NA Tour Blog – Part 2

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.

Teragram Ballroom, Los Angeles. Photo by Jessica Hanley

Teragram Ballroom, Los Angeles. Photo by Jessica Hanley

Teragram Ballroom, Los Angeles. Photo by Jessica Hanley

Teragram Ballroom, Los Angeles. Photo by Jessica Hanley

Teragram Ballroom, Los Angeles. Photo by Jessica Hanley

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.

New Orleans Musicians

New Orleans

New Orleans Street Musicians

Cheers in New Orleans

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.

Pre-show fire at Ry’s place in Nashville, Tennessee

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.

Cycling in The Great Smokey Mountains

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.

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Highway walking

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!”.

Dance lessons with Piers

Backstage at The Saturn, Birmingham, Alabama

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.

Drummer guy Piers and Merch guy Ninja

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.

Hours on end in Houston, Texas airport

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,

Andrew

Final show! This picture sums it all up. Teragram Ballroom, Los Angeles

NA Tour Blog – Part 1

Two weeks and what a ride it’s been so far. 10 cities and 10 glimpses of places I promise myself I’ll come back to. Amazing sights in every spot, though never enough time…

Beginning in San Francisco, we played our first notes of the tour in a session for Levis before our sold out show that evening at The Independent. American crowds really know how to make us feel welcome and it set the tone for the shows to come.

That was the first time I played my brand new Musicman Stingray guitar, which I picked up in LA before the first show of the tour. It takes a little while to get to know the feel of an instrument but after a couple of weeks it’s made it straight to the top of the pile. In many of the songs there’s a chance to improvise and experiment somewhat so I’ve been able to acquaint myself with it more and more at each show. In fact, you’ll spot each of us playing new instruments for this tour.

Due to the awkward logistics of hauling a huge bus and trailer through city streets and the lengths of some of the drives, we often have to spend our days off in unexpected smaller locations between show cities. One of these was Ashland, Oregon. Having never heard of the place I didn’t expect much. But it ended up being an incredible day. My run turned into an hours-long run/walk/climb/hike through a nature reserve and botanical Gardens. I saw wild salmon kicking up the stream water and a whole load of other wildlife I wish I could identify. It’s so important to indulge in nature whenever there’s a chance on tour! Sadly no bikes with us this time though so it’s exploration on foot for the most part.

Ry Cox and Hey Anna have been great companions on the road so far. Ry is both an excellent singer-songwriter and an experienced filmmaker, so not only can you hear him open for us but you can also expect an intimate view of us on the road to be released in the near future!

Right now I’m in Cambridge, MA. I actually lived and studied here seven years ago. As I write I’m sitting on the Number 1 bus headed to my old school Berklee College of Music. Strange to think that I used to struggle to carry my double bass (I played 4 vertical strings rather than 6 horizontal back then) and cram myself right onto the bus along this very route. Madness at rush hour! What was I thinking?

Our EP ‘Waves & Waves’ was released a week and a bit ago too. That was a fun project to take on in the weeks after the album came out. I remember bringing in my cellist and violinist friends and recording late into the night to replicate the guitar parts on the original ‘Big Ideas’ recording. And the almost inverse experience of working with Hey Anna remotely (London to NY) for their especially sweet version of ‘Pull Yourself Together’. When we made ‘Ocean by Ocean’ it was difficult to actually stop adding new ideas and to accept that the songs were done. For this EP everything was stripped back, re-recorded and opened up wide for completely new sounds and ideas.

You can check the EP out HERE.

– Andrew

Photo by @burtle01

Photo by @burtle01

Photo by @anderssonjill

Photo by @anderssonjill

Photo by @lfayg

Photo by @lfayg

Photo by John Farr

Photo by John Farr

Photo by Toby tenenbaum

Photo by Toby tenenbaum

Lincoln, Nebraska

Lincoln, Nebraska

Photo by Toby Tenenbaum

Photo by Toby Tenenbaum

Backstage recording, Sat Lake City

Backstage recording, Sat Lake City

Outside Bowery Ballroom

Outside Bowery Ballroom

Seattle

Seattle

Photo by Toby Tenenbaum

Photo by Toby Tenenbaum

Ashland, Oregon

Ashland, Oregon

Hey Anna at Bowery Ballroom

Hey Anna at Bowery Ballroom

Berklee, Boston

Berklee, Boston