The south-west? We shall exit ‘er in Exeter..

Well, now the dust has settled and I’ve grabbed a few hours of kip in my own bed it brings us to the Exeter leg of the tour.  Having surfaced and written yesterday’s blog I got the call from Dan on loading times from the venue, so I checked out and staggered that way to find John and Scott had pretty much got everything out of The Hub and we just had to wait for the bus (or ‘the buzz’ if you’re John) to load up.  It’s worth considering at this point how much stuff it takes to make a Ferocious Dog gig.  Just some of it is pictured below.

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It’s fairly obvious really – there’s six of ’em, Ellis plays about eight million instruments, there’s a drum kit – there’s amps, there’s merchandise, there’s the stage backdrop and assorted maintenance kit, there’s a few spare guitars for quick changes in case of string snappage.  Then of course there’s up to ten people in the bus too along with their travelling gear (in our case we only had six of us for most of our journeying).  It’s a logistical challenge for sure – and Waggy and Ken are masters of the game of 3D Tetris involved in getting everything in the back section of the dog bus.

When you see a band playing to a group of people going crazy, people eulogising about them on Facebook (not least me) and clamouring to get photos or just talk after gigs it’s easy to forget after that it’s the same people – admittedly with some help from venue staff or folk they might have on tour with them – who will be packing everything up and getting it either in the bus or ready to collect in the morning.  It makes Ken’s mingling with the crowd after gigs all the more charming – and it’s not an act either, he turns heads and starts conversations wherever he goes!

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Freeborn Al / 19th April 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos / 0 Comments

Ply-mouth to mouth.. resuscitation required..

The morning after the night before wasn’t too bad in Bridport – a relatively early rise, a return to the venue to meet Ken and Waggy to load up the van then a return to my hotel for and awesome breakfast before reconvening to prepare for our onward journey.  Scott and John were ready but it was a little more challenging to get Ellis upright.

The locals passing by as the van was loaded were all really friendly – a few had been to the gig, others drawn by Ken’s unusual appearance in the area.  It gave rise to some conspiracy theories on the bus that it was all a front for some kind of Hot Fuzz style hidden sinister society underpinning the place, everything just seemed so lovely and welcoming – I’m not sure that’s really true, but it made for some amusing bus banter.

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The going was good before the roads became terrifying!

The run from Bridport to Plymouth is relatively straight forward so was done and dusted reasonably quickly.  With John added to team crossword we did a bit better on this trip.  As we didn’t have a cigarette stop it’s true that Ellis did start to get a little bit agitated – the signal for this I’ve discovered is when he starts to quote from Robocop!  It does make for an entertaining end of journey though, although judging by the look on John’s face maybe it’s novelty factor from my point of view!

Moments later the RoboCop quotes were out in earnest!  "You see I got this problem..."

Moments later the RoboCop quotes were out in earnest! “You see I got this problem…”

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Freeborn Al / 18th April 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Photos, Videos / 0 Comments

Bridport down, Plymouth and Exeter to go!

Initially it was quite the intellectual journey

Initially it was quite the intellectual journey

It was slightly earlier start than initially planned as Ken kindly offered me the opportunity to skip driving to the South West for this leg of the tour and hitch a ride on Cerebus, the Ferocious Dog minibus.

I should’ve grabbed a picture or two really – I’ll try to remember tomorrow.  I got myself up to Trowell Services for the pick up and procured a massive box of doughnuts as they arrived, with Ken in the driving seat, along with Waggy, Scott and Ellis – all mostly in good spirits, Scott’s previous evening’s alcohol consumption aside.

Waggy took over driving duties and we were off to Bridport via picking up John off the M5.

Cerebus is awesome – emblazoned with Ferocious Dog graphics on the outside, and inside the middle row of seats are replaced by a table printed with an image of the band making it spacious and comfortable compared to a typical cramped minibus for someone of my height.  It certainly draws a lot of looks on the motorway from passing motorists too.  The windows at the back are blacked out too, mercifully considering later on…

The journey down was fun – we joined the M5 at the junction after the service station we were meeting John and after 16 miles or so of not seeing any services realised so doubled back to collect him.  Oops.  In the meantime Ellis and I had made a solid attempt at the crossword (ahem) and watched Scott transition from still-drunk to getting-hungover.  The new Ferocious Dog tracks were on the stereo and it was interesting to listen to them talking about little bits and pieces they were happy and less happy with.  There was even a sneak peak of prospective new album artwork passed around which looks great.

.... but once cabin fever kicked in somewhere on the M5...

…. but once cabin fever kicked in somewhere on the M5…

Once John was on board our party was complete – Dan and Leanne were travelling down separately by car and Les too was meeting us down in Bridport.  A couple of stops for toilet breaks and cigarette breaks from the increasingly agitated Ellis and Scott and eventually we were honing in on Bridport – only to encounter a series of bizarre road closures, suicidal parking and general kerfuffles – however, we did make it and ingratiate ourselves with the locals with a quiet and dignified drive through the quite well-to-do looking Dorset town.  Ahem.

Whilst much of what happens on the bus must stay on the bus, the overwhelming experience is one of a bunch of fellas who are down to earth and loving what they do – albeit well hidden in the case of a certain hungover drummer.  He did perk up as the day went on though and was in high spirits but the end of the night.  It will be interesting to see what level of inebriation he’s managed to achieve this evening when we reconvene in the morning!

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Freeborn Al / 17th April 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Preparing for a road trip!

Today’s been a good day – a nicely truncated working week finished, and anticipation of a road trip starting tomorrow heading to the South West for a triple-header of Ferocious Dog gigs in Bridport, Plymouth and finally Exeter.  Given how broken I was after just two consecutive gigs last weekend this will certainly prove an interesting experiment!

What better way to get into the mood than by enjoying some video compilations of Waggy’s awesome photos from the Cambridge and Derby gigs?  I certainly can’t think of one!  I’ve just had an exciting offer to travel down to the West Country on the Dog bus too… wow!  This could prove memorable!

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Freeborn Al / 15th April 2015 / Band, Gigs, Music, Photos / 0 Comments

From Without (from within)..

Eeee! New Ferocious Dog songs ON MY PHONE!!

Eeee! New Ferocious Dog songs ON MY PHONE!!

After a pretty full-on weekend of Ferocious Dog and a Monday morning fresh after the school holiday it was always going to be a bind to get to work this morning.  Once I’d arrived and grabbed a sneaky breakfast I was settling down to get my to do list beaten into shape when my phone rang. It was Dan which was rather unexpected so I grabbed the phone and excitedly said yes when he offered me the chance to listen to a few rough-cuts from the new album recordings.

A link to Dropbox was duly texted through and after some faffing around I fashioned a way to have a crafty listen to the tracks whilst finishing off a Powerpoint presentation.  Some were already surprisingly familiar from the live performances, some less so – one mentioned in a teaser post by Waggy on Facebook a few days ago. My remit is to review them without giving too much away – particularly the tracks that have yet to be aired on the tour as yet.

I’ve not quite decided how to tackle this so I’m free-typing on my keyboard in the hope that inspiration strikes.  I posted earlier about listening to Ferocious Dog giving you the urge to drive fast – this evening I was home from Solihull in around 42 minutes – normally I’m happy if I’m not too far north of an hour.  The new stuff, even pre-mastering, is clearly pretty heady stuff… I get the chance to hammer it to death over the next few hundred miles I drive to start to learn some of the words.  I’d best start watching out for speed cameras.

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Freeborn Al / 13th April 2015 / Band, Gigs, Music / 0 Comments

Dog dilemmas – driving and listening..

I spend quite a lot of my time driving – I have an eighty mile round trip to and from work most days (sometimes more) and live a bit in the sticks so often drive to gigs or social gatherings.  Generally in the car I listen to music, I use my phone for this (which is also sometimes acts as a sat nav) and whether I choose specific things to listen to or have it on shuffle there’s quite a lot of Ferocious Dog music on there.

So you’re always likely to encounter them on any particular trip with me in the driving seat.

Having just checked there’s 68 Ferocious Dog tracks on there.  Admittedly there’s a lot of duplication – I am sad enough to have both the UK and German versions of the album on my phone, as well as the previously released mini-album, the acoustic album and two EPs, the iTunes Hell Hounds release, a recording of Too Late being played on The Beat on the BBC and a couple of live tracks I had kicking around.  So there are many tracks that appear more than once.

In the run up to a Ferocious Dog gig I will normally just entrust Siri to control my musical selection – so I’ll summon her and say “Play music by Ferocious Dog” – normally she understands me and basically that means she’ll shuffle through any music by that artist in a random order – ideal!  But as I spent the last week to-ing and fro-ing from work it inspired a few dilemmas or pit-falls (ha, pit-falls, I had a few of those on Saturday night in the Hairy Dog!!) that can crop up when driving whilst listening to Ferocious Dog.

Maybe you can think of a few more?  Frustratingly I couldn’t come up with final one to make a top ten!

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Freeborn Al / 13th April 2015 / Band, Music, Thoughts / 0 Comments

The real derby day this weekend was in.. well.. Derby!

Scotty - proving to be a bit of a hotty with the Ferocious lady folk

Scotty – proving to be a bit of a hotty with Ferocious lady folk

Folk might’ve been getting excited about the Manchester derby this weekend, but for Hell Hounds derby day was the day before (although Dan at least I imagine enjoyed United’s 4-2 triumph over City this afternoon – nice belated birthday present!).

Derby is not far off a home town gig, really – and it shows, whilst Bodega sold out in around twenty minutes tickets for the gig at The Hairy Dog in Derby were gone in a little under an hour too I believe.  Plenty of Hell Hounds made arrangements to congregate in places prior to coming together at the venue, for me I was continuing my weekend of being an itinerant hobo and staying with Lisa and Paul (along with Rachel) so I travelled into Derby with them, but not before meeting their newly acquired ferret!

It was straight to the venue via the chippy on the corner for us with Mel, and then once at the Hairy Dog, a rock bar with the venue upstairs, catching up with the countless friends out in force for the gig.  Dave, a friend of Lisa and Ferocious Dog virgin, met us outside the bar, after sinking a few beers Dean elected it was my turn to go up on the surfboard – more on that later, a fairly unconventional and ungraceful performance on that front.

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Freeborn Al / 12th April 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

FD put a smile on Cambridge’s boat race..

IMG_9506Back on the road for the recommencement of the tour.  My original plan for Cambridge was just to drive there and back, it’s not a million miles away from where I live and there’s the promise of Derby the following night, but thanks to the hospitality of Brian and Karen I did end up staying and having a few cheeky ciders in Cambridge which is a nice bonus – particularly with them both off on their travels today.  Thank you very much, both!

On the drive into Cambridge along with Brian’s cousin John, a Ferocious Dog debutant, I wondered whether Ken had been sticking up the assorted Vote Labour boards I saw on the way in.  It doesn’t strike me as a typically Labour area – maybe that’s why those supporters that are there feel the need to advertise! – but I didn’t see any other political parties represented.  Either way, it was no time at all before we’d parked up coincidentally arriving at the same time as Simon and Ella and parking up right behind them.

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Freeborn Al / 11th April 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands / 0 Comments

Getting in the mood..

It’s only one more sleep ’til the tour recommences in Cambridge – and as if to heighten the excitement Ken shared a video that’s surfaced from the Nuneaton gig.  I forgot to mention the exciting prospect of a film crew recording the gig.  The best bit is that it says ‘sample’ in the title – implying to my ever optimistic mind that there might be more to follow!  Either way, I can’t think of much better preparation for this weekend’s mosh-fest than reliving a past one!

Keep an eye on howling mad productions‘ YouTube channel and see if any more videos surface!  For now, here’s ‘Poor, Angry and Young‘ (which Roger amusingly pointed out on Facebook has a similar intro to ‘Rock Lobster‘ by the B52s – which once you realise can’t be unheard!  Sorry about that.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2HIJv_ra2M

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Freeborn Al / 9th April 2015 / Band, Gigs, Music, Videos / 0 Comments

Epiphany..

forest_picIt’s probably not really an epiphany at all.

An epiphany is a sudden realising of a truth, a revelation.  What I’m about to describe is probably a slow acceptance of the bleeding obvious, but well, with the next tour date looming on the horizon it prompted the thought process – so now you have to put up with it, ha ha!

In another part of my life I’m a pretty avid football fan – I support Nottingham Forest for my sins – and have a season ticket.  A few times in the last few years Ferocious Dog has come into conflict with this other life passion of mine.  This passion is one I don’t regret – it’s if nothing else a chance to spend time with my brother and a number of my closest friends – many of whom I met through this shared interest.

Of course, it also allows me to fund millionnaire footballers which sits less easily in the justification stakes!

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Freeborn Al / 7th April 2015 / Band, Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Thoughts / 0 Comments