Tom: It is a truly beautiful, fucked up, amazing and confusing life we lead.
Not only do Jen and I speak 6-10 times a day – exchange tweets, facebook messages and texts, we also rehearse a few nights of most weeks, in between hanging out socially, drinking beers, making plans for world domination and sharing our beautiful catalogue of intelligent and wonderful friends and family.
We balance each other. In all the ways – no fight is possible because we are both too proud of our skills in debating and conversation. We sleep at each other’s houses, we cry each other’s tears and we speak our punchlines in unison. This makes touring remarkably easy.
Tour for me is amidst trying to hold down my full time job – nurture the most wonderful relationship I’ve ever been lucky enough to enjoy, maintain friendships, support family and, eventually, move house. On top of this I am directing a show (which of course Jen is musically directing) and we have a return season of the Spaces Between for the Midsumma festival. If this wasn’t enough we have just had “Bad Wine and Lemon Cake” come out on Amanda Palmer’s amazing new album and we just finished our debut EP – The Birthing Pyre… …And I mean JUST finished.
I literally finished a Monday in the office fighting beaurocratic fights and then rushed to a shop to buy a huge suitcase, ran to the CD printing place and picked up 500 copies of the thing. Apart from the late night phone calls, the missed deadlines and the odd technological fuck-up – I have loved working on this EP. It is beautiful. I love it because it reflects its own name so well.
This is where we START. This is where our career as recording musicians begins. And it is flawed. And it is rough. It is raw and beautiful and honest and I’M SUPER FUCKING PROUD OF IT!!! It comes out on Wednesday – when we are playing a few songs at the Sydney Opera House for Amanda’s tour. I can’t actually picture how it is going to feel. Simultaneously playing for 2000 odd people and letting our little baby out into the world. There will be more to written about this. But currently it is too huge. Too big to consider – and frankly I am typing this on a plane and I don’t need to go running to the loo with the sheer fear of it all…
The tour, as you know, came about because of a few things: our friendship and musical connection with Amanda, our desire to say YES to any dates she could offer us, and mainly because of YOU.
Because a whole huge beautiful group of you rocked up to fund our trip (see our last blog post). Tasmania has already happened. With the mad beautiful pace of it all it feels like a long time ago. It started with us somehow sauntering into the Qantas club, drinking their free booze and eating their free pizza, and it finished with us singing our songs in a park to 30-50 Hobartians…
The first night was madness… in the proper sense of the word. We rocked up at midnight to a little bar called the Brisbane Hotel. It was a late night forest fundraiser on a Friday night at a bar that may not have quite been ready for our piano and voice, our ballads and eyeliner and feathers.
It was loud. We couldn’t hear well. We may have played brilliantly…. Its quite possible we did not. In the midst of this strange setting we sat in the Green Room (a commercial kitchen) with Mikelangelo and the Black Sea Gentlemen – we finally met the fantasmagorical Eric Sussman (tour manager)…. And we drank.
Like fucked up levels of drinking. I have dim memories (I REALLY HOPE IT WAS A DREAM) of stumbling naked past some German backpackers to stumble into the bathroom at our hostel.
Yeah. That kind of drunk. Also pretty sure we made some other tourists listen to us play ukelele next to the sign that read: No instruments after 10pm. Uh-huh – that kind of drunk.
The next day, Jen was feeling worse for wear and I went out and explored the city of Hobart – looking for coffee and nurofen and pondering the appropriate reference term for your loved one that doesn’t hide sexuality, whilst not parading privilege. My mental stumblings walked me to the Salamanca markets where I found a million weird Tasmanian things I didn’t need.
But it was all very beautiful. I also decided to see if anyone was out there on Twitter who could bring me a guitar. There was not. Amanda’s theory is that there are 12 people who tweet in Hobart – but that they are at the centre of everything you need to know.
These people all came in handy a little later. When Jen arose we, both still personifying doom, found the ultimate hangover cure – vintage shopping – and bought an amazing array of clothes we haven’t worn much since. Cured, and with a new lease on life we walked into the MonoFoma festival. We were ushered backstage to the soundtrack of Neil Gaiman sound-checking with Fourplay (gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous).
In the Green Room I tried to learn the complete works of our band on ukelele – got a good 8 or so songs under my belt. Then time sped up. We played Bad Wine and Lemon Cake for the 900+ people at the festival. That felt amazing. The front two rows were crying and people actually knew the lyrics. To my song. What the fuck>?!??!?!?!?
At the end of the show we were asked to come back on stage to dance for Map of Tasmania. For the record – I am not a dancer – so if that shit turns up on Youtube – please feel free to block me out with your finger as you watch it.
Jen: So. Yes. Tasmania was really rather hectic… the Brisbane Hotel gig kind of felt like that scene in Blues Brothers where they have to play behind a chicken wire fence while bottles get thrown at them as they play. We did manage to meet some lovely people though… and I managed to get through a formidable amount of whiskey, leading to Tom’s aforementioned state of doom that I found myself in the next morning… leading into early afternoon… til about 3 o’clock. To be perfectly honest.
So then we played MONA FOMA in Hobart. Which was beautiful. And surreal. And exciting as hell. And I somehow ended up dancing onstage during ‘Map of Tasmania’ in this crazy fluoro-beaded corset that Tom had persuaded me that I ABSOLUTELY HAD TO HAVE in this still-half-hungover-stage that I was in when I tried it on at this amazing vintage store that as soon as I remember the name of I will post here.
After the MONA FOMA gig, we played a capella in the park outside – just cause we could – and ended up singing along with a bunch of people from the gig and bogans and random hen’s nights who came along and I FINALLY got to play Beyonce’s Halo’ on ukelele (which I’ve been waiting to do FOREVER, except Tom really intensely hates that song) and dedicating it to the bride of the hen’s night – and we played Casio and ukelele til the late hours of the morning and it was all actually kinda fabulous.
It’s funny how travelling leads to the most beautiful moments of serendipity. Because amidst the madness we met some fucking wonderful people, including the amazing Bec Tilley who not only lent us her battery-operated Casio keyboard to play in the park after the MONA FOMA gig, but hosted and played in our first ever live audio web feed gig and helped us set up and play in our (also very first!) twitnic the next day.
Bec is amazing. And will be playing a gig in Melbourne in late March, which all Melburnians reading this should totally come along to, and we’ll let you know about very very soon… After the show we were going to do a little ninja gig beside the signing line – but it would have been in breach of the MONA FOMA music license – so we took a handful of people, some ukelele’s and a battery operated keyboard (found by Bec Tilley) across to the park and played some songs to a collection of AFP fans, vagabonds and waifs… and bogans… and a hens party.
Bec – who had sourced us the keyboard we tweeted for invited us back to her place to drink wine and play music – and who were we to refuse such a kind offer? So we ended up drinking til 3.30am in the morning and making a webcast. Webcasting is cool. You can see all these people, all over the world, who are listening to your music and writing feedback and conversing and partying with you. This is new to us. Tom might need to buy an internet in his new house.
We decided that 3 gigs and a webcast weren’t enough in the 2.5 days we had in Hobart – so we organised a Twitnic. We have been wanting to do this for ages – invite people to picnic in the park – bring food, wine, ukeleles, instruments and eat, play and be merry. All of this promoted via twtter. We tweeted it early in the morning. Then Amanda and Neil both retweeted it – and it ended up getting advertised on ABC Hobart. It was actually nuts. We met Eric in the park – Bec Tilley bought some batteries and her uke and we amassed a collection of around 50 people, mostly beautiful strangers but now wonderful friends – and played for 2 or 3 hours.
It was LOVELY.
It was actually the highlight for us for the whole Hobart experience. We sold Bones singles and we tried not to get sunburned – we taught strangers our songs and had them sing with us.
It was FUCKING GLORIOUS.
We would like to do one of these on the side of each show we do on this tour. So hit us up – help suggest parks and places that suit. Let us know if you have a battery operated keyboard too.
Also – we will post another blog on the EP tomorrow. With every possible detail you need. They are gorgeous. We did not expect to be quite so proud holding it our hot little hands.
Anyway – see you on tour people! – Thanks so very very much to those of you who made it happen – to those who are new to us – SEE YOU SOON! xx tJAA