It was back in the ye olde days of 2017. I had told everyone in Berlin I was going touring Ireland in September. “To launch the EP”, I said. But, in fact, I had no venues booked, no idea what touring actually entailed, or if it was even possible. I just said it enough and in such a way, that I started believing it myself. “When you going to Ireland, again?” “September”. And some how that worked. About three months into my fledgling start as a musician and way out of my depth, I booked a sweeping tour of the Emerald Isle, and ended up a Kerry Mountain – playing with the band.
Felix (bass), Dave (drums) and I had spent the previous Valentines Day recording an entire EP live in a one day session at the Famous Gold Watch. The end result was surprising insofar as it actually turned out alright, considering. It’s since been obliterated from the internet and only 100 physical copies survive, but that little EP was the start of my determined attempt to pursue music full time.
The first time I ever donned the stage of an open mic in Berlin my whole body rattled with nerves. So much so the open mic host took me aside and tried to comfort me. “Wow, you’re really nervous!”. Not a great start, but I decided I’d own up. I’ve learned since you really, really shouldn’t. People attempt to calm people down in the strangest ways. There’s the Nihilistic Approach: “Don’t worry, this is nothing” – which sends be spiralling into an existential crisis. There’s the Pessimists’ Apporach, “it’ll be over before you know it” which is just a blatant allegory for life and has roughly the same affect. And then there’s the classic, the People Person Approach: “sure look at all the people who came to see you”. That’s precisely who I’m petrified of, but thanks for trying. This particular host went for a more functional approach, being a musician herself. It’s a damn good one, usually, the Breathing Approach. “Don’t worry” she said, “you’ll be fine, just take a minute, breath and I’ll call you up.’
I took a long, deep swig of a drink, forgoing the breath idea but assuming the effect roughly equivalent and waited for her call. “Ladies and gentlemen, please be extra nice to this next act. He’s the most nervous performer I’ve seen, ever, in all my time hosting.”
And that’s how it all started. The worst way you could ever be introduced. It happened before my first performance in Berlin at an open mic. Naturally, my throat completely ceased up and I’m not entirely sure what noises exited my mouth – but singing is not even in the same category.
Somehow, though, the will in me to go on, to get up again, to try and emit actually audible melodies in future with my guitar and face persisted.
To get anywhere it all as a musician or artist I think talent pales in significance to being stubborn. No one’s actually good at anything off the bat. It’s not helpful to be. You need to suck. And then get better. Starting good makes you think you’ve summit, and claps over jeers, may have you delusional enough to think you’re a hair length away from the peak. Too many peak at that point. You need to graft. Everybody does. Sucking is a blessing.
A couple of months before I was due to be on tour in Ireland, I somehow booked two shows. Two gigs certainly is not a tour. But, that was enough to give me the clout enough to say when emailing every pub in Ireland “hey, we’re playing here and there on such and such date – so when can we squeeze you in?”. For some reason playground politics like “don’t ya wanna fit in with the cool kids?” works with venues, too – and two gigs turned to seven, which then turned to twelve in a matter of days.
We had a real tour on our hands! We travelled the whole country, a rag tag group of Germans, Aussies, Brits and Me. Our head swelled and started to wonder “since this is possible, what else could we get away with?” And nothing embodies this bold, naive and beautifully ignorant sentiment more than the Kilkelly 2017 Tour of Ireland.
We had two photographers, 2 cars, 1 also handling social media, a driver, and a full band, – all on tour for a debut EP from an utterly unknown singer-songwriter and a support act: the incredible Michael Brinkworth.
The audaciousness of it is nothing short of delusional. We had no business doing what we did. And yet somehow, it worked. And it was even good! We played well and the venues liked us. We made ever show, we grew as a band, and most importantly we took on the adventure head on. The momentum was such that when we heard of a secret lake at the summit of a mountain in Co. Kerry, not only did we vow to climb it, but play a show, and record it lakeside.
One day those videos will materialise. For now, we’ve pictures.
Going forward, booking the 2020 Tour to promote the debut album, The Prick & The Petal, I have to remind myself, when faced with the daunting road ahead: fuck it, this is a rose-garden compared to The Rental Car Tour of 2017. It was one of the greatest things I’ve done in life. And it stirred something in me I never want to shake off. Nerves be damned! To the mountains!
If you’d like to support me on this trip, full of treachery and lacking in health insurance.
Not sure about the patronage route? Read an essay with my main arguments for why I’m a firm proponent of it here.
All the love,
 Turns out, if no one in your party has a credit card with enough to cover the deposit, car companies charge you an extortionate amount extra. So much so, we spent the remainder of the tour paying off our two rental cars. We broke even. Worth it.