Dentifrice et le vin : A travelogue by Dominic Knight

Bad for Lazarus don’t do early starts, we also don’t do travel. To get us anywhere is a feat of nature and a damn near religious experience. Someone on high is looking down on us and laughing. Only out of pity does any omnipotent being clear a path at the last minute and grant us relatively safe passage to our destination. Our journey begins with catastrophes only reserved for a certain few, maybe our name does all the talking, maybe we are just doomed. Either way, it truly never gets boring. 

 

“Ladies and Gentlemen, we are sorry for the delay, Bad for Lazarus appear to be on the train” 

 

May 7th 2013

Paris, France

 

Dear Griff, 

you would have been proud of us, we all managed to be on time to some degree or another, with all passports and equipment accounted for, bar one set of tickets and a keyboard case.

The first idiot check of many and we left BFL HQ, only forgetting the spare guitar and a keyboard stand. 

With twenty minutes to spare and a heavily laden walk to Brighton station, we began the arduous assent up the most mellow of inclines, arriving tired and sweaty, not even leg one of our journey over and done with. Tickets to London collected, five minutes for the train, and Richie disappears, sauntering back with a bottle of coke and two minutes to spare. No matter though, the first of what was to be many train delays on our way across the water. 

 

BFL 0 – Travel 1 

 

We conquered St Pancras like the battle of little big horn, strolling through the worlds friendliest customs with the greatest of ease, a casual joke with the security and an interest in our cumbersome luggage, only to lose Richie again, this time to Starbucks. The tanoy makes the boarding call and the room around us empties. 

Of course, we all booked different seats, so spread across the train from carriage four, to sixteen, we slowly began creeping out of the station, heading south towards the channel. 

With what started as an ill passenger, the odds against us turned into ‘2-1 Bad for Lazarus don’t even make it out the country.’ The train had died at Ashford international and didn’t want to come back to life. No smoking signs are ignored. French, English and Australian alike, all poured off the train to gain some fresh air and puff furiously on roll ups, straights and electrofagamijigs.

 

Two hours late arriving at Gare du Nord, and only day one.

 

BFL 0 – Travel 2

 

We were late, but Black Luna were later. After an hour or two, a couple of impromptu photo shoots with confused tourists and countless cigarettes watching a confused teenager drive an imaginary train up and down the pavement, the van arrived. The tour began.

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{meeting the new ultra-fans at the station – this photo has a slight Comic Relief vibe to it}

 

A hot cellar, many bodies, and a stage that was convinced it was on the high seas. 

Our first French show was like playing in the amazon jungle; hot and sticky, with no room for manoeuvre, which meant no room for error. The stage appeared to be made from concrete that was held up by bed springs adding a seasickness to the show, but through the chaos and the sweat the whole thing went off, tops and all. Unlike England, you come off stage in Europe and people want to talk to you, give you drugs and buy you drinks, as well as buy your merchandise. The archetypal French hospitality was no where to be found, maybe the British were wrong? 

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                                                    {live in Paris…eventually}

 A cat, some wine, a bed, and the history of ants. 

 

As always, 

BFL 

 

 

 

A Breakfast of coffee, cigarettes, new remixes and a view of Paris.

 

May 8th 2013

Rouen , France

 

Dear Griff, 

we departed Paris full of good coffee, ready for the road to Rouen. Obviously, we managed to miss the vital turning, so we went the slightly longer way round for a change, viewing some lovely Parisian industrial estates and two storey hamburger restaurants. 

We arrived in Rouen with hours to kill. The city was deserted, everything was shut, it was Armistice day. 

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                              {The coolest man in Rouen. Yes. It was that empty.}

Our good mood wained a little when we saw the PA system and were told there would be no sound man. A 15€ bar tab each and glorious sunshine soon put our worries behind us and we relaxed, settling into tour mode. A new era of peace for BFL? Maybe…or maybe just a calm before the storm. The PA was the size of a shoe box and the whole town was dead, but you can’t judge a prick by it’s owner. 

  

A slap-up meal an hour before the show, Mustard coated duck and an empty venue. 

 

To our surprise, the venue began to fill up as soon as Black Luna went on, and soon you couldn’t see the fuzz-fuelled three-piece through all the bodies that kept streaming down the spiral staircase into the sweaty catacomb of a venue. The French appear to be punctual to the minute when it comes to gigs. To say it was our best show ever is a bold statement, but it was. Sweat box nom deux. DIY at it’s finest. 

 

A ten hour drive was on the cards the next morning; the promise of a hotel had disappeared into the ether, so a top floor Tudor style apartment and a cacophony of snores was the key for the night.

P.S – The promoter forgot to pay us, so praise be to Black Luna for getting up at stupid O’clock in the morning to bollock the shit out of him and claim our winnings. 

Born Toulouse. 

Sleepily yours, 

BFL

 

 

 

An early start, an empty stomach and a ten hour drive.

 

 

May 9th 2013

Toulouse, France

 

Dear Gurnal,

 

We awoke to Blueberry hill being blasted out of the next room and about twenty flies having a dog fight around the lampshade. 

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                                                  {Good morning, beautiful}

Uncreasing our floor-damaged muscles and bruises from the night before, we packed and stumbled out the door down the many flights of stairs and into the hot morning sunshine, only to find Fownes’ future (and French) self, lurking around the corner, clutching a can of their equivalent to special brew.

Obviously the cosmic connection was there, and as we packed the van… “Avez-vous un tabac?” Don’t make contact Fownes, the world will impolde! 

Our first proper French service station stop. A baguette, two shots of espresso and the most beautiful bathroom you would ever find in a roadside garage. A man sat in the car opposite eyeing us up…dun duun duuuuun! Stupide anglais. He came over, and after a brief chat in our broken French, he asked us if we were a band and did we like hash?…then produced some lovely squidgy and handed it to us, free of charge. A sting? Who knew, but we needed some medicine for the long drive. 

Pedal to the metal with a one way ticket to Toulouse, we blasted down the motorway, running out of Rouen / ruin -based puns a few kilometres from town. They had all been done before. A sad affair. With nothing much to do, we taught Black Luna the classic English game of ‘Eye Spy’…which ended up being the most fun we’d ever had playing it, though it only lasted all of an hour and a half. 

We arrived in Toulouse, when a man on a pushbike practically rode into us as we were stood stretching our legs. He asked for tabac, then  if we wanted to go round the corner to smoke weed / get bummed…we couldn’t really tell. We respectfully declined and unloaded the van as the day’s rain came around for a second go.

Big stage, the first proper PA / Monitor set up and an imbecile for a sound man.

The back stage was lovely and they laid out one of the nicest spreads we’d ever seen through all our years touring in bands, big and small. Tres bon indeed, did I mention you could smoke indoors? I think we could get use to this life.

Black Luna’s sound was terrible, the sound man had a problem with women playing guitar, and the huge room was practically empty, the shape of things to come. In fact, our show was so bad it is not even worth talking about. Bad JuJu. We shouldn’t have made all those ‘Born Toulouse’ jokes…

   

Bunk beds, strange dogs and cold showers. French hospitality is unsurpassed, a breath of fresh air. 

 

Yours faithfully, 

BFL

 

 

 

 

The Mediterranean heat, castles and a maze of a city.

 

 

May 10th 2013

Montpellier, France

 

Dear El Capitan Griff, 

when you arrive at a venue and they demand you have a beer before you load your gear in, you know it’s going to be a good night. Free beer all night and another amazing home cooked meal, obviously with a few sticks of baguette and cheese.

It turned out the promoter had fucked off to a festival, not told the bar owner till a few days before we showed up and not promoted the gig at all. Added to which there was another band playing a few hundred yards down the road. What a good start to a beautiful day in Montpellier. 

All hats off to Chris, the bar owner, for pulling it out of the bag and making it a night to remember. A slightly more empty show than Paris and Rouen, but still a blinder from both bands. We survived another sweaty underground cavern, aside from a broken bloody Lime. Head VS Keyboard – Keyboard wins. All in the name of Rock ‘n’ Roll. 

A lock-in, a few whiskies, and a classic Le mojomatic photoshoot later, we tumbled out into the cool night air, dragging a bunch of suitcases down the cobbled streets and right into the middle of a real French punch up. They were too busy trying to flatten each others noses to care as we walked right through the middle.

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                                                     {Lock-in for le win}

Chris had given us his beautiful flat for the evening and decided to sleep somewhere else, I’m sure eight people in a studio flat was enough to drive anyone away. A late night / early morning wine mission turned out to be fruitful and we whiled the night away. Tucking into a couple of bottles, sniggering at nothing in particular and trying to work out the best way to play three way ‘rock, paper, scissors’, to see who would lose out on a bed. 

It got stupid as we wrestled across the tiny room with bodies sleeping around us, but who cares when you’re wine drunk and in France? Clearly not us as we were told to shut up, which made the childish sniggering even worse.

Chris, the man of the match, turned up at midday and bought us a breakfast of baguettes, croissants and Orange juice with black coffee. you can’t win over a bunch of musicians more than he did that morning. 

We woke up too late for the beach, but we’d get enough sun being stuck in a van in the Mediterranean on the way to Lyon. 

Farewell Montpellier, we loved you the most, we will return! 

Drunkenly yours

BFL

 

Olive trees in service stations, Castles and Tailbacks

 

 

May 11th 2013

Lyon, France

 

Dearest Griff,

 it was sad that this was our last day of tour. As usual, time flies when you are having fun. The sun shone high as we left Montpellier and hit the road for the last time, straight to Lyon. The traffic came out of nowhere like a zombie-infested motorway. We went from 120 kmph to a mere crawl for such a long time it would have made more sense to get out with a hammer and machete and start blindly hacking at anything in our path. The sun beat through the windows and it became tedious quickly. 

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                                                                 {Hot.}

Somehow, before you know it you are almost there. The trick is to not think about it, or just fall asleep. 

Lyon is a beautiful city, and we made an entrance few would forget. The venue is situated up a steep public walk way, with a thin path in the middle for bikes and steps either side, we drove straight up the steps crashed into a parked motorbike and turned every single head sat outside all the bars and cafes…

Bad for Lazarus and Black Luna had arrived, in style. One last underground sweat box before we said goodbye.

The legendary Richard Bellia turned up to photograph us and we were guided into a little alleyway next to the venue. Four shots on a Hasselblad medium format later and he got what he wanted. Time for the show. Richard informed us that the legal limit for the venue was 23, take away 8 in the bands, the soundman and friends, the venue was full…there were about fifty people over all crammed into that basement and once again we were sweating beer and wine from every pore before the third song. The show was so full on Richie Monroe trashed his guitar (a rare sight) and Ross threw his drum kit everywhere, narrowly avoiding chopping off a head or two. 

An encore and chants of “DENTIFRICE!!” Pure fucking chaos of the highest order. What was left at the end was a pile of bodies and instruments, flowery shirts strewn across the stage, and so much hair it was like walking in on a barber fetishist fantasy. Bonne nuit Lyon, tu etais magnifique! 

The gear packed for the last time, and one last lock-in to keep us unhealthily filled with booze and we were on the road to the mountains, dropping Dimi (Black Luna’s drummer) off on the way, a quick goodbye, just before Richie tried to jump out the window and beat the shit out of a guy that was trying to sell us drugs… through a window that didn’t open. 

 

A mountain roller-coaster derby, the night sky as you never see it and legions of cats.

 

Bonne nuit,

BFL

 

 

 

Ping pong championships, grass fights and country jams

 

 

May 12th 2013

St Julien-molin molette, France

 

 

 

Dear Griff,

nothing to report. It has been such a lazy day in the mountains that I can’t think of anything of interest to tell you apart from these bullet points. Ping Pong tournament, Ross won hands down. Big lunch on the patio surrounded by the most amazing view you could imagine. Some horses. A BFL acoustic jam. Lazing around. Sleeping, smoking and drinking coffee whilst staring wistfully into the distance and hoping never to come back to reality, day jobs and most of all England. Who would want to?  

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                                                             {Fatigue}

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                                                  {The wilderness. Bon.}

Day ends. Sleep. Preparation for a quest home. 

An early morning of no breakfast, covered in dog hair, a double decker train and too much stuff. I vow never to travel by train with a bands worth of equipment again. 

We left Fownes and Monroe at Gare du Nord, seeing as they lack the resource to book the correct return train, and placed bets on if they would ever return…the likelihood being roped into some sort of street gang and forced to dance for tobacco…or overtaking us and somehow getting back to Brighton before us.

Smooth sailing all the way into London, then the slow train back to Brighton. To make our life harder we decided to chance it and hop off our scheduled train in rush hour, and jump to a faster train from Victoria. 

Causing a scene and a lot of grief to all boarding the train at Croydon, we fell out the train, and got the next one…supposedly the fast train. It wasn’t. 

Arriving at Brighton to an unearthly rumble, akin to a hoard of advancing vikings psyching out the steadfast Roman legions, Brighton Albion VS Crystal Palace meant that the station was full of hundreds upon hundreds of thuggish morons chanting poetic sentiments, whilst being herded like cattle onto the Falmer train. A delightful rarity, we were greeted to a hero’s welcome by our adoring fans. 

“Play us a song mate!” 

The police had shut almost EVERY street around the station, and having to beg your way through police line after police line, only to get stuck smack bang in the middle of charging police horses in front and stumbling Crystal Palace supporters in the rear is not a good return home. 

Forever fatigué    

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BFL VS TRAVEL – Score lost in translation – End of feed. 

 

 

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Bad For Lazarus
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