Archive for the robin’s music Category

Expensively…

Posted in robin's life, robin's music on October 10, 2008 by robin guthrie

So, a couple of weeks have passed since I was at a country club in Monticello, NY to perform at a rock festival, ATP, where I was invited to play by My Bloody Valentine. The memory has faded a little as I’ve not really stopped since then and not had a chance to write anything but I had an enjoyable day, even though it was entirely the wrong place for me to play. I got to see Mogwai and MBV without paying to get in, which is always a nice thing. However there was, as always, a price to pay and that was me suffering what I’d call the ‘being naked on stage with my trousers around my ankles’ syndrome, which I’m subjected to from time to time, coincidently each time I ever step on a stage. I had asked to use the video projection system that MBV had brought to show my animation, ‘Galerie’ but for some unknown reason, probably something to do with road crew and ‘pecking order’, I was denied its use and had to use the little house system. The video guy told me I couldn’t use my media player thingy as he didn’t think it was compatible with his system and tried to play it from a DVD. Well, as you can well imagine, it didn’t go exactly to plan and I ended up standing on stage with my dick out looking altogether rather foolish while he connected my media player thingy, encouraged by the audience as he worked his way through all the onscreen menus until he found ‘Galerie’ which went on to play flawlessly. I’m not bitching really, as to be fair, he was trying to do his thing, but, well it was me up there on stage for 5 minutes, standing there all dorky and unable to start my show. After that, well, I started to play, it was really waaaaayyyyy too loud so I turned around to ask the monitor man to turn the monitors up so I could hear something and, um, there was nobody there, nobody there for my entire performance actually. Apparently he had gone for dinner. Nice.
As I write so often on this web log. What Ever….

me, bemused, waiting for my film to start

me, bemused, waiting for my film to start

This was a long way from my previous performance, a few days before in Nantes at the Scopitone Festival, a festival all about music, artwork, live production and digital art which was hosted by a more dedicated and enthusiastic team. It really reminded me of why I try to avoid rock clubs at all cost. Sure, if I were to perform with a band and play some noisy stuff, rock clubs may be fun, but standing there, trying to present something downtempo and introspective while the PA system is cranked up full and people are standing about looking like they want to sit down is just wrong. Someone told me it was like trying to watch quiet music but it was ‘one louder’. I have to say that I like doing that show quietly but I have absolutely no control over the sound system so if it’s someone with a rock mentality doing the sound it’ll be earsplittingly loud and may lose a lot of the subtlety intended. OK, that sounded like a disclaimer but I do have to put myself into the hands of others who may well have a different sensibility or agenda to me. All that said though, the ATP festival was interesting to attend even if it was just for the drive through the Catskills to get there. I saw my largest ever roadkill, a rather large and very dead deer, in the fast lane of Highway 17, which I had to hastily switch lanes to avoid and I got to stay in a hotel which had something called the Sammy Davis room which smelled like it hadn’t been used since Sammy played there, while, presumably but not certainly, still alive. Oh, and just for the record I did lose my luggage on this trip and I’ve not been paid for the show yet but I get really fed up typing the same story every time I leave home. You’ve read it before and will, doubtlessly, read it again until the day comes when I can afford a tour manager.
Oh, and while on the subject of being in the US I now have the distinction of having my car towed away in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York not to mention Paris and London. What this says about me I’m not exactly sure but suffice to say it’s probably not such a good idea to lend me your car anytime soon. The last incident was about two weeks ago in Queens, New York on my way to JFK to take a flight to Seattle. OK, so I overstayed my welcome in my parking spot and got busted. My fault. Guilty. To my credit, however, I did catch the flight but with my wallet $300 lighter, which needless to say, meant it was almost floating.

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Interestingly….

Posted in robin's life, robin's music on September 15, 2008 by robin guthrie

For the last few months I’ve been writing little notes and journals but not posting them. I think it’s because I was starting to feel like I had no privacy, and well, it’s rather understandable, considering I was going to great lengths to publish all the details of my own shortcomings on the internet. However, I’ve suddenly realised that this may be a great place to publish the details of other peoples shortcomings. Actually, this whole non weblogging phase started back in March when I wrote a journal concerning my last trip to Chile in which I recounted the details of the whole sorry affair including all the contact details of the promoter who failed to pay me after I played which could act as a warning to anyone going to play down there. At that point I hesitated, thinking it a little ugly to expose him like that, even though he had renaged on a deal. So I didn’t post it.
However…. it’s monday morning, I just came in my studio to find that the 3 computers that I had rendering video overnight, the colour corrected version of my new animation Galerie, which gets it first viewing on Wednesday at the Scopitone Festival in Nantes, have all failed. I am, it has to be said, experiencing a certain amount of frustration. Therefore the only way I can possibly deal with this situation is passive aggressively, which means …….. well, here’s a little story from earlier in the year.

March 2008
Mar del Plata, Agentina

I’m lying in a hotel room. I drift in and out of consciousness. I am aware of two paramedics, one of which is sticking a needle into my arm, the other speaking Spanish with the hotel receptionist who is translating. The hotel receptionist is being very helpful but she is looking a little curiously at me, half naked and sweating on the bed, her gaze lingering on my semi naked body and looking a little uneasy. She asks if I am still able to play the guitar like this. I’ve been playing the guitar like this for two weeks, usually clothed, I hasten to add.
Anyway, to get to the point, I find myself feeling a little poorly today.

It started a couple of weeks ago. I was hoping to continue along my recent theme of reporting on the culinary delights offered to me in far off lands but while in Lima playing with Resplandor, I was unlucky enough to eat, what I think must have been, a dodgy empanada. This, rather predictably, caused a good old fashioned case of ‘travel tummy’, not really debilitating but very fucking embarrassing. But, for reasons unknown, this ended up in an inability to eat anything without throwing it back up within ten minutes, an inflammation of my lower intestines and a visit from some Argentinean paramedics, something both debilitating and very fucking embarrassing.
But I get ahead of myself. I started with the illness to give a little background and colour to the following histoire.
Although the trip there wasn’t much fun, actually being back in Peru was very nice indeed. I spent time with some dear friends and met up with some old friends that I hadn’t seen for years in the form of The House of Love who were in town to do a show. I played guitar with Resplandor, ate cervice and tacu-tacu and had some beautiful moments. I also had a little makeshift studio in my hotel room and recorded some lovely instrumental pieces. I bought, for my youngest daughter Violette, a Peruvian saucisson, something she asks me to do whenever I travel. You see, her mother is French. It makes sense. Anyway, all was well. All was very well.

However.
At this stage I find myself searching for euphemisms that are appropriate for this weblog, ‘travel tummy’ being too vague and whimsical, ‘gut wrenching diarrhea’ being closer in meaning but too crude, ‘extreme stomach cramps, vomiting and spending waaaay too much time in the bathroom’ being too long winded (if you will pardon the expression) and ‘feeling a little under the weather’, the words that I was actually using to describe my condition, being a just tad less than useless, especially in the pharmacy where I foolishly tried to illustrate my condition with sign language and a Spanish phrase book. The toenail clipper and make-up remover that I was able to purchase will come in handy in the future, I’m sure, but didn’t seem to alleviate my symptoms any at the time.
So after eating something that didn’t agree with me and spending a couple of days within five metres of a bathroom, in a little discomfort, under the weather….. whatever, I felt well again and was happy to go to a restaurant with Luis, Antonio and Guillermo, who was celebrating his 40th birthday, thereafter going to the airport to catch a 2am flight to Santiago de Chile. The food was great but I remember feeling curiously devoid of appetite and it was a great struggle eating. Still, it’s rude not to, so I made an effort.
Fast forward to 3am. I’m on a plane. I don’t feel well. I have an aisle seat and I am about eight rows from the nearest bathroom. I really don’t feel well. Oh, fuck…. Where’s the little bag?….Shite, too small. I stand up and ease myself towards the back of the plane, praying for the toilet to be free. I’ve five rows to go. I’m sweating and the pit of my stomach feels like Mount St Helens. Three rows. Fuuuuuccckkk. Two. I stumble. One.
Well to my credit, most of the contents of my stomach made it into the bowl. The rest took a lot of paper towels and hand soap to deal with afterwards. After a while a flight attendant, whose presence I had been oblivious to, congratulated me on making it to the bathroom from eight rows forward. Her eyes were laughing at me. I couldn’t blame her. How incredibly embarrassing. Good thing no one will ever know, huh.
So, it was with a rather unsavory taste in my mouth that I arrived in Santiago at 5am which is not my best time of day, even in normal circumstances. So I wasn’t really prepared to be detained by the Chilean Department of Agriculture and charged with the illegal importation of a Peruvian Saucisson. I think my mistake may have been my advanced use of sarcasm, which I thought wouldn’t be understood. Unfortunately I was at a bit of a low and when asked why I had illegally smuggled a salchicha I said something I thought rather witty and amusing about using my sausage to please the young ladies of Chile. I mean, to be fair it was 5am, I’d just lost my lunch, in fact all my lunches for the past few days, and I wasn’t really feeling myself. The sausage police however didn’t see the wit in my ramblings and detained me for 2 hours, impounded Violette’s saucisson and fined me $100.
And so I arrived in Chile.
I’d like to say that this set the tone but that would be somewhat of an understatement. For, in truth this trip to Chile was unlike any other trip to a far off land that I can remember. It, for the most part, sucked but there were moments of extreme delight. It’s difficult to explain but I’ll try. I was asked to come to Chile to play at a festival, which wouldn’t pay me, but would buy my plane ticket and put me in a hotel. Sounded like some good cause, you know, saving the planet, that sort of at thing and, as I was slightly curious what it was like to be Bono, I thought, well, why the hell not? I mean, you know, buy me a plane ticket on a plane that crosses 7000 miles across the globe spewing goodness knows how many tons of carbon monoxide into the atmosphere in the name of saving the planet, and I’ll be there.
It would take too long, way too much bandwidth to explain what happened that week in Santiago and now that I am a couple of weeks away from the experience it’s a topic that I’m still reluctant to share. First of all, I wasn’t a lone combatant, I share this story with my wife Florence; Juliette, Sean and John who are 8mm from Los Angeles CA and Hanin Elias, a German, living in the south pacific one time singer of Atari Teenage Riot. A most unlikely combo, I’m sure you would agree. Things stated to seem a little odd from the moment we arrived. We were checked into a 1940’s style German run ‘Gasthof’ in the diplomatic district of Santiago, the hotel being decorated in an “early Hitler” chic and toilets which, universally, didn’t flush. To be fair, I was still using them with enthusiasm, but hey, when someone tells you, ‘Vee cannot be responsible if you use zee toileten paper’ when there is little else I’m actually capable of, well, it’s rather, how can you put it?, inconvenient. After a day or so here we were asked to check out as the promoter hadn’t paid for the rooms. We packed and sat in the courtyard of the hotel with all of our equipment and bags until someone arrived with a cheque and then we moved back in. Next day we were out again at the same time, with all of our stuff as the cheque had bounced. Now, I have to say, we had been told we’d be taken to the festival on the Friday, so we had to check out again on Friday morning. However there was a call saying there was only 8000 people at the festival so we’d be playing Saturday. We sat outside the hotel until someone brought cash and then checked in again, just in time I hasten to add, as I was in serious need of the bathroom. The camaraderie born of a hostage situation became evident over these few days and turning negative into positive we found that we had some wonderful new friends.
Now turning to the promoter, it was a Mr Rodrigo Saez  (rodsaez@gmail.com) who had asked us to come and play in Chile and we had all experience of working with him before, so a matter of trust had already been established. I find myself a little ugly to say this but, well, even if your heart is in the right place, it’s not cool to lie to people. I guess that there are many reasons for these lies but, at a certain point I have to say, “Hey, why did you ask us to come here to play to an empty field?.” The line of demarcation is, you promote, I play. Oh, any you pay me, that’s the arrangement, unless I’m mistaken.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Well, as you can imagine, Saturday came, we were whisked off, very slowly, I should add, in a bus which must have had a long and colourful history. (I’m thinking long slow passage to internment camps, by the way.) We arrived to find a wonderful environment for a festival, lovely grassy areas, surrounded by impressive Andean foothills, however strangely missing a few of the regular ingredients which one normally takes for granted, water, food and the like. To be fair, there was a backstage area, even a stage, however the area where the audience was meant to be seemed to be several hectares of rolling grassland filled with, for the most part, grass.
Simply, there were not a lot of people there, maybe eighty or so, but I did recognize that some of the bands helped to make up that number. Oh well, my years of intensive therapy kicked in and told me to ‘play for the people who are there and not for the ones who didn’t come’. Bollocks, but anyway I did play for 8mm, Florence, Hanin, 14 people and a dog who got in free. The sound people, road crew or whatever, were of the ‘backwards baseball cap, hey I don’t do monitors, don’t ask me’ school and as ugly as I think it is to say so, they made my experience even more challenging than it was already. It was truly awful and would have been worse if it wasn’t for the presence of Diego Castro who had been doing all the things for us that the organisers should have been. However, just before the show we got really excited as someone pointed out an overloaded Renault 5 approaching the festival site, with perhaps upwards of three people in it but, sadly, I think it was someone who took a wrong turn… Anyway 8000 people my, by this time raw and raggedy, arse.
Fucking Liars.
Fucking Liar. Now there’s a thought. Best not to get taken advantage of again, huh?
Well, after escaping the festival, not, of course, before Flo’s laptop mysteriously went missing, never to be seen again, we arrived back in Santiago where I had a show at the Centro Arte Alemeda…  Lovely venue, lovely show, I was good. The people that were there seemed to like it too. If it hadn’t been for the somewhat dishonest people who staged and promoted the show, I’d have been content. The organizers may have been happy with my performance but evidently not quite happy enough to pay me. I spent most of the after show time searching for Rodrigo Saez (rodsaez@gmail.com), but although he was there he didn’t seem to be too happy to pay me. The people from the venue, Roser Fort and Arno Parra, who Rodrigo works for, seemed altogether unwilling to pay me either. “Sorry, I don’t have the money” or “It’s nothing to do with us, it’s Rodrigo who booked you” was all I was told.
So, what can I tell you?
I’d seriously suggest that anyone asked to play at the Centro Arte Alemeda in Santiago probably should reconsider, even though the people involved seem to be really nice, they probably will lie to you and you probably will not get paid…

After that, well a trip to Buenos Aires, which was delightful in spite of my concert being in another big fucking disco. Then on to the seaside town of Mar del Plata where I started this little story. A tip of my hat to Pedro Moscuzza from Altocamet who showed more professionalism in his little finger than my chums in Chile and was a very fine DJ as well, introducing me to some very fine tunes none of which I can remember..
It would seem that the food poisoning which had occurred 10 days or so before had lingered and caused me some lasting damage which, even after a few weeks back home and much medical attention, has left me in a state of discomfort and lacking energy. Or maybe that’s just just natures way of telling me to take a break from the music business.

Coming Soon ….

Posted in robin's music on August 9, 2008 by robin guthrie

1 3:19 intro
2 comprensión
3 alma
4 cuanto tiempo?
5 en mi punto. en ti punto. y miy en ti punto.
6 lisa@dixo.com
7 lucia’s lament
8 explaining the game
9 a la eternidad….
10 3:19 outro

Down Mexico Way…

Posted in robin's life, robin's music on March 7, 2008 by robin guthrie

Hola Amigos. OK, where did I leave you? Oh, yes I was in Mexico City with a strangely familiar absence of my luggage, no pants or toothbrush, and a healthy dose of the flu, which had been lingering since Italy. The problem is, for these other small calamities have become the norm, is that Mexico City is about 2500m above sea level and the small parts of my lungs which are still functioning after having the flu, are just about to give up. I feel miserable but so excited to be in there for the first time.
I’m here to play a show as part of FICCO (Festival Internacional de Cine Contemporáneo a la ciudad de México) and also to see 3:19, the movie that I’ve been involved in scoring recently. I had just arrived after a 12hr flight from Paris stuck, as is my habit, in between a rather large gentlemen at each side, a woman with a broken seat in front (stuck in recline) and several loud and irritating media types overusing the French version of the term ‘daaahhhling’ and ‘luvvie’. My guess is that they’re on their way to FICCO as well. Whatever. After 2 hours at immigration I was met by someone from the festival who gave me a lift to my friend Dany’s place in Tecamachalco where I met his friend Jorge who I’d be staying with. Jorge’s grandmother was out of town and we had her house at our disposal, which after the indignities of my recent trip to Italy, seemed surreal. Surreal developed into plain bizarre when I realized that grandma’s maid was still there and seemed really happy to feed me and, at every opportunity walk into my bedroom while I was in a state of undress. Tecamachalco, indecently, seemed like many parts of California that I’ve been to except it’s a little cleaner and people drive to kill.

First let’s cover the real underlying reason for my visit, the first hand experience of Mexican Cuisine. The first night I arrived, after travelling for 16hrs, my friends took me to a local taco stand called El Farolito. I couldn’t have been happier than a pig rolling about in its own shite. The next morning, way too early if you asked me, my FICCO ‘volunteer’ arrived. I didn’t know what a FICCO ‘volunteer’ was; in fact I hadn’t a clue as I’ve recently taken to only reading things I have been given with view to remembering the things that it may be necessary to remember in future.
Like a long time from now.
Quite clearly this doesn’t work so well as I can never work out what may be important, however there is only so much room in my head and most of it is filled with useless facts from National Geographic magazine and other such non vital bollocks, how to name old bits of musical equipment and how to get to the dressing room in at a show I did in 1983 in Hannover. Other things, like people’s names, hotel room numbers and which order to put my clothes on in the morning, I have to write down.
It’s a coping skill, before you ask.
Anyway, as I was saying, my FICCO volunteer turned out to be an ususpecting young lady called Haydee. She quickly took control and gave my life some structure and ensured that I was in the right place at the right time, which as far as I could work out, was one rather shabby interview in 5 days. Apart from the fact that she drove her car like an insane person we enjoyed a steady flow of really good lunch spots and conversation.
The first was, well naturally, El Farolito but a different one, this time in the Condesa district, which had more of a small town vibe to it that part of a city of 30 million. I liked it. I would have been able to order from the menu with a certain panache, as I’d eaten the same food only the night before, but was happy to let Haydee chose for me. The best way to discover something new, I guessed. Over the next few days I certainly discovered a few more Mexican delights, including one which would have Mitsuo Tate roll in his grave, well, if he were dead at least, namely Mexican Sushi at Sushi Ito in Polanko. Now before you say wtf?, hear me out. Always hear a fat person out when it comes to food. … … It’s a really good fusion, I have to say, the fish wasn’t outstanding but the treatment with chipotle and habanera was unforgettable. I visited another Sushi Ito in Alta Vista a few days later and it didn’t disappoint. No sir. Apart from that, the other high point, from a culinary point of view was hanging out at Coyoacán on a Saturday and visiting the food market there. Um, the closest experience I can compare to the food market is eating at Djemaa el Fna in Marrakech, after the sun goes down. It was lots of home cooking, lots of grease and lots of happy looking folks. The real deal. Didn’t manage the tamales or flautas, but made up with excessive amounts of gorditas and quesadillas. I have yet to learn the Spanish word for my new fave, but it is fried pork skin in tomato if anyone can give me a name. Or a European supplier, come to think of it.

me in mexico city

The concert I was invited to play at a museum, the Museo de la Ciudad de Mexico, was near the big square at Zócalo in the Centro Historico. The fact that I had been asked to play in a museum hadn’t gone unnoticed, as I couldn’t help but think that a museum is where one puts old things. I had to process that thought a little, bounce it around and turn it into ‘precious things’.
Now, I’ll go a bit into uncharted territory here as I try to tell you about the show.
First of all, the people who met me and helped me set up were fantastic. The venue itself was a beautiful choice and absolutely perfect for presenting Lumiere. The way that the venue had been set out with chairs and carpets for people to lie on was just right. The sound seemed pretty good and the atmosphere was intimate, even though it was quite a large space. Um, OK this is how it reads when I like something, just in case you’re confused. As I said, uncharted territory. So with all of those things in my favour, I felt that my equipment would blow up or my fingers would fall off but, no, I really enjoyed the performance, felt relaxed, especially by the audience being close and, by the look of things, very comfortable. It was, I remember thinking, as good a performance of Lumiere as I have even given. For me, it’s very rare that the planets line up and allow me the right condition but this concert showed me that it can happen, especially if the people arranging the event read the stuff I send them about how to present it beforehand.

As for the film festival, well seeing 3:19 on a large screen and watching people react to it was a marvelous experience only marred by the lack of profile that the film was given. I was invited to a big glitzy end of festival party but it was kinda plasticky and I didn’t care for it much. But of course, as I couldn’t have imagined, FICCO had ambitions which went way beyond the nurturing of independent cinema, using sponsors like pepsi and cinemex to propel their little festival into the realms of Hollywood and judging from the closing ceremony this was a big mistake as it was quite simply the most tacky event that I’ve ever had the need to attend. And remember, I’ve lived in London and attended Sundance. Simply, the bullshit seems the same no matter what branch of the arts that you explore with any vigour. Not that I explore with vigour, I just attend, but the odour is unmistakable It’s a shame really, as most of the people from the festival were really cool, but I guess that the lower echelon soldiers didn’t have to suck Pepsi dick as much. It goes saying that 3:19 didn’t get a mention but it did receive a lot of praise from the more independent element, and critics seemed happy with it. My favourite interview, of course, was during a FICCO press conference when someone asked me if I could play any musical instruments. No, I said, as everyone smiled and quietly agreed with me.
One thing also that I enjoyed, apart from the happy experience of surviving Haydee’s driving, was being able to spend a little time with the friends and colleagues that I’ve made in Mexico since becoming involved in that movie. It’s nice to put faces to those who’s work I’ve seen but who’s names, up until now, were just movie credits.
I’m hooked. I’ll be sitting by the phone waiting for another opportunity to go back. I’ll be taking an oxygen bottle with me next time though.

The Italian Job

Posted in robin's life, robin's music on February 23, 2008 by robin guthrie

Day 1
I’m on tour in Italy. I arrived yesterday in Catania. I’ve never been to Sicily before so it’s fun just to look around and enjoy being somewhere else. Catania is surprisingly close to Mount Etna. The Italians, apparently lacking good judgment in such matters, seem to have chosen really odd places for some of their cities, Naples and Venice for example. Um, Pompeii comes to mind as well. Anyway, I’m going to be here for the next 10 days so I thought I’d write a little about it to illustrate the glamourous life I live and the torment I go through just to bring some fine tunes to some folks in Italy, well at least the folks who have the good taste to actually come along to one of my shows. I, sort of, suspect that won’t be many on this trip, but then, no one who knows me would exactly describe me as an optimist. I kinda think of myself as an optimist with experience, however that’s not the same. I’m lodged in a funky B&B called BAD and eat real good food at a restaurant called, well something vaguely commie sounding, can’t remember. Pee in the street on the way back to the B&B..tout va bien

Day 2
Show day. After promising myself that I’d get up and look around town, I lay in bed until lunchtime regretting, well, most things, but more exactly the choice of staying up late and peeing in the street.
Now, before we go any further, and because this is important, I should fill in a few blanks. I’m not travelling on my own this time, I’m travelling with a dear friend, who I’ve not seen for some time, who we’ll call Mark. Actually his name is Mark Cox, we’ve known each other forever, but hardly seen each other in the last 10 years, but I won’t write that so as not to break his anonymity.
Doh
Anyway I met Mark in Paris after he took a flight from London, where he lives and I took a train from Rennes, where I live. It was lovely to meet at the airport, check out each other’s graying hair and set off on our little road trip, chit-chatting away like we saw each other last week.
Have a look around the fish market in Catania, quickly decide that I wish to live there, eat lunch at the ‘L’Etoile d’Or’, reaffirm the decision, start looking for houses, then suddenly realize that I made a promise to myself never to buy a house on an active volcano. Call me old fashioned but, hey, each to his own. Anyway, I don’t need an active volcano, I have women in my life.
Next up, went to find the venue at the appropriate time mentioned on the contract, gave up after a couple of hours looking around in the dark at, as it happened, the wrong building, squeezed in some a little dinner, which would have tasted much nicer had the promoter paid for it as agreed, then found the place the show was happening, only to find it abandoned. Sat around, not quite sure what to do. I figured I was in the right place as there was a poster up on the wall with todays date on it. Waited… waited…waited some more. Eventually some people arrived, it’s already 10pm or so, and showed me where I should plug in, play, etc, did a very quick soundcheck , then, well, played the show.
Did the best I could.
Always do.
Hungry, looked for snacks afterwards. Don’t like fucking peanuts.
Got my picture taken with seven forty year old men.
However that wasn’t the funnest part of the evening, no sir. On the way back to B&B got arrested by a fat necked, sweaty, fucking caribinierri who told Mark to walk back the B&B as he didn’t have his passport with him. Well, of course he wouldn’t. He’s English. Fat neck made me get into the driver’s seat and drive. Umm, OK. I was rather tired and emotional. Tired and emotional as a newt, I think Mark put it, but, hey, best not to argue with a sweaty guy with a gun.
Good night.

Day 3
Sad to leave Sicily, really good arancini. Have to drive a bit to take the ferry to mainland Italy, across the straits of Messina, surely one of the worlds shortest and least impressive ferry crossings, however the Italians didn’t fail to impress with their alarming lack of efficiency and dismal attitude to those of us born outside Italy and unable to speak Italian. It’s OK though as I have experience of such things, living in France. While all the cars seemed able to get on to the two ferries which came and went while we were waiting, we pondered the logic of having a ticket office only open between 11am and 2pm selling tickets for the rest of the crossings for that day. Anyway, finally we managed to cross the straits in about fifteen minutes, on a ferry that we had arrived at some two and a half hours before.

Day 4
I’ve always wanted to experience Calabrian cuisine and, as I have a show in Cosenza, here’s the perfect opportunity. This should mean, a home cooked meal by someone’s mamma, super spicy, in relation to most Italian cooking, and mouthwateringly fresh. However tonight’s performance had been booked into a rather small rock club, totally inappropriate for performing ‘Lumiere’ but with friendly helpful locals. One can’t be disappointed if one is aware of people making an effort. However, the rather sad frozen hamburger dinner which was offered to me did disappoint after hearing so much about calabrasi cuisine.
Oh, I played a concert as well, with ‘Lumiere’ showing on a screen the size of a small TV.
I probably sucked, I can’t be sure as I was paying as much attention my performance as the organizers had paid to my contract, however I played the best I could in those circumstances. Got my picture taken with eleven forty year old men. At this point I’m thinking of printing some ‘Robin Guthrie, Why the Fuck do I Bother? Tour 2008’ T-shirts but I doubt I’d get many sales.

Day 4
I’d never been to Salerno. It’s very pretty. I had a bit of an adventure trying to drive around the old town, which was definitely not designed for motor traffic. We were accommodated in an odd sort of a youth hostel place by the local promoter Paulo, who we dined with that evening. This was arranged, no doubt, so that he could take the opportunity to break it to me gently that this was another rock club with a tiny projection screen. This whole touring business was, quite frankly, starting to seem a little surreal and the experience of sleeping in a bunk bed pretty much convinced me that I may be getting filmed for some candid camera reality TV sort of thing. Anyway, at the restaurant, I had gnocchi which was absurdly good and happened to ask one of the guys what the local delicacy was and he informed me it was mozzarella di buffala. As soon as I said that it was a big favourite of mine he whipped out his cell phone and called his mamma and asked her to prepare some. True to his word 1.5kg of the finest mozzarella arrived at the venue the next day. Yum. Next day I bought some pomodoro secchi, basil, olive oil and ciabatta to compliment it and had caprese in a little picnic area by the side of the highway, while watching the autostrada prostitutes hopping from one truck cab to the next. Who say’s touring isn’t fun?

Anyway, where was I? Oh, yeah, Salerno, did a show, was probably OK, got my picture taken with nine forty year old men.
At this stage I start to ask myself some questions. Things are OK, it’s nice to be somewhere new, it always is, but what the hell am I doing here? I have got this Lumiere thing together, informed everyone involved of the requirements for the performance to work, and am starting to feel like someone is taking the piss. Sure, it’s nice to be playing but I’ve only done one show so far which is anything like the type of place I can perform this in. I’ve said it before. It’s a sit down, chill out, get overwhelmed by the big screen images which float over you while listening to some, rather lovely, quiet instrumental music. It is not me playing at 1am, playing after a deafeningly loud rock band, or a DJ that is obsessed with A Forest, by The Cure, in a sweaty club, with a big bar, and people shouting , the rabble of cocaine idiot talk and strangest of all, everyone standing. This is, how could I put it, ever so slightly challenging for me.
And then someone brings their face to withina couple of inches from mine and says “Hi, just wanted to say… You’re a piece of history” and I think to myself “you’re a closed minded fucking asshole who has just been dancing to echo and the fucking bunnymen. You are so stuck in the past, fuckwit” but of course I politely say “Thank you”.
Now I’m starting to understand why some artists choose not to play or make records, preferring instead just to stay at home and become legendary. They must have been to Italy.

Day 5
Rome. Same shit, different day. Another fucking night club, oh, and it’s not my show anymore, it’s a festival now and there’s a bunch of other people playing before and after me, so I haven’t really got much stage to play on, but that’s OK as the screen is about the size of my TV at home. I’m starting to feel sorry for any audience members that actually wanted to see me, as seeing me in those conditions must be very uncomfortable. I ate a thouroughly average Pizza, probably the worst Italian food I’ve eaten (and remember I live in France…) however I was very happy to see an old friend, Allessandra, that I haven’t seen for about fifteen years and catch up. To Rococo Rot play and I think I like them, certainly liked the people when we had a chat. Got my picture taken with fourteen forty year old men. Went to the supermarket. Considered throwing all my musical equipment in the trash, filling up my suitcases with food and going home. Had some prosciutto instead.

Day 6
Bit of a travel day, drive 600km to Milan. I’ve discovered something called ‘Pocket Coffee’, a small, liquid centered, chocolate filled with coffee. Life is beautiful, once more. I’m enjoying the driving, always do even when driving towards, what can only be described as, the low spot of the tour. And this is, don’t forget, a tour of low spots. It had all the usual ingredients, no projector, wrong cables, monitors made from cornflake boxes, sticky floor, The Cure playing, the cleaners closet as a dressing room but a new added twist, no audience, well at least very few, but hey, one has to play for the people that are there, not the ones that didn’t come. Strangely, I actually enjoyed playing, for the first time, even although the sound was horrible. I think I may be getting better as the days go on… Oh, I get it, it’s practice. Right. OK. Well, whatever, I enjoy getting lost in the music and feel less and less pressure from the audience to be good. Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn, as the great man said. Another anomaly of the evening in Milan was that I saw Mark get cross with a waiter in a Restaurant. I’ve never even heard of Mark getting cross before. That can’t be the same guy I saw doing Tai Chi in the hotel lobby, could it?. As we left the venue and said our ‘goodnights’ and ‘thank you’s’ the promoter said “next time, bring a band”. I replied with a quick “next time bring an audience”. Well, it made me laugh. Truth is, I’d rather sever my own head off with a hacksaw than return to that place. Sorry. Got photo taken with five forty year old men.

Day 7
Guess What? Florence. Night Club… No wait, keep reading. What a fantastic place, a club called the Viper Theatre. Nice People, great sound, lights, 3 projectors, people that know what they are doing. Easily the most impressive looking visuals I’ve been able to present here. Wait, can this still be Italy? Ah, well actually, apparently so. Empty room syndrome again. Oh, well, at least there weren’t a lot of people dancing to A Forest either. Mark tells me to ‘Let it be different’. He has a point, but it will take me a day or two for the word to sink in. Got my picture taken with four forty year old men. Had a quick drive into the city the next morning to look around like tourists. Pretty, but it’s not a day off, so hit the road. Starting to feel like I’m coming down with something.

Day 8
Like something out of Heidi, Rovereto is a town with an alpine flavor, wedged between mountains, you can’t help but fall upon it when heading north towards the Brenner pass. It’s really rather charming with that model train layout feel. After the last couple of shows I didn’t imagine that even the janitor of the venue would be there to let us in, as the theatre, yes, I said theatre, is a couple of kilometers out of town on the way up a mountain. Did I tell you that this touring thing could be surreal? But happily the promoter greeted us and was very helpful. I arrive at the theatre, which looks perfect, check out the equipment, which is all that I asked for, start thinking to myself ‘well if this is all OK, what will go wrong? Something will.’ Well, after a couple of low turn outs I was pleasantly surprised to play to a rather full house, which seemed very appreciative. I thought it was as good a ‘Lumiere’ performance as I have ever given. It certainly worked. I couldn’t help wondering if there was a connection between me being able to present the show in the correct environment and a successful performance and happy audience.
Just a thought.
Got picture taken with nine forty year old men, then had an early night, as I’ve definitely got something nasty. Can’t breathe and feel like shit. Goodnight.

Day 9
Bologna. Oh, it’s a club. Well some of my frantic calls and texts to my agent must have paid off as they’ve put some seats out and have another artist, a guy called Christian, performing a nice downtempo film and music piece. More of the show later. Lasagne Bolognaise, what a wonderful thing, especially in the little trattoria, like something out of a movie, which we were taken to. The food was really ridiculously good, the ambience perfect, and most affordable, as the promoter was paying. Someone else paying never fails to add a certain richness to the whole eating experience. Now, about that show, well, although it was in a club, I think it was quite nice. It was nice that the promoter had made an effort to make the environment more sympathetic to what I was trying to put across and the people, seemed to be relieved to be sitting down, when they saw me play. I could have done with a seat as well, as I was feeling really rough now, a snotty stuffed up nose and sore throat. Too many late nights, I guess. Got picture taken with seven forty year old men.

And that was that.

Dropped of my rental car at the airport, flew to Paris, said my thank you and goodbyes to Mark, got on a train home, got there near midnight. Go to bed. Feel ill, looking forward to sleeping for a week…

post script
The next morning at 11am I get a text message from Steve from Heligoland. It read’s “did you get my email?, I’m at La gare de Rennes .” To cut a long story short, I never did get that week in bed, nor even a day, as I’ve spent the whole of the last week mixing the Heligoland album. Then I hopped on train back to Paris, with my luggage still unpacked from my time in Italy and as I write this I’m in Mexico City, minus, it goes without saying, my luggage. But that’s another story.

Twinkle…

Posted in robin's music on December 22, 2007 by robin guthrie

So this is Christmas.
I am at the top of a very wobbly ladder in my garden attaching Christmas lights to a tree. I am 45 years old. I feel like Rod Hull. My cellphone has gone off twice in the last five minutes, Steve from Heligoland arranging an upcoming session and a text from my friend Gaelle, who couldn’t possibly know that I am up a tree but will surely feel bad if I a/ fall off, b/ electrocute myself, c/ fall off while electrocuting myself. Nevertheless this is Christmas and I’ve a very strong urge, no, need, to hang little lights in my trees and become festive. I realize that for the last couple of years Christmas has come at a really inconvenient time to me, usually halfway through a session or something equally as inconsequent, but this year, as if responding to some primeval programming, I’m breaking out the Dean Martin Christmas album and acting altogether like a middle aged man who realizes that there is only a finite number of Christmas’s left to experience. That, and I bought some really cool little lights from Ikea which change colour, allowing me almost to relive, albeit briefly, being off my face at a Happy Mondays show in the late 80’s, albeit without the fear of an imminent drug death but maintaining the risk factor by standing atop a somewhat wobbly metal ladder in my garden while connected to the mains electricity. Anyway, bottom line is my six year old Violette saw the lights and told me that they were, and I quote, “delightful and magical”. So I guess it’s fuck you to anyone who cares to believe that it’s not cool to hang little lights in trees.

And what have you done?
Well, you know, I met a man named Mark Mushet from Vancouver BC earlier this year, a portrait photographer with few peers, and he, being a man with obvious good taste, looks at this weblog every once in a while. While talking with him about what I write here he told me that he didn’t know what to make of the lengthy pauses between my posts, and then, after lingering to reflect for a moment, was able to inform me that during such pauses all must be well. Well, you know, there’s something in that, as I do just tend to bitch about what’s not well, or even worse, obsess on the petty and unimportant issues, instead of churning out press releases on what I’m up to, as if it really matters. So, naturally, here I am, recapping a little on some of the things I have done this year. It’s not over yet, I’ve a couple more things to do get done but, without the aid of a written diary I’ve, produced an album for the outrageously talented Annie Barker from Los Angeles CA, I’m currently producing an album for Australia’s Heligoland, a project which is taking everyone involved to a new level, producing an album for Resplandor, from Lima, Peru, a group I fell in love with after seeing them play, I’ve done collaborations with Ulrich Schnauss, a rather talented young German fellow and Manual, a rather talented young Danish fellow. Of course, then there is Mahogany, led by the rather talented young Andrew Prinz and fellow New Yorkers Apollo Heights, who I’ve had the pleasure of knowing for such a long, long time. It’s truly heartwarming to see the aforementioned getting the credit that they deserve. Also from NYC, The School of Seven Bells, from Oxford, England, a certain Mr Mark Gardener and from Brussells, Colour Kane. And then of course, there are the two albums that I’ve made with Harold Budd, After the Night Falls and Before the day Breaks not to mention Telefon Tel Aviv and Honeychild Coleman. Yes, they have certainly taken up some of my time this year, as did the soundtrack to the Dany Saadia movie 3.19, come to think of it.
Naturally it’d be easy to imagine me stuck in my studio all year but I’ve managed to play some shows as well, in the USA, UK, Chile, Peru, Norway, France, Spain and Italy and maybe even more but, hey it’s late and I can’t even remember what I had for breakfast.

Another year over..
Oh yeah, I remember, the one with no summer. Boy, did I feel silly buying that big assed gas barbeque. Tell you what I did do that was eventful though, apart from all the messing around with musicians, that is, I put a new mixing desk in my studio and built myself a quad core music computer..

And a new one just begun
Well that’s a little presumptuous, given that it’s Dec 22nd but here’s what I want/have to do before the new year is too old. I have to finish the Resplandor lbum, the Heligoland album and I really need to make some “Robin Guthrie” music for a new CD, I want/need do shows in Peru, Russia, Itally and Mexico..I want to wear a suit to the premiere of 3.19 and I want/need to find out why my new desk doesn’t save things properly. I want to be very careful while taking the Christmas lights down from the trees in my garden and I need to do all of those things before March, as I have my annual dream of taking it easy to fulfil…

Real Time

Posted in robin's music on October 1, 2007 by robin guthrie

Seattle dB Festival performance with Harold Budd
The show isn’t meant to start yet, I’ve just come onstage to switch on all my equipment and tune up my guitar, but my presence generates applause and the lights go down. Silent anticipation from the audience as the sound of my heart beating faster resonates from the stage. Everything seems to take an age in this silence, then, what the fuck?…..My computer has just did a ‘blue screen of death’. Oh dear, it’s going to be one of those concerts.
It never fails to amaze me that I fall for Harold’s charming, confident, nay, cavalier attitude towards soundchecking and getting all the tech bits just right. He seduces me into believing that everything will be all right, as indeed it usually is, but tonight I have problems.
Standing on stage with your computer rebooting is sort of like standing onstage with no trousers on. I mean, it’s reaaallllly embarrassing and I’m no Brian Rix. I can’t really make this funny. My laptop slowly comes to life, I start the first song. Minutes have past. What the fuck? It’s done it again, another blue screen. I imagine all the shit my friend ken will give me for not using a mac. This is now reeeeaaaallly embarrassing. I ask the audience if anyone from Microsoft is there tonight, it being Seattle and all. I sense myself becoming Brian Rix. A few people laugh. Fuck it, where’s Ken. Ken, please come on stage and make it work. I think, fuck it, I have to do something so I start to play the guitar while Ken comes on stage and tried to remedy my problem. I’m making up some nice improvised tunes with my looper which is working while he messes around with my laptop and says things in my ear like, ‘dude, you really should be using a mac’.
No, I really should be using a band.
I play guitar for a few more minutes making stuff up and feeling, rather inadequate, when ken does his magic and makes my laptop work. I play some of my songs. Well I play for about half an hour and at a certain moment Harold appears at his piano and joins in with what I’m doing. Nice. I play for a bit and then discreetly fuck off. I sit backstage for a while having a panic attack, consider leaving the building but the dressing room window is two stories up and if I jump out of the window, I know I’d land in a dumpster or something, it’s that kind of a night, so I opt for going to watch Harold play, which is, as ever, quite breathtaking and very inspiring. I wait until he plays a certain chord and then rejoin him on stage and play with him for half an hour or so. Just a moment or two before we finished I started to feel relaxed. Then just as quickly, it was all over. We were very nicely received by the audience and I wanted to thank them all for showing a little empathy, or at least not pointing and laughing while I was onstage with my trousers down.