I was in Tokyo last night. I am home now. Awake. It’s nice to be back. Berlin is still tonight/this morning. No wind. No noise. Just the ringing in my ears from our shows in Seoul, Osaka and Tokyo which were fab. Now it’s time to write. We have given ourselves a deadline of July. Work has already started. Trying to find first gear was hard. Always. Just before we left last week I found it. Finding first gear is always awful. It’s not so nice when all the melodies that come out are shit but it’s the only way. Sit down and do it. Or not do it. Read something. Watch a movie. Look out of the window. Listen to the radio. My new room is cool. I moved in at the end of January. I have my piano finally (it was at Nigel’s studio since we came to Berlin) and a place I can make noise without being heard. At least I think I can’t be heard. We went to LA just after this so I didn’t get a good run at it. Then there were afew other distractions. Then Clay turned 8. Was a cool birthday. Our lovely boy. His drawings are brilliant. Look!
He has a really sure line. No rulers! Anyways… it’s amazing to see his abilities emerge. Parenthood is a cool trip!
Wish me luck in my room. I will write here from time to time.
We arrived in Tokyo by Bullet Train yesterday. Claes and I made a pilgrimage to the famous Five G Synth Store in Harajuku. I wanted to buy something but the guy there was not so helpful. Maybe it was the beard… In any case we wandered around, stopping off at Kiddy Lando before hailing a Tokyo Cab back to the hotel.
Tokyo is a powerhaus of a city. We have been coming here for many years now… Our first trip over here was I think in 2000… It was pre 911 definitely. God 911 was such a huge pivotal global moment… I just watched a film called Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close which centres on a young boy’s journey to come to terms with the loss of his dad who died in one of the buildings. Travis played in NY a couple of months later. It was a night I will never forget and still to this day, people I meet who attended that show talk of it not like you talk about most shows… Radio City that night was full of New Yorkers who hadn’t been out since it happened, and for me, the feeling was unlike anything I ever felt or have felt since. Being the singer, alot of the focus is on you, so you generally get quite a rush when doing shows from all of the happiness pointing at you but that night I felt this massive, glacial, invisible release of sadness from the room mixed in with this positive thing music and singing does and it was such a mindbending experience for everyone there. The city felt like a gigantic PAUSE button had been pressed. It took ages for this to pass.
Anyways I digress. God I haven’t slept since 1am. Jet lag has whacked me once again. I will try an hour before we leave for the show.
Man, as I wait to hear about this new workspace, I thought my room downstairs needed a little TLC. One of the walls, where the sofa sits, I thought would look nice with some wallpaper. But instead of getting someone in, I decided to do it myself. I like the meditation of DIY. And weirdly the stress that accompanies it is similar to gigs when you feel they are about to go shit…
When I need to do anything here, I have to get translations (yes I will learn it soon) so the word for wallpaper is tapete (ta-pay-ti) and I wanted something old and smokey. After looking night after night, I found the best wallpaper shop in Berlin. It’s small but it has the most incredible amount of wall paper I have ever seen. We spent a morning last week, browsing through those big portfolios full of bits of tapete… the man who worked there was sweet and helped me find what I didn’t know I was looking for.
The next day, I had my wallpaper. 2 rolls. I bought a wallpaper paste brush and a bucket and some paste powder from Obi… it’s Home Base… and, armed with a how to wallpaper a wall web page and drawing on memories of my granda wallpapering his bedroom and showing me how to do it when I was 6, I cleared the area and set about covering that wall. I remember my granda having a wallpapering table. I thought the size of the wall didn’t warrant a big table… and the concrete floor was flat enough and easy to clean afterwards so I measured the walls and started cutting the paper so the intricate pattern would line up. Then I went upstairs and looked at the paste packet. I got on google translate and typed it all in and am glad I did. There were lots of little hints and tips… I ended up using the electric whisk to get the lumps out. Then I pasted all the paper and folded it in on itself and left the lot for 10 minutes to soak. I made a plum line and set to puting that first piece on straight… it took about 2 minutes. The second piece was harder and took about 10 minutes… The 3rd was the hardest I had to cut around a power outlet and an aluminium tube… The stress levels were reaching red. The edges were drying very fast and so curling away from the wall. I had to resort to getting my fingers covered in paste and applying it gingerly to the outermost edge all the way down each strip, i’m sure I saw my mum or my granda doing this but it could have been hallucination . Sweat was now trickling down my face, down my neck down my back. Then Nora shouted that it was time to go and collect Clay!!! But I was locked… I couldn’t stop as it all had to be done in the oner. The paste was on the paper and I was trapped… sweating like a gorilla, Nora calling every couple of minutes wasn’t helping…
I finished and made it to Clay’s kinderlader with a minute to spare…
Amazingly the wall looks great…
Songwriting is approaching. I always get nesty before a gusher… doesn’t sound too appealling but can I assure you it’s very sticky.
(yes you’ve just read about me wallpapering)
I’m flying back to London tomorrow. Mum has been in Berlin this weekend. Clay ran her ragged. She leaves tomorrow too. Me and Nora went to see Toy Story 3 on Saturday. It was very good. I started crying within the first 3 minutes of the movie when Woody reacts to Andy’s voice on the telephone. That is some fantastic animation to imbue so much emotion on the face of a cgi representation of a toy. There were a couple of quite dark passages which I thought would give little kids nightmares. There were toddlers in the cinema who were clearly terrified during these scenes. Parents, don’t you know you’re eroding your kids innocence? That shit is precious… it’s like they have had their own innocence obliterated so much they cannot see properly anymore this pure beautiful soul in front of their eyes. The man sitting next to us had no expression on his face as he told us his 4 year old was very very scared. Gaahh!! Anyways, the film is amazing. Go and see it if you haven’t already.
So Monday thru Friday is looking busy. I am doing a radio show tomorrow on radio 2 at around 5.50/6pm. Simon Mayo. Listen if you want. I have to do a cover. I wanted to do that one by The La’s but it was too obscure. Then I chose a Keane song but that was also not a single… it is for The Great British song thing they are doing. So I had a look at the list of songs which had already been covered and then it came to me in a flash… Superman by Black Lace… Joking… I won’t say what I am covering but it is from 1987 and was a song I really loved that year. 1987. I was 14.
So, if you read my blog earlier, you’d have learned I was forbidden entry to my hotel bar last night on account of my head gear. I got a call from the manager this afternoon who was as puzzled as I at this bizarre dress code. She told me she had spoken to the bar and from today onwards the no hat rule would be abolished. Hat wearers would now be free to come and go as they please. This was enough for me but she added that her staff had been brainstorming all day about how to say sorry. Afew minutes later there was a knock at my door. Two of the girls from downstairs were standing, both in hats, holding a hat containing folded up strips of paper. Each piece of paper contained a forfeit. I had to choose one. So I picked one and then another because I wanted to know what the others said…then I asked if I could see them all. I was disappointed “Death By Firing Squad” was not listed. Nevertheless I asked that they leave the different options with me and I would let them know.
So I thought maybe y’all could take a look and help me decide.
Just got back from my Deutschebank Busk. I played for 35 minutes and managed to build quite a crowd as well as folks on passing busses. Thanks to Deutsche Bank security for allowing us to do this. Hopefully the staff who saw me perform, will pass the word to the their co workers and they’ll vote for Warchild as Charity of the Year.
At 12 pm TODAY you will find me outside DeutscheBank in London, busking on behalf of Warchild, the charity that helps kids caught in the middle of conflict all over the world. They do a great job so it’s an honour to be asked to help them. The reason for the busk? Well they have been shortlisted with 7 others as charity of the year by DeutscheBank. 3 charities will walk away with £1.5million. So you you say that I’m busking for 1 and a half million. No pressure…
DeutscheBank, 1 Great Winchester Street, London Wall, London EC2N 2DB
My friend, the brilliant director Wolfgang Becker, invited us along with 18 others to the Berlin Philarmonie yesterday. The evening began early at X Filme HQ to watch a movie. It was a surprise so we all were curious as we took our seats in their little cinema. Wolfgang spoke in German but I picked up that we were about to see the best horror movie of all time and it was connected to the concert we would see later in the evening. It could only be one film. The Shining. One of Wolfgang’s partners Tom had managed to borrow an original 35mm print of the movie. I had only seen it on TV so this was a thrill to hear the hushed rattle of the projector behind the sound proof glass. If you haven’t seen it, The Shining is Stanley Kubriks take on horror. Jack Nicholson plays one of his most memorable roles…And if you get the DVD you have to see the documentary his daughter made while they shot the film. Some wonderful behind the scenes footage of Nicholson doing his thing… What a movie. It stays with you.
After the movie we drove to the Philarmonie and took our seats to watch the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra take us through Bartók, Luciano Berio and Igor Stravinsky. The conductor was Mariss Jansons. He produced the greatest classical music performance I have ever seen. The Firebird Suite was mindblowing. There was a standing ovation at the end of the concert. The place went wild. They did 2 extra compositions at the end. It was incredible. After the show we all walked out in a daze and drove over to stage 3 of the night which was dinner at a nice spanish restaurant in Kotbusser Tor.
Now afew days earlier Wolfgang had asked if I would accompany him on guitar and play some songs at this night. Of course I said of course and we rehearsed on Saturday afternoon. So we played one of his favourite songs Hit Me Baby One More Time and then he suggested the Keane song Try Again which Tim and I had been playing together on the recent tour and then he asked me to play one of my new songs… It was alot of fun. Christian, Wolfgang’s musical director played piano and me and Wolfgang on guitar. I had a nice chat with Tom Tykwer, another great german director. Another cool evening at the hands of Herr Becker.
I struck up a myspace friendship with a cellist in new york back in 2007. He was sweet, very charming. We exchanged emails over the past 3 years and at some point I was gonna get him in to do some chops. I was psyched for him when he worked on the Viva La Vida song and even more psyched when he and his wife had their baby daughter. So we were sitting tonight in Dallas, chatting about Regina Spector’s cello player and I was saying how our agent Pete had told my manager Ian about it and how terrible it was for his family and then suddenly I realised it was Daniel. Just terrible. He leaves a wife and his little daughter behind. Anyways sad sad sad.