(above) Cover stars at last!
9 Jun 1992
We’re off for a week in the States!
Due to work visa restrictions, we split into two groups and hire equipment over there. Carl foolishly leaks this plan to a music paper where it’s printed!
I fly with Steve and guitar tech, Gordon.
There is a stretch limo waiting for ‘Lud’ at LAX. We get it to stop off at a liquor store to buy celebratory beers.
We’re staying at the Hotel Roosevelt on the star-lined Hollywood Boulevard. This former home to the Oscars is directly opposite Mann’s Chinese Theater where they’re gearing up for the premiere of Batman Returns.
Mike, Jim, plus A&M’s Larry Weintraub, Jody and Michael (ad-copy) were waiting in the Hotel Roosevelt lobby for us and drove us to a fine Greek restaurant.
Carl and I order breakfast then cross the road to check out the famous hands in the cement. You don’t have to walk far (and few people do) down the boulevard before it feels discretely dangerous.
Brad Pollack takes us out for a second breakfast at Danny’s 50’s Diner then we set up for live rehearsals with our hired gear at SIR studios. As a comics fan, I can’t resist trying my first Hostess Twinkie cake. Bleuugh!
Late on we meet more A&M bods at a Thai restaurant opposite the Capitol Records building (planned by Nat King Cole as a stack of singles). Portions at the restaurant are super-sized. Carl gets a whole catfish. Gordon gets the pieces of four chickens. I get on well with Kate, the advertising copy head and persuade her to take us out later to Smalls bar, where we have to show ID.
(above) Jim Tracey, manager and band on the A&M parking lot.
Tour of the A&M lot, the former Chaplin studios. We pose for photos in front of Herb Alpert’s parking bay, then shook hands with everyone. Turns out the recent riots got real close to this wooden lot.
We have a rare break, soaking up sun by the Hockney painted hotel pool then get driven over to the Whisky-a-Go-Go for our first US show.
We have a big live reputation to live up to and we do play well. The audience are fairly static though, made up of a lot of record business types. Brad seems happy. Gerry Moss (M in A&M) comes backstage to say hello and ask why we didn’t play his favourite, ‘Magic’. He comes across like Charleton Heston. Carl tuns into a week-kneed fan in his presence.
(above) A&M deface Space Baby competition entries
We spend a fortune on second-hand vinyl and T-shirts on Melrose Ave, get lunch at Johnny Rockets, then head back to the A&M lot. The label are really happy with last night’s show and are already talking about us doing a full tour in September. We film a series of video IDs on the car park. “Hi, you’re watching K-MART TV, we’re CUD from the UK and this is our new single!” We soon slip into faux-American accents. I draw a cartoon of the band for the A&M newsletter.
I join Kate to see The Beastie Boys at the Palladium while the rest of the band go for seafood at the beach.
Hardcore international CUD follower, Anthony Williams (who also made the Poland trek) comes over and joins Steve on an adventure south of the border (I mean Tijuana!) The rest of us spend the day on Venice Beach watching the grey pelicans dives, dodging rollerbladers. There is a little bit of Blackpool here, with day-glo T-shirts, gimmicks and cheap sunglasses on sale along the front. then you get Muscle Beach. The sand is grey and sharp underfoot.
After dark we head off to Santa Monica to browse amongst the late-night shoppers and watch street acts (one annoying woman banging plastic buckets). Dinner is in a sports bar surrounded by TVs and memorabilia.
Plane to San Francisco.
We meet up with Iestyn George and the sage-like photographer Derek Ridgers from the NME at the Holiday Lodge. We take a tour of the city , looking for a goo location. It’s windy. We pose by the Haight/Astbury sign and a bikers’ bar, but none of them are satisfactory. Maybe tomorrow…
Mike and Steve have friends to visit. Carl joins them and misses out on dinner at Brad Pollak’s parents house where I join Jim, Dave, Gordon and press agent, Mick Houghton for great marguaritas and a roof view over the Golden Gate bridge.
interview with Alesha at KUSF college radio.
Then an offer we can’t refuse comes up, a last-minute support back in LA with EMF. Our return to the city is hastily rearranged. We rush up to the park for more photos and fly back to LA.
Tonight’s gig at Slims, Mike has no transformer for his FX pedal. Frantic calls are made. It looks like we won’t be able to play a full set anyway. Dave threatens to wire up a lethal-looking box, then a replacement arrives in the nick of time. There’s no time for a soundcheck. We watch the energetic first band, Sin City Disciples, a hard act to follow, but we play well with gusto.
Then it’s down to the 20 Tank Brewery for a few drinks where we meet Alesha again. I get dropped off at Zimms all night diner for an omelette and walk back to the Lodge. San Fran seems a much safer city to wander, even at night.
The U.S. CUD Band e.p. cover (Magic (2 versions/Robinson Crusoe/Hey, Boots/Now)
Back at the Hollywood Roosevelt we get a view of the Batman premiere, glimpsing Michael Keaton, Bob Kane, Christian Slater and Christopher Walken before it’s our soundcheck at the Palace. Ian, main songwriter for EMF is a friendly guy. We rock, despite a poor sound. We draw a few dancers up front.
Afterwards we attempt an interview with the NME. Mike and Steve’s room lock won’t work so they get relocated for the two and a half hours left before we have to get up at 5.15 for our flight to the East Coast.
We’re all whacked out in the Roosevelt lobby. We miss the flight, waiting for access to Mike and Steve’s room. No sleep inflight. It’s straight to Cambridge, Boston for our soundcheck – TT The Bears Place. Then we have to greet all the reps from A&M and Polygram, then play the gig. The place is a dump. I don’t know why they showcase bands here. Most of the reps choose not to stand stagefront but watch on a video feed in an adjacent room.
We leave during the local bands’ sets to drop our bags at Howard Johnsons and hit the bars in Boston’s studentland.
The shuttle from Boston to New York gives me a headache. Now, here’s a city from my dreams – all the iconic skyscrapers from the Marvel comics. I stare upwards in awe.
We’re staying at Philip Starck’s Paramount Hotel with many others for the New Music Seminar. As we get out of our van, who do we bump into, but EMF! the hotel seems to be run by snooty hairdressing models aiming to protect the furnishings rather than see to the comfort of their guests. the lift is so dark you can’t find the buttons. The sink tips water into your lap. But the beds are comfy, not that we got to spend much time in them.
We follow an autograph hunter’s directions to the East Village for a wander free before we’re swept off to Little Italy with Julie from A&M for dinner. I check out A&M signing, Hammerbox, and quaff copious gratis glasses of wine, then meet up with the rest of the band at Matt Dillon’s bar adjoining the hotel. Yet again I was the only member of the band to attend a record company evening. The others went to French, Greek and topless bars.) By now I’m smeared in someone’s make-up, looking like Charlie Chaplin, being loud and drinking beer, which I never do. I remember little of the night.
… But woken at 9.30am, just a short while later, I feel shit. I’m in the lobby five minutes later not noticing the band feel as awful as I do.
We have a few radio interviews and a tour of A&M’s NYC offices today, about 50 storeys up. Leaning out the window we are directed to look left at the adjacent tower where Eric Clapton’s son fell from. Horrific.
There are only 90 minutes afterwards before our soundcheck must start at the Marquee in the Warehouse district. The Bunnymen (in the days when they were minus Ian McCulloch) are still at it when we arrive. Apparently two mixing desks had failed, the schedule is blown and we’ve two hours to waste.
We stroll up near Chinatown and shop for Calvin Kleins. A poor man moans in the street rain, his leg looking gangrenous, raw and inflated. An ambulance arrives but he hobbles away.
Back at the venue we have to wait for a wanky LA rawk band, The Beauties, to wind up. They piss everyone off. We are lucky to get any soundcheck.
The doors open 90 minutes late. Outside the queue is entertained by a band atop a school bus. At the back of the venue ear-plugs are for sale.
In our grim shared dressing room, we chat to the Bunnymen who are friendly enough. Then we play our best show so far. The audience look stunned, stood stock still.
Tonight the whole band show up for the evening’s entertainment. Get drunk again. Swap underwear with Susan from the record company and CDs with Kerry from Hammerbox.
Back at the hotel I opt to take the pitiful two hours left for sleep. Carl and Steve stay up all night drinking beer and eating egg sandwiches. I tune into a bizarre TV sexline channel then drop off before Carl wakes me minutes later to pack and leave.
Jim forgot to give him a wake-up call and we left ‘Young Shaver’ Martin Tower behind. Back we are, back at the Columbia. It’s empty of bands tonight so we only keep the bar open till 2am. (Boy, did we drink in them days!)