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TOUR DIARY

Thursday 29th June 2000 Destination: USA! (but Rock City nightclub first)

After saying my goodbyes to my colleagues at work, (cuz there was a slight chance that I wouldn't come back) I met up with Digs and we decided that we'd stay awake until Tot collected us at 4am. And what better way to stay awake than to go and see Leatherface play and then go clubbing? Well, in the time honoured Panic tradition, our plans of relaxing and having a good old fashioned English night out were scuppered early on. You see we'd arranged to borrow a camcorder for our trip, hoping to pick up some decent "rockumentary" style footage, and a friendly call to Hazard to arrange to pick it up turned into over two hours of stress and expensive mobile phone calls. He'd foolishly lent it to some mummy's boy students and they had neglected to return it when they'd promised. A few angry phone calls later and it had been nearly sorted out, so myself and the Digsmeister thought "fuck it" and headed off to Rock City. We walked in half way through Leatherface's set and we met up with Dom, who was initially gonna be our driver for the tour. I had a chat with him and I had no idea he was so disappointed that he wasn't coming with us. Sorry mate. Anyway, Leatherface rock and we have a pleasant evening.

Friday 30th June Destination: 2nd Avenue, Bethlehem, PA (via Heathrow, JFK Airport and Allentown, PA)

After a little bit of clubbing we headed back to my flat and as we got more tired, silliness set in and many videos on MTV 2 got verbally annihilated. When Tot and his wife, Zoe arrived I was just about ready to drop, so the journey to Heathrow was an absolute doddle for me as I slept all the way. Not so much of a doddle for Tot though as there was apparantly loads of fog and that. Nice and easy check in, but there were guards with machine guns walking around the waiting area making us nervous about all the Panic merchandise in our bags. Boarding time arrived pretty quickly and even though it was Digs' first time ever in an aeroplane, he dealt with the whole thing like a trooper. I tried to talk to him constantly so that he didn't have time to notice what was happening around him. He was surprised that the air hostesses weren't all absolutely stunning, so I spun him a massive yarn about how all the beautiful girls worked the European flights, and the trans-Atlantic companies employed a breed of people known as "air-witches". He seemed satisfied with my explanation. While Digs concerned himself with the turbulance and Tot slipped into a world of MRR, I spent half the flight complaining out loud (at a reasonable sound level) with regards to the twat in front of me and his amazing reclining seat. My legs are damn long and he was intent on making the eight hour flight as unbearable as he possibly could for me. Well, would you believe it, but his wife started talking to us and it turned out that they were from Durham, (my hometown) and that she knew my surname cuz her daughter used to go to school with me or something. Anyway, the seat went back to it's natural position and they wished us good luck for the tour. Boy did I feel stupid. The free Bacardi and coke's I was knocking back made the flight fly by and before I knew it we'd touched down in Yankee-land. We'd heard some real horror stories about the U.S. customs people but we breezed through even though I could have sworn that they'd called out my name over the tannoy system! Roman and Johnny met us at the gates and we all hugged like long lost brothers. They showed us the itinerary for the fortnight, but I was too transfixed by the surroundings to take it all in properly. In fact I was so wrapped up in how green New York looked, that everybody but me heard us mentioned on the radio advertising the gig tonight. We slagged off each others countries for the entire journey and eventually landed at Roman's pad in Allentown. (But not before a visit to Taco Bell, which would be my best friend for the next two weeks!) This would be our base for the first few days, so we were chuffed to see a swimming pool and tennis courts in the grounds of this holiday type complex. We were firstly introduced to Luke, a Labrador/Pitbull/Sausage Dog/Alsation etc cross. He was a hyperactive dog and a half, but a loveable one at that. Roman had two housemates: One was Fred, a quiet, Gratefull Dead type hippy guy who was in alcohol and drug rehab. The other guy was Butcher. This guy quickly came across as a hilarious, yet complicated character who was gonna provide a lot of fun in the short amount of time we were gonna get to hang together. A quick trip to the mall was in order to buy some new Converse All-Stars and to see if Toys-R-Us had any Misfits action figures (negative) and then it was time to load the gear up and head on over to Bethlehem for the show. Incidentally, if anyone's interested, Bethlehem is where WWF superstar The Rock was brought up and Tim, the Fux guitarist was in the year below him in High School. No-one interested? Ah, piss off then. We set up, then went to the local punk-house to "rally the troops" so to say. We found only a character called Blinky who was generous with his smokes and insisted on us all signing his (blank) walls. He had a sad story of some of his friends dieing in the last punk-house they had. A fire ended up taking three of their lives little over a year ago. Unfortunately, I could see something like that happening again with their current house. The state of this place put the punk-houses I've lived in before well and truly in the shade!

Oh yeah, the gig. It was a shite sound, but it went really well. The jet lag never seemed to set in for us as we were all buzzing that we were playing in America. I must admit to being slightly nervous for the first time ever in my musical "career" before we went on, but I soon realised a couple of songs into our set, that it was no different to playing like Oldham on a Tuesday night. I've not seen the footage yet, but we did get the entire set on video, so that's one for the grandkids. It was free beer and spirits at the bar all night, and that along with some extremely friendly people, made it a fantastic night. Roman told us not to expect to sell many shirts here, but the brand spanking new red Panic shirts sold like hot potatoes! A long, but cracking first day stateside.

Saturday 1st July Destination: Skate Park, PA (via afternoon family pool party)

Up and at 'em early today to play a pool party/barbeque in the early afternoon. When Roman booked this one for us, I envisaged bikini contests and general rowdiness, but what it was was one of those free standing pools full of kids, and a few families chattering away to each other. Oh well, I never wanted to be a rock star anyway.... We played football (soccer) with some of the kids and by the time it was show time, the sun was blazing hot. Mainly shining onto Tot and his drums by the way. Only Panic played this gig, as we were the least offensive of the three bands apparently. So to honour this unwanted accolade, I bleeped the swear words out of our songs, dedicated "Catage" to the kids ("this one's about a cat") and dedicated "You Smell Like A Brewery" to the adults. ("Remember kids, there's nothing clever about smelling like some beer"). It had to be a short set cuz not only was my Marshall stack burning up, Tot was melting! The poor guy was ready to collapse from heatstroke, so while he recovered, I did my schmoozing thing and ended up selling a fair bit of merch to the olds. They must've thought we were on the verge of stardom or something, cuz just like the previous night, we had to sign just about everything we sold. I had to explain the "Movers & Shakers" cover to one lady who took offense to it until I explained the concept and lyrics to her. She then thanked me for my honesty. Which was nice. So it's load up and off to the skate park, picking up a few cases of beer on the way. Very nice venue, massive skateboard ramps, but unfortunately we could only drink in the office at the back as it was an all-ages show. The office staff and the guys who ran it sounded like Mafia type people, but looked like extras from the Patrick Swayze movie "Roadhouse". We overheard some crazy conversations, mainly to do with "respect" and "honour", and I'm sure I picked up on something to do with "sleeping with the fishes" although I could be wrong. The Pimps from Virginia Beach played first and they were great. Two girls, two guys and a drunk male singer that resembled some sort of fly or something. He was absolutely hilarious and a great front man. The Clap were next and were great, but nobody seemed that bothered. I got talking to a pro-skater called AJ who had some cool stories about the life those guys lead, and he warned us that in Pennsylvania, the crowds will be quiet and stand-offish, but that didn't mean that they didn't like you. Taking that under advisement, he was 100% correct; the crowd were quiet as mice, but we did OK on the merchandise front again. The Fux sounded good, but I didn't see that much of 'em cuz I was in the office drinking and having sneaky cigarettes. I'd given up for nearly a year (except for a slight lapse in February when a girl I really liked dumped me) and I've no idea what made me have the craving again. It wasn't stress, cuz I'd never felt more relaxed. Tot eventually busted me, but was very cool about it. Dunno why, but I expected to get a bollocking off him! He was probably more concerned with his ankle which he'd just twisted. This was the type of thing that scared me; one of us getting injured. Digs was knackered and in a foul mood, so I guessed that the jet lag had caught up with one of us after all. We'd hardly had any sleep at all but I was still on a massive high anyway. The local pulling band "Imadazzle" played last and although they were a bit metally sounding, they were pretty good and tight. And hey, with names like "Beer Can" and "Drunk Dave" they're bound to go far! While we hang out with the Pimps in the car park, Roman goes to collect our money from the promoter. He eventually comes back empty handed, saying that the dude has done a runner and it's allegedly not the first time. So I decide to clear out the fridge of both our beer and those "Roadhouse" guys beer. Passive aggression dontcha know. Although even better is Ronn's idea to come back to the skatepark later and "burn it to the ground, medieval style". Back at Roman's, I'm knackered and drunk, but I still stop up eating pizza and trying to read a magazine with one eye covered up while the others sleep. It's almost as if my brain doesn't want to miss a single thing.

Sunday 2nd July Destination: No-Where. (a well earned day off!)

Woke up with four hours sleep under my belt. I wasn't bothered though, my body seemed to have accepted that and is more than satisfied with it. Butcher treated us to breakfast and I had an omelette pizza which was lush and I must try to make one myself sometime. Digs decided to earn himself a few extra dollars by doing some removal stuff with Butcher in the afternoon while myself, Roman, Tot and Missy (a girl we'd met at the gig last night) just "hung out" as they say. When our bassist finally returned, we all headed to Roman's old mates' house, which incidentally had a large private pool. Dwayne was a fantastic bloke and it was absolutely amazing just sitting poolside with fags and beer and relaxing. I could seriously get used to a life like that. It didn't take long for the American kids to challenge me and Digs to a football match and we willfully accepted. I took it easy and did a bit of showboating and stuff, but Digs never ever loses his competitive streak. You know the character from "The Fast Show", the Dad who always wants to win the games he plays against his children? That's our Digs. He ended up blasting the ball into the faces of three different kids and making them cry. Credit where credit's due though; those kids never gave up. Even Butcher joined in, and the kids gained some measure of revenge by forcing him into a tree and gashing his shin open. I jumped straight in the pool afterwards and the children embarrassed me next by doing loads of dives that were better than my crap efforts. Much to our surprise, Dwayne sorted us out with some smoke (known hereafter as "trees") and I fulfilled a lifelong dream of having a jacuzzi with a girl in a bikini. Afterwards we met Roman's Mum and went to an "All You Can Eat" buffet which was great as we filled up on fresh vegetables, not knowing where the next batch would be coming from. Unfortunately, I developed one of my bastard strength headaches and was forced to retire fairly early on in the night. Missy did this weird massage type technique thing which involved stretching my head and although it didn't get rid of my pain, it made me feel a bit weird for a while which was alright. Didn't sleep much, but I was grateful that my headache had come on a night when we weren't playing live and all of that.

Monday 3rd July Destination: CBGB's, NYC (Aaah the history! Blondie! The Ramones!!!)

Roman took us to the local music store to stock up on hardware for the road. I very nearly bought a new Marshall head as they are so damn unbelievably cheap over there! I decided against the said purchase though, and Tot forked out for a piccolo snare drum. The crème de la crème of snares. As she had promised yesterday, Missy drove us Panic boys to NYC ahead of the other two "acts" so we could do some tourist stuff and buy records. We'd heard reports that Greenwich Village was like some sort of punk rock mecca, with record shops and cool clothes shops and everything, but it was pretty disappointing for me I must say. I did pick up a Scherzo CD for 50 cents though. We did find plenty of other great shops and I eventually managed to get my hands on a shirt with flames on; something I'd been looking for for ever. As time dragged on, the weather got worse and just as I'd managed to convince the others of going to WWF New York (a massive wrestling themed restaurant) a torrential downpour occurred. I was a bit angry at not making it to the one place I really wanted to go in America, but I was also inexplicably angry towards the weather. I guess I didn't expect rain in America and especially not worse than what we're used to in England. So, we walked and we walked in the pissing rain all the way to CBGB's. We didn't even get a picture of us all standing outside of this legendary venue as we were so wet. 

PANIC in CBGBs

A drenched PANIC in CBGBs enjoying a pre-gig bevvy

We had a good wander around the place (incidentally, the toilets aren't as bad as people make out) and settled in the back room area drinking the expensive beer and spotting massive cockroaches walking around occasionally. We hooked up with Gabby, the promoter there who we knew through friends in England and he unfortunately told us that the Clap and the Fux couldn't play anymore as they had not arrived at 7pm as instructed. We'd heard about the strictness of CB's when it came to bands dicking them around, but they were about to collide with the sheer stubbornness of one Matthew Roman. As the first band, the Dairy Queens played, in walk our travelling buddies, an hour and a half late, with inane grins on their faces, dead pleased to see us. I greet them with the bad news that they've missed their slots on this six band bill, but was merely told not to worry and to introduce them to Gabby. They had picked up our tour van from the rental people and been jerked about repeatedly, which had understandably made them a little late for the dance. As I should have expected, Roman and Johnny blagged it. So everything was fine again, albeit with shorter sets. I probably worry too much you know. While we do our schmoozing around talking to beautiful women and chatting with people from Shrewsbury and Bristol, a great Brazillian band rock the place called Holly Tree. Someone else to look out for is the Stockyard Stoics, a three-piece in the vein of One Man Army and the Clash. They unfortunately don't have any records out yet, but when they do, I'll be waiting.... The Clap did their thing with Johnny strutting around the stage despite his knacker problems. He looked very fetching tonight in his pants and woolly net vest. 

Johnny Loftus

Johnny, fully clothed thank God!!  (Roman in background)

 

The Fux's fire show seemed to go down well with the art crowd as well. Earlier in the evening, a psychotic young man with a back-pack full of axes and meat cleavers had been hanging around backstage with us, and while mildly amusing while he was sober, he had now turned into a drunken twat. He was insistent that he introduced us to the crowd tonight and given the weaponry at his disposal, we decided to agree. So when the time arrived, we gave him the nod and he bounded on stage wearing nothing but his shirt and his bag of axes. God knows what he said, but as we kicked into the first song he danced on stage for a while and then jumped off into row one where a group of people not only had their drinks spilled, but their table destroyed too. Many apologies; he's not with us you know. Never one to be outdone, it wasn't long before Johnny decided to streak onto the stage as well, shaking his little tadger around to all and sundry. It was a wicked sound and I think we rocked the house. I'm looking forward to the video footage of this one I tell ya. This Californian girl really wanted to take us partying afterwards, (as did I) but as our schedule was, it was gonna be difficult. I tried to juggle things around but to no avail. Goodbye sweet Kristan.... We did have time to pop next door to the night club for an hour or so though. It was such a strange place; it was meant to be a goth club, but in reality, it was like stepping onto the set of an 80's movie. Hairstyles and clothes right out of a brat-pack film. It turned out Missy had locked her keys in the car, so we all had to cramp into our luxurious tour bus for the ride home with everybody telling stories at the same time for two and a half hours. On return to Allentown, I went home with Ronn as the thinking was now over, and I was gonna get a Panic tattoo in the morning....

Tuesday 4th July Destination: Bike USA, Allentown, PA (it's Independence Day you know.)

After an early morning wake up call from Ronn's dog licking my face repeatedly, I stumbled around the house looking for the shower and realised that I had a nasty headache and not one of the usual variety. The good thing about hangovers, if there is such a thing, is at least they go away eventually. Still, if I had a choice, I'd rather not be hungover today especially as nearly three hours of it will be spent having a hot needle repeatedly forced into my arm. Again, I was astounded with the standard of living in America. Ronn's house may have had loads of things wrong with it structure wise, but it was massive and had land as far as the eye could see surrounding it; all for next to nothing in the rent stakes too. It certainly gets you thinking you know.... When Ronn returned from his Ju Jitsu class we speeded off in his car to Paradise Lost, the tattoo parlour where he works. The shop was covered in signed photographs and had pictures of rock n' roll stars like Korn and Green Day getting tattooed by these guys. Even more mind-blowing though, was pictures of Jenna Jameson getting her ink done. Jenna (my favourite porn star) only has two tatts, so to think I was getting mine done here too was a trip. Ronn was less impressed though: "Unless she's sucking my cock or giving me a load of money, I don't give two shits about Jenna Jameson." Fair enough Ronn, let's get started.

Ron

Ronn, a shining example of straight-edge youth (no, REALLY!)

 So, to the strains of Rancid playing in the background, I got my fourth tattoo done, symbolising the main love in my life. The Panic logo had never looked better, what with loads of fire kicking off around it and that. Sorry Mum, I got another one. But he did do me a good deal on it! With my arm on fire, (literally) we headed off to a bike shop to play an afternoon show. The owner, Andy McGregor, was drunk at the Bethlehem gig and said he'd pay us $200 to play on the loading bay of his shop. Easy money mate, and true to his word he paid us even though he seemed to have neglected to tell anyone else that we were playing. So our audience consisted of the bands and a handful of friends we had picked up along the way. We played some "rare" Panic songs for our fans but as it was a roasting hot outdoor gig again, we were forced to keep it short. It seemed like Tot and Digs thought that it was a complete waste of our time (which I guess it was in a way) but I put maximum effort in as he was paying us well and was totally into the bands doing him a private gig. While the Fux played, we, along with Butcher and our new buddy E-String threw anything we could get our hands on at them, but in particular Roman as he was masturbating with his guitar to the max today. After the gig, Andy seemed genuinely moved that we'd played for him and offered us all skateboards. Digs grabbed one for his brother, but it was just one more thing to be lugging around for me, so I politely declined. What a nice bloke though. So, it was off to Dwayne's house again for a Fourth of July pool party, where there was more swimming, drinking, chicks, jacuzziing, footballing, laughing, smoking and as E-String would say "blowing stuff up". There were dangerous fireworks going off everywhere, but that's all part of the fun for those wacky Americans. I'm not sure what Digs and Tot did that evening, but I was determined to go to a strip club! So with Butcher and E in tow, we cruised around town "looking for some action" as they say. Unfortunately all four local nudie bars were shut, so we were forced to retire to a standard bar for a couple of hours before going back to E-String's pad for more beers and laughs. I just loved shooting the shit with these guys; Panic were all making some amazing friends for life so quickly, and we hadn't even hit the road properly yet! That'd be tomorrow at 8am. Oops, I did it again: It was already gone 6am....

Wednesday 5th July Destination: The Mohawk, Buffalo, NY (This is it. No turning back now.)

Awoke in a bit of a daze (as you'd expect I guess) but a friend to rival that of Taco Bell was to greet me. Roman opened up his suitcase of medicine and introduced me to the wonder that is....Goof Juice. It's a powder that you simply mix with orange juice, drink, wait for about twenty minutes and hey presto! You're whizzing your tits off!! It's perfectly legal and available in most health shops, but I'd imagine it would be outlawed in England. I know it contained "ephedrine" which is kinda like legal speed, but I decided against analyzing the ingredients properly and just let it work it's magic with me whenever I felt tired, run-down or hungover. I really should have slept like most of the others for this long road trip, but I wanted to check out the scenery and that you know? Oh yeah, and it was impossible to shut my eyes.

Jamie Delerict

Jamie

After about eight hours or so, we were still making good time, so we thought we'd just pop a few miles out of our way and check out Niagara Falls. You know, as you do. It was everybody's first time at this beautiful landmark and suffice to say we were all blown away. Except for Digs that is, who probably liked it a lot for about five minutes, liked it a bit for the next five minutes, but for the next hour wasn't bothered in the slightest about Niagara Falls. sometimes he has the attention span of a five year old, and Tot and myself can only shake our heads in disbelief. We take one last look at Canada and head towards the Mohawk. What a hilarious name for a bar. I was convinced it was gonna be like something right out of "Suburbia" or "Decline of the Western Civilisation" but as we cruised the streets in Buffalo, it seemed like it was gonna be more like "Dawn of the Dead". There was nobody on the streets at all and no cars or vehicles on the roads to speak of. Desolation, a total ghost town. The club itself was kind of like a lot of the pubs we play in England; small to medium in size, and stinking of piss. But hey, it's the Mohawk right? Checking the local press and newspapers was proving to be a fun pastime in every city; the listings section had us down as The Panic, F.U.S. and The Clinic. Zero out of three ain't bad I suppose.... The Panic are described as having some of the best cockney youth anthems of all time. Definitely not us then, because as everybody knows, no-one hates cockneys more than Panic. Doc didn't show up to this gig and Johnny was starting to get a little pissed off with him. Randy showed up, but brought his wife with him who by all accounts is a total bitch and he ended up going home immediately after he'd finished his set with the Clap. We were tight enough, even though I felt like I was gonna puke everywhere for the first fifteen minutes of our show. I hadn't managed to eat anything all day and I guess the Goof Juice had run it's course by this time. We got a good response, as did the Fux and while I chatted to a few of the local characters (and I mean characters) local band Doombuggy put in a decent performance to send us on our way. The bar owner hooked us up with a local music nut called Marty who generously put us up, fed and watered us. His house was wall to wall CD's and records, so many I didn't bother to look at even one of them. Myself and Johnny are the last two standing again and he voiced his concerns about the two coke-heads he has in his band. He also casually mentions that we're gonna be playing with Dillinger 4 tomorrow. Who I casually mention, are one of our favourite bands.

Thursday 6th July Destination: The Fireside Bowl, Chicago, IL (Fuckin' with the truckers)

Absolutely fucking massive drive ahead of us today, so to prepare myself for the 12 hour plus journey I neck a load of Goof Juice and stuff my face at Taco Bell: Sorted geezer. Roman buys a CB radio from a shopping mall on the way and rigs it up in the van. I have less than any idea why this is so, but all was soon revealed as we passed huge trucks on the freeway and overheard their inane ramblings. As it turned out though, this garbled, coded gibbering was in fact the truckers warning each other of speed traps and in particular, cop cars hiding in bushes. So in theory we'd speed up and then slow down as and when we were told of the rozzers presence nearby. This was to provide an invaluable service to us as time was of the essence, in particular with journeys as long as this one. However, a few hours of bearded hicks talking about roadworks was about all Digs could stand, and he somehow stumbled into a role that he would fill on many more of the drives to come: Fuckin' with the truckers. He started out by putting a few shouts out for the Staines massive, confirming a few sightings of massive lizards and asking if any of the truckers knew where he could find a whore to walk across his back wearing stilettos. He'd been largely ignored by the road warriors for a while, but the stilettos thing garnered a large response. One guy said "Slippers? Jesus, this guy must be an Aborigine or something". To which Digs answered back "Well if I'm an Aborigine, then you are made completely out of leaves". This Vic Reeves type humour was now going down a treat with our American friends and Digs was cementing himself as the joker of the tour. 

Digs Nothing

Digs

The truckers didn't quite know what to make of this weird English guy asking them questions like "Do any of you guys have anything to make my limbs feel really weird?" and "I'm after something that's gonna fill my head with colours. Can you sort me out?". Some found it amusing, but others were angered somewhat. Anyway, about three wrestling magazines and ten cigarettes later, we pulled up to the Fireside Bowl in the nick of time. Cheers CB. There was already a big queue forming outside the building, so we quickly took the gear inside to find.... it was a bowling alley! I had tried to convince myself that we were playing a baseball stadium (and in the process pretty much convinced Digs that we were!) but playing a bowling alley was pretty damn cool itself. The bands were the only ones allowed to take beer outside the bar and into the bowling area because it was an all ages show, which seemed to cause some funny looks from people. Digs got a bit of shit from some straight-edgers with regards to him drinking his Guinness, but he shot them down in flames with his usual flamboyancy. I was stuck on the merchandise table all night, so didn't get to see any of the bands from way back at the other end of the bowling alley, but talked to some fantastic people and even a couple of guys who I'd met briefly when their bands had played Nottingham. (Horace Pinker and Los Crudos). Tot had been e-mailing a guy called Ed who works for Panic Button Records for quite a while now and he had come down to see us which was good of him. It turns out that there was talk of Ben Weasel wanting to sign us, but we had one thing working against us: We were British. Rightio. I was a little annoyed when I was told that as we were hitting the stage for our slot, but it fired me up and we played our best set so far to a large and enthusiastic Chicago crowd. Sweaty and fucked, I headed back to the merchandise stall again and continued to do great business, but not as great as the unstoppable marketing machine that is: Dillinger Four! D4 rocked the place and the crowd went nuts. To top their performance off, they were absolutely cracking blokes and said that it wouldn't be a problem for us bands to scam onto their bill tomorrow in Ohio if we wanted, as we had a day off booked. Hey, we're on tour: I don't want a damn day off! We'll take it! Ed kindly allows us to stop at his house on the night, but not before Johnny and I had found a local bar to drink in until 2am. Great day.

Friday 7th July Destination: The Mad Lab, Columbus, OH. (Kickin' it with Dillinger Four)

Another long drive bro. We say goodbye to nice guy Ed and away we go. By now we totally accept the ways of the road. You shower if you're lucky, drive all day, load up, play, load out, sleep and repeat. To us, it seems like the road is all we know. My guitar is my only family. I feel a Bon Jovi type ballad coming on dude.... At a truck stop along the way, (where I have to clean my tattoo at least four times a day) Ronn teaches me some bad-ass grappling and Ju-Jitsu moves on the grass, felling me repeatedly until Digs points out to him that I do actually have a serious knee problem. Doesn't matter, as I now know how to tear a mans foot off with my bare hands and more importantly, how to kick someone's knee straight off. Digs' CB antics helped to kill the time travelling across entire states, so we were pulling up to the Mad Lab before we knew it. With the exception of a few alternative looking kids hanging around outside, you wouldn't know that a punk gig was happening tonight. Jazz music was wafting out of the venue and inside, a section of the Columbus upper-classes congregated, sipping wine and discussing art. They were no matches for our English charm though as we proceeded to scam some alcohol out of them. The Americans couldn't have pulled off something like that as they possess fuck all couth. Loaded in blah blah blah, and some local kids drove us to an offy to get more beer. Myself and Tot purchased the biggest cans of Colt 45 each that we'd ever seen and of course, a few bottles of Guinness for our bass player. The local band (who unfortunately I have forgotten the name of) chose to play their set on the floor instead of on the stage which I found slightly weird. They were brutal as hell and although certainly not my bag whatsoever, it was funny watching their mates go nuts to the music and throwing themselves around. With reference to the moshing at gigs, Butcher told me last week: "I'm not really into punk rock shows that much, but I like to watch the nonsense". True words my friend. The Fux go down superbly and it was always gonna be hard to follow. Those young kids can't get enough of that fire stuff. We got word that D4 had broken down about fifty miles away, so we decided it would be in everyone's best interests to buy a little time for them. It certainly worked, cuz they arrived near the end of our set, but the gap inbetween the Fux and ourselves seemed to have killed a lot of the enthusiasm that the crowd had before. It was either that or the fact that my voice was cracking up a bit! Dillinger Four were too damn loud for the PA and the result was a crummy sound, but the crowd didn't seem to care and a good time was had by all. We soon realised that there was no beer left for our after-show partying, so myself and Johnny sped off in the van looking for anywhere that looked open. We found a small nightclub that was willing to let us in for take-outs and the girl who served me was from Leicester and used to drink in the Spread Eagle pub which is where we play quite a bit. Small world innit? Back at Amy's, the promoters house, we all drink well into the early hours, discussing punk rock and hearing some amazing stories from the D4 crew. To print these stories though, would be gossiping and we all know that no-one is interested in gossip in the punk scene right? Ahem. I tried to go to sleep on the floor but Digs had secured us a room and found me a bed which was very nice of him indeed. It's a shame that I was too hammered to enjoy a rare bit of comfort, but I'm sure my body appreciated it.

Saturday 8th July Destination: 31st Street Pub, Pittsburgh, PA. (The Cocaine Crow)

Woke up with my tattoo stuck completely to the sheets on the bed and it was absolute agony peeling it off. We had time to check out the shops in Columbus before we left so myself, Roman and Johnny took some CD's around the local record shops and popped into Bernies's for a couple of drinks. This was where we were initially supposed to have been playing and it was a damn shame that it fell through. The women in this city were second to none. Simply stunning girls wherever you looked and all of them very friendly. When we got back to Amy's, D4 had gone which was a shame, but they had told us that they were heading off to Canada early. There was a pretty average drive of six hours today to get to the steel city. It was a cinch as Digs had got the Yanks completely tuned in to our sense of humour by now. It was nice for me as well, to just play the sidekick or even let him get on with it by himself. He even seemed to have the truckers on the CB eating out of his hands now too! On our arrival into Pittsburgh, I'm overcome with an incredibly strange feeling immediately. I can't really describe it, but it was almost as if I could sense an overwhelming surge of hostility and an overall feeling that bad things were gonna happen today. I don't want to come over all new-age hippy, but something didn't feel right here. I mentioned it to Tim and to my surprise he sort of understood where I was coming from. When we found the 31st St. Pub, it was locked, so we left a message on the door letting them know that we had arrived. As we discussed where to go and eat, a group of youths on BMX's nearly wiped us all out and were talking trash to us, begging for us to say something to them and give them a reason to kick our arses. Luckily, we remained calm and relaxed and the gang's attentions turned to one of their buddies, as he had nearly been killed by a car whilst spouting shite at us. I wish that the little piece of shit's head had been crushed like pineapple underneath the wheels of that car. Fucking vermin. This didn't exactly do my frame of mind any good either. We go to a nice Chinese restaurant for some eats, but I don't feel relaxed in the slightest. Back at the pub, we make friends with the doorman/bouncer Jason. He was one cool dude taking no shit from anyone. We also met up with Reggie from the Beatnik Termites who is a pal of Tot's we met up with a couple of times in England. Outside, Johnny is a little pissed off; not only is his hernia playing up pretty badly, but Randy is a no show again and the Doc is being pretty annoying. He's a nice enough guy, but he just won't shut up and is too damn hyperactive. We check out the local newspaper and they've run a hilarious story on us: It's a great write-up, but they mention that we've shared the stage with "the legendary Peter Ramone, brother of Joey Ramone". Now we did play with Joey's brothers band "Stop" a few years ago, but he wasn't called Peter Ramone and is by no means famous or anything. We're confused for a while, but then remember that we said it as a joke during an interview we conducted at my flat, drunk after a practice. From my living room to Pittsburgh: Amazing. The Clap absolutely rock tonight even with their makeshift line up and we're up next. To my dismay, Tot or Digs were no-where to be seen. I walked in and around the building about three times, but nothing. I asked everybody with us, but no-one knew where they were. The Doc drove around in his car and even Reggie joined the hunt. I was angry at them for us missing our slot on the bill and angry cuz the crowd were getting impatient for more music, but this anger soon turned to dare I say, panic and a deep concern for my friends. I had been told that this was a dodgy neighbourhood and I'd already seen a bit of that myself. I tried to get thoughts of them being kidnapped or something out of my head, but given my state of mind earlier, I was understandably a bit of a wreck. The Fux went on, but by that time I didn't really give a fuck about music. Then, in the distance, Doc spots them walking up the street towards the venue. I march towards them, obviously relieved that they're alive, but ready to explode at them for putting me through all that worry. Doc keeps telling me to think happy thoughts, but for the first time ever (I think) I just start shouting at them. They have no idea what the hell I'm on about, cuz in their minds they've just been for a walk. But you don't go walking around strange neighbourhoods in America at night even if you've got an American with you. And you don't go walking around at fucking showtime either. I storm off back to the club absolutely fuming and luckily have to do some roadie stuff straight away cuz I can't even look at those two. As time is now of the essence, we hit the stage as soon as the Fux strum their last note and set up our gear. Tot slaps a kiss right on my lips which was a nice gesture, but nothing from Digs Nothing. To this day I don't think they fully comprehend just what I went through that evening. I channeled my aggression into the show and rocked my little heart out that night in Pittsburgh. It was a tough crowd but I think we worked 'em well. The headlining local band, The Ultimatics, cut our set short even though they play there all the time. I should have been pissed at them, but I was too shattered and anyway, that's what a band gets when they go walkabout. Jason the bouncer was angrier than I was at them and vowed to cut their set short himself! Everybody with us thought that they sucked anyway. I actually thought they were pretty good regardless. They also informed us of a party going down after the gig which everyone was well up for. Unfortunately, it wasn't much of a party. More of a chilled out gathering. There were some nice girls and some cool dudes, but not much going on except for two drunk girls getting it on next to Ronn. I was expecting something a little better and at this stage the Doc and his fellow coke-head buddy were pissing me and everybody else off. I'm sure that if Tot and I hadn't taken him away from Ronn and Digs, a battering may have occurred. He hadn't really bothered me until now, but he really was becoming an out of control asshole. We decided to bail from the party and head back to a guy called Ajax's house for the night. Immediately, the two speeding idiots take residence on the two available settees. These guys only drove to Pittsburgh from Allentown and hadn't even been on the road! I absolutely detest selfishness above all else and find myself somewhere else to sleep away from the atmosphere that could take a turn for the even worse at any point. Johnny was livid, Ronn had decided to sleep outside and Digs looked like he was ready to go apeshit on who he was now calling "The Cocaine Crow" and his mate. He was right as well. Their incessant gibbering was now resembling that of a squawking bird and the sheer cheek of just spreading out on the sofas when there are seven road weary rock warriors more worthy of those spots made me angry too. Johnny could do only one thing: He told the Crow that he was fired and to pass the same message on to Randy when he got home. Waaaah!!! Waaaah!!!

Sunday 9th July Destination: Sparks, Louisville, KY (Hell comes to Headtown)

I woke up feeling alright, but within about half an hour, it was back again: Extreme headache city and I had no medication left. It's full on thumping and rivalling the worst I've ever had. I managed to force some Goof Juice down my throat, but it left me feeling really nauseous. I want to die. I can't really explain how much it hurts, but when it hits me, I truly want the Grim Reaper to take me back to his place. I wish someone could tell me what it is and what I can do about it but they simply can't. I try to sleep in the van, but there's no chance of that. Everyone's being very nice and showing their concern, but their voices hurt my head and I certainly can't even try to converse with them as the reverberations of my own voice would probably make me cry. I stayed in the van while the others went to eat and Roman kindly came back early to take me to the drugstore. The chemist was helpful, but informed me that they could not renew my subscription as, and I quote: "We're not as liberal with medication as you are in England". Ok then, I guess I'll have 500 Ephedrine tablets then please. Jesus. I settle for the strongest stuff they'll give me and Roman very kindly treats me to some WWF trading cards. Sometimes it's the little things people do that mean the most to you. Back on the road and we hit Louisville as the weather hits one hundred degrees Fahrenheit. Once again the city resembles a ghost-town, but the club looks great. It's a gay bar and buried beneath the homosexual literature is a cracking write-up in the local rag about tonight's show. The article has a great picture of the Fux posing in front of an American flag, with Ronn holding a massive shotgun and looking really maniacal. Us Panic boys wander around the city for a bit and I can just about appreciate it's beauty beyond my pain. I just about manage to eat a salad on this boat-restaurant thing, and Tot and myself once again find ourselves shaking our heads in disbelief as Digs verbally struggles with the waiter with regards to the chips/crisps and chips/fries debate. Back at the club, I put many dollars into the Streetfighter arcade game, sweating profusely and trying to take my mind off my head. As time ticks on, I notice many punks passing the club, dressed to the nines in their 70's gear, talking to the doormen and then buggering off again. It turns out that Sparks had recently lost their liquor license, so no alcohol was to be served whatsoever in the venue. To be fair to the punters, there probably wouldn't be much chance of me paying $10 and going to a gig on a scorching Sunday evening without there being a chance of a few cold ones being supped. The "new" Clap started to play, but no-one was gonna come in. Slightly disappointing, but a bit of a godsend, cuz I would not have been physically able to finish one of our sets tonight. The promoter tells us he's gonna lock up so we can have a few beers and I manage to force two or three down my neck. He pays us and offers to put us up in a hotel for the night. Good guy. After getting caught trying to infiltrate the swimming pool at 11pm, we decide an early night is in order. Bit of a nightmare day for me, but hey; we're in America!

Monday 10th July Destination: Next Generation Performance Hall, Nashville, TN (Music City is for posers)

Luckily my head was given a chance to clear up completely overnight, as beer consumption and partying was not on the menu yesterday. I opted for a shower instead of "getting my swim on" in the pool and then had a very civilised breakfast in the posh restaurant part of the hotel. Tim has to go back to work, so he is flying back to PA. at his own expense. You rarely find dedication like this in England. All bands could learn a lot from these guys. We arrive nice and early, so we decide to do the appropriate American thing and go hang out at the mall for a bit. Digs buys a new outfit (it's about time), Tot buys some toys for his kids and I buy some toys for me. After devouring seconds and thirds at Taco Bell, we load up at the venue and it's a massive place with a massive stage. The signs are good. The NGPH is situated in a weird place though; on the outskirts of town, just off the freeway and next to a shopping mall. That being said though, as we drink beer and play football in the car park outside, loads of kids show up in what looks like their parents cars, and just hang out. A few wander inside, and as I chat with them for a while, I get the impression that the average age is around fifteen. That's fine and all that, but after getting another couple of marriage proposals from them, I decide that playing football with Digs outside is the better option. From a legal standpoint anyway.... We soon realise that the crowd is just here to hang out and look cool outside the punk rock show, rather than pay their money and support their scene. It's a real shame cuz the place is great and the sound wicked. Very strangely we decide to go nuts in front of what is easily our smallest crowd yet. (If you don't count yesterday obviously). Me and Digs were rolling around the floor and we're all generally having a laugh. The Clap and the Fux did their thing, but there wasn't much energy flying around as you'd expect. We get our money and opt for the hotel option again as there's no signs of any parties tonight either. Myself, Ronn and Johnny sneak into the nearby Turtle Creek apartment complex, real gator like, and get our midnight swim on. As you can probably guess, this is fast becoming a favourite pastime of mine as well. The Econolodge isn't quite as nice as the Ramada Inn we stayed in last night, but it suits our humble tastes just fine. We've got a whole day in Nashville tomorrow, so that's gonna be nice innit?

Tuesday 11th July Destination: NGPH, Nashville, TN (Sports, Snakeskins and Vandals)

Nice bright and early start for some tourist shit in the home of Country and Western. We all head into town together, but it soon becomes apparent that we all have different agendas and differing ideas as to what to do. Ronn bolts from the pack first to go and shed some testosterone at the local YMCA. (That's a work-out to me and you). The rest of us were getting bored waiting for Roman to come out of the cowboy boot store, so as Digs and Tot headed off in search of CD's, I spotted an amazing structure over the river and decided that I was going there come hell or high water. Johnny liked my style, so the two of us started off on the long trek towards the Adelphia Coliseum, home of last years Superbowl finalists, the Tennessee Titans. Sorry for leaving ya Roman but Snakeskins aren't our bag man. Being a huge football (soccer) fan, stadiums have always held a certain amount of magic and mystique for me. The history of the place, the thousands of people all there supporting their team, it's a special thing for me. So even though the Coliseum is a new stadium, and I'm by no means a fan of American Football, I was still drawn to it in a big way. It was way above one hundred degrees and we eventually found our way over the river in the sweltering heat. The ground looked fantastic, but the job was only half done: We somehow had to infiltrate the Titans home. Johnny, being the full on punk rocker that he his, suggests climbing the fence and grabbing a few moments inside before eviction. Nah. It was English charm time and we searched for the front office to try and talk our way inside. As it happened, Laura, the lady on the front desk, didn't need any persuading at all and happily lead us both towards the pitch. We were chuffed, and I got chills and goosebumps as the steps we followed gradually showed us more and more of the whole stadium, until we were in the middle of it receiving the whole guided tour speech from our host. It's 67,000 capacity is more than Old Trafford's and 10 times as beautiful. I'd never even made it onto my own teams pitch, so this was truly special. Even Johnny was blown away and he no longer cared for sporting activities. After getting some freebie souvenirs, we hit a few bars before running into Roman once again who was a little pissed that we'd left him alone earlier. He informs us that there is a guy up the street with a lasso, who's job it is to pull people into this bar and that he'd told him he was in the Vandals. Well, this certainly needed further investigation, and sure enough it was Warren Fitzgerald, main dude from the Vandals from the early eighties until 1998. It turns out that he's incommunicado and that no-one knows who he is in Nashville. He's chilling and seems finished with the whole band / touring thing. I inform him that the Vandals are no longer welcome in our country after the Leeds incident a while back, but he hasn't been keeping in touch with any of that lot for the past two years and is oblivious to it all. He promises he'll come to the gig tonight and we say our farewells. Roman had discovered another flame shirt for me and I happily coughed up the dollars for my third one and counting. Once the troops were all rounded up we headed back to the NGPH and once again, there was loads of kids hanging out and looking cool. Maybe word had got around and they were all coming in this time? Turned out not to be the case. There were slightly more people anyway; some new and some from the night before. (Cheers Amber!) I've seen lack of unity and petty bitching in scenes before, but Nashville takes the biscuit. Goddamn posing children don't know how good they've got it when there's a cool guy and a great venue right on their door step. With attitudes like theirs, the club'll be forced to close down sooner or later. As I'm ranting and raving about the same topic on stage, Warren arrives and tries to whip the place up a little bit. He is also armed with tequila, which was a welcome change from the warm pissy beer that I'd been drinking today. The small audience were cool and we had a good time but the lasting memory of Nashville will definitely be that of a weird, divided punk scene. The Fux / the Clap and myself slinked back to Turtle Creek for another relaxing swim and we decided that we'd bank the money and just sleep at the venue tonight. I go to sleep on the drum riser with my head on a monitor. I truly am a road dog. Woof woof!

Wednesday 12th July Destination: Nine Lives Club, Atlanta, GA (Panic vs. The Teen Idols vs. The Woggles)

Warren Fitzgerald comes rolling into the venue, loud as you like, hoping to wake us all up but we're already loaded up and planning our next move. He's such a full-on, in-yer-face guy (as most Americans are...) that it's just way too much to deal with first thing in the morning. He's a decent bloke though and seems genuine enough about helping us out with future tours and labels and such. The NGPH is right next door to the launderette, so we decide on a quick wash of our essentials. Digs however, decides on a haircut at the barbers next door. He ends up paying $10 for what seems like exactly the same length hair that he went in with. A hearty breakfast at the local waffle house, (where the waitresses are all wearing their "Clap" badges!) and we're back on the open road again. Everyone's a little quiet today; either the rock 'n roll life is started to drag us down a bit, or everybody's a little disappointed with the way the last few gigs have gone compared to the first lot. Probably a bit of both, but nothing's gonna affect me in a negative way on this trip. I decided that a long time ago and I'm gonna enjoy every damn minute of this tour!! For a change, we pull into our next city, and the place is jumpin' jumpin'! No ghost town in Atlanta my boy. Everything was really colourful with flames and skulls everywhere. Dozens of alternative or punky people around too. The riot grrl thing is obviously pretty happening there as well. We enter a shop called "Junkman's Daughter" and hook up with our hostess for our stay Susanne. She's the manageress of this weird and wonderful store and also plays in the band's Lust, and the Vendettas. (Both great, check 'em out). It turns out that some English dude has already beaten us to the punch and married her though. Goddamn Spurs fans. Never mind. I added yet another flamboyant shirt to my collection along with some other goodies and presents, all at discounted prices. Cheers! As it happens, the local WCW wrestlers and many of the rap stars from around here shop at Junkman's Daughter, so I'm in good company. I know we throw the word "massive" around quite a bit, but believe me when I say to you that myself and Tot shared a maaaasive pizza after our little shopping spree. Sound check time at the venue, and the posters and flyers inform us that not only are the Teen Idols playing up the street, but local heroes the Woggles are playing nearby too. No prizes for guessing who's got the short end of the stick there then right? C'est la vie mon frere, and incidentally, I don't give a fuck cuz I'm still having the time of my life. We pass some time by having a Panic Pool Tournament, and I end up lifting the belt high above my head. The Clap play great tonight, but you can tell that it's beginning to take it's toll on poor old Johnny. He's been a trooper throughout this though. We rock harder then ever before with total intensity and boy do we feel it afterwards. I had to lie down for five minutes I was that drained. Yet another stellar performance in front of a small, yet appreciative crowd. As I'm drinking my beer and chatting to Susanne while the Fux play, this dude comes up to me, takes the can of beer from my hand and proceeds to make the hole that I'm drinking out of three times bigger with his bare hands. He genuinely believes he's done me a big favour judging by his facial expression, so I high-five him and give him a free CD while Susanne collapses in hysterics. The guy later tells me that he's a Navy SEAL, a Greek-Cypriot, a Cherokee Indian and he's from both Ireland and Scotland. I don't suppose you'd be suprised to hear that later on in the night he got a bit rowdy and was forcibly ejected from the premises, whilst threatening to get all his Hispanic people to burn the club down to the ground! Digs spotted the fracas from over the road where he was drinking Guinness with a bloke from Gedling (Nottingham) and a real Navy SEAL. Apparently the chefs at this bar / restaurant were absolutely hammered and they'd left this massive hash cake in their oven for too long. By all accounts they were in hysterics as they battered it with hammers and chisels, trying to get what they could from the burnt cake. Tot managed to get a large lump from them and it was rather nice. We stayed up for a while drinking beer on the porch at nice guy Johnny from the Vendettas house, and crashed at what was probably a respectable hour.

Thursday 13th July Destination: Tasty World, Athens, GA (Shiny Happy People with Misfits Dolls)

After swapping records and CD's with Johnny, we head back to Junkman's Daughter for more goodies at 40% discount and to bond with Susanne a bit more in her old school Spurs shirt. I purchase some rather nice Mexican Voodoo shit, so watch yourself next time you decide to cross swords with me OK? Atlanta; one hell of a city. Back in the van, and we only had to drive for one measly hour to get to Athens. It was totally bizarre. I almost wanted to drive for at least another couple of hours, it just didn't seem right. Well, the town that brought you REM and the B-52's, the legend that is Athens, is, well, small to say the least. It seems to consist of about five blocks in a perfect square. There's absolutely no chance of getting lost in this sleepy place. We loaded up straight away and the sound was kick ass, so we could relax and do what we want to do all day long. So what did we do? Ate and then go shopping! We found some good record stores and I found this comic / toy shop whose owner was the spitting image of the comic guy in the Simpsons. Even personality wise! On the way back to the club, we spotted a shop called "Son of Junkman's Daughter" and all immediately dived in. Second shop, same as the first, full of cool clothes, toys, jewellery, bongs, posters, punk stuff etc. As soon as the staff heard our accents, they knew we were the English band playing tonight. It felt kinda nice, everyone pampering you in a shop, but it just shows what a small place Athens is! It was Digs who spotted 'em first. There they were, in all their glory in a glass cabinet: Jerry Only and Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein! At last the Misfits Dolls shall be mine! Unfortunately they were $45 each. Now that's a lot of money, even for a rock star enjoying a successful tour of America. I'd waited that long to get them though, it wasn't that much of a decision to make. All the same, it felt really weird handing over that much money for a couple of toys. Especially as those two "toys" had totally screwed my band over a couple of years ago. Back at Tasty World, Roman was fretting that there hadn't been any advertising done and that there were no posters up around town. He must have been blind, they were everywhere man. Still, we both headed off to do some last minute flyering and met some nice people and a few of the local punkers. I was tempted to put the last couple of posters either on a dog, or a wandering homeless person for some mobile advertising, but instead settled for a traffic cone and a bench. I went to get some cigarettes and by the time I got back to the venue, every single band member was asleep. Including Ronn who was getting his sleep on behind the drum kit on stage. "Fuck that", I thought, as I pulled a stool up to the bar, started drinking some of our free beer and struck up a conversation with the pretty barmaid. A few hours passed, and the musicians, one by one, eventually roused from their slumber. After successfully defending my Heavyweight Panic Pool Championship of the world belt numerous times, a trickle of punters eventually entered the building and the Clap decided to start things off, to a pretty good response. I decided to debut one of my new shirts for our set, but quite frankly shouldn't have bothered. Even though there seemed to be a good buzz around town for tonight's gig, once again we had competition from another popular local band nearby. We played really well, but seemed to go down like a sack of shit with the small and disinterested crowd. We ended to virtual silence, which was the weirdest thing I'd ever heard. There's more noise going on at a band practice when we finish a song for Christ's sake. Even our travelling companions had stepped outside while we were playing which annoyed me somewhat, as I had supported them every set, at every show. There was just a general feeling of, as Digs would say: "Not bothered" around the place, and it was all too much for Tot as he leapt off the stage and shouted "Fuck you! Fuck all of you fucking wankers!" at the top of his voice. 

Tot Flip-Flop

Tot, the angry drummer!!

It was aimed at the throng of people who were congregated outside, and if they had actually heard his outburst, they didn't seem bothered. Things weren't that much better for the Fux, but the fire thing soon caught people's attention and therefore, you could say that they had had a good show. I left Tot to brood alone for a while, knowing he'd be alright in a bit, but I'd noticed that the steady decline in attendances from two thirds into the tour had started to bother him. Tonight was disheartening to say the least, but the drop in attendances had also coincided with the lack of local bands playing with us in each city, which was bad booking to say the least. After quickly necking a few more free beverages, a local drunk kid agreed to take Johnny and I to a local apartment complex where you guessed it: We got our swim on. This kid had no idea of the gator-like stealth needed for a night time swim such as this. I guess he was so hell bent on acting like Sid Vicious, that he forgot we had to BE BLOODY QUIET YOU PRICK! As per usual myself and hernia-boy shot the shit for a while and put the punk rock world to rights over a couple of cans of really warm beer before crashing on the floor of Sid's flat.

Friday 14th July Destination: Some kids basement, Virginia Beach, VA

We were all rudely awakened by one of the guys who lived in the apartment, coming home and finding Ronn and a skinhead chick in his bed. His face looked like he was having an aneurysm and I swear he almost had smoke coming out of his ears. Even Ronn, who could probably survive a few rounds with Tyson, took the whole episode calmly in his stride and vacated the premises knowing he'd done wrong. The rest of us made a quick getaway too before anything kicked off. Hell, the waffle house was calling us anyway. It was gonna be a long drive back to A-Town, so Roman had booked us another show in Virginia Beach at this dudes house. After a show of hands, we had a three all draw on whether to play the show or not as Johnny and Tot were now quite sick with their respective ailments. It was decided that as it was halfway home, we'd suss out the situation and make a decision in Virginia. We knew that it was a small house show, with a local band and arranged at the last minute, so the signs weren't good at all. With my last travellers cheque, I treated Panic and Johnny to a meal and some brews at this mad drunk woman's restaurant in the middle of nowhere. She took our photographs and in hindsight, massively overcharged us! At the house / venue, a small gathering had turned up with beer and food for us and were very friendly indeed, but by then we had decided to simply knock it on the head as it just wasn't gonna be worth it. Sorry Virginia Beach. So, we hit the road once again, for the final time. As Tot, Digs and Ronn slept, I decided to stay up and keep Johnny and Roman company up front. We passed a huge MTV's "The Real World" coach on the freeway which contained the cast members, so I chatted with the driver for twenty minutes or so on the CB. Turns out that they're proper celebrities over there now which is a bit weird. We pulled into Allentown at around 4:30am and everybody scattered like roaches being tipped out of an empty jam jar. It was arranged that we'd all get together tomorrow and have the goodbye ceremonies and that.

Saturday 15th July Destination: Unknown, PA (Falling in love again)

As I opened my eyes, familiar surroundings greeted me: A massive ginger dog licking my face to be precise. Although I was flattered, I sent Luke on his way to go and annoy Digs, as that's what he does best. Mr. Nothing was feeling a bit under the weather today though, so Butcher took just Tot and myself out for breakfast. We checked out the local mall for some last minute presents, and would you believe it, but I spotted some Misfits dolls. Cheaper than mine too! So, I was forced to console myself, and bought a brand new figure of "The Rock" from Toys R Us. We decided to get the shit job outta the way early on, and loaded all the gear back into The Fux's rehearsal space so we could chill out properly and have some trees. Back at the ranch, as Butcher cooked us up some lush veggie treats, guests started to trickle in, each sadder and quieter than the last. It was a really strange atmosphere, probably because this was very nearly the end. Regardless, I totally didn't want to stay in and watch a video on my last night in the States, so as discussed a fortnight ago, myself and the Butcher would take in a classy strip joint. Johnny was in as well. We popped round to Johnny's to inform his girlfriend of his whereabouts, picked up a six-pack and headed to ERV's. Ten bucks in and the ladies were beautiful. Playboy quality, and in a strip club that's hidden behind a supermarket. There was a really good vibe in the place and the punters were very respectful to the chicks. We had to settle for the cheap seats for quite a while, but I still managed to fall in love with a beautiful blonde dancer from up in the stands. (Again!) Just as Butcher had snagged us some ringside seats, and that blonde was making her way round to me, they announced that they were chucking everybody out and closing up, cuz some dickhead had been throwing ice at one of the girls instead of the customary dollar bills. What a wanker. On the way out, Butcher said that he was gonna treat me to a private lap dance and get my photo taken with the gorgeous blonde. Gutted was not the word mate.... So, we headed back to the house, down, but not out. Hugged Ronn and Johnny and said our farewells; truly a sad moment. The night was young though and myself and Butch headed out into the night to a little bar that he knew. I swear that the rum and cokes were half a pint of rum and a dash of coke. He made a genuine offer of a job and a room at his house for me if I wanted to stay in Allentown. The money was good, the standard of living high and the weather and friends superb. I really did think long and hard about it, as offers such as this come along once in a blue moon. I even contemplated just stopping for three months, making a lot of money and coming home, but in the end, all trains of thought lead me back to one thing: Panic. We haven't yet achieved whatever it is we're supposed to and I will not rest until we've taken it as far as we possibly can. I could never live with myself if I made such a selfish move, when two of my best mates share this mysterious path of rock 'n roll with me, and it was I that cut it off before we'd finished our quest. This move, maybe a missed opportunity, but I believe that I'd be forgoing more opportunities if Panic were to be no more. Anyhow, spiritual stuff over with, we headed back about 3am and I was well oiled. Digs and Tot were still up, and Missy had popped round to say goodbye. After a couple of nightcaps, we decided to retire and I climbed into my usual armchair to get some kip. For once though, I just couldn't get comfortable, and I told Digs in what was apparently a really sad voice that I felt betrayed and let down by the chair. I'm ever such a friendly drunk you know.

Sunday 16th July Destination: JFK, NY, USA - Heathrow, London, UK - Nottingham, UK (The luck and the money runs out)

Well, I can't really fill you in with regards to Sunday morning as I was still hammered from the night before. Luckily we were all pretty much packed and ready to go, but I had no concept of time or anything, so I just went to sleep in the van, occasionally waking up in the strangest of positions. This usually involved my head rammed up against various parts of Tot's anatomy. Sorry mate. I came round about nineish, with the flight apparently at 9:30am and with Tot mumbling something about having to be there two hours beforehand to check in. After waiting at the wrong terminal for about fifteen minutes, we eventually found the correct one precisely two minutes after the last call for our plane. The next available flight was in eleven hours time. Tot was furious, I was pissed off, but to Digs' credit, he handled the situation very well and stayed cool and calm. Roman was saying that no-one had told him about the check-in time and that he had never bothered with them anyway, Tot thought that Digs was fucking around too much in the morning, I secretly thought that because I was still tipsy, I had somehow made this happen, Missy was massaging tense backs and Digs had disappeared yet a-fucking-gain when there was important business to attend to and decisions to be made. We'd also spent up completely, knowing that we weren't gonna need anymore money and not compensating for a major disaster such as this. It wasn't the waiting around that was the problem, it was the fact that we had organised the whole trip pretty much to the hour; workwise, familywise and otherwise. Now we were gonna be fucking up other people on a massive scale back home. Tot's wife isn't gonna be able to pick us up from Heathrow now, and who's gonna look after his kids? Those nice Fux lent us $60 for food and more importantly, for phone calls back home. The goodbyes to Roman, Tim and Missy were probably not as loving as they should have been, but for the first time on the tour, tensions were running high in the Panic camp. As we settled down in the lounge area to begin our eleven hour stint in the airport, Tot set up camp on the opposite side of the room to where myself and Digs were. Fair enough I thought, probably just needs some time alone or to go to sleep or something. Us guitarists on the other hand, decided to cope with the situation by going slowly insane. Sometimes the only way to survive a problem such as this is to laugh in the face of adversity and get silly. Unknowingly to us though, this probably infuriated Tot even more, as this had hit him the hardest, but we were merely coping the only way we knew how. We accepted the fact that we were forced to sit here like a bunch of pricks for eleven damn hours straight. After a couple of hours, he came over to see what was going on. As far as I know, myself and Tot have not had one single argument in the seven years we've known each other, but there was one brewing on the horizon, you could smell it. I put it down to cabin fever, but it turns out that Tot had overheard a conversation last night between me and Digs, jumbled it all up and come to the conclusion that we were slagging him off. Which is incidentally something I have never done, nor do I intend to. Looking past my bewilderment and confusion, I assured him that that was certainly not the case, cuz as I said before, I'm a happy and positive drunk. Digs informed me that the betrayal that Tot spoke of, was not of him but off the armchair last night! To his credit, Tot raised a small smile, but I found it absolutely fucking hilarious. That problem sorted, we could now get onto the small issue of how the hell we were gonna get from London to Nottingham as we were virtually broke. We'd deliberately spent up remember? Just about all possible friends and family were called upon, but no dice. We were eventually able to track down our roadie Andy Hazard, who bless his heart, moved heaven and earth to find Tot's brother Joey who could have been in virtually any pub in Nottingham. Joey's got a nice car. A beautiful car. But it's a tiny sports car, and one of us was gonna have to be the fall guy and find alternative transport back to Notts. This seemed to cause a little more dissension in the ranks, but we were edging closer and closer to England and we decided that we'd cross that bridge when we came to it. Flight time eventually arrived and after pushing past the wanky first class passengers trying to board first, to be honest, it was largely an uneventful affair. Save for the seemingly endless complementary Bacardi and cokes I was hoying down my throat. Hell, I didn't even realise that we had landed until Digs told me to get out of my seat! When Joey met us at the gates, I was annoyed that I'd narrowly missed L7 boarding a flight to Los Angeles. They're long time faves of mine, but Hazard informed me that they were looking extremely old and haggard these days, which appeased me a little. Thank the lord, but we managed to all squeeze into Joey's little car. It must have looked hilarious from the outside, but I was in severe pain inside. I was bent up like an accordion, but you had to laugh right? It was like some weird dream sequence, being back in England, and as we reached Nottingham, I physically suddenly felt a wave of depression wash over me: Reality hit. We weren't gonna be playing a gig tonight, or the next night, or the night after that. For a place that I used to think was really rocking, I seemed to have developed a sudden hatred for Nottingham and all who dwell in it. I really, really despised the thought of going back to work the next day, dropping immediately back into the rat race and my shitty life. No longer did anyone care about my accent, or that I was a singer in a band; we were all back to being little fishes in a massive pond. Kev, the guy who runs our record label, informed me the day before I left for America that I would come back with a completely different and fresh outlook on life. Well aside from the almost crippling depression of not being on the road any more and not being able to play shows every night, the fact that nothing other than music seems to motivate me anymore and the apparent inability I now possess to truly not give a fuck about anything other than Panic; he pretty much hit the nail on the head. He was certainly right about one thing though: We had the time of our lives.

Jamie Delerict, aged 25.

   
 
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