a couple of guitarists I heard in bars and on the streets. In New Orleans the brass bands are so powerful and the groove is so natural and authentic. It takes years of absorbing and appreciating those sounds to be that good at creating it. Makes me wonder what the individual journeys of those musicians had been. We heard a hardcore brass band in one bar that captivated all of us for a couple of hours. Street percussion with tuba taking the bass part is such a cool sound. You just can’t get the same power with strings. A lot of the musicians from one bar would turn up in the next place and then again in the next so I got the sense it was a very casual and inclusive musical community.
Ry Cox resides in Nashville and we were able to enjoy a few hours pre-gig by the campfire at his house. Friends of ours in the great band Colony House were there and it was a pleasure to hang out and eat together before taking to the stage.
With two days off in Tennessee, Adam and I got hold of some bikes and took a long ride through the Great Smokey Mountains. In the first ten minutes alone we saw a black bear, deer and other wildlife. With the darkening cloud of the US election looming, nature was the temporary tonic. I had thought it would be exciting to be in the US for an election night. I was wrong though. It was morose and draining. We turned our attention and energy to music to try and escape it all.
On a highway in Texas the tourbus broke down and left us with a prospective few hours on the side of the road. We decided to walk to a Wal-mart a couple of miles away just to avoid the boredom. Don’t ask me why. Not particularly safe and with a relatively grim reward at the end, what a way to go that would have been?! Amongst the least glamorous of rockstar deaths I’m sure.
Hands down the best backstage area of all tours ever was at The Saturn in Birmingham, Alabama. I gladly would have moved in permanently. With our friends Hey Anna and Ry Cox we played pool into the night listening to Leonard Cohen on the record player. Then Piers educated the Hey Anna guys on Dad-dance moves: “Never move the feet! The feet never move!”.
The show itself fell victim to a stage invasion where by the end of the set the whole stage was packed with people dancing around us. We somehow managed to play within the gathering. So much fun.
There was no plan to end up in Mexico City on this tour but we ended up there somehow. A call came in for a last minute show happening the next day and by chance it fell on a day off. So just a few hours after the call we were on a plane down there. The whole day was hectic and the gig was intense. Our fans in Mexico are passionate and vocal and really show their enjoyment throughout. There was barely time to sleep before we jumped back on a plane to Texas early the next morning. The first flight of two was delayed so we missed our connecting flight. Nine hours in Houston airport followed and it became increasingly unlikely that we would touch down in Phoenix to play on stage that night. All our gear had been set up already for us, we just had to make it there ourselves!
Our flight touched down in Phoenix at 10.10 and miraculously we were onstage at 10.45. Not least because the one and only Todd Howe was there to pick us up from the airport and take us to the venue (Phoenix, Arizona is now his hometown). It was great to see Todd again, the last time had been during the recording of Ocean by Ocean when he stopped by our house in LA for a drink and to catch up.
Now I am in LAX about to leave the US after an incredible few weeks. Great friends and great music have made this my favourite tour so far and I look forward to seeing and hearing them again in the future. If you haven’t heard the music of Hey Anna and Ry Cox you really should check them out and support them. It’s important for us now to rest up before putting all our energy into the UK shows in December. A sincere THANK YOU to every single fan who came out to these shows. We value and appreciate you coming out and supporting us and we can’t wait to come back and play for you again!
Till next time,