Just one day on tour.......
Being in Bad Manners was anything but normal. I truly think that if it was not for the band, most of the guys in would be in prison, many have visited institutions. During “time served” in Bad Manners, eventually “let out for good behavior,” we had many adventures. Most of them were brilliant, you tend to forget the bullshit, and there was plenty of it. One short story to start off with was the show in Columbia Missouri, back in 1993. We had been on a grueling tour, small bus, cheap hotels, 56 shows in 62 days, 54 States, several states added due to alcohol, drugs, and other mind altering states, bad food, drinking, all the trappings of a British touring SKA band.
Playing shows in the big cities meant we stayed normally on the edge of town, this was due to the high prices of being downtown and normally a cheap skate promoter squeezing every penny out of the band. We always found ourselves staying in some dodgy motel, like Motel 8, Motel 6, Econo Lodge……….you can already see we were on a sliding scale. We were actually banned from Motel 8 Nationwide, of which we were extremely proud, but that’s another story. On arrival at a motel, you always tried to pair off with a band mate, someone that had similar levels of hygiene as you, basic morals, compatible habits, etc.
We would then head to the front desk where the road manager would be signing in, basically Dion would putting his financial future on the line for the band. We would grab keys and disappear, leaving him to wonder who was where and with whom. I normally paired off with John “Northern” Thompson, who now plays for Selector. John and I roomed for years together, he got used to all my habits, he did not have any, it was like rooming with John Shuttleworth.
I at all cost tried to avoid Alex “Rasta” Arundel who snored so loud, and then there was Matt “who may use your bed as a urinal” Godwin. Matt on occasion (many) had been soooooooooo fucked up that he had just woken up in the middle of the night and just pissed in the opposite bed, that was generally occupied by a band member and a female. Rooming with Matt defiantly made “Golden Slumbers” a reality.
Once settled in the room, the phones would start ringing from room to room, “what you doing” “where we going” “food” “beer” “no free porn”……….DION!
We had road managers and drivers of the bus, but when we landed at a motel, they wanted to sleep, which meant we had no transport to get around, which meant we found the nearest liquor store and sat in our rooms, watched porn and drank beer.
So, when we got to Columbia, it was a welcome relief from the big cities. Columbia is a small college town half way between St. Louis and Kansas City, we loved small towns, easy to get around, normally good restaurants, bars and the ability to walk to them.
We were staying at the Comfort Inn 2904 Clark Lane, I remember heading out down town Columbia, finding a cool coffee shop right next to the Blue Note, where we were playing that night. Normally people just go their own direction when we hit town, we are on a bus so much together that any chance for some space and peace is welcome. We were to meet at the venue for sound check around 4:00PM. As per usual I was right on time with John, Dion, Dave and Erik. We had a gut on guitar this tour called John Monahan, biggest NY Irish drunk, he was pissed morning, noon and night. Today was Johns birthday, so he was going to get really drunk….oh wait he did that yesterday and the day before, and the 50 days before that.
We set up and did the soundcheck, line checking the horns as they were not to be found and overtime relied on the rhythm section to make sure they were turned on. Between soundcheck and Gig time was always a strange time, what do you do, we always had a ton of people who wanted to come back stage and party, they had not seen us in a while, but we partied last night and the night before and the 50 nights before that as well. We would just sit around and drink, take the piss out of each other, audience members would come in and we would sign pieces of paper, t-shirts and body parts. I often wonder if those people ever washed again?
Show time would inevitably grow closer, there was always a building of excitement, even though we had done this hundreds of times, you cannot describe the feeling of the clock ticking down to show time. You would hear random shouts of “let’s go” and “free up the herb Dougie “ let the herb breathe, ” Matt would be walking around looking for the whiskey or tequila, already half cut. Matt had several brilliant habits, one of which was waving a piece of string in the air furiously, he would do this every day, and actually packed pieces of string in his tour bag, cut to the perfect length. If we had a 50 date tour of the USA, he would have 50 pieces of string, one for each day.
He also had for a while a pebble polishing kit where he would find pebbles and polish them on the bus. He would then put them in his pocket and literally play with them all the time, just jiggling them around, it was nerves. When they lost their shine, he would find several new ones and repeat the process.
Show time was on, we always had this chant we did before each and every show, a sort of Bad Manners HAKA. It was devised by the legendary harmonica player Winston Bazoomies. After this was done it was straight on stage, I loved hitting the stage, Ska shows are brilliant. The fans are the best world over, and if you can’t dance to Ska, you don’t deserve legs. Every show, minus the ones where there were riots were brilliant.
During the show Buster invited the audience back to the Comfort Inn, room 206 for a party. Room 206 was Erik & Matt’s room. We actually did not think anyone would really show up, until we were back at the hotel. I remember hearing voices, many voices and car doors slamming. Around 200 people showed up to party at Matt’s room, this was a problem as he only had a small room.
By this time Matt was very drunk and wanted everyone to leave his room, that was by now standing room only. Also Erik had gotten a call from the front desk informing him that they would be charging $5 per person sleepover rate. Matt decided that the only thing left to do was give himself a golden shower, so he laid back on the bed, thought of England and proceeded to provide the crowd his version of the now famous Belagio fountain in Las Vegas, he then passed out . People excited Matts room rather quickly, many people now moved next door to Busters room, including Steve Ewing from the URGE, we all sat around and drank Southern Comfort. People we just hanging in the halls, smoking and eventually all the fire alarms went off, alerting local fire and police, who promptly showed up and broke down Matts door as it was his alarm that went off, Matt did not wake up.
Meanwhile a girl was hitting on Buster, and her brother was pissed. By now many people had been kicked out of the hotel and he could not get back in and felt his sister who was about 25 was being held hostage. So he went around doing what you normally do in this situation and slashed a bunch of car tires in the car park, several of these tires included the ones on the Bad Manners bus. It took us 15 hours to get to St. Louis the next day, a drive that is only two