A couple of weeks ago we finally got around to replacing our record player. I now can’t believe it has taken us this long.
For a long time it was never top of our priorities, we’ve got cd players, digital radio, iPods etc so it wasn’t exactly urgent. But as soon as the package arrived at our door I soon realised what I’d been missing out on all this time.
I’ve got a small but much cherished collection of vinyl, which had been sitting in a box in our bedroom for a longer time than I’d like to admit. Whilst clearing the house out and reorganising, Hannah had taken the collection out of the box and put it on a book stand in our dining room. It was a stroke of genius. Seeing it on display like that again was like waking up from a horrible dream. What had I been thinking all this time? I now understand out list of priorities were all wrong, all that money wasted on frivolities like car tax and kids birthday presents when I could of been putting it towards something really important.
So, like I said we bought a new one. Nothing fancy or high spec but a beautiful retro looking portable turntable with built in speakers and it’s brilliant. I rushed it out of its packaging, set it up and then stood dumbfounded deciding what to play first. I went with ‘Terror Twilight’ by Pavement and it sounded incredible, better than I remember. A recent study (by me in my dining room) found that vinyl sounds better than any other format, that is FACT. Obviously you already know this but it’s worth reiterating.
One of the biggest joys of having access to my records again is discovering things that I’d forgotten about over time. None more so than ‘Betrayal!’ by The Lapse. This is the only copy I have so it’s been a long time since I’d heard it, most of the rest of my collection I’d managed to get on my iPod. I very excitedly put it on and was surprised at how fresh it still sounds. Classic emo with avant garde overtones and vocals that are more spoken than sung. You can hear their influence passing through bands that are around today which perhaps explains how current the band still sound.
Now, I’m a big fan of the Lapse, but I can’t mention them without mentioning a little story about a time 12 years ago when my old band got to play with them. Well, I could but I’m not gonna, so just let grandpa here tell you a story.
Towards the end of the nineties, in my late teens I played guitar in a band called the Babies Three. At the time we were part of the original emo movement, or we like to think we were, we got to play with Appleseed Cast at least. We had recorded our first proper album ‘A hole where my heart should be’ (which would later get a 4 K review in Kerrang, just saying) and Scene Police records in Germany had agreed to put it out on vinyl. Dennis of Scene Police had also helped us book our first overseas tour which would see us spend 2 weeks playing shows in Germany and Belgium. It was hoped that a number of these shows would be with At the drive-in but unfortunately our dates didn’t match up (this would later turn out to be something I would never get over).
So, in April 2000 we set off for Germany. Dennis had organised for us to use his girlfriends flat in Bonn as a base for us to stay in when we were playing in that area. We were stupidly excited arriving in Germany and the next day we set off for our first show which would be to support The Lapse.
When we arrived we were blown away by the hospitality that we were receiving. Having toured the UK the year before, where we’d turn up to places that had forgotten they’d even booked us to play, we weren’t used to how welcome they would make us. A hot meal, a crate of beer and water, friendly conversation, it was a breath of fresh air. Our performance that night can’t really be counted as one of our best, we were first on and a mixture of nerves, beer and a not great sound all played against us. The audience watched and applauded and made us feel welcome though so all was not lost. And plus I was gonna get to see The Lapse for free with free beer so all was good.
I think I was more of a fan than the the rest of my band mates because as the Lapse were setting up their instruments I stood in the crowd patiently alone, making sure I had a good position to watch them play. The crowd that The Lapse had attracted was plentiful, there was a good feeling in the crowd and I felt safe and happy to be among them.
But how wrong I was to feel this way. Frontman Chris Leo looked annoyed, he was setting his guitar gear up and turned in disgust to look at the crowd. Upon spotting me he jumped down from the stage and made a bee line to where I was standing. I could tell he was upset but what had I done? Were we that bad? As far as I knew he should be happy to have me there, I was excited to see them play, I had been listening to ‘Betrayal!’ a lot and was a big fan of the Van Pelt, his last band.
“You” he proclaimed in his American accent, (forgive me if I’m being dramatic, this is how I remember it), he then pushed me back and followed up by yelling in my ear “you spilled FUCKING BEER all over my FUCKING AMP!!!”.
At first I was taken aback, mixed emotions of scary nervousness with the slightly gratifying fact of that he recognised me, out of all the people in the crowd he knew who I was.
“No, I didn’t” I fired back in a weak and unconvincing voice.
I hadn’t spilt beer all over his fucking amp, I hadn’t been near his amp, and I never drank alcohol onstage. Being a complete lightweight, getting drunk wouldn’t fare well with the emo guitar trickery of the day, I had to stay sober for that. I looked up, I can’t remember what make it was but I do remember thinking ‘that’s a pretty nice amp’. It looked expensive and retro. I thought to myself that it must have been the band that played after us, Pale. I wasn’t gonna say this to him because I wasn’t a grass and I didn’t know for sure who it was, plus I didn’t care. But Chris Leo was angry, he wasn’t gonna let this go. “Go and get a cloth and clean it up!” he barked and stormed off back to the stage.
I looked round and felt lost. Did that just happen? Did anyone see? I looked to see if I could see anybody I knew or a promoter or anyone that could help me. There was no one so I approached the bar to put in to action my knowledge of the German language. Stating to the barman the only German phrase I could remember, which translates into English as “I have a large penis” seemed inappropriate so I spoke to the barman in English. Luckily for the ignorant of us most people we encountered on the tour spoke English, as did the barman, but even still he found it hard to understand me. “Can I have a cloth, there is some beer spilt” he started to understand but didn’t seem bothered. “On stage” I explained and he finally gave me a dish cloth. I thanked him and turned around to see Jim, who was the bass player and songwriter in cheif of our band.
I was very relieved to see a friendly face and instantly felt jealous that he’d chosen to go and have fun and get pissed as opposed to getting shouted at by angry emo legends. “What are you doing with that?” Jim laughed, pointing to the dish cloth. I suddenly felt really upset, who was this guy to ruin what had been up to this point the best fun of all time. I explained to Jim as best I could what happened and finished by saying “Fucking ROCK STAR!”. It was my experience that in the d.i.y punk underground you didn’t act like like arseholes to people otherwise someone would grass you up to Maximum Rock’n'Roll and you would be shunned from the scene. But here, I saw no other option but do as I was told. So, reluctantly, I walked to the stage, sheepishly got up and started to try and clean the amp.
To be honest, there wasn’t a lot of beer over his amp, what was he fussing about. I huffily wiped the cloth over the amp in the style of a teenager having a strop about having to clean thier room. All the while muttering under my breath, “hope your fucking amp breaks”. After a little while, Chris Leo returned to motion me away, saying something about respect for others equipment. I HAD respect for others equipment, but what did he know. So, I got down from the stage, made my way through the crowd to the bar to return the cloth.
I looked around and was alone again. The Lapse were about to play and was now torn as to whether I should watch them or not. I decided to try so found a good place in the crowd. They started, the guitar sounded fine, he had a really nice, crisp sound and the band were just as good as I thought they’d be. But it didn’t feel right. I was still seething, all the things I should have said were swirling round inside my head. After about 4 songs I decided I could no longer hack and went and found the rest of my bandmates.
I explained what happened to everyone and we all had a pretty good laugh, I was still pissed off but could see it was quite bizarre and funny. I had wanted to get my own back but I thought having someone less in their audience would have to suffice. That was until a couple of days later while we were buying falafel in Köln. Waiting for our order we noticed there was a flyer for another Lapse show on the wall. Here’s my chance I thought and I got Jim to write in a speech bubble from Chris Leo’s picture “You spilled a fucking beer all over my fucking amp, waaah”. Now everyone who saw that would kow what he’s really like. Oh, sweet revenge.
Now, the rest of the tour played out and was brilliant, many more hillarious encounters that still make me chuckle to think of even now. Looking back, I can see why he was upset about his amp, I would be annoyed if something I had got beer all over it. I still really like The Lapse and The Van Pelt and I probably overreacted with my outrage of what happened that night. I also have my suspicions as to who was to actually blame for the beer but I ain’t gonna name any names, I don’t wanna get grassed up to Maximum Rock’n'Roll, oh no.
So, what can we take from this: Vinyl is better than everything else and try not to get on the wrong side of tempremental indie boys and don’t meet your heroes. 3 of life’s lessons I look forward to passing down to my kids, and then their kids and so on.
Cheers for reading x
Below is a video of The Lapse playing in Germany, April 2000. It could well be the night that we played but I can’t find anything to confirm this so maybe not. But you’ll notice the amp is working FINE! (issues, I’ve got issues)