At my age, I’d long given up the dream of someone walking up to me out of nowhere and asking me to join an amazing band to tour Europe. Last September, I got asked to join TWO amazing bands on the California Dreaming invasion of Spain and Italy. It’s been over six months but I finally got around to putting my pictures, words and videos from when I was there in one place. Also included a lot of great stuff that other folks were nice enough to share. The first part covers our first nine shows in Spain.
I can finally share this good news. I’m going to play bass, sing and dance with the Schizophonics and El Vez’s allstar tutti fruitastic revue the Little Richards in Spain and Italy through most of October. They needed someone and I randomly ran into guitarist Pat at a show a couple of weeks ago. He thought I’d be fun to have on tour, so I’ve been practicing on Kevin Gossett’s borrowed bass, trying to exercise and shunning tortillas in anticipation of playing two sets a night with a bunch of people going crazy onstage. The Little Richards play rocked out covers by wop-bop-alula-a-you-know-who, complete with choreography. Every single song is introduced exactly like this: “Hey, everybody. We’re the Little Richards. My name is Little Adam. This is a song by Little Richard called….” The Schizophonics are a fuzzed-out husband/wife-led trio packed with not-to-be-believed one armed jumping bean guitarist insanity. I’ve always felt bad for anyone who had to stand next to Pat up there. Now it’s gonna be me, at least for this tour. I’m in charge of posting updates while we’re slaying Europe, doing about 20 shows in 25 days, at https://www.facebook.com/TheLilRichards so give ’em a like. We’ll be announcing the dates there soon which cover a good chunk of Spain and a week in Italy playing Milan and a bunch of smaller towns. Back to studying 30 songs…right step left step right step left step….
What I didn’t mention when I took the job is that I’ve never really played bass. I can barely play guitar. But they’d already rescheduled this tour and everyone they asked couldn’t do it. I knew everyone in the band already and loved the music so it was a great last minute solution. I was in between living situations and needed a vacation. The timing couldn’t have been better. I ran every morning for three and a half weeks, lost 15 pounds, listened to 30 songs nonstop, got a passport, bought polka dot shirts, convinced them to do a Velvet Underground version of “Kansas City”, practiced like crazy, played a warmup show with the Schizos and got halfway decent in less than a month. There was only one problem: “Jenny Jenny”, which required nonstop kicks while doing a walking bassline and almost drove me insane. I learned it kicking on the wrong beat and couldn’t get my brain to make the switch. After a lot of pushing and practice, I finally got it. Still can’t believe it.
Footage shot & edited by Walter Graham. Tour graphics added by Marcelo Fioramonit.
Arrived safely in beautiful Madrid! Had a day to wander around, eating chocolate dipped churro and drinking bueno wine, sangria and beers. Polka dots are everywhere to herald our arrival, even plastered on the walls. La Fiambrera art gallery was full of our favorite Americana pop artastic type stuff, including a dead ringer for Little Diana. Our poor downstairs neighbors had to hear us working on our heavy-footed dance moves. Packing up for Bilbao tonight. First up is Diana Death Y Sus Novios with Robert on guitar and Justin on drums, then comes the Schizophonics and then we all change into polka dots and emerge as the Little Richards at the end. See you there!!!
CLICK TO SEE MORE PICS
MADRID/SHOW #1 BILBAO
Woke up and met our London based Spaniard tour maestro, Kike Louie. For all of my Jewish friends and family, that’s pronounced KEE-KAY. After 20 plus years of doing this, he agreed to put this tour together as a last hurrah. He set up all of the details with clubs and hotels, drives us and keeps everything together. It’s nothing short of amazing having someone like him running the show.
Leaving Madrid til tomorrow night. Beautiful drive up to Bilbao with a stop at the nicest truck stop on earth for health food and chips with a handle. We are being absolutely spoiled starting the tour in the beautiful Kafe Antzokian theater. Shirts and Polish keyboard are set to rock! CLICK FOR MORE PICS
Video c/o Alberto Arzua Arrugaeta
Whoa! Just found a Facebook album with more of Piru’s great pictures from that night!
First night is THAT good?! Holy moly. We all played shockingly great and a packed theater gave us mucho amor. Incredible! If anyone took video or photos, please share! I didn’t mention it while we were there but it might’ve been the very first night where I earned my tour name “Jamón”, Spanish for ham. Being new to the bass and having to sing and dance at the same time kept my moves to a minimum. I look like I’m standing still next to these crazies when I watch video now. I ended up walking upstage more than I meant to and found myself throwing facial expressions like I’d watched Robert’s backup singers do for years. To be called a ham by these spazzes is saying a lot. I tried seeing how far my cable would let me get up some stairs near the side of the stage and just ended up climbing on top of the staircase pedestal. Look at MEEEEEEEEE. Jamón it is, then.
Went outside and it was POURING rain. Kids outside of clubs and churches, drinking and singing all night (even now at 2am). Spain is putting the USA parties to shame! Hotel is amazing, as is Justin’s sleeping shirt and the fact that our mini bar has the Fanta Limon *in a glass bottle* I looked for all day yesterday. Triumphant return to Madrid tomorrow to play Rock Palace! CLICK FOR MORE PICS , video of Lety and a video marquee
BILBAO/SHOW #2 MADRID
Oh do we love Bilbao. Just look at the pictures outside of the theater we played last night. Did we mention Kike’s parking job? Not to be believed so I got proof. I didn’t write about it at the time but somehow someone broke into the van and made a mess of what little they could get to. In the end, the only things that were stolen was the art print we’d bought for Diana and Kike’s driving gloves. A HUGE bullet to dodge. We had time to walk around the town near the river and the amazing Guggenheim museum this morning before heading back to Madrid. Going onstage in a few seconds in a tiny 1977 punk loving club about 1/10th the size as last night in a much bigger city. Gonna be some sweaty polka dots! CLICK FOR MORE PICS
Two nights of roconrol in a row, tying a previous record for this band. We didn’t think we’d have enough room for our choreography last night but we kicked it just fine. Rock Palace was a blast, especially meeting all of Kike’s hometown friends plus Tony the Tiger and Mateo who are also visiting from San Diego. So strange to see friends halfway around the world. We weaved our way back to the hotel through throngs of late night partiers to our sleek, modern suite. On our way to Leon for a late midnight show followed by a 1pm outdoor show in Aranda. iROCONROL!
RUTA 66’S REVIEW (much more fun via Google Translate)
Tony shot us! First live evidence with Little Diana killing Ooh! My Soul so hard in Madrid that it blew Little Adam out the emergency exit….twice.
MADRID/SHOW #3 LEON
What a night in Leon. Dinner at the amazing Mongogo. Mexican food with a twist dressed up in Zebra print, Spanish horror movie posters and the best bathroom door gender indicators….EVER. The menu looked like a Deadbolt album and our host excitedly ran off to show me her DB patch. I’d asked Kike that afternoon if there was good Mexfood in Spain that very day, so to have such incredible nachos, burritos n margaritas that night via a chef from Brooklyn was unreal. The show at Club Valentino, a strip club straight out of the 60’s, was red hot. The working girls seemed a little put out to have us interrupt their normal routine but grinned once we started. Featured dancer Cindy let me wear one of her dresses. Bandmates wouldn’t let me. Dreams dashed. Recreated all of my favorite Showgirls moves instead. (Ed note: Six months later, my tongue still hasn’t fallen off from licking the pole….yet). The aforementioned Cindy did an unreal routine during one LR tune and I woke up with Jesus & Marychain’s “Taste of Cindy” in my mouth. Constan spun amazing music all night and made it hard to load gear instead of dancing. PICSSFW Lety pole video
LEON/SHOW #4 ARANDA
We finally settled in at our hostel around 4:30am in Leon, knowing that we had to load out our gear from the club the next morning at Valentino and then be onstage in Aranda in just nine hours. We weren’t sure what kind of set up there would be in the small town square but it was a cool truck with a fold-out stage and the sound guys knew what they were doing. Phew. Hundreds of townfolks came out for it, including little kids who were dancing along with our choreography. We shouldn’t have even been functional but ripped it up anyways. Kike got this shot of us and video of “Rocker” by those Australian Young bros including some nifty gravity-defying running man work by Little Robert and a great shot of the crowd at the end at http://youtu.be/R_KLdPMLfgU . We were then taken to a nearby park for mounds of fresh bbq lamb ribs and wine to celebrate our whirlwind tour intro. Despite hopes of fighting off sleep to keep our schedule normal, almost everyone napped well into the night in our Burgos hostel. Little Adam and Little Lety had stayed awake, so they brought back pizza for everyone and watched Highlander in Spanish. PICS
Yes! Tour maestro Kike Louie got video of our midday freak out in Aranda today on next to no sleep. Check out little Roberto’s amazing aerial act! We earned a couple of days off to correct our internal clocks (four of us are currently still “napping” at 9:30pm including zzzzzzzz
BURGOS DAY OFF
Our first day off in Burgos started with us all on different sleep schedules. Since only two of us have mobile access, we spent a couple of days not knowing what the others were doing in different combinations. Our hostel had good coffee, croissants, 80s floor patterns and views. After fueling up there, I wandered off by myself and found good middle eastern food served by a guy in an LA shirt that didn’t know what it stood for. It cost money to see the enormous town cathedral so I just took a couple of pictures from the entryway and in the gift shop where I strangely heard “So Lonely”. The whole city is one beautiful classic or modern colored building after another. Weather has been nice and cool with the occasional drizzle. The Plaza Mayor was closed for siesta so we returned later for the first of many drinks in several bars. Kike gave us the 411 on all the spots in his hometown. We ended up at Pecora, a rock n roll bar where we spent hours playing pinball, eating peanuts, misplacing an iPad, finding it (phew) and listening to incredible vinyl spun by our bartender in between serving drinks. PICS
SECOND BURGOS DAY OFF
Second day off in Burgos started similarly after we slept off our wine consumption. We were awoken early to the news that the Schizophonics had won a San Diego Music Award for Best Live Act. We’d talked about different things we could do if they won, including filming a video but, in the end, got the news the morning after the ceremony. Longtime friend and 91X DJ Mike Halloran accepted on their behalf. It was definitely a kick to be halfway across the world, showing people why they are the best band in San Diego.
I was the only one ready to venture out when I finally left at 2:30pm. Crazy Factory, a cool small shop around the corner was open so I peeked my head in and perused all their cool US/UK pop culture stuff. With all of the anarchy and Communist sickle graffiti we’ve been seeing, I couldn’t pass up a Germlins/Kremlins shirt. They even had a huge roll of polka dot gift wrapping paper and Mario was nice enough to get a shot of me with it then plug our show with a post on their FB page. Quite the celebrity sighting. I headed for the trees on the hill overlooking the town until I finally came to a huge empty clearing. The building on the other side turned out to be a bird study center. After some falafel, most of us got another workout going up to a castle. Then, when passing through an entryway near the cathedral, I ducked into a doorway which took us up olde stone stairs to an incredible museum which had an exhibit of old medicine jars and recent line drawings done on napkins. All that walking earned us an amazing meal of kebabs and sangria back at Plaza Mayor. Afterwards, we stayed in with Keef’s recent WTF interview and got ourselves ready for 12 straight nights of WROCK. MORE PICS
BURGOS/SHOW #5 SAN SEBASTIAN
Got up leisurely and left Burgos, where we’ll return tomorrow. Stopped at another Pausa rest stop, this one even nicer than the last. We all slept most of the way to San Sebastián but saw a whole lotta green hills and ocean views in between shut eyes. We arrived and checked in to our olde four room flat with its tiny tv’s and chamber pots. Thanks to my nose being a little stuffed up a couple of nights ago, I snored and Kike banished me to my own room. If you insist! Nearby Dabadaba is a gem hidden down a driveway. We shook off the cobwebs and the craziest, danciest crowd of the tour amped us up. Little Justin was on someone’s shoulders, Lil’ Adam was kicking on his back on a nearby couch, Robert blew his amp and had to strut n play keys the last two songs. Did we mention the two metal guys from France who cancelled their travel plans to come see us? They mirrored our moves, sang along and, of course, went nuts when we did AC/DC, who they’ve seen 62 times. Incredible veggie meal brought to us afterwards. Great club, great people. We just arrived back in Burgos for our fourth night where our abandoned shoes, canes and laundry soap were patiently waiting for us. MORE PICS
Videos by Pejerito Pejerito
SAN SEBASTIAN/SHOW #6 BURGOS
The Richards returned to Dabadaba the next morning to find our gear arranged perfectly in a row. We bid beautiful San Sebastián adios and headed out for our fourth night in Burgos. Estudio 27, in the parking lot across from the town coliseum, is half of Studio 54 in name only. Covered in posters from past garage/punk shows, naked graffiti, colorful bathrooms and a few signs of Lady Dottie and the Diamonds’ past visit. The backstage had low and lower ceilings with all kinds of mid century furniture tucked underneath. After fueling up nearby on our favorite local treats (bread, potatoes, salad, blood sausage and a coffee liqueur), the show was smokin’ from start to finish. Lots of friendly folks. We’ll miss our second home of Burgos! MORE PICS
SHOW #7 VITORIA
Off to Vitoria. The vets have been telling us about Hell Dorado for the whole tour and it did not disappoint. After a quick check-in in yet another jaw-dropping town and a quenching of our thirst for Chinese food, we headed for an area of large industrial storage buildings where the club is. A team of soundmen helped us lug (yes!) and get settled on their huge stage. We gawked at the amazing mural of our favorite things that covers a whole wall (video link below) and a book of portraits taken there that includes Lady Dottie and Little Roberto. We had a fantastic three course meal at the nearby, empty Oh! Restaurant located next to an insanely popular Burger King. We’ve heard the BKs in Spain have Whopper Wine but didn’t want to brave the crowd to check. Pat’s voice had disappeared a few hours before but the magic of Hell Dorado, shutting up Little Richard style and our first smoke–filled club miraculously restored it when he hit the stage. After a fun LR set, owner Juan made Robert come back onstage for praise and a second encore. Kike DJ’d hours of great tunes with an amazing video backdrop of old movie clips and cartoons that featured people dancing. After a fun autograph session, we were exhausted but once James Brown came on, we had to join the dance party too and didn’t leave until 4:30am when Juan insisted we give him a medium shirt. He apologized for his bad English and we finally realized we all had to go have a medium-sized shot. At 10am, he sent Kike a message that he was finally done partying and was calling a cab. Amazing night.
VIDEO Hell Dorado walls with Diana & Da Novios soundchecking
VIDEO “Bama Lama” (Facebook)
VIDEO the rarely played “Kansas City/Hey Hey Hey” (Facebook)
iGracias, Jon Aretxederreta!
SHOW #8 ZARAGOSA
Oh my Zaragoza. I thought our plaza set in Aranda was our one free outdoor show of the tour, so driving up to a huge stage in front of an amazing church was an unreal surprise. I’d been told that there was a massive festival starting a couple of days later so there would be a lot of people in town. Nope. It’s a ten day affair celebrating a vision of the Virgin Mary and it’s Mardi Gras crazy. This is the first year they’ve had rock and there was a huge set up, just for our three bands in the city center. Truly treated like estrellas with a friendly staff, house kit and amps plus dressing rooms full of food n drink with our names on them and EVERYTHING. There were a thousand people or more in the square, loving it. Very hard to concentrate with so many cute kids and LOLs (little old ladies) up front. When I took a picture of them and kiddingly made a motion to squeeze together, the whole place scrambled to the center like a Spanish wall of death. A huge thanks to Chema and his whole staff for having us. With Italy just a couple of days away, we ended the night appropriately by watching a classic Spaghetti western.
VITORIA/SHOW #9 BARCELONA
Woke up in Vitoria, headed to a laundromat and spent awhile in a nearby cafe while my new red shirt turned my whites pink. Oooops. Drove to Barcelona’s Rock Sound, the smallest place we’ve played just one day after our biggest show yet. The variety and surprise factor of each club and hotel is all part of the fun. We went to a bar full of random vintage looking American sports stuff, loaded in and then ate at nearby Pepe’s Bar, which the band has been calling the Motörhead Bar. Full of lots of random autographed rock stuff, really good sandwiches and a huge Motörhead logo. Annihilator was playing next door, so the metal fans of Barcelona walked by in droves.
I had the pleasure of finally meeting Matt Tomich, an online friend of close to 20 years. He’s done a Repacements newsletter called Skyway for that long. Fittingly, I brought a Skyway rolling suitcase for the trip. A swell guy and musician who’s lived abroad in Italy and Spain for years. I couldn’t wait to see his reaction to the Schizophonics and, like everyone, he was completely knocked out. Still he was able to take a bunch of awesome photos of us that I’ll be sharing soon. He even helped load and lug, earning him Best Guestlist Spot of the tour. The show was a blast, especially after all of the folded arms that greeted them last time here. I wasn’t sure how I’d sneak a ‘Mats reference into the set but slipped in a “Date To Church” mention during a gospel section.
Supashort sideways Youtube Schizo vids by Matt:
“Train” guitar solo, “Ooga Booga”, “Remake/Remodel” (Roxy Music cover) end
The other Richards were nice about letting me chat a little more instead of being a fifth wheel in our nightly Tetris session in the back of the van. We dropped a few unnecessary things off two days ago and have sold so much merch that they threw out one suitcase that was falling apart anyways. The packing is now MUCH easier. Wish we could magically have more records appear because we’ll be sold out of everything in a couple of days. If you’d like to order our album and/or single, just drop us a private message and we’ll get you the details. I’m biased but it’s REALLY rocking, daddyo.
To help lessen the long drive to our first show in Italy, we did our first drive after a show last night. We pulled into a sleeping Spanish town a couple of hours away where Salvador Dali was born and eventually found our digs: Hotel Los Angeles, of all places. It was close to 4am when we finally went to sleep but I was determined to get up the next morning and see the Dali Museum. SEE MORE PICS
PART 2: ITALIA