A Windowless Peace
Prior to showtime evening I am interviewed at the hotel by a young man from a web magazine. He says he met his girlfriend at a Fosca gig, and asks for an autograph. I suppose I’m flattered to be considered a kind of very minor cult figure, though as ever I wonder if I’ll ever be able to turn this so-called ability into something approximating a modest day job.
Passionate fans yes, but never quite in serious number. I’m told the last album has still to break even (though it’s close). Though weirdly, they’ve completely sold out of Fosca t-shirts. I wonder if it’s because you can’t download and copy t-shirts like you can music.
It’s odd to think of Fosca as a t-shirt band, given the lead singer prefers shirts and ties. But clearly t-shirts are still a perennial indication of affection for a band (or a sci-fi TV series). They’re a kind of declared vote, a register of passions, a joining of a club, or even a ‘Would Like To Meet’ advert.
Stage time in Stockholm. Backstage, I pick up the guitar that’s been kindly lent to me, strum it tentatively, and promptly break the top string.
Thankfully a replacement (for the replacement) is found at once, courtesy of the band Days, and Fosca go on to play a well-received if slightly sad-feeling set.
Days, the guitar and amp-lending band on after us, turn out to be a group of extremely lovely and frankly jaw-droppingly beautiful young Swedish men, with a soulful line in jangly Echo & The Bunnymen / Chills style songs. I stick around to watch their set, then walk back with the others across the snow-lined streets to the hotel.
The huge and trendy Scandic hotel is teeming with people and noise when we get in. Some kind of Eurovision ‘Song For Europe’ event, apparently, complete with red carpet on the pavement outside. Maybe not the selection contest itself, but certainly a tie-in party. Both Charley and Rachel ask the hotel to switch their rooms, so great is the interruption to their sleep.
But I’m fine. My room is two floors underground at the opposite side of the building. I sleep perfectly. For someone who suffers from being easily distracted, windowless rooms are perfect. If I need daylight, I just go upstairs and loaf in the artily-decored lobby area.
The morning afterwards, the lobby is rapt to groups of tell-tale burly men in padded North Face jackets, with laminated Eurovision crew passes dangling from their necks.
Off to Norrkoping today. The very last Fosca gig.
Am typing this backstage at Debaser Slussen, Stockholm. Fosca are due to go on at 10.30pm. We are three: Rachel S, Charley S and self.
Arrived at Heathrow thinking something was missing. Racked my brains…
Passport? Check. Plectrums? Got that. Wallet, cash card, guitar pedals, pedal connector leads, guitar leads, laptop, laptop audio lead, laptop power lead, mobile phone, mobile phone power charger, European plug adaptor, toiletries, make up, shirts, ties, clothes brush, underwear, socks, contact lenses, lyric sheets, notebooks, pens, reading matter…
Ah. Guitar. Oops.
So I now have to borrow a Swedish guitar for the gigs, turn it upside down, and be careful not to knock the volume knob while strumming – the lot of a guitarist who learned to play left-handed but with the strings reversed. Still, if I’d learned to play a normal left-handed model the right way up, emergency instrument borrowing would be so much harder.
It’s a third rather obvious sign that my subconscious is trying to tell me something, what with my missing one rehearsal altogether, then arriving over an hour late for a second (having overslept in the afternoon – woken by Rachel calling from the rehearsal studio). I definitely am not meant to be doing Fosca any more. Just as well it’s our last gigs.
From: venice italy
Message: Dear Dickon, as a fan of fosca may i ask you if a day you and your group will come to italy?
Ah well. Sorry. Perhaps in a different incarnation.
Another email posits one possible reason why Fosca have a following in Sweden:
Message: Dear Mr. Edwards,
Why Sweden? you ask.
We are always sad, we are always a bit confused, we always long for something more beautiful, more real, and we always want to dance. And you seem know the soundtrack of that feeling.
See you tonight.
Stockholm is snow-covered, but thawing. God bless the staff of Debaser Slussen: food and drink for soundcheck, then a proper dinner. And they even found Charley headache tablets. Bar has cocktails named after Pixies songs.
Charley Stone, on stage clothes: I think tonight I’ll be Nick Rhodes, but with breasts.
Me: An upgrade!
Ah, time to go onstage.
Sweden Bound Again
Getting ready for Fosca’s final dates in Sweden. Here’s the details again:
Friday: Stockholm. Svenska Musikklubben festival at Debaser Slussen.
Fosca on at 10.30pm. Playing for 30-40 minutes. Followed by Days.
Saturday: Norrköping. Klubb Republik. Playing for the best part of an hour, assuming my voice holds out.
We’re not playing an afternoon cafe or instore gig after all. Sorry. But Is It Art did their best to organise one, but it just wasn’t feasible in the end. My profuse apologies to those under the nightclub licensing age (20 in Sweden). We tried.
My last quarter’s PRS statement was nearly entirely from Swedish radio play. I’ve never understood why Sweden. But I’m grateful. And although I don’t want to make any more recordings or play concerts as Fosca, it seems only decent to take this incarnation to Sweden one more time, and say thank you. That’s why we’re doing it.
It’s my tenth trip to Sweden in as many years. I feel a list coming on.
1) December 1999: As guitarist with Spearmint. One-off gig in Stockholm.
2) Winter 2000: Spearmint again. Scandinavian tour.
3) Summer 2001: Fosca play the open-air Benno festival. Me, Rachel, Sheila, Alex. Still my favourite gig to date.
4) Autumn 2002: Fosca’s first Swedish tour, promoting the second album. Kate D replacing Alex in line-up.
5) Summer 2005: Gothenberg and Malmo, as a trio. Me, Rachel, Kate. Rachel’s favourite ever gigs.
6) Summer 2007: Saffle festival. The trio plus Tom. Recorded for a live album.
7) Autumn 2007: Me solo in Stockholm. I do a spot of DJ-ing, sing guest vocals at a gig with Friday Bridge and take part in a few interviews.
8) Autumn 2007: Back a month later. Solo again. This time with a guitar as the only UK performer at the Stockholm International Poetry Festival. State reception at the palace, with the Stockholm mayor…
9) Spring 2008: Swedish tour to promote the third album. Me, Rachel and Charley.
10) Spring 2009: Stockholm and Norrkoping. Last shows as Fosca.
11) I intend to go back. I have to. But first I must make something new.
Flight leaves Heathrow for Arlanda tomorrow morning. Back Sunday evening.
Fosca In Sweden: Update
Here’s the latest on the Fosca Swedish dates. Note change to the Stockholm venue.
Friday March 13th, evening: Stockholm – Svenska Musikklubben.
Sat March 14th, noon ish: Stockholm – instore or café gig at lunchtime to please those under the nightclub age limit. This is yet to be booked, so if anyone knows of a suitable Stockholm shop or cafe, do contact But Is It Art Records at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sat March 14th, evening: Norrköping: Klubb Republik.
Tomorrow night I’ll be DJ-ing at Beautiful & Damned, at the Boogaloo in Highgate. Also on the bill are Martin White and Vicky Butterfly: pretty top-notch, proper talented fare.
Friday March 13th. Fosca play Stockholm. Debaser Slussen. More dates in that part of the world might pop up either side of the 13th. Last Fosca gigs ever ever ever. Honest. Really! It’ll be the Travel Fosca line-up of myself, Rachel and Charley. Pleased to be able to properly say goodbye to the Swedish Fosca fans. 85% of my last PRS cheque was from Swedish radio play.
May 16th – DJing at a private party with Ms Red.
June 20th – DJ-ing at How Does It Feel To Be Loved.
That’s pretty much the entire commitments list to date. Well, there’s the small matter of The Night Shift Job, which ties up every late night of mine for every other week, but I can get time off if necessary. Thing is, like most employers they only give out a limited amount of Holiday Cards to play – 14 a year. Given I get every other seven days off anyway, that’s pretty reasonable of them. But it does help me sort the ‘wouldn’t mind, oh all right’ events from those I actually really want to do.
You’d have thought I was hardly Mr Full Diary from the above. Yet I’ve just been offered a DJ gig at the ICA, which I’ve love to do, only to realise it clashes with the Stockholm gig, so I can’t. Heigh ho.
Here’s a clip of Travel Fosca playing Stockholm last year. I’m told it’s only been uploaded recently:
(I just love the ‘is.gd’ URL Shortener – even shorter than Tiny URL)
Barack Obama’s inauguration dominates today’s papers to such an extent that other news doesn’t stand a chance. I feared that today would be perfect for sly government PRs who are keen on ‘burying bad news’, as that Whitehall spin-doctor lady coined it so notoriously on Sept 11th.
The bad news back then was to do with councillors’ expenses. This time, one story that looked like slipping through the net was a similar attempt by MPs to exempt themselves from disclosing their fiscal outgoings. In today’s news (somewhere under all the Obama stuff), they’ve had to back down. This time round people aren’t so easy to hoodwink, and the Internet helps to spread the word and get people on board. A campaign by MySociety on Facebook ralled 6,000 supporters against the expenses plot. And now they’ve won. It’s so cheering. The dominance of the Net these days makes Getting Away With Things so much harder. The same zeal to uncover plot points in Battlestar Galactica can be channelled into monitoring those who write the story of the real world.
My workload at the Coalface of News last night was a fraction of its usual volume. Partly because most of the Obama coverage isn’t UK related, but also because there was little else in the press. The newspapers today choose to devote their already thinning pages (the recession’s fault) on saying exactly the same thing again and again: Obama’s Inauguration: a Historic Moment. Turn the page: interviews with people in the street. ‘ Do you think it’s a historic moment?’ ‘Yes.’ Repeat. Turn to umpteen columnists. ‘Why Today Is A Historic Moment, and Why I Was Right About Obama Before You Were.’
Can we news-miners take it easy and leave on time with everything finished? Yes, We Can.
Thanks, Mr O. All the best with the new job. Try not to kill anyone.
Tags: beautiful and damned
Once More Unto The Soundcheck
(The Blockquote button in WordPress is really very awkward to use. I just want to indent a paragraph so it looks like a quote from an email. But highlighting the text and pressing the button just chews up the entire entry, moving bits of text all over the place. Italics seem to be a less anxiety-inducing option. Any advice from WordPress users out there?.)
From the mail box:
Dear Mr Edwards, regarding the new single… can we have MP3 versions of the new songs too? I have dutifully ordered the single, but it would be nice to round off my ipod’s fosca playlist with the new songs.
I’m told the songs will also be available to download via iTunes and KlickTrack, from December 5th.
I’ve also suggested to the record label that they provide free mp3 versions to those who buy the vinyl. They say it’s not as easy to automate on the website as it might sound, but that they’re looking into it. Something to do with getting a password…
Oh, and the vinyl is limited to 300 copies.
We were rehearsing the new single in Rooz Studios, Old Street last night, so all being well we’ll play the songs on this Extended Farewell Tour. I might actually learn the lyrics, too.
The lyrics to ‘My Diogenes Heart’ were written on a sheet of hotel notepaper earlier this year. The Crystal Plaza, Stockholm, to be precise – their logo sits prettily at the top of the page. Charley thinks I should sign it and put it up for winning in a competition. Maybe on the next Swedish tour…
Speaking of which, returning to Sweden one last time now looks like a probability. Plans are being drawn, pins stuck in calendars in early 2009… We’re looking at Stockholm and Gothenburg, obviously, but also Uppsala, Malmö, Norrköping, Linköping and Jönköping. That’s a whole lot of coping (sorry).
Dear Mr. Edwards,
I am sitting in my living room listening to “The painted side of the rocket”. An exceptional album I must say. I just want you to know that it would mean the world to me, and other Swedish Fosca fans, if you came here! Know that you do have a fan base here… And the other thing I wanted to say, is that if you really do
come here, and if you have any influence, please try and make it accessible for people under 18 too?
Hopefully we’ll be playing some sort of instore gig in Stockholm, where there won’t be any age restriction.
, the curious idiosyncracies of the Blockquote button