tour diary

Bluebottle heads north

After such an amazing response to my last ditch effort at writing what some believe being as "the biggest load of crap ever put down on a computer screen" (Tony Scumbag - The Sun Herald) I'm back, not only back but better. After a luncheon with some of the greats: Hinch, Jana Wendt, Laws, and that other guy with the funny eye brows, I've been taught (over a quick bite at 'Stuck upsies' a great new cafe in the city, which your only allowed in if you have a brown smelly nose) in the ways of writing, in the ways of telling a story so as the reader can actually understand my monologue, so as the reader can move swiftly along with me in the highs and of course the lows in the over-the-top journey that is Bluebottle on tour. The tears of Coffs harbour, the sweat of trying to find accommodation in Bris-Vegas, the forlorn tale of the little shepherd boy: Jamie, and the giant angry monster: Club Super Deluxe, and so on. So, dear reader sit back, relax, grab a cup of wine and remember that every word uttered is truth, "The truth from my eyes to yours" (isn't that the cheesiest thing you've ever heard?).

But before I wow my associates once again in telling a story seemingly so far fetched that some will turn away without a second look saying: "There's no way a man can possibly consume that much alcohol.... is there?" or "Bluebottle Kiss in front of HOW MANY PEOPLE did you say?" I'd like to show you some of the great reviews my last tour diary got:

"After reading Ben Fletcher's' tour diary I felt a very strange feeling in my belly. My boss jumped out of his skin when he saw me. I was stunned white, my lips were blue, my hair shocked grey, I was uncontrollably shaking from head to toe. The story in a whole is one of the worst pieces of writing I have ever seen in my forty years of journalism. The Setting is a morose back drop of a struggling band: Bluebobbin Smit or something like that. Trying to 'make it' in the big time. I struggled through as much as I could but was hospitalised shortly after the third day so fortunately I didn't make it to the end..... Please do your self a favour and stay clear of the hopeless effort produced by the young author. A half of a half of a star." Greg Arseface (Time magazine)

Thanks Greg for your thoughts, or this one:

"....this is obviously a tale told by an idiot, if he expects me and the public to believe in even a single letter of this... shall we call it a anecdotal story..... nothing...... emptiness...... crap...... crap. 1 out of 10000" Sally Buttnose (Who weekly)

And thank you Ms. Buttnose for your over zealous remarks. There were many reviews I got but the last you need to see is my favourite and actually inspired me to push on more than the rest:

" in conclusion, if I had a gun I'd find Ben Fletcher and shoot him in the face. No stars out of five." Justin Blessus (The Daily Telegraph)

I was also receiving thousands of e-mails a day pleading me to stop. So here I go, I hope you enjoy reading as much as I have writing the second chapter in the continuing tale of the Bluebottle Conception, the Bluebottle polyembryony, in this:

....... and so after much waiting, my agent Jonny Bravo (a Kent Brockman meets Denis Handlin type of guy) took me into his office one bright spring morning after my polo lessons and sat me down.

  "Benjamin" he said with his trade-mark nasal american voice. "Benjamin I just received a call from a Richard Cornostar" he paused and glanced up presuming I knew of this worthy tall poppy who stated to be one of my ex band mates, but receiving no more than a contemptuous gaze he went on. "impossible I screamed down the phone back at him. Benjamin has no such 'mates' left. Then I went on to explain to him the story of the last BBK tour and the break up shortly after. With Jamie turning into a hit man for IMC, a secret organization who plan out and kill annoying pop stars such as Tina Arena, Ginger Spice, and the hole cast and crew from Young Talent Time. I also told him about Richo who unfortunately was left behind in Adelaide, and after the great loss of his van 'Bongo' turned to drugs and prostitution trying to deal with this loss, and sadly passed away, 'death by a Portuguese chicken shop' they say." Jonny stopped talking and wiped his tear stained eyes with a red pleated handkerchief. "Poor Richo" Jonny Stammered out
  "WAIT, didn't you say he said his name was Richard Cornostar" I shouted
  "Yes, but....."
  "Well maybe the story about richo's death was somehow fabricated by a disenchanted fan who had read my last tour diary" I said trying to sound convincing but making it all up on the spot. Jonny Bravo jumped up,
  "Of course" he cried taking his aviator style shades off. "That tour diary was pretty awful Fletcher. Here he left his number" Jonny handed me the number and glancing at it my heart skipped a beat. It was a Lugarno city number.
  "That's him all right" I said feeling like a 90's Sherlock Holmes. This was shaping up to be a kind of Murder She Wrote/Love Boat (first season) episode. Putting my mirrored aviators on I grabbed my polo things and dived for the door.
  "Ben, what now" pleaded Jonny watery eyed. I pulled my aviators down to the end of my nose and said:
  "Jonny, if it is Richo I'm not gonna just sit here and let him rot in Lugarno, I'm gonna bring him back god-damn-it" pushing my sun glasses back up produced (as it always does) an awe inspiring silence that made the whole room, the desk, the paintings above the fire, even Jonny him self look at me differently. For a second I was 'Secret agent Hank Thompson special forces'. I left the office, hoped on my motor bike and headed for Lugarno City Limits.

Cue 'top Gun' theme.

It was Richard all right, he had found Jamie in a seedy Newtown pub late the night before, it was a Bluebottle Kiss re-union. Richo was off the 'junk', Jamie gave up his search to assassinate Jonny Young the first in line to go from the Young Talent Time group, Joey Perony was next, and I gave up my polo tour of the Scotland Highlands with Prince William. We were ready again, we were a unit, we had shows booked up in the sun burnt north, we had the old carrot on the stick held out in front of us and off we went in search of fame, fortune, and the old sweet forgotten taste of rock'n'roll.

Well we had no band van any more so it was the trusty old Tarago hire van for us which proved more than adequate. The Tarago is the Stretched limo of bands such as us; the under dogs, the other team, the band that will play any where any time of the day for a buck. So we pulled the back seats out, left them on the side of the road and packed the van. Hopping in we were off faster than a speeding super hero. Now I must tell you that this little trip happened nine months ago so I'm painting this debauched tour wholly from memory, which means it will be painted in kiddies finger painting pastels rather than oils on canvas.

 If I remember correctly we were meeting 'Little John' our mixer at our first destination due to the fact he lived in Las-Brissy (city of the after thought). What's our first destination? I hear you ask: Lismore Uni. Cant remember the trip up much but I'm sure it was full of much celebration and compilation tapes. Two up the front to keep the driver awake, 'jancking' to see who gets the back next ('jancking' = paper-scissors-rock), and one in the back seat, stretched out in total comfort working out in what song to do the rock jump, and practicing his speech on the political state of affairs in Australia to be delivered to the all-knowing Uni. crowd at Lismore.

Day One - Lismore Uni.


We arrived at sun set and had to find our way from the entrance to the Uni. bar. Every Uni. we've ever played we've had to stop a student and ask for directions or else get lost for hours in the intertwining roads and speed humps that twist and turn only to lead no where but the gym or the engineering department. So we find the bar and its a pretty usual sort of do: set up, sound check, un-set up, wait for the always late first on, sit, stare, drink and try to be merry. With the plethorically HUGE crowd taking up most of the twenty seats now, you could tell this was gonna be a biggy. We were all out back in the kitchen - dash - band room, drinking our red and getting ready for our first gig back, our archway, our loading dock, our porte-cochere back into the rich world of rock. Waiting for the silly, now forgotten, support band to finish. Jamie performing vocal warm ups' as he does before every gig, Richo doing his make up in front of the fridge using the steel door as a mirror. Little John polishing off his tenth beer and not stopping there mind you. All the while I'm hurriedly going through my 'on tour' wardrobe throwing ties around trying on my blue Saturn number, then quickly changing to a more subtle pink frilly suit with bright orange trimmings.

We were ready, we were on target, we were like the under fives rugby team in their first game back after the break. Before game oranges and mouth guards in and off we went somersaulting our way around the set. Jamie prowling the stage like a panda on heat, Richo bashing his unused drums, sucker punching the snare, sideswiping the toms, and pile driving the cymbals like that boxer guy who eats ears, as for me I was stage diving into no-one, pushing the unexisting security guards out of the way and peeing on the empty dance floor. We were a hit, we were back in the ring. Finishing up with a biggy the capacity crowd of ATLEAST twenty people stood with tears in their eyes and sweat pouring from their fore heads, the applause lasted for a good ten seconds. Where we stayed that night I cant put my finger on but no doubt it would have been in a plush studio apartment with spa and sauna! Next stop good old Coffs Harbour!

Day Two - The worst show in the history of man

The bright sunny morning brought on the realisation that last nights gig was empty and loose. That also we had failed in our attempt to win over any of the 'packed out' crowd due to the fact that they were all our friends from up north any way. There were no tears, no sweat, and I may or may not have urinated on the dance floor. Any how off we went the Coffs holding our heads high in mock triumph of the previous night.
  "Let us never speak of last night again" Jamie said seriously in the car on the way there, we all agreed. So southward bound we went from Lismore to Coffs. This place may sound like a strange place to play, well let me tell you it is.
  "First things first" Hasto beams and points to the first shining star in the Arabian night, the first rays of sun light in the farms of Ireland, the golden oasis that is: Coffs Harbour Ex Servicemen's Club for the cheapest feed this side of the boarder.

  Being the dapper young men we are we were let in by the four hundred year old door man who was now dribbling instead of greeting. At once we were all struck by this awful voice of what seemed to be an old person, male or female we weren't sure, coming out of the general p.a. system that went all over the building. We all looked around stunned for a moment, it was like no one even knew it was happening and let me tell you this was a loud voice.
  "22 ON MY SHOE, 22" the weak yet amazingly thunderous voice bellowed
  "41 GRAB YOUR GUN, 41" again the huge ululation of sound fell on our ears, I had to cover mine. Richo grabbed an old lady and shook her violently
  "What the hell is that noise" he screamed, but nothing, the old Methuselah just smiled and asked Richard if he was from Tasmania?!? So we had to brave the awful sound and proceed up to the second level. The voice was even in side the lift louder than ever, it was like the voice from '1984', it just kept on going. We finally get to the eatery and grab our twenty cent dinners, and there on a pedestal is the tiniest man you ever saw, standing in the centre reading out bingo numbers to a empty room.
  "64 POKE MY SORE, 64" and so on. This poor antique of a man looked like he had been standing there since atleast the mid thirties. But the amazing thing was that apart from afew stragglers playing the pokies we were the only ones there. Very strange indeed.

  Any how to the The Plantation Htl. for a night of rock. Arriving there after driving most of the day away we were greeted by a sight never seen before in the Bluebottle camp. A huge, and I mean HUGE painted sign was hanging out side the hotel covering most of the front of the building. Just try and picture it: a massive TONIGHT in hot pink and underneath in a spew green colour read: BLUEBOTTLE KISS + GOIN' ORF + STEVES VIDEO SPOTTING. All this was written on a big black piece of material, hanging there for all to see, a flag of rock'n'roll, a flying monument to the years of 'slogging it out'. We all smiled to each other and cracked out the bubbly, tonight was gonna be BIG.

Now, I can only assume that 'Steve's video spotting' was a man named Steve (obviously) who lives locally and owns his own video camera. What Steve does after he 'spots' you with his trusty camera is unknown to me or to properly anyone else in Coffs for that matter!

I think Steveo just runs around all night videoing 'hot chicks' to take home and 'dream'. Any way Stevie never made an appearance that night. I'd say he hops in his panel van every Thursday to see if 'The Plantation' is pumping. If Steveo sees the chicks out comes the camera and hey presto suddenly your a star in Coffs Harbour. Good onya Steve! The support band I cant even lie about 'cause I really cant remember them at all. I think they were called 'Goin Orf' or something to that effect: Three guys with surfy hair dues stapin' on their axes and playn' full on throttle music dude! By this time in the evening I was getting kind of worried about the old attendance rate as you do. So I'm wondering around out side and there's no one in sight and I mean no one. The hotel was on the main road in Coffs and still not a soul, not even a car drove by. Now I'm thinking this night could be very depressing indeed. So it comes around to the 'Bluebottle time' and I'm sitting in an empty pub and this is a pretty big place. I can remember it like it was yesterday, there was the booker guy: Trevor or something like that, and there was three bar staff: Tommo, Sarah, and Cain and there was a drunk couple who didn't care where they were as long as the beer was on tap. I didn't catch their names. All in all six people gracing us in our first show in Coffs. There wasn't even enough beer on the band rider to get plastered so as to pretend the place was pumping. We still played though a 45 minute set if I remember correctly.

Forty five minutes of hell. Jamie started a song in the wrong key a couple of times and asked the lovely couple if they minded that he start the song again.
  "SNUFLE GUGLE POONRUBBLE" is all we heard so off we went and played our set. It was worse than playing in a covers band, we couldn't even use the lame excuse of "atleast the moneys good" I think we grossed four dollars fifty. Now this would be a great story if we were say... a year old and had no singles but after five years, two albums, two ep's, and three singles you'd think someone out in Coffs would come and see the Bluies.... If I try to write anymore on this particular night I may break down and cry so I must stop... I should say though, that in my books tonight was the worst Bluebottle Kiss gig in the history of man. Thanks Coffs!

Day three - Bris-Vegas

Sleeping at the Plantation Hotel, we waited till morning to pack the van. Everyone was silent the whole trip up to Bris-Vegas that morning, there was no music and we drove at the speed limit, even Richos' great primary school sense of humour wasn't working properly, I would try to break the ice by asking him our old favourite: What's the seventh planet from the sun? joke, but nothing not even a giggle. Past the Big Pineapple, the Big Prawn, the Big Banana, the Big Guitar, then past the Big Grey Concrete Cemetery (the Gold Coast). On to Bris-Vegas we went past all the useless Big things of Australia. Arriving at our hotel we were all just beginning to put last night in the backs of our minds when we find out that our room which was booked weeks in advance had been cancelled without us even knowing! I didn't even know they could cancel hotel bookings without you knowing. So anyway the big fat man at the hotel tells us there's still people in our room from last night and he doesn't want to ask them to leave, amazed at the ridiculousness of this human being we left vowing never to return.

  So of we went in the van to many a different hotel, motel, even to a seedy place in the Valley where I'm sure if we wanted to pay for not just a room, but a room and a girl, they'd be happy to let us stay.... But everywhere we went had a huge neon sign saying: No Vacancies or GO AWAY. Then the rain started, so out of desperation we went to a hostel in New Farm, this place was the pits. A single dirty room with two bunk beds and a scary wooden piece of furniture used for what? I do not know. So in we go to our nice new home in Bris-Vegas and begin the ceremony of getting ready for the big show. Make up, Hair spray, studded leather wrist bands and of course Jamie's Black P.V.C pants you always see him in. Off we go in to the night, the rain stopped, the crowded streets of The Valley making a nice change to the deserted roads of Coffs Harbour, but let us never talk of that night again, either. We played at The Chelsea, a cool place in The Valley with an up stairs balcony. We were in the process of loading in when we heard this almighty sound out side, consisting of what sounded like a helicopter and a huge crowd all screaming at the top of the lungs.

  Rushing to see what all the commotion was all about we found it WAS a helicopter landing in the small car park of the hotel. The car park was packed mostly with girls all screaming like those old Beatles videos you see. Suddenly the side door opened up and smoke poured out of the inside. It was of course the Crow boys making their grand entrance into Bris-Vegas. First Fenton came out, and with nothing more than a wave the gapping crowd went crazy. A massive push towards the helicopter almost proved fatal for some of the young drooling girls up the front, but luckily security keep all things under control. Following Fenton was of course Boris his body guard, then came Richard and Michael to loud applause and much hum-drum, then the crowd stood dry mouthed and teary eyed all waiting in anticipation, all preparing them selves for the inevitable, and then it happened. Dr. Jim Woff stepped on to the first step of the helicopter walk way. Security tensed up knowing all to well the commotion this one caused in L.A just last weekend.
  "Hey, take it easy babies" the Dr. said with an omnipresent quif in his voice, at that girls fainted, boys were heard audibly 'Woff Whistling' even the older more mature ladies of the now crazy crowd were screaming and reaching over each other like ants in the nest when the queen is ready for matting. Woffy was whisked off under a blanket from the car park to the venue and that was that. The back door was closed and guarded for the rest of the night.

  The Crow boys strutted around back stage for a while staring at us thinking that maybe we were lucky fans who somehow escaped the lines of police and security and made it in. But Jen their manager told them that we were the support band so things eased up a little..... So the night wore on and the first band played and finished, I poked my head out waiting to see no one again at the gig but it was actually pretty full when we were setting up so we were all high in spirits and the alcohol was flowing in abundance.

We started with rock and then slid over to a slowly then into an epic then of course back to rock, it was like a rollercoaster of sound. After the past two nights this was a great show, with good ol' rock jumps, tremolo bar, and sweat, the heat up there was crazy. Big over the top rock endings, the kind I'm sure Toto used to do, with Jamie bending a note out of recognition, Richo roll'n around his kit and me running up and down the stage ready for the big finish to the song, then as everyone holds their breath I head for the stars, shooting upward, exploding in to the stratosphere and upon my landing the note stops and the crowd, if their not laughing at the silly ending, go crazy and spring forth with outrages yahooing with much clapping. We played the hits, and we played our long self indulgent songs as well. Then it was over we finished up with an epic, took it to another world and left it there. So off we went, packed our things up and waited for Crow to start.

They played excellently, every song was awesome, a soundscape. We're all watching intently and slowly as the show draws on to a conclusion we're all..... lets say were all a bit sozzled. Out the back room Jamie try's to rip my shirt off in an act of drunkard craziness and is apprehended by Fenton, so then its a Fenton Vs' Huchings wrestling match whilst Richo talks/slurs drums to Crows drummer, and I run around the room talking to anyone, loudly about the past two shows and how I like to lace my shoes up, you know, the really important stuff you talk about when you've had six too many. But as all glorious things must come to an end the Crow boys waved good bye and clamper back in their chopper and set off in to the night. That left Jamie, Richo, Myself, and of course Little John together again and into the Bris-Vegas night we went all screaming, burning up the night, calling out to The Valley to show us where to head. We were brought to a cool cat place called Rick's Cafe but were disappointed, its just a silly bar full of rock stars talking to their ego's. So off we fly again up the road and lo and behold Richo spots it SUPER DELUXE!!!!!

We sprinted up to the door and we're laughed at by the bouncers.
  "sorry guys dress regulations" they managed to put together, mis-pronouncing 'regulations'. Because we played in suits and had come straight from the gig they wouldn't let us in. Can you believe it? They usually have dress regulations for those silly inner-city sleaze bag clubs were your not aloud in 'cause your wearing a band shirt or something like that. But we weren't aloud in because we were in suits!!!! Jamie rustled his hair up and untucked his shirt screaming at the huge bouncer:
"Is this Indy enough for ya... or maybe this..." he shouted taking his jacket off and throwing it across the street the security man was now becoming increasingly irate. It was very amusing. Anyhow good old Richo had a few 'professional' words to the guy behind the desk at the front and we all got in for free. So we're all smiles and we're all drinks. Up we went in to the loud club with people thinking that we must be on a bucks night. On we went drinking into the night at the big club. Some say Jamie was seen with a balloon, licking it, coressing and dancing with it and finally handing it back to its owner a poor young girl scared since the balloon was joined to her wrist and she couldn't undo the tight knot that held it there. Some also say that I was carried around the club by Richo and Jamie holding me side long, butting people out of the way. Some say alot about that long night..... but I'm putting a lid on that can of smelly Spam before I get in to trouble. Lets just say Jamie found his way home and collapsed. Richard, myself, and Little John somehow went to a strange place about ten minutes cab ride away from the club, and at five in the morning were dancing to 'My sharonna' and trying to drink straight bourbon(YUK). Monny Mon.

So a very strange night to finish off a very ugly tour of empty rooms and exploding endings. The next morning we were all ill and not looking forward to the thirteen hour drive home. Jamie had destroyed our hostel room and we had to sneak out. He had acquired the little nick name 'CHUNKS' too and I don't mean chunks of love!

This was one of the last tours we did due to Chunks getting sick for months.  So we all went back to Sydney in our stretched limo Tarago van. Our view of 'The rock'n'roll dream' a little jaded, but all-in-all still in tact. It takes allot to throw us off course. So Bluebottle headed north and was shunned. We were clipped over the ear and asked not to return. But ofcourse we'll be back, bigger and badder than ever like Jackson in his '87 Bad tour. So watch out Las-brissy 'cause when you least expect it the Bluies will come driven up your long hot cemented drive way, past your above ground pool, near the re-painted garden gnome village, along that silly road that has all those stupid theme parks on it, and in to the grand central metropolitan city. We wont care about your heat or those bad stubby shorts that are frequently seen in the mall. Or your funny football team that always wins, no not us, not the blueies. We'll press on heads high. Sure there are acouple of things that are never to be spoken of in the tour everyone just read, but you get that. We're in the process as I write this in writing a wacky JJJ song about dogs, drugs, and flatulence. It'll be a hit then you'll all come arun'n. So stay tuned for the next instalment in the NEVER ENDING mid-day drama that is Bluebottle on tour.....


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