Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Paid In Full?

I haven't written on this blog for a few months now. Not that I'm prodigiously in the habit of doing so but I've been somewhat making a point of keeping my mouth shut in public recently, at least as pertains what's going on in my head. If you know me, then you'll probably be aware that my dad, Michael Johnston (or "Big Mick" as I refer to him), passed away very suddenly last month. I was at work when I found out. That news was pretty much the worst thing I've ever heard in my life. Even worse than that was having to call my sister, Lisette, and let her know the bad news. A tougher thing I have never had to do in my life, thus far. Thank Buddha for Abbie, she's been an absolute diamond throughout everything and I know it's not been easy for her.

My band UNIFORMS went on tour in the UK with Cobra Skulls, one of my favourite bands, exactly a week later. There were various complications as regards funeral arrangements, etc, so we knew it was going to be a couple of weeks until we could do anything, so my bandmates (who were nothing but 100% supportive throughout, leaving all decisions as to what we do to me) and I decided that we should still do the tour. It's what Big Mick would've wanted as he knew how hard we work on our band and how much of our blood, sweat and tears goes into what we do. When I was of no fixed abode having quit my job to go on tour some 7/8 years ago, it was Mick that gave me a place to stay in his tiny little flat in Alyth, immediately after our house (my childhood home) on St. Ninians Road had been sold.

I was a mess back then, but he took me in, gave me a place to stay and encouraged me to book as many shows as possible and get out there with my music. I was playing pretty much exclusively solo acoustic shows at that time. He didn't charge me any rent. He fed me, drove me, supported me. He'd have been fucking raging with me if we'd pulled out of the tour. He knew especially how much love I have for Cobra Skulls after I regaled him with tales of my Devin-stalking in Gainesville.

So, yeah, I made the call that tour was the correct option. Beyond the week spent emptying out his house and attending various meetings and the like, there wasn't really any more that I could do. I also firmly believe that going on tour was the absolute right thing to do. We kicked things off in Dundee with our EP release show, surrounded by all of our friends, loads of family, the Dundee punk scene and our loved ones. It was honestly one of the most intense and emotional nights, let alone sets, of my entire live. I don't know if I've said so already, but thank you so much to everyone who came out and showed their support that night. It means more to me and all of us than you will ever truly realise.

We pulled out of the Bolton show on our way down to meet Cobra Skulls in Derby. I just couldn't face going away the day after the release show as I was spent. Thankfully, Boothy is one of the loveliest chaps that I know and he understood completely. I've given that boy cause for concern on more than one occasion and he is always an absolute gem. The tour itself was a very eye-opening experience and we got to see how the punk scene operates in the different parts of the UK. It's always interesting to see how people do things elsewhere and see how it relates to what we do up here. On the whole, I reckon that the UK punk scene is pretty on song and that there are pockets of hard-working passionate punks in almost every city in the UK who are willing to go out of their way to help bands out.

For a more thorough dissection of our UK tour with the Skulls, I refer you to Jamie's blog;



This was probably the thing that contrasted most with the USA; the unity and sense of togetherness. By no means do I mean that there aren't/weren't passionately involved people involved, as there were a great many, but it seems to me that it was the exception as opposed to the rule. The one thing about the US scene that I thought odd was that no bands shared backline, at all (us and Loaded .45 excepted, as we were using the majority of their gear for the whole tour). Every band would bring their own full backline, drumkit, sometimes even microphones and there didn't seem to be too much camaraderie amongst the bands, it was almost like it was a competition some nights.

Once we returned for the UK leg of tour, it was Big Mick's funeral. Lisette and I conducted the service at Perth crematorium as my father was atheist, although he'd probably argue that he was more agnostic. Semantics aside, I knew for a fact that he didn't want a religious ceremony. Lisette presented historical background and context, I provided the eulogy of sorts. Everyone who came was amazingly supportive and standing in front of everyone, most of whom I've know the majority of my life, was one of the hardest things I've ever done, although it also brought me a strange sense of well-being, as much as one can have a sense of well-being whilst lamenting such a loss. It was then back to Glenisla Golf Club for the reception or wake or whatever one wishes to call it. Glenisla was a place that Mick loved with all his heart, a place that he was involved in before a single foundation had been dug, a fairway laid or a tree planted. Some of the happiest days of his life were spent at that club, in the company of some of his best friends. After Mick had his pacemaker fitted, he had a new lease of life and spent many days on the course. All of the staff, management and members of the club were wonderful and couldn't have been more helpful. Special mention must go to Kevin Smith, one of Mick's closest friends, who went above and beyond the call of duty for us. Thank you one and all for everything.

I didn't mean for this post to become a lament. My original intention was just to post up a new song and the lyrics. This was the first song I wrote when we got back from America three weeks ago. The American tour was one of the craziest experiences of my entire life and I'll write about it in more depth in the future. For everything that they did, I must express the greatest gratitude to Ryan, Emily, Josh, Boyd and Marc. We'll see you guys again real soon.

For a fuller view of our US tour, I refer you once again to Jamie's blog;http://jimmywrizzle.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/usa-tour-diary-part-1-get-burst-go.html

"Father's Day"

I hate to trouble you at this time
But financial matters naturally arise
When a flame goes out
Meets it's demise
I hope you know
You've got my condolences at this time
And I hope you're feeling alright.

I know it's the last thing on your mind
But your father's bills weren't paid in time
The case can't close
Until the balance owed
Is paid in full
I hate to do this to you

Boy, you know what you've got to do
You need the strength to pull you through
The storm that's chasing you
Tell my what's a punk to do?

When the light goes out
The memories remain
So write some songs to process the pain
But deep inside
Where you just can't hide
You hit a wall
And suddenly remember it all.

Boy, you know what you've got to do
You need the strength to pull you through
The storm that's chasing you
Tell my what's a punk to do?

1 comment:

  1. It's not a lament - it's an honest telling of a rush of significant parts of you life that happened in a very short period of time. Your dad would be proud of you. I can't imagine the strength it took to go on tour (though I expect you gained strength from it too).

    Not many people get to go on a proper, in the back of a van tour of the US. It's pretty epic.