Photos by Jen Maler
The story’s a familiar one: a UK band with major momentum back home spends the next year simply trying to get their record released over here. Wondering what it’s like trying to bait blogs and build buzz in a matter of days, we asked two acts from the London-based Distiller Records label to share some diary entries from their recent trip to New York.
We already heard from Sparrow and the Workshop on Wednesday, so without further ado, we present to you ‘future rock behemothsâ„¢’ White Belt Yellow Tag. Apparently they have a lot to say about trust fund DJs, hanging out with the Futureheads, and one of New York’s best spots for burgers and cheesesteaks (in their opinion, at least). They also discuss “an unassuming place crammed full with unhappy hipsters.” Any guess as to what that may be???
Why New York is ‘Le Shit’
By William J. Lockey of the pale, and interesting ‘indie’ band White Belt Yellow Tag from the North of England. Near Scotland. But far enough from London to have manners and a common sense of taste and decency.
Being at best 67.3-percent confident of my Visa status being approved and legit in time to escape this fair isle of Great Britain meant me and the other two members of ‘future rock behemothsâ„¢’ White Belt Yellow Tag were what you Americans would refer to as ‘totally stoked’ at the opportunity to melt faces by the sheer power of electrified music in The Empire State. Not only were we excited at the prospect of playing two shows in the land of life, liberty and Fruit of the Loom, but we also had enough time to be quasi-tourists and meet loads of new and interesting people too.
First up, I have to quickly mention our first night. Due to an unforeseen monumental breakdown in confidence and language our accomodation for the duration was royally fucked…Not as bad as our co-headlining label buddies Sparrow and the Workshop–theirs was a veritable clusterfuck of real life internet scams like you see on the TV–but fucked nonetheless. Anywho, we ended up in a place called Travel Inn, slap bang in the center of the tourist/tramp/bad guy/retina-burning area, Times Square. Now the first thing Team WBYT likes to do post-hotel check-in is to locate a good bar/eating establishment within the band-regulated ‘5-minute walk’ radius. After what transpired to be a 10-minute dick around, pointing at blindingly bright adverts on massive buildings, we found a Belgian bar. It was ‘awesome’ in the way any bar would be after a 7.5-hour flight in knee-chafing steerage class on Virgin Atlantic. (Kudos to said airline for the movie choice and lack of turbulence, though.)
Day two comprised of moving accommodations from the Travelodge to our new abode Soho Suites, which is actually properly nice, functional, and clean. Digs sorted, we headed out into the East Village and tracked down some kind of cheesesteak/burger situation at Epstein’s. After being blown away by (a) immense burgers and cheesesteaks and (b) reasonably priced alcohol, we decided that this is the only place we would eat at for the whole trip. How very English of us, and a wise choice.
That night we went out, drank a lot, smoked like French people, ate some Twizzlers and met up with Fellow Northern English gents the Futureheads. Muchos fun was had in a place called Lit, where we also encountered the world’s worst DJ…Why didn’t the goth girl just stay on the decks? We couldn’t work it out, but the atrocities of sonics that followed by what appeared to be a 12-year-old girl with a trust fund, a bad attitude and serious lack of taste were unforgivable. Daddy definitely should have bought her a pony that year she asked for turntables. False economy and epic fail on his part.
Morning after…No hangover and gig day–double good news. We went to Brooklyn to meet up with Sparrow and the Workshop to play at Union Hall in Brooklyn. After dealing with the world’s most hateful and ungrateful taxi driver, we encountered some ankle-breaking stairs for loading in down to an excellent gig room. Post soundcheck, we headed back to the East Village and met Jen Maler, an amazing photographer, wise ass, and now our international super best friend for life fo sho! She told us we were too British and stuck up, called us pussies, and then took loads of pictures. After being bullied, we dropped into East Village Radio to talk shop with Elhaam on her Guilty Pleasures show. She is the smiliest woman in the world. I think she arrived at this personality by avoiding all news and current affairs. Bliss. Tom met his friend Andy Rourke from the Smiths. (Oooh, look at Tom and his famous friends.) Back to Brooklyn. The gig was grand, good fun was had by all. Back to Soho Suites for air conditioning, clean sheets, and our sound man sleeping in a kitchen.
Next day, next gig. Pianos. We spent the day in Epstein’s eating strictly beef and potato-related foods, drinking Blue Moon, and objectifying the waitresses. It was outright sexism but in a socially acceptable 1970’s kinda way so calm down, sugar. Then came a curious incident…the fabled meet and greet, a phrase that strikes fear into any self-respecting band member. Musicians and social skills rarely mix, but tonight the planets aligned and team WBYT were working the room like future congressmen/silver-tongued pimps. I’d say it was the alcohol, but it could have been the beef diet just fucking with our mostly inward personalities. Cosmic.
The show was great. Our equipment told us to fuck off for the last two songs, so we had to cut the set short, but hey (!) we’ll blame the same cosmic spiritual forces that earlier in the night turned us into chatty, socially aware and general all round good humans. Hours passed and with our shaman and spiritual guide Miguel at our side, we headed to Cabin. Cabin is a spectacle to behold, an unassuming place crammed full with unhappy hipsters, the creme de la creme of who’s who to anyone who gives a fuck. I didn’t, but I’m sure some people do. I was unsettled and generally indifferent to the following: (a) the smallest, hottest room in the world–instant claustrophobia!; (b) one toilet–that’s just not right; (c) the actual size of Noel Fielding from the Mighty Boosh’s face.
Anywho, English people outnumbered the natives. It was like someone freeze-dried the UK indie pop scene, then threw it in someone’s very small living room, then went all Call of Duty: Modern Warfare with a hose pipe, but they didn’t really need the water, just a good meal inside them. Bless ’em! Geldof and Bono need to get their heads straight and their priorities right and do ‘Meal Aid’. Fast. There’s literally millions and millions of starving and unhappy hipsters in Manhattan.
The Futureheads were there though, which is always a pleasure, never a chore. Bonus. We Stayed in a most awesome triplex that night. Seriously, that place is why New York is ‘Le Shit’. A cup of tea was had, as well as sleep. Then back to the England. That is all.