Interview With Mark Hamilton - 6th March 2007

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Hello Mark. How's the tour been going?

Fantastic. It's been so long since we've played live that we didn't really know what to expect, or even if we'd forgotten what to do on stage. You can sit and rehearse for a month in a studio or a rehearsal room, but it's never gonna be anything like actually playing. So for the first three gigs I had serious cramps in my hands. I remember looking at the plectrum and just going, "I can see it's there and I can see it hitting the string, but I can't feel it". But after those first three shows the muscles I obviously hadn't been using for a while started working again.

Have the gigs all been good?

Well we always expect the first show to be a bit ropey, but it wasn't. We were probably making a few mistakes here and there but it wasn't anything too noticeable. But by the third show we'd completely hit our stride and we were rocking. We were like, "Oh yeah, this is what we do!".

Is it weird being back on tour after so long?

It was a bit weird, but we all slotted back into the routine really quickly. It's nice that we've got a bus and we've got our crew around us again. It feels different too, because we're back as a three piece.

Ah yes, how's that working?

It's worked fine. We were worried initially about whether we could pull it off, but it's been quite apparent that it wasn't too much of a factor. A lot of people have been saying that they prefer it going back to the classic power trio thing.

And it gives more space to the bass.

Yeah, the bass is filling out the sound with all the distortion. And Tim's loving doing all the lead guitar stuff again.

Have people been liking the new stuff?

Yeah, the reaction has been brilliant. People seem to be especially freaked out by 'In Hell'. By the end of the song on the first night in Preston the look on people's faces was like, "What the fuck was that?!"

So is the album all ready to go?

Yeah, it's all finished, mixed and mastered, although we might do a recall on one of the songs.

What does that mean?

Go back and re-mix it. We're not even sure that we're going to do that, but it's something we might look at when we get back to New York. All we have to do then is sequence it. We still haven't decided on the final running order, but we're pretty much there.

So you've got another week of these shows to go?

Yeah, four more shows and then we've got the Xfm birthday party in Manchester. Then we're back in New York for a couple of weeks off. We'll be finishing B-sides during that time too. After that we're back over here hitting the promo trail for the single.

It's looking like a busy summer.

It is. We'll be going into Europe for a pre-album promo tour, where we'll play shows in major cities, predominantly for press and stuff, but there'll be some public tickets as well. Then we've got the Koko shows in London the week the album is out. Plus it's looking like we'll be playing a bunch of festivals and we'll be doing a wee Irish tour.

When can we expect details of that?

The agent is booking the dates as we speak, so hopefully we'll be able to announce that pretty soon.

The new website has kicked in too, which you've been working hard on.

Yeah. We made the decision that we didn't want to go down the flash route with lots of fancy-but-pointless stuff. The websites I go back to every day are the ones that are news-based, so we've gone with something more like that. But we're also gonna build up an archive. The discography will get added and we're planning on building a mini site for each of the albums. And there's gonna be a new thing where everyone can upload their pictures from shows into organised galleries. We'll be posting up thousands of our own pictures from over the years too.

That all sounds great.

I hope it will be. We've also got the media player coming, which will be an archive of all the videos. It should all make for a really good site.

So, have you been managing to get your washing done on this tour?

We've been pretty good actually. We did our laundry today because we've got a day off. The standard day off is to get up, go do laundry, eat your breakfast still hungover, get your laundry back, go back to the hotel, take a bit of a nap, then go out for dinner. That's what we did today. Now I'm gonna have a bath and then update the website this evening.

Have you been partying hard too?

Yeah, there's been some messy, messy nights. The first week was pretty full-on, but then I got really sick by the time we got to Bristol. I was totally rundown and I had the worst cough ever. Tim's been looking after himself because of his voice, though. But Rick's been pretty out of control. Two nights ago he drank an entire bottle of absinthe.

Good lord.

Yeah. He was still drunk for the entire of the next day.

Have there been any party highlights?

We had a really fun time in Sheffield. We called it Lord of the Dance night. In previous years we've had a night called Lord of the Flies, with really bad behaviour, but this night was Lord of the Dance because there was an '80s school disco on after the show and we ended up dancing at that for ages.

Really?

Yeah. We'd had a really great show in Sheffield so everyone was buzzing. We were in our dressing room and our old tour chef Tommo came down to say hello because he was working with Amy Winehouse in the upstairs venue. He was out of his mind and just on one. So then there was a food fight and the dressing room got trashed and people were pouring bottles of wine over each other and stuff. It just got really messy.

Where does the dancing come in?

Well, then everyone went out to this disco, soaking wet. It may have had something to do with the lunar eclipse and full moon because everyone just lost it and went for it. There was probably hardcore dancing for about two and a half hours. All these people were dressed up in their school uniforms and they must have all been thinking, "Who are all these cunts in the corner here?" Then the DJ dropped 'Angel Interceptor' and we all went into the middle of the moshpit. People were looking at us going, "Is that really them, dancing and singing along their own song?" It was pretty funny.

Stag Mark Hamilton 02.03.07

And what's happening in the picture?

When we played in Liverpool, we found this Jägermeister stag suit in the production office. So I came back for the encore wearing a stag's head. I couldn't even see where the bass was. I played the first song completely blind.

Sounds like you've enjoyed being back in Britain.

Totally. Oh, and me and Rick went to a castle in Southampton. So we have done something cultural too!

Have you missed New York?

A wee bit. I've missed who's there. But we've been having a lot of fun, y'know. This tour has been great.

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