A Wrap

And so another bout of touring, another belt of VdGG activity is done. All of our gear has been returned to us and what of that’s VdGG-specific is now packed away wherever we individually store it. Another fine little run.

For most bands this would be an impossible way of working – prepping for and then undertaking month-long stints and then closing up shop until the next time. For us, it still seems to be an admirable modus operandi. There’s enough time to get really panicky about what’s upcoming, about what we’re expected to do, individually and collectively, and little enough time available so that each show, each day has a special character. We’re not trapped on that conveyor belt of a career (even an indian summer career) in music. After all, it was exactly that feeling of being on the belt, being consigned to The Box, which so unhinged us back in the day. These days there’s no question of it.

Of course, we now have no idea what or when the next little burst of stuff will entail. Traditionally, we’ll meet up in January or so and – over a civilised lunch, naturally – discuss what we might hope for (careful!), what we might dread, whatever might be next. My hunch, at the moment, would be that we’ll aim to do some fresh recording but the how, when and where of that is be a complete unknown at present.

Quite a few people have sent in mails wondering/hoping about the possibilities of future American tours, of both North and South varieties. For various reasons I’m not sure that gigs over there are at all likely in the foreseeable future. As far as the USA is concerned the visa process has become more and more draconian, more and more expensive. (You’ll probably find quite a few people having a go about this out on there on the Wider Web if you take a look….) Even when this hoop has been jumped one’s still faced with the withholding tax question. This is an ongoing problem everywhere. Each country¬† (including the UK as it happens) now wants to grab whatever slice they can from the gross takings of tours for their own tax chest. In principle, after a long wait and a great deal of crossing and uncrossing of fingers, it’s possible to reclaim a certain percentage of the tax. But this kind of uncertainty sits ill with what is an already uncertain enterprise. Usually one has to commit to a tour before all the “i”s are dotted, filled with the undimmed enthusiasm with which the ongoing musician is all too familiar. It doesn’t always work out and the current tax-claiming regimes make it harder than ever.

In South America (and further afield) our problems in terms of setting up tours might extend to tax questions but principally they’re to do with air freight. To do a show, anywhere, I, personally, could break my equipment down to a guitar, an fx system or two; Brain could take just fx and, probably, cymbals and pedals; our other needs, from amplification to kick drum, could be met by local hire-ins. But HB can’t play on any kind of local pick-up rig. His double keyboard + bass pedals set-up is unique and impossible to replicate…so has to be air freighted wherever we go. And air freight is now starting to have the same kind of price hikes that we’re seeing in passenger fares. Needless to say, there’s big kilo-age in that organ rig.

So…I’m not saying that it’s *impossible* for us to undertake transatlantic jaunts in the immediate future. Certainly I’m not saying that we’re exhibiting reluctance to do so for any reason. But I *am* saying that it’s difficult to see how we might manage it in the current climate. Who knows, though, in the future? I hope that the above isn’t taken as a wave of negativity. We have to be realistic these days and that’s often a neutral position. After all, we’ve paid our dues in terms of wild, unrealistic enthusiasm, leading to shipwreck…back then. I don’t think it does any harm – and I don’t think it’ll come as any surprise – to say that there’s quite a lot of paddling under the water that goes on to create the serene passage of VdGG across its touring schedule. It’s as it is, it’s as it should be.

On a final note of positivity, though, I’d like to thank Ed, Will and Carl, who’ve once again pulled us through in this tour. And particular thanks, as ever, to our agent Andy, who once again managed to produce a routing which made sense, in all senses. It’s not necessarily that easy to do so….and we’re well aware that we’re not the easiest band to book in.

Oh, finally: yes, we recorded most of the shows. Sometimes extreme heat clagged-up hard drives, sometimes electrical glitches ma gled otherwise faultless (ahem) performances. But hours and hours of stuff are now digitally stored. Eventually – almost certainly sooner rather than later, but probably not *too* soon – it’ll fall to one or all of us to go through the “tapes”. Don’t hold your breath, but don’t think that you’ve heard the last, yet, of what were some pretty sparkling and dynamic shows.

Though, as always, I say so myself.

It has been, it continues to be, a joy, a privilege, a pleasure to do this 21st Century VdGG stuff. For now, though, it’s a wrap.