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The A / Groop Dogdrill Tour - 16th September to 18th October, 1997

As most of you will know, we are currently on tour with the most kickin’ bands in the country, ‘a’, and ‘groop dogdrill’. so how’s it bin goin’?
The first gig was the splendid alleycat live in reading. we were all finding our feet, as it was the start of the tour. it was great to see people pressed against the barrier, but stage diving would have been tragic, due to lack of bodies to surf on. soon, that day will come. ‘a’ and ‘dogdrill’ rocked, a taster of what this tour’s really gonna be like. The next day, we trekked down to plymouth uni. this was a weird gig, as there was a disco in the next room, and the whole venue was packed with freshers, and a few more seasoned students. We gave it all, and after packing down, we all got totally pissed, and partied on. by the time ‘a’ went on, we were in full swing, moshing at the front, like the true rockers we are, chanting “a, a, a, a, a”, which is fairly original, after 20 jack daniels, probably. We stayed at the venue to the end, meeting young women and talking about music, and things like that. after that we went back to the hotel, carried on partying, waking up in the morning fully clothed, etc. and in the morning al, rob and andy (tour manager) were reported to be playing boyish games in the lavish heated swimming pool, in the hot, plymouth sun. what a life, eh.

Next was exeter cavern club. we were staying at the buckerell lodge hotel, which looked dead posh. the cavern itself is a small venue, with a really cool vibe. there were loads of people there, so hence it was very sweaty, and turned out to be a brilliant gig. as usual, after playing, we partied in the extreme style. a special note of respect for our tour manager, andy, at this point, who kept an eye on all of us, just in case we landed ourselves in those sticky situations, that occasionally rear their peculiar heads. but it was a peaceful night, probably. ‘a’ were second on, so they could join in the party frolics, later, like the ‘how many young maidens, can you place redwood/’a’ stickers on in one night’ game, or the back at the hotel ‘how many warnings can you get from the night porter’, ’how many glasses can you break, whilst falling over a table’, and ‘how many guests can you piss off for being too rowdy/ noisy/ in a band’ games. all that said, the people at the hotel were really cool, gave us a good deal, and the breakfast was lovely. p.s. thanks to the couple and all their friends who invited us back to their house for an indulgent night. it all got a bit late, so we didn’t come back, but next time were in exeter, we’ll accept the offer, and party on.

sunday night took us to the fleece and firkin in bristol. we’d played here before, so we had a few people come and see us, including a selection who’d seen us in cardiff, club eye-fu-bach (sorry about the spelling). we sold a record number of t-shirts here, and had a full on gig, climaxing in chris blowing all the fuses on stage when he knocked a pint of water over groop dogdrill’s drummer’s fan, at the end of ‘morphine’. 15 minutes later, the lights were back on, but the fan was still buggered, so we promised to replace it, the sweeties we are. and by the end of the night, after the standard kick-arse sets by dogdrill and ‘a’, the hoards dispersed, most of them with some kind of redwood item stuck /pinned /penned about there person (one individual left with a selection of redwood /’a’ band and crew comments /scrawls inked onto various parts of their body - which is nice).

southampton was a killer gig. the crowd were totally up for it, moshing like mad, in a heaving, packed, and sweaty joiners. people had come from as far as bournemouth and guildford to see us, and hopefully it was well worth it. hello to ‘bloke’ from southampton uni who saw us at surrey uni with his mates who crowd surfed, one of them getting thrown out because of it - we had to mention that. ‘a’s set was ‘ace’, with a full stage invasion in ‘bad idea’, ending with jason (‘a’ singer) being knocked off stage. crowd surfing, and stage diving was rife, but calmed down with a frighteningly angry dogdrill set. we challenge anyone to jump on stage and fight anyone of the dogdrill for their mike. only for the seriously nutty, or people with a death wish. cool stuff. many beers /kebabs /stickers later, we caned our way back to guildford, watching ‘song remains the same’, humming the ‘my cigarettes’ dogdrill song, and wondering what exactly we would do on our day off.
wednesday came, and with it a kerrang single review of saltbox (3/5 -”’saltbox’ mixes a classy groove with a more current, aggressive sound . . . “), and with this in mind, we headed up to the k2 in liverpool. there weren’t many people at this gig, but those there seemed to enjoy it, especially the three pissed blokes out of scouse band ‘fu#wit’. afterwards redwood and ‘a’ went on to the ‘classy’ disco at the hotel - 50p a pint. at 3 o’clock, a very drunk party of bands, crew, and newly acquired lady friends, were in the grand hall of the britania adelphi, playing billy joel songs on the posh grand piano. pure decadence as jiles ‘a’, played van halen songs, and unnamed members of redwood /’a’ sang along, drinking beer out of plastic pint glasses. the night continued with people getting locked out of there rooms, 20min walks to the kebab shop, and finally bedtime activities, whatever they are. in the morning the hangovers were large, and after nearly getting mugged outside the hotel - cheers to the porter who intervened - we set of to northampton. ruck’n’roll!!!

the roadmenders is a cool venue. it’s a small room with a chill out bit next to it, handy to nurse your bleeding ears, ‘cos it’s a f###in’ loud sound system. there were quite a few people when we played, who eventually ended up moshing, and it was a pretty full on gig. the rest of the evening was spent inside and outside the venue, watching walter (roadie) bunnyhop some girls skateboard, watching jiles ‘a’ do spinny things on it, chatting to band ‘midget’, and watching ‘a’ and dogdrill blow up the p.a. - to match this, we managed to blow up the tour vans stereo on the way to the gig, listening to faith no more’s ‘album of the year’. at the end of the night, goodbyes were said, and we headed back to birmingham, to stay with our lovely parents - we can’t afford hotels every night, can we. a special hello for this gig to the couple who saw us first at bucks college, years ago, then saw us at phoenix fest, and tj’s in eastbourne. it warms the cockels of our hearts to hear that people travel around to see us play, acoustic , and electric.

and next, wolverhampton, the varsity tavern. at this point, i, the narrator, will change from 3rd person twice removed with something else, or some long english term like that, to . . . . something else, whatever that is, if you get my jist, ‘cos i’m pissed. yes it was a fu##n stormin’ gig, and a party as well. food fights took place in the dressing room between sets, rob and chris fought security to remain in the venue, cos they were moshing too hard to ‘a’, stickers were plastered everywhere, including on mark ‘a’s guitar -he was non too pleased, and ended up having a nipple twisting fight with alistair -, damo ‘dogdrill’ showed his bum to everyone present, as usual, redwood and dogdrill discussed why dogdrill were skinny, and redwood were fat, and many, many other things occurred, that we care not to mention (from whence this time, the term, ‘chief groupie’ was coined, no names, no bands, imagination must be used). so yes, the music was ‘ace’, the vibe was ‘it’, and in all, this is what it’s all about. to indulge as much as possible, to live life to the full, and just to party, running the risk of sounding too cliched and crappy. but it’s true. as a great man once said “have a good time, all of the time”. enough of this bollox. we drove home and slept, see ya’ tomorrow, (much hangovers will follow, i foresee, as my eyes close on me).

nottingham is the rock capital of england. after playing there on saturday night, then staying on for the club, there is no doubt of this. the closest to this, that the ‘wood had experienced before, would be the loft in guildford, a few years ago, or the camden palace on the alternative night. but there were so many people at rock city, and the dress code was generally black. the dance floor in the large room was packed with people moshing away to the sounds of coal chamber, filter, nirvana, chilli peppers, faith no more, etc. the club runs from 8:30 - 2am, so when we went on at 8:45, there weren’t many people, but it slowly filled up. hi to the chicken smashers of nottingham, and a special greeting to ‘pif’ who’d just been expelled for smoking ‘something’ in school. never mind, if the educational establishment doesn’t want you, you could always join a band. more people showed up as dogdrill and ‘a’ played, so it turned out to be a pretty cool gig. many beers, stickers, and acquaintances later, we headed home, preparing for the next day’s events. a gig without the ‘dogs’ or the ‘a’s. how would we manage it?
we actually managed it okay, but it was a shame there wasn’t many people there to witness it. before the gig we did an interview with chas from bbc radio leicester, so listen out for that the coming weeks. alistair had come down with the killer flu bug, which no doubt would stalk musicians and crew for the remainder of the tour, picking of hapless victims, and making them sneeze, and things like that. one thing to be noted about the physio and firkin, is that the musician chill out area is really cool, with comfy sofas, and a t.v. (stuck on bbc2, not so good when all that is on is ‘songs of praise.) anyway, we chilled out, played, and went home. what no party?!!!!

monday came, and with it, more flu victims. we arrived at the hop and grape in manchester to see hundreds of young girls queuing outside the venue, however, upon closer inspection, as the situation required, we discovered that they were in fact queuing up for the robbie williams gig at the academy. ah, well. dom (‘a’ tour manager) had made sure the entire tour party could get into this prestigious gig, which was very nice of him. the gig (our gig) was very full on, despite the flu-ridden musicians. angus, andy, and alistair then went over to the academy to witness robbie, which was ‘interesting’, and a bit pervy, when he appeared ‘but naked’ for his last encore - tackle covered up by acoustic bass, which obviously wasn’t plugged in, but the hundreds of screaming 14year old girls didn’t seem to notice, or mind. after this gig the redwood chappies returned to real event. ‘a’ were in full swing, and at the end, a very pissed angus and chris were seen stage diving, surfing the hoards of moshers. apres gig banter between alistair and jiles ‘a’ consisted of “we’re more metal than you are”, “no, we’re more metal than you” etc. by now, the ‘wood were pissed, and it also happened to be alistairs birthday as the clock struck 12. back at the britania, we went to the cheesiest nightclub in the world, for the lengthy time of 35seconds, then headed upstairs to the bar, and played the piano, amusing all the guests who were indulging in the odd late night beverage. we then went to bed, after kebabs, fire extinguishers, and conversations / haggling with the manchester ladies of the night, just out of curiosity, we hasten to add.
the tour continued, amid flu, phlegm, and fatty-fast-foods, to a very fine gig at glasgow’s cathouse. the promoter and crew of this venue were absolutely brilliant, and it ran really smoothly. we played, packed up, blew our noses and coughed, then headed home to the tunes of the dogdrill (we missed ‘a’, but we’d seen them a few times before, so we’re sure it was a good gig), home being guildford /woking, a 7hour drive. we got back at 5am, then attempted to sleep, wondering if we would recover from the collective tour bug we had now acquired.

in the coming days, the ‘wood sank deeper into the heart of darkness, with half the band on antibiotics, the rest - including walter and andy - feeling incredibly ill. with this in hand, we took the unheard of step, of pulling the cleethorpes gig, which was a shame, ‘cos apparently it was storming. the stoke gig was off, ‘cos the promoter had fu##ed up - sorry to anyone who turned up to see us. the leeds gig was off ‘cos of the football, and the next day was a day off, anyway.
the boat race, cambridge, was next up. we turned up for this, still ill, and played what was apparently a cool gig. we sold loads of t-shirts, which is always a good sign, and everyone talked about some girl getting the ‘a’ logo tattooed on her arm, which is a kinda’ full on thing to do. weird!
chelmsford came, we played, and went, with us still ill, but with it, came the news that ‘club’ magazine were going to do a page on us for a coming issue. redwood will be taken to a top stripper venue in london, by a ‘club’ cover girl, who will strip for us, then interview us, in the nude (she’ll be naked, we’ll be fully clothed). begrudgingly we have agreed to do it, but there’ll be a full report in the next blurb, no pictures, sorry. the things we do for our art!!
the oval in norwich, is an odd place. we passed most of the time bragging to the other bands over our recent ‘club’ article /stripper news. the sound wasn’t too good, and we hadn’t played norwich before but we seemed to impress the virgin ‘woodies, so it was worth it. we drove back to london, and stayed at the great rock’n’roll hotel, the columbia. at the bar were ‘the lighthouse family’, ‘wireless’, and nicki from ‘the dust junkies’, and at 3 o’clock in the morning, redwood. 10 o’clock in the morning, we were setting up the equipment in g.l.r studio, 2 hours later we were live on the robert elms show playing memorabilia and power trip, and chatting about wrestling.

the esplanade in southend is another weird venue. it’s on the seafront, and when you arrive there, you wonder where all the people are going to come from. there weren’t many people anyway, but we gave it all, and went mad, as did the group of people who’d come to see us. ‘hi’ to the band ‘brethren’, hope your first gig went well. the atmosphere of the whole night was a fun one, probably ‘cos everyone was letting it all out before the big london gig. news that night had filtered through that the tunbridge wells gig was sold out, so we were all dead chuffed.

the garage proved to be one of the best gigs of the tour. there were loads of people there, and everyone was going for it, with moshers, crowd surfers, and stage divers out in force, for all three bands. with such an ideal crowd, stickers and badges were out in force, and loads of people were wearing there new redwood t-shirts, which is a pleasing sight to the ‘wood. during ‘a’s set there was another stage invasion, like in southampton, and once again, the ’wood were seen diving from the stage and surfing the minions. dogdrill rocked, with an impromptu attempt at backing vocals from a very pissed ginger from the late ‘wildhearts’ band. in fact, after the show, ginger had a scuffle with the garage monitor bloke, who was attempting to draw the curtains on the stage. an hour later, security guards were attempting to eject one of ‘a’s mates who was stripping in the middle of the dance floor - jason intervened and saved the day. the redwood crew were fairly well behaved, content to be revelling in the post gig hospitality presented to the by their record co. and friends. it was after this gig we got to see the metal hammer album review, which would be out the following day ( 9/10 - “everything about redwood feels right; the quality songwriting, the rock solid arrangements, the musicianship and the powerful, soulful nature of singer alistair cowan’s vocals. . . . .. . . . . .redwood are one of the most intriguing british prospects on the scene at the moment and surely destined to take over as the most famous guildford four ever.”) this, alongside that weeks album review in kerrang ( 4/5 - “‘colourblind’ could quite easily be the year’s best brit album”), made us all very happy, to say the least.

and so to tunbridge wells the forum, for the final gig of the tour. as was expected, we all went mad, and had a very energetic gig. the crowd was one big mosh, and we slipped in ‘halloween’, as a treat at the end. it was a brilliant end of tour gig, and after playing, redwood got ready to party. and party we did. groop dogdrill kicked, with a very pissed drummer, and there was much merriment. when ‘a’ came on everyone else was pissed, so stage invasions were rife, culminating in a 30-people-on-stage song finale ( the ‘wood were in form, singing backing vocals, playing various drum bits, alongside dogdrill, and ‘a’, obviously). after, the post gig partying involved many fireworks outside, mark ‘a’ getting the bumps for his birthday ( he was pissed also for his bands set, though not too noticeably ) and getting soaked during the ordeal, dan pulling moonies onstage ( this wasn’t too hard ‘cos his baggy skate pants were hanging halfway down his bum throughout the day anyway ), and lots of swapping of numbers, and tearful farewells. as one band person said to another, ‘our paths will cross again’, which no doubt they will. and with a complimentary bottle of jack daniels (cheers almo), greg, the driver for the day, drove a very drunk redwood band and crew home to the homely guildford and woking.

so that was it. ‘a’ and ‘groop dogdrill’, are really cool bands, but best thing about it, is they are really nice people, which made it a cool, cool, ace’n’rockin’ tour. thanks to everyone who came to see us, to ed who did our sound for the whole tour, and , well to everyone else. we’ll see you on the next one.

some useless tour facts
who’s in da van:    alistair, chris, rob, angus, walter (guitar tech.), and andy (tour manager/ guitar tech.)
videos in da van:    the lion king, aladdin, seven, star trek, the simpsons (yeah!!), reservoir dogs, the song remains the same (led zep), trainspotting, and loads more, including some classic naturalist footage (educational videos), ahem...
cool things about da van:     we don’t have to sit on the equipment, it’s got really tinted windows, so we can look like rock stars on the motorway, and its now got redwood, ‘a’, and probably groop dogdrill stickers all over it by now.
music:        see music for manbreak tour plus stuff by the dust junkies, cable, ‘a’, reef, the bloodhound gang, stereophonics, soundgarden, imogen heap (other almo artist), feeder, china drum, cornershop, jocasta, and loads more - it’s a long tour, after all.
reading stuff:    ‘hammer of the gods’, ‘the death of superman’, ‘q’, vox, nme, melody maker, kerrang, metal hammer, club international, select, loaded.
who’s in da other bands:     ‘a’ are jason (vocals), jiles (keyboards /bv’s), adam (drums), marc (guitar), dan (bass /bv’s) groop dogdrill are damo (bass /bv’s), pete (guit /vocals), and hud (drums)
special note:    andy cried when simba’s dad died in the lion king, showing the humane, and sensitive side to the redwood crew, though he claimed it was something in his contact lens