tour diary :: Distant Correspondent > Entry #1
TOUR DIARY ENTRY #1: Saturday, 10/19 – Monday, 10/21/2013
For the past four or five months, Michael (who plays drums live, but who also played most of the bass on the record), Tyler (who’s now our permanent bass player), and I (David; I play guitar and sing) have been hard at work, trying to translate our songs into live arrangements. What we discovered is that while the record is a fairly atmospheric affair, our live set is a fairly energetic one; at times even pretty raucous.
Another major difference between the record and what we’ve been doing as a trio is that on the record, I share vocal duties with guest contributor, Edith Frost. Additionally, the record prominently features our UK-based member, Emily Gray (who was the vocalist for one of my favorite bands of all time, Meanwhile Back In Communist Russia). Throughout the album (and on some songs that are not on the record), Emily performs these really amazing monologues. “Mumblings,” as she calls them.
“CHINESE LANTERN” BY MEANWHILE BACK IN COMMUNIST RUSSIA:
Because Emily lives in the UK and because her old band never toured the States, none of us have ever met Emily in person. And yet, she’s been a dedicated member of this band for well over a year now. And when it came time for us to talk about going on tour for the record, she had no hesitation or qualms about making it happen.
That still left the question of who could fill Edith’s role. Months ago, we actually did play a show with local (Denver-based) artist, Andrea Ball on vocals. However, she was unable to come on tour with us. But, I figured if we could have a member in the UK, we could have someone in Ohio, right? So I called up Margaret Darling who co-fronted the excellent Seedy Seeds (who I saw at SXSW while my other band, Goes Cube, was waiting for its showcase to begin at the same venue they were playing). She had recently embarked on a solo project, and had agreed to share the bill with us in Cincinnati. So in her giving us that inch, I asked for a mile. I called her up and asked her if she wanted to put her life on hold for nearly a month, fly out to Denver and come on tour with us—a bunch of people who she’s never met. Because she (like Emily) is awesome, and because we’re one of the luckiest bands ever, she said yes.
“CURATED WORDS” BY MARGARET DARLING:
Of course, this didn’t solve all the potential problems. Because the multi-national global corporation that is Distant Correspondent doesn’t exactly have the cash reserves to have its members fly over the from the UK and Cincinnati to do weeks and weeks of rehearsals before a 15-date tour, we pretty much had to play a giant, long-distance, and musical version of the trust game: Everyone learn the record (and another handful of songs) on their own, then we’ll all get together a couple days before we have our record-release/tour-kick-off show, and rehearse. (Oh, and I would add to Margaret and Emily: “and remember that, live, it sounds pretty different from the record…”)
“We’ll be fine: we’ve got, like, three practices before tour,” became the recurring punchline at rehearsals over these last couple months.
Finally, this past Saturday (10/19) we practiced with Margaret Darling (but not Emily). After some discussion about how we should approach the practice, we deciced, well just play everything and see where the disasters are. A little over an hour or so later, we’d run through every song in the set. Margaret hadn’t just managed to get through the songs, she practically owned them, putting her own spin on cadences, adding these amazing harmonies, too, that weren’t anywhere on the record. She did so good with it, we threw a Les Paul around her neck. Not only had she walked in and nailed it as a vocalist, she filled the songs out even more on rhythm guitar (even dealing with my weird tuning and strange chord patterns, as if she’d known them all along).
(Photo by Dulcie Faison Wilcox)
Practice had to wrap early, as Emily’s flight was due to arrive shortly. So it was off the to the airport with me. I took a sign that read “Emily Gray.” Scant photos of Meanwhile Back In Communist Russia exist (and in those, her face is usually obscured), and I’ve only seen a couple clear photos of her since joining Distant Correspondent. Of course, I recognized her immediately. Operating on about two hours of sleep in as many days, Emily had made it safely to the States, and was eager to meet everyone, see Colorado, and dive right in.
On Sunday, Emily met Michael, Tyler, and Margaret, and we had our first full-band rehearsal. And with Emily performing her monologues, it all came together. We spent five hours in my garage, going through the set, and many local beers.
(Photo by Margaret Darling)
At the end of practice, we had an audience as Tyler’s wife (Dulcie, who’s become our de facto band photographer), and my wife (Sarah; she did the cover art for our album) came out with our kids (my son has a major crush on Tyler’s daughter) and watched. Four people. I’ve played for less people on tour with Goes Cube.
After a day of hanging out with my wife in Denver, we practiced again. Hard to believe it was only the second time the five of us had ever played together, because we all felt like this was just a regular, normal thing. Not only as musicians, but as friends.
(Photo by Dulcie Faison Wilcox)
So we’ve got one more practice tonight. It’s a big day today: our record is released by Hot Congress and Old Flame Records, and we’ve even got a music video to premiere. So tonight’s going to be equally a celebration as it will be a rehearsal. And then tomorrow, it gets real: at 3p we walk into the OpenAir studios at Colorado Public Radio where they will record a live set. (Imagine, our first live performance is for Colorado Public Radio, so we’ll certainly be putting our money where our mouths are with all this talk about how good we’ve got these songs down). Then it’s off to the Walnut Room in Denver for our record-release/tour kick-off show with Eye and the Arrow and labelmates, Fingers of the Sun.
Streamble: Merge (soundcloud)
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