Ever wondered what life on the road is like? What it is like to start a day in one city or even country, and fall asleep in an absolutely different place, and all that over a period of weeks, even months? How it is to spend most of that time in a confined space with the same people, observing the world through a van window? Youth Time correspondent and bass player of English rock band Dead Wolf Club, Martha Supajirawatananon, shares her impressions about the life of a rock’n’roller.
The article contains extracts from Martha’s personal diary.
Despite the presence of the word ‘club’ in our name the band is more than just a hobby for us. We try to keep everything professional. Ahead of the tour, venues have been confirmed, the car has been booked, and our fingers have been calloused as we have spent most of our time rehearsing – after all, we do try to keep up to certain standards! We have already released a full album and are now preparing for a tour in support of our latest studio album RAR.
But, first things first. The band Dead Wolf Club began with singer-guitarist John Othello and lead guitarist Alwin Fernandez. The young lads bonded over a shared love of alternative rock and strange sounds. They found that John’s melodic vocals combined well with Alwin’s noisy guitars to make something awesome sounding. Only a bass player and a drummer were missing. This is how I became a part of the band. Alwin is a long-time friend of mine, so when he started searching for a bass player, I didn’t think twice and picked up the instrument.
To tell you a little something about myself, my musical journey started the same way as for many others: with rock and a guitar. I took inspiration from two of my idols, The Pixies’ and The Breeders’ Kim Deal and Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon. They are the reason I decided to master the bass. I was very motivated and quickly managed to grasp the basics and even tried to copy my favourite rockers. However, my personal opinion is that: the best way to learn to play an instrument is to be in a band. The pressure that you feel right before and during a concert looms over you giving just enough fear to motivate you into perfecting your performance.
In the beginning we weren’t that serious but our first demo changed all that when it got us on national radio! We started getting asked to play live shows, and soon after, we put our debut album together and went on tour for the first time. This was really a dream come true because it was something I had fantasised about since my teens – getting on stage and rocking out every night, waking up in a new place in the morning.
Our first UK tour kicked off in Lincolnshire County, famous for its exquisite sausage. We unloaded the van for the first time in the town of Horncastle, at a pub ‘dedicated to live music’. Nerves were on edge but we managed to pull it off – no, better, we aced it! The audience could probably sense our nerves at first but was very respectful and encouraging. It mostly comprised adults. An old-school punk who had seen it all the first time round and an OAP who had recently exposed herself on a daytime TV show are the ones who stick in my mind. All in all, it was a great atmosphere and we left on a high and headed to our next destination.
The next stop on our tour was Doncaster, in the county of South Yorkshire. I’d assumed that during the tour we’d of course have various types of audiences and Doncaster lived up to expectations. Unlike the older audience of Horncastle, Doncaster met us with a student crowd and everything that comes with it: dancing, alcohol, and crazy times. High on booze and en route to the clubs, some stopped to top up at the bar we were playing and had a little drunken dance as we watched amused from the stage.
Next up was the lo-o-ongest and most tiring drive of the tour. We had to cross the Kingdom all the way up the West Coast of Scotland through hills and lochs. The next show was set in the town of Inverness. We tumbled out of the car at the end of a shopping day to the last strains of a busking bagpiper. It seemed to me that the Scots take their music a little more seriously than down south and the crowd at Inverness were quite intimidating, listening intently, not cracking any smiles. Nevertheless, it was all the more gratifying when we got them bopping and some gave us their compliments after the show.
Back to England
After that show we rushed back to England, as the next stop was Leeds. I won’t say much here except that the Brudenell venue turned out to be the best place we played on that tour. The audience was a mix of young and old who very courteously gave us their full attention.
We were quite exhausted by the constant driving and shows, so the last days of our tour continued in a blur. We visited Coventry, Manchester and Bristol. The final destination on our schedule was home sweet home – London. We were up in front of a familiar crowd with more than a sprinkling of family and friends here and there. It was the logical culmination of our first tour.
Of course, it was one exhausting adventure. We clocked up hundreds of miles, spending an intense amount of time together in such a small space, and channelling all of our energy into our shows night after night. It was nerve-racking coming to a new place and having to be in the spotlight and to meet our fans and critics face to face – it’s not as easy as you might think. But looking back on that tour a year on, one thing you can be sure about is that everything went more than well.
Since that time, we have gotten the chance to perform on some legendary stages like London’s Koko, with equally legendary bands including Canadian greats The Besnard Lakes, 80s new wave band Bow Wow Wow, Leeds’ indie giants The Wedding Present, Brit Pop superstar and Supergrass founder Gaz Coombes, digital hardcore pioneers Atari Teenage Riot, and he-needs-no-introduction, Sir Bob Geldof.
Now, we are ready to do it all over again. Our second album RAR is due out in a matter of weeks and another tour is on the horizon. We’ll be playing eight shows back to back on the Isle of Man, Liverpool, Leicester, Manchester, Glasgow, Bolton, and Guildford, culminating in the launch of our second album in London. I don’t know where it will take us, but I do know one thing and that is that music has always taken me somewhere and it’s always been an adventure.
Photo: From the archive of Dead Wolf Club