A Week With The Juliana Theory

February 2006

Six days, five shows, four meetings with a man in a suit, three hotels, two Norwich barmen and one awesome Band touring Europe for the first time in four years.

This is my tour diary following The Juliana Theory on their last ever set of shows to five of their British tour dates.

Monday 9th Yeovil

It's a sunny yet cold day in the royal county and I'm literally throwing my stuff to keep me going for the next six days into my car. To my credit I was 99% sure that I had everything I needed to keep my self-preservation between now and Saturday. The drive from Kingsclere to Yeovil according to my navigator was about ninety miles and I was due to get there about half three after a couple of stops.

Stone Henge is on the right about three quarters of the way, I thought about stopping but it actually looked quite crowded so I just pressed on so I could get to Yeovil in time for the in-store signing by some of The Juliana Theory guys.

Brett, Chad Acorn Records
acorn records, yeovil

I managed to find the store, which wasn't far from the Ski Lodge, which happened to be where the show was later that night. Brett and Chad were already at Acorn Records signing posters when I got there and I had the pleasure of sitting with them for about half an hour, well apart from when Chad decided that it would be fun to colour-in the posters that they were signing so I sprinted over to Pound Land across the street to buy some colour pens. When I got back I slammed the pens on the table to the delight of the guys who began colouring in their posters and dispersing them. The guys were really cool and chatted to their visitors a bit and afterward Chad left to get some Euros exchanged into real money while Brett did some shopping in the store. I wished Brett the best and left to pick Johnny up from the train station and then headed to the show.

Brett, The Juliana Theory
image courtesy noroom

The show was ok, the sound system at the Ski Lodge sucked so all the bands sounded somewhat blurred, but still I was getting to see TJT for the first time in almost four years and I didn’t care. They played songs from their back catalogue including Jewel To Sparkle from their third studio album Love and the amazing Constellation from the 1999 debut album Understand This Is A Dream. Looking around the place I must have been one of the oldest people there, which made me feel like I was staring the grim reaper right in the face. You wouldn’t believe what I’d do to be sixteen again…

During Haste The Day's set (who were supporting the tour and playing their own contrasting brand of music) I left to use the gentleman’s facilities only to bump into Brett again from The Juliana Theory and enjoyed a brief discussion of the inability to run lukewarm water with two taps instead of one. I stated our plumbing sucks. Brett agreed.

Right after the show we headed out since the bar was closed and I knew I'd have more opportunities to annoy the bands over the course of the tour. We drove to Johnnies in Exeter, around 45 minutes west of Yeovil. This without a doubt had to be the worst nights sleep I've ever had. Tonight I was staying in Johnnies shared student accommodation and his housemate was generous enough to let me stay in his room whilst he slept at his girlfriends. I was waking up regularly throughout the night each time to the horror that I was in a student house nooooo.

Total Miles: 144

Tuesday 10th Manchester

Brett, The Juliana Theory
image courtesy mattcongrove

Tuesday's show was in Manchester and I had a four to five hour drive to get there, find my hotel check in and find the venue. On the way I was already aching in every possible joint and starting to feel a bit sick, surely I'd caught something from the students, after all I was feeling very lethargic and lazy but it turned out just to be a coincidence. After several stops I got to Manchester about 3pm. Within about six minutes of being on the streets some dude offered me hash at a very competitive price from what I understand. Six minutes! After that I thought I was going to be mugged, murdered and raped by midnight and in that order too. I checked into the Travel Lodge and then set out to find the hotel car park, which was situated just around the corner. About two hours later after I had discovered Manchester's piss poor one-way system and had a near head on collision after turning right down a 'no right turn' I found the right car park. As I came out the NCP I not only found the TJT tour bus, the venue but my hotel within a half a turn of my head.

After some rest and food I went to the show. This time I was on my own but I knew it wouldn’t matter and it didn’t. The merchandise guy recognised me so I tipped him £3 after fishing out two pound coins from his tip cup and dropping a fiver in there, "don’t let anyone nick that" I shouted at him, I also got a copy of the Zaccharia CD which is excellent and recommend highly. They were the third band on the tour and sounded really good this time.

This show was much better, TJT sounded really clear but the crowd sucked a big erect one. I bet there’d be more life in Kurt Cobain if we compared them. Before the song Repeating, Repeating from the album Love, Bret shared the meaning of the lyrics, which have a tie-in with former president George W. Bush. That's all I'll share. After feeling like a bit of a tool wandering around on my own I left the venue and sat in my hotel window where I could see the tour bus. After seeing who I thought was Haste The Day and running downstairs to see if they knew somewhere that was open late I could only find a couple of drunk blokes.

Total Miles: 386

Wednesday 11th

Looking back in retrospect I wish I had driven to Aberdeen to see the Wednesday show. Today felt like an anticlimax after yesterday since I’m here in an absolute dive in Coventry that I found for £26. I was going to stay with my Friend Simon but he totally blew me off. Maybe he had a date with a hot christadelphian chick and just wasn’t telling me. If that was the case I forgive him. The last thing I remember is falling asleep in my sleeping bag on top of the bed because I was too scared to get into it. Trust me you would have done the same.

Total Miles: 509

Thursday 12th Nottingham

Joshua Fiedler, The Juliana Theory
image courtesy u_tussi

I Knew today would be a good one because I had heard so much about Nottingham Rock city plus I was going to stay with a guy I used to work with who looks like Lenny Godper out or Porridge. I got into Leicester about three and hung out with Tim and his housemates until around half six and then we left for Nottingham.

When we finally stumbled into Rock city we got the last song of Zaccharia and then, to my surprise Tim said he liked Haste The day. I wouldn’t have thought the melodic screaming would have appeased his ears. After the show we got a t-shirt for one of Tim’s housemates who wanted to come, I tipped the merch guy again and then asked Stephen the Haste The Day singer what the Aberdeen show was like. He replied how it was really good and all good fun even though they couldn’t understand what anyone was saying there. Bastard. He could have lied.

Tonight’s show was really good and the crowd was there too. This show was TJT’s first encore and they played Constellation from their first album. The intimate Rock City was awesome and I’d go back there in a second especially after what we found after.

Unlike most venues whereby they try to kick you out as soon as possible after the show, they just let us walk around into other parts of the building. I didn’t actually realise there were four different parts to Rock City each with it’s own genre of music. We stood in the ground level watching some guys with longhair stand in a circle and head bang for about twenty minutes to Pantera, which was really hardcore and gave me a headache just watching them. They were absolutely relentless; it was one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen. The next level up was playing all sorts of popular radio type stuff, this was the place where Tim and myself found Brett from the Juliana Theory. So, I walk behind him and start massaging his shoulders only for him to turn round and say "oh...hey Ian" and shake my hand. We then proceeded to bundle him over to the bar and fed him a shot of Jack Daniels. Now, when I drink Jack Daniels I can’t help but wince from the after taste, not this guy, straight back. Now that’s a man. Probably with no taste buds but a man all the same.

After viewing the punk room for a bit we decided to make our way back and finally got into Leicester sometime after one and I had the treat of sleeping in another student house but this time in a front room/ kitchen next to some weights, an inflatable chair and the Simpson’s Game Of Life scattered over the floor. This was the second worst nights sleep ever.

Total Miles: 613

Friday 13th Norwich

This was the second show I was going to have to go to on my own; I was a little unhappier about this one. The only person I know that lives out in the corner of the country was in London tonight which was a shame because I would have really like to have seen her. After I found my hotel which turned out to be miles away from The Ferry Boat venue I thought I’d get there early, you know being a pub it will probably be open all day plus I can annoys the bands for a bit. Wrong. I got a taxi there just after four and it was shut. Luckily though there was a retail park just over a nearby bridge so I kept myself busy down there until about 6:15. Once in the pub/ venue I bumped into Brett again looking for the water closet and he actually remembered my name, which was pretty smart. He looked busy doing something with cables. Dammit he looks fantastic in a suit, I’m so heterosexually jealous.

I kept myself busy with some Jack Daniels and Diet coke and a Daily Star for a bit and then I went to explore the ‘venue’. After annoying the merch guy again for a bit I went into the old barn that adjoins the pub to see Zaccharia play their set in what has to be the worst ever venue especially if your standing behind me. They were really good as usual so I bought a t-shirt and got them to sign it.

I saw Stephen from Haste The Day in the toilet and said "hello sir" to him I think this took him by surprise, as he seemed shaken by my urinal chat. I saw Brett again as he was on his way back to the tour bus for some food and he came over and asked what song I wanted to see tomorrow that they haven’t played yet so I replied without even thinking We're At The Top Of The World since so many people love that song (trying to be selfless) or This Is The End Of Your Life since it’s a really good song plus I knew they still play it live occasionally. He said he’d try and get the band to sound check it for tomorrows show.

The Ferryboat Norwich
the 'stage'

TJT were really good bearing in mind they were playing in a cow shed and were on the same level as the crowd. The stage was nonexistent and the roof was about seven feet and even lower where the rafters were. White Days sounded awesome and seemed appropriate since it was cold enough to have snowed. During Shotgun Serenade I drunkenly pointed at Brett whilst rocking out during the line

‘Here's the final bullet to put our love to death. Our days are never coming back. I know it's you that can't forget. Bang, bang. Shoot, shoot.’

I got a pointed finger back, which was nice. I’m pretty sure he thinks I'm a gay groupie by now.

After the show I was waiting for my taxi to take me back to my hotel and someone else must have nicked it because I was waiting there for ages. Luckily two of the guys who were working at the Ferry Boat gave me a lift back. Unluckily for the guy driving he got pulled over by the police about sixty seconds later. Still they found my joke about having a kilogram of heroin on me funny, I wonder if the policeman would have found it as amusing?

My guys got me back to my hotel sometime after midnight. Today was really tiring and I fell asleep not long after listening to the Howard Stern Show on my PSP. London was tomorrow and I knew this was the last show. This was actually quite upsetting since I knew my trip was almost over and I’d have to go back to normalcy on Monday. But I’d make the most out of it. Not only was it going to be the biggest show of the tour but also it was going to be at Camden Underworld, my favourite venue.

Total Miles: 730

Saturday 14th London

It took me about three hours to get back from Alan Partridge country and when I finally got back home I again felt really sad that my adventure was almost over. For tonight’s show I was taking a guy who I knew would act like a clown and probably try and ruin it for me in drunken ignorance. As it turned out he defiantly made it more interesting.

On the underground headed toward Camden Town he’s sitting next to me like a mad scientist pouring vodka into bottles of coke opposite some small children. Afterwards he looks up, smiles and says, "This is how we do it kids".

Stacey The Juliana Theory Merch Guy
with stacey the merch guy

Camden Underworld itself had to be almost sold out. I think it can hold something like 600 people and it was pretty packed. We must have got there just before the end of Zaccharia. I took this opportunity to say hello and goodbye to the merchandise guy and Stephen from Haste The Day sitting next to him. "So this is your final hoorah, huh?" merch guy asked after a high five "I was thinking about going to France on Monday but it’s going to be too far" I replied sounding like a total loser. I got a picture with both and then went to find my friend again. After Zaccharia finished their set we found Chad from TJT and we both got a picture with him only for my friend to kiss him just as the picture was taken. I can’t wait to see how that one comes out.

Brett, The Juliana Theory
image courtesy Anna Gudaniec

When The Juliana Theory came onto the stage the crowd was electric, it was like nothing I have ever seen there before, the whole place was rocking and they sounded amazing. Brett even commented that he may now have a new favourite show. Before, during and after every song I could feel a hand poking me from behind. "How much longer are they on for?" my friend asked, "It’s only their second song" I replied angrily. Half way through my final TJT set they began to play If I Told You This Was Killing Me, Would You Stop? and when the guitar riff started I launched myself forward amongst all the people who were jumping around just to get away from him. After the last song they came back onto the stage to play their second encore of the tour and this time they cracked out Duane Joseph from their first album Understand This Is A Dream. The crowd went nuts.

After the show I got a picture with Josh Fielder the guitarist, some girl that my friend had harnessed himself onto and one with Brett. I thanked him for the best week ever and wished him luck on the rest of the tour. He replied "thanks Ian" which was pretty sweet.

When we got back out onto Camden high street we went into the pub next door called The Worlds End. In There I watched my friend snatch beer out of a big bloke’s hand, pick up a stranger and carry him to the bar and steal someone’s hat. I saw Chad Alan from the band and went and bought him some "cheap English beer". By this point I was ready to go so I left my friend who was now making friends with everyone in sight.

By the time I got back to Waterloo there were only three trains left to depart and I had an hour to kill before the very last train, my train left the station. I fell asleep on the train on way home and nearly ended up in Eastleigh. Now that would have been a hilarious ending.

Not.

Total Miles: 1100

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