It’s big. It’s got tall buildings. It speaks French. It has strange red flashing traffic lights that confuse the hell out of us. It’s like a cross between a North American city (which it is), a Scottish city like Aberdeen or Edinburgh (which it isn’t), and in some strange way (and I’m really gonna get lambasted for this one) – Sydney. Where am I? Answer later on.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Fink, since Wednesday, have been in on the left hand side of the Atlantic, zooming up and down highways in our pimped-out black Mercedes Sprinter, drinking gallons of coffee, playing shows and then belting onwards to the next place. The thing about being over here is you’re constantly, and legitimately, able to exclaim stuff like: ‘Yo! We’re in one of the world’s largest and most important cities!’ Or, ‘Well, shit! We’re in the place where the United States as we know it today was formed!’ Or even, ‘Oh, word? Barack Obama lives over there!’ and so on (faux-Americanisms optional). The point is, the place reeks of history, culture and significance and anyone who thinks otherwise clearly hasn’t opened their eyes. Driving into Philadelphia past the docks, we spied a warship which looked like it had literally just returned from WW2. In New York, the bridges are so old-school it’s like they’ve been carved out of the rock, rather than built. And heading along the Charles River in Massachusetts, we had a sudden A-level History flashback and started saying things like, ‘What about that Captain John Smith, then, eh?’
But in truth, all I’ve wanted to do since arriving over here is EAT. Even now as I write this, I’m guzzling down a pork bun from Chinatown around the corner which is officially the nicest I’ve had in my life, a far cry from the strange savoury doughnut I occasionally ‘treat’ myself to in London. The first thing I did when I hit New York was eat a pastrami sandwich roughly the size of my snare drum. Before every single gig I’m surrounded by temptation: sushi, burgers, pizza, noodles, cheesecake; but I have a strict ‘no food less than two hours before the gig’ rule, lest I end up looking like the drummer from The Stranglers. Frequently I’ve taken to the stage feeling a bit peckish and then ruined everything by wolfing a meatball sub immediately afterwards.
Not that it’d really matter as we’ve been (hopefully) offsetting any tour lard by running around like total lunatics, trying to get to all the venues in time to set up. The first gig, we arrived to find our CRUCIAL PEDAL (i.e. the one which fools the audience into thinking we’ve got a bass player) was deader than a badger crossing the New Jersey turnpike, so instead of artistically preparing ourselves for a scintillating debut gig, we were racing into the Maryland suburbs looking for a music shop, only just making it back to the venue in time. In New York while we were supposed to be soundchecking, I was moving a tree branch out of the way (with the assistance of a ninety year-old Korean grandfather) so I could squeeze into the only parking space in Lower Manhattan. The gigs have been great, the audiences have been wonderful, but it’s been hectic to say the least.
So we’ve done the DC show (lovely club, a great way to start), the Philly show (a gloriously scuzzy indie bar presided over by a man called Chicken), the big NYC show (boy, was I nervous) and the Boston date (great beers on tap; we resisted the temptation to get completely trolleyed before playing)… and now, as you probably guessed correctly, we’re in Montreal. Crossing the border into Canada was so welcoming we’ve still got the remnants of a warm glow from it. Can you imagine: a scary-looking customs building with scary-looking border guards, then one of them smiles and says, ‘Ah yes, we knew you were coming, we’ve just been listening to your music on YouTube and it’s great!’ How nice is that?
But not all exchanges have been so simple. I’ll leave you with this short tale of confusion from when we stopped at a rural gas station in Connecticut, en route for Boston, to get some oil for the van. The attendant, when she was sure no-one else was listening, said quietly, ‘Can I ask you something?’ ‘Sure,’ I replied, thinking she was probably just going to ask where I was from. But no. ‘Why do people put oil in cars?’ she enquired. After shaking myself out of a state of mild shock, I muttered something vague about it lubricating the engine. ‘So what is it when people put diesel and gas in?’ But this question sadly vacuumed all the language out of my brain. ‘Uh… fuel,’ was all I managed in response, before leaping back into my rock’n’roll vehicle and heading back to civilisation FAST…