Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Go Team "Stalkers" (the full story!)

The past few months of my life, I have been working towards the mini-tour that Brooklyn "Gutter Rockers" (As "Time Out" described them) made of The UK, the first time they visited Fair Albion this April.

It has been an extremely interesting period of my life, and has been oddly emotional at times. This is largely to do with the fact that I am a total pessimist and have managed to cry
"Oh fuck, this thing is about to go tits up at any minute" at least once a week about the project, but also owing to the more enjoyable aspects of this, some of which fulfilling a number of adolescent Rock & Roll fantasies, I have harboured, like going into NME Head Offices for the first time to talk about "Stalkers" or just the sheer kick of hanging out with a rock band from New York whilst wearing Converse All Stars.
You see, I grew up in Southport in Merseyside, which isn't exactly the hippest of towns, (See the Morrissey Video for "Every Day Is Like Sunday" for a reasonably accurate representation of my formative years) so you can imagine how all this might have been quite awe inspiring for a Woolyback like me.

Anyways. the whole "Stalkers" Project started when their manager Dave Allen, (a rather interesting chap, who I had been conversing with over Myspace , for quite a while about his theories about Art and Music) was in London for a visit last November, so I offered to give him a tour of the recently re-launched Tate Modern where I work. Characteristically, (and excessive whisky consumption will prove to be a bit of a theme during this story), he and myself wound up drinking several glasses of Jack Daniels and Coke in the Tate Members Room whilst I drunkenly confessed to a slightly embarrassing fondness for his fellow New Yorkers "The Strokes" (I have a crush on Albert Hammond Jr, this is rather sad, but at least its not Brad Pitt or someone! ) and he replied (or something to this effect) "Well I know of a New York Indie Band that you might like then, called "Stalkers"" at this point, I believe I started giggling uncontrollably about the bands name (clever/tasteless band names do make me laugh, I am also friends with a band called "The $hit", this name never tires me!) I then exclaimed "They SO need to come to London! I'll get 'em gigs!"

You see, at the time, I had just enjoyed a brief stint as the manager of a Psychedelic Band called "They Came From the Stars, I Saw Them" and I had also recently dated a couple of guys in two London Indie bands (not at the same time, and I feel I must state here, that for the record, I am NOT A GROUPIE, I just happened to go out with a couple of musicians, I mean I am by trade and qualification, A Conceptual Video Artist,so who do you expect me to date, an investment banker???) and I had quite a vast knowledge of the London Toilet Circuit, so this wasn't just the drink talking, my offer was genuine, and I was already making mental notes about what venues I would approach over this.

However, from this point, strange machinations seem to occur. Over in New York, Dave met Pat Long, the sub editor of NME, they got on, and he urged me to go into the NME Offices with some "Stalkers" press pre-release EPs.

This was now January, and I had yet to properly listen to "Stalkers" (I am Electro Girl, after all) but I spent a day or so, listening to one of these EPs, in order to familiarise myself with it, then the next day, what do you know? but I found myself humming "Lets Get It Together" on the bus! This filled me with hope, because it brought to mind some advice given to me, by my mum's friend about music; this was

"If people can whistle it, you have got yourself a hit!" So into NME I went, feeling confident about the band I was plugging and believed myself, when I told Pat Long, (rather succinctly)"Yes, "Stalkers" are very very good indeed".

Anyways, from this point "Project Stalkers" entered the public domain, they got a fair bit of mainstream press coverage, they started being heard on the radio, and if you, dear reader, wish to check any of this, it can be Googled very easily, so I don't need to bore you with all of this on here, but I will carry on with my personal reflections on the "Stalkers" Tour itself.

If we fast-forward to April 10th 2007 (the day "Stalkers" arrive in the UK AND MY 27th BIRTHDAY!) Myself and Adam BRUT (my friend, and the chap who helped organise, along with his colleagues; Warren and Kim BRUT, the last gig of the "Stalkers" Tour, "TURBOFEST") went to collect a very tired but nontheless, highly strung band and their manager from Heathrow Airport.
However I don't remember too much about this day, as I was presented with a bottle of Jack Daniels by Adam (it being my birthday and all) which we all (The band, Dave Allen and Adam) proceeded to drink at 10am on the tube back to London, and after we had settled all the band in round at Adam's house, him and myself (having got the taste for it) continued drinking, well into the afternoon, and what with me being a size 8, and not having eaten anything all day, this probably wasn't my best move! My last coherent memory of that day, was of my ordering an Aftershock at some bar in Hackney, then after that, nothing, it's just a vaguelly recalled black hole, until the next morning.

Mind you, I don't beat myself up too much about this, I mean it was my 27th Birthday! This being the ROCK STAR YEAR OF DEATH, it was bound to take me in a rather odd way!

Memories of Alcoholic Blackouts aside; The next day, "Stalkers" played their debut UK Gig at "The Buffalo Bar" Islington. I was there in attendance, though feeling rather worse for wear. I recall giving "evils" to the guy from "Towers Of London" who was also there and I dislike (I didn't "get" "The Darkness and I don't "get" them!) other than that, it wasn't massively eventful. The place was full of industry types, so I had to behave, and it wasn't much fun, although I did take this rather fetching photo.

April 12th was The "Stalkers" support slot with "The Horrors" in Southend, which I decided not to attend. I felt really drained by the whole experience that day, plus I had recently learned that "The Horrors" themselves had been students at Rugby Public School, so every left wing fibre in my body, couldn't let me go there and be nice to "The Horrors" despite their amazing haircuts. I am notorious for being shallowly obsessed with people's hair, so I found it reassuring to realise I had some standards that can over-ride this!

April (Friday!) 13th was "Stalkers" Gig at KOKO at Club NME in Camden. This was a very strange one, indeed. I decided that I didn't want to go backstage at all, I wanted to watch the band in the company of the crowd, them being the potential audience of "Stalkers" after all. I felt weird, though. All those kids reminded me of teenage versions of myself, it made me feel old, but in a good way, like I was relieved that my past life as an Indie Kid was behind me. Plus, it was fun seeing "Stalkers" play on such a big stage. I had watched MCR play a gig at KOKO on TV the night before (When I should have been at "The Horrors" show) so i felt a strange rush of almost maternal pride to see "my boys" (how I have affectionately come to think of them) playing there too. I also took some good photos, one of which you can see here. The "Stalkers" are (from left to right) Ryan, Andy, Danny, Josh (the drummer) and Tristan. At some point, Danny waved at me, I gave a peace sign in return, it felt nice.

Here, we move onto April 14th, which was the "Stalkers" final gig and the one I was mainly looking forward to. You see, it was organised with my friend Adam Smith/BRUT and his Art Project/Entertainments Company "TURBOBRUT", plus it was in Shoreditch, my preferred stomping ground (yes, I am Nathan Barley!) and there was a photo of me and Adam on the flyer, the concept of which, (devised by Adam) is a "lady being stalked" yeah I know its a crappy pun, but we thought it was funny, so here it is.
The whole thing panned out like some sort of unofficial Tate Employees Party; so many of my friends were there (which is quite an unusual occurrence in London, where there seems to be so many things to do, that you never find yourself in the same place as loads of people you know) A strange combination of my old supervisor from Tate Britain and my housemates were managing the door, it was like a fun "Stalkers" based cottage industry!
I didn't get any photos of the last "Stalkers" Gig, with good reason (which I will go into later). Although my friend Stephen Hoffman, did manage to take a bunch of photos of me with each of the members of "Stalkers" my favourite being this one of myself and Tristan Stalker as we are both actually SMILING on it! At the "Stalkers" Gig, we all ended up (amongst other similarly Grungy things) moshing. pogoing (I was wearing heels! I am Courtney Love!) and throwing/spitting (!) the free beer that TURBOBRUT kindly provided for the event over each other! Adam was even STAGE DIVING! This was the first mosh pit I have been involved in, for at least 10 years, and after the fierce bruises I found on myself, the next day, i daresay it will be the last, but it was loads of fun, nonetheless (interestingly enough, the most violent members of this mosh pit, were myself and my fellow Gallery Assistants! We are normally such a sedate bunch, next time you are in an art gallery check out the idiot in uniform sleeping in the corner, s/he may look comatose, but you don't know what they have been up to the night before!)

Anyways, after this, in dribs and drabs "Stalkers" and their manager gradually went home to Brooklyn, it was a funny old time alright, and I have mixed feelings about it being over, (part sadness and part relief, that it didnt, in fact "all go tits up") However they are all coming back to The UK in August, so who knows what strange events we have ahead of us!

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