Canada, Cats, Dishes and Planes....
We were travelling to a remote part of Canada to shoot a video at the facility of Canadian space company Thoth Technologies. We had partnered with Thoth earlier in 2016 as they had secured European and North American patents for the world’s first actual space elevator!
Thoth had created a CGI animation demonstration for the space elevator and had used our song Elevator on the video. Almost immediately on our return we would embark on the band’s first UK tour with fellow rockers Cats In Space as a joint headliners. The tour would stretch from Dorset in the South to Glasgow in the North.
The Canadian trip began inauspiciously when we were close to missing the plane! This down to a combination of spending too long in the departure lounge, not spotting that it was a fifteen minute walk to the gate and our bass player Chas inexplicably becoming lost on his way to the gate despite us walking in a group!
The plane was held and we boarded!
On landing at Pearson International in Toronto (airport identification code YYZ by the way!) we were met by Thoth CEO Caroline Roberts and one of Thoth’s space engineers Ian Tomaszewski. Now began the three hundred and twenty mile road trip to Thoth’s facility in the middle of the Algonquin Park Ontario. The Thoth facility is 28 kilometres from a main road and over 100 kilometres from the nearest petrol station. Bears roam in the woods as do wolves with the occasional Eagle being spotted overhead!
Toronto Drones were hired in to do the shoot along with Adam Vanryne who travelled with the band from the UK. Thoth own and operate one of the largest non government owned satellite dishes in the world and this would feature heavily in the video. Instruments and radio packs had been hired from Cosmo Music and Music Pro stores in Ontario.
After ascending many cat ladders and staircases, the final climb on to the dish involves going through a hatch. Due to this the bass drum had to be winched over the side of the dish!
Day one concluded with Adam taking some band footage of us performing on the 150ft wide dish against the spectacular sunset.
The plan for the following day was for the Duchess to climb to the top of the focus cabin where she would perform the track. Danny and Frank from Toronto Drones would film her at a range of between six and three thousand feet! Unfortunately there was threat of a storm on this day and we awoke to dark clouds, rain and the lake totally covered in mist. Contrary to the weather forecast, this cleared within a couple of hours and we jumped in the trucks for the two mile journey to the dish.
In full catsuit and stage gear the Duchess did indeed climb all the way up to the focus cabin at the very top of the dish to perform the track! Brave indeed!
Much additional footage was shot on the dish as well as in the retro style control centre. Originally built by the Canadian government in 1963 before being decommissioned in the eighties, the Algonquin Radio Observatory lay dormant before being taken over by Thoth in 2007 and restored to full working order, specialising mainly in astronomy. After an exhilarating trip which also featured our drummer Brian Greene going through his full repertoire of swimming techniques on the lake as well as developing his canoeing skills, we said our goodbyes and set off on the six hour drive back to the airport before flying home to London later that day.
The Out of this World tour was initiated by Cats In Space guitarist Greg Hart along with myself. What better way to get two new bands with a similar ethos across to the public than by teaming up and taking on a tour together?
The first date was September 21st where we would play at the Tivoli Theatre in Wimborne. Theatre gigs can have a strange atmosphere as the audience is seated and seem to take on a more respectful and polite demeanour. That said, this initial gig got the tour off to a great start. With sound checks done we ran through our one hour set. We had just come off doing some festivals prior to the Canadian trip, so although we hadn’t played for almost three weeks by the time the tour started, everything slotted into place quickly as we made use of the big stage. A very enthusiastic crowd made for a great night with both bands doing very nicely at the merchandise table! A highlight for us being a fan asking Chas and Brian as they stood by the table if the bass player and drummer would be coming out to sign albums!!
The following day we headed up to the Realtime in Chesterfield. A real rock crowd was at the venue and the tour really got going on this gig. The next days saw us travel via Manchester to Glasgow and back down again to the River Rooms at Stourbridge.
My home town Glasgow was a real highlight for me; yes it was raining as usual as me, Chas, Brian and our touring photographer Cat walked up Sauchiehall Street for a pre gig bite, leaving the Duchess at the venue to change into her tartan leotard especially bought for the gig. I got to model my vintage early 70’s Scotland Football shirt at the gig too!
Both bands were really hitting their stride by this point and the Glasgow audience was typically appreciative. The Cats headed South after the gig to break the back of the following day’s journey to Stourbridge. We stayed on in Glasgow as we had so many friends and family in attendance, heading out for a curry post gig.
The second week featured the final two gigs of the tour. The Thursday night saw us play in the biggest venue so far, the Harlequin Theatre in Redhill. This was a really great night which was attended by many journalists, record industry types and musicians including rock band Thunder. Both bands had their performances filmed so as to take advantage of the big stage and impressive lights afforded by the venue. Friday saw the tour conclude in our home town of High Wycombe to another enthusiastic crowd. So we had done it, two new bands had put on a tour, taken all the financial risk themselves and come out on top making plenty of new friends along the way.
….same again next year??