Last month, Belfast-based indie punks Empty Lungs released a short but very good EP in the form of ‘Don’t Get It’. The three songs on offer is an infectious collection of rousing punk.
Although they’re based on a small island on the coast of Europe, that hasn’t stopped Empty Lungs from venturing out, making good use of the thriving DIY scene in the UK, Europe and the States. So with a new EP out in the open, the trio decided to get in a van for a nine day trip of the United Kingdom for a variety of shows alongside the likes of Kamikaze Girls, Good Friend, Paper Rifles.
For this rare edition of “Tour Tales”, vocalist/guitarist Kev Jones give us a day-by-day account of life on the road; searching for caffeine, human pyramids in clubs, and reuniting with longtime friends.
Day 1 – Glasgow
First day of tour is always exciting. After rushing some bad fried food into us from a garage at the docks, we jumped on the ferry to Scotland and drove to Glasgow. We arrived early for load in so we decided to chill in Waterstones cafe because we’re so fucking cultured ok!? Actually, because I was looking for a book. They also have ok coffee and loads of plugs to charge phones. We then had some lovely pizza courtesy of the venue (Bloc) and got ready for the show.
The first show is always a bit ropey for us and true to form we had some shit not working which was annoying but the show was great as were the openers Goodbye Blue Monday and Paper Rifles. We took it easy after and stayed with our pals Eimear and Ally at their swanky pad. The hospitality of friends and strangers alike is one of the most wonderful things about touring! Shout out the very Scottish giant cow!
Day 2 – Dundee
We had a pretty quiet night in Glasgow so the short drive to Dundee was pretty painless. When we arrived, we did our usual hunt for caffeine. Finding good coffee in a town is always a mission. It’s easy to find a shitty chain but I like the good stuff. What’s that joke about the hipster burning their tongue again? The show was cool, a small crowd but they were all really into it. We played with Stonethrower and Paper Rifles. It was really good to catch up with the Make That A Take Records team. Deeker and the squad have been nurturing the DIY punk scene in Scotland for years now. It was an absolute pleasure to hang out and have them put on the show for us. Shout out to Kenny for putting us up and for the good late night chat!
Day 3 – Edinburgh
After grabbing a pretty greasy Scottish breakfast (re-fucking-quired), we made the uneventful journey to Edinburgh. We loaded into Bannermans, which is a great venue. Not least because it has a flat above the venue for touring bands! Take note UK venues, this is the way to do it. It’s so common in mainland Europe but you hardly ever see it in UK or Ireland. This is good news for our bassist/driver Conor because he can have a beer during the show. He likes a beer. Before sound check, we did a really cool filmed stripped back session called Trash Sessions with our new friends Masa and James. The show was unreal, a really fun set. The crowd were so receptive and fun and we had a blast! After a ripper show on a Friday night, there’s only one thing to do; party!
We engaged in quite a bit of shot drinking and general havoc down the road with the Paper Rifles lads, Masa the promoter and our bud Fraser from The Murderburgers. Highlights were human pyramids in the club (much to the bemusement of other punters, who cares… Up the punx!) and 4am sit in pizza in a proper pizza place. Edinburgh you’re a beauty of a town.
Day 4 – Workington
Hangover central. Fuck this. Low spirits and self-pity were the theme of the drive to Workington. We arrived early for load in in a rainy quiet town in the middle of nowhere, and I’ll be honest, expectations for the show were not high. After doorsm the venue was still dead and we had pretty much written off the gig. Turns out we were being morbid bastards and the venue soon filled up with eager and lovely people. A lot of the times, small towns like this are the best shows because people don’t have the big city ‘seen it all’ bored with everything vibe. This was our last show with Paper Rifles, the lads were down to an acoustic two piece tonight but they still killed it. The quality of the songs shines through regardless of the arrangements. So glad we got to meet these dudes and spend some time together! The start of a beautiful friendship no doubt.
Day 5 – Newcastle
After splashing out on a Travelodge (the luxury!) We were well rested for the Newcastle show. We were playing with buds Good Friend who are from back home in Ireland, but based in England. Think Tank was a really cool venue, nice bar. The show was a bit of a bummer to be honest. There was a decent turnout for a Sunday night but I don’t think people were that interested in us. Aw well. We had a great time back at Adam’s smoking doobies, drinking 70% rum and having heart to hearts. I’ve known Adam (Carroll) since I was about 17, so it’s always cool to hang out and his hospitality was second to none.
Day 6 – Day off – Leeds
So we couldn’t hook up a decent show, so decided to take a day off and head to Leeds to catch our friend and genius Northern Irish songwriter Robyn G Shiels. He was on tour supporting the amazing Dave Hause. This was such a nice day. We crashed with another hometown pal, Jacob, and had some tasty tacos. We went to hang out with Robyn at the show in Brudnell Social Club. Robyn and Dave Hause were unreal! We then had one to many Northern ales and I ended up being a bit of a fan boy and chatting to Walter Schriefls, who was also on the tour with his new outfit Dead Heavens. I’m a huge Gorilla Biscuits fan (not to mention Quicksand and Rival Schools) and I couldn’t pass up a photo op. Sorry to my mate Robyn for cramping his style (haha!)
Day 7 – Worcester
We woke up pretty fresh in Leeds, which is surprising given the amount of ales chugged the night before. We also had our new records at long last! They were shipped from our label (Hidden Pony Records) in Canada and got held up for a while at customs. It was great to get to Worcester and see a really cool venue, and there was some lovely food for us. Lee and Phil the promoters are fantastic. I put their band on in Belfast about six or seven years ago. It’s so cool how you can meet friends and allies for life through DIY scenes. I love it! The show was really awesome; a big mid-week crowd who were really into it. It’s so cool to go to a town you’ve never been before, and get chatting to people at the merch who really dig what you do. It always humbles me. The only hiccup with this show was the small matter of Conor’s bass amp setting on fire while one of the support bands was using it.
Day 8 – London
London you are a bittersweet place. What an interesting city, but what a fucking logistical nightmare. After a load in/parking nightmare, we went for a wander to grab some food. Camden is a colourful place but mostly full of tourist junk. I think, after years of playing shows there, the novelty wears off a little. We were so spoilt to have such a cool lineup for this show. We had friends Kamikaze Girls and Giles Bidder (Great Cynics) playing the show.
We met KG last year in the U.S. when we played some shows together on the way to FEST. They are awesome people and such a cool band. They have great songs about things that matter, and they’re going to conquer the fucking world this year! I helped Cynics out with Irish dates a couple of times and I love Giles to pieces. His solo set was so much fun> He is a very funny man. Our show was awesome which we were stoked about. London is so vast and there’s so much ‘competition’ for shows, it’s always cool when a show there goes well for us. Shout out to Ester for letting us crash and sorry for accidentally stealing your sleeping bag.
Day 9 – Norwich
Norwich was our second day with Kamikaze Girls, and we also had our very good pals, Other Half, play the show. There were some tech difficulties, and long story short, we ended up playing a stripped back two-piece set. It was actually really fun to do, especially for Mykie because instead of playing drums, he just live streamed the show and drank beers. We had the inevitable last night of tour party and ended up in a gay club dancing until 5am. Thanks to Sophie and Cal for putting the show on and looking after us. We love you dearly. Also, shout out to Dan from Ducking Punches for the hospitality and hangs, we love you too!
‘Don’t Get It’ EP by Empty Lungs is out now on Hidden Pony Records.