After tearing up the UK for a few dates earlier this year, Arcane Roots have taken ‘Melancholia Hymns’ into Europe with none other than Jamie Lenman in support. While Andrew Groves is no stranger to running around Europe in recent years with ‘Roots, it’s Jamie’s first foray abroad for ten years, so what better time to share some stories of being on the road?
How’s Europe treating you?
Andrew: Usually we do Europe first then the UK, I don’t know why. The UK is much harder, less forgiving, so we’ve done all the stressful stuff and have come over knowing what to expect. It’s actually been pretty stress-free.
For you Jamie, how have you found coming out as the support having just finished your headline tour?
Jamie: I quite like being a support act, but it’s been a long time since I’ve been a support act, actually. In one sense there’s pressure off because you’re just an appetiser for the main act but in the other sense, you do have a responsibility to not go out there and fuck everyone off.
It’s been a while since you’ve been in Europe, Jamie, what do you remember do being out here?
Jamie: The first time we ever went on stage in Europe was with Billy Talent back when I was in Reuben. First ever gig we did was this fucking enormous arena because they’re huge over there and the roar went up, they knew it wasn’t Billy Talent going on but some band they’ve never fucking heard of they were like, “We are ready for fucking anything!!” and we gave it to them. You don’t get that anywhere else.
What are the best tours?
Andrew: These last three days.
Jamie: Awww man. You can go on tour with a band you admire musically, and maybe you don’t get to be such good friends. You can go with great friends and like, “I respect what you do but I wouldn’t listen to it.” But it’s very rare to get a band you would actually listen to. [Arcane Roots’] ‘Melancholia Hymns’ is one of my favourite records of last year, and we’re already buddies outside of music, and that’s fucking rare! So to go on stage and watch them every night is really fantastic.
What are the worst shows?
Andrew: Actually Brighton, not in Europe. Because our show now is a runaway train, we press play and then we are hooked in. The light show, everything is running off this thing which is painstakingly programmed but, even still, I am blind, and it’s this click in our ears.
We were playing Brighton, at The Haunt, and we just kept having more and more problems every day, and it was so new to everyone. The worst is knowing stuff is going wrong. It was the best crowd of the tour and every two seconds the show was dropping out- everything stopping, the tracks stopping, the lights blowing, power going. I can hear and see people running around to patch things up, and the crowd is going wild, and I’m just imploding inside, getting so angry that God has done this to me. I think it was the first time we sat down after the show and no one said anything for such a long time.
Jamie: There was a tour back in the band days where I got pretty severe food poisoning the day we before went out and John, the bass player, broke his back and could hardly move… and it was the tour we decided to wear these foam helmets so we couldn’t see anything. Then I went to the hospital after the show and had a pint of jet black blood removed from me. Then we left, and I stole the hospital gown, that was a disaster.
Andrew: That beats our story.
Where do you love most in Europe?
Andrew: In the old days, we did everything we could in every town we went to see everything we could. It was amazing, some of my favourite memories. Germany was just GCSE for me for so long then we started playing places like Nuremberg, Hamburg and Freiburg and it’s beautiful. We have friends in those towns now. We were in Gruyeres in Switzerland and stood on top of a mountain in H.R. Giger’s house, and it was unbelievable. And we are going to space tomorrow! Going to the European Space Agency and I’m going to ask about “string theory”.
Jamie: I’d like to get down to Italy and Spain, but the problem for me is that I don’t really fly. People are always asking me to play festivals in a far-flung place, but you can’t go in a van all the way there and back. If I flew then it’d be a lot easier, and it’s a real bummer, but I’ve just got a thing about it.
Both of you do a lot for supporting new bands, how would you recommend bands should approach playing in Europe?
Jamie: You’ve just got to make friends. Reach out to bands you like from different countries. Send them your stuff. They will say, “Come play this house party, stay ’round ours.” Most bands I know haven’t played that many shows in the UK but have done a few tours in Europe. It’ll be sleeping on people’s sofas, but I think that will be more fun.
Andrew: I think that is the nice angle of “the inter-webs” is that all the music I listen to now, isn’t in the Top 40. MySpace was great for that. I think we are lucky, being British – it’s an accidental gift – but we have noticed that we could play with so many European bands.
Like Jamie said, so much of our early shows were getting in touch [with local bands].
Jamie: Who you’re chums with counts for a lot.