Article:Kasino Supporting Mansun
Welcome to the Tour
source: [Making Music, Issue 153]
If you're anything like us, you're probably used to sending off tapes and CDs to all sorts of people in a desperate attempt to get gigs. Onstage at 5am? No problem! On the moon? Sure! Can we use someone else's backline?
We've all been through it. Tape after tape to countless Battle of the Band competitions, A&R men, promoters, other bands. And from time to time someone well-known does a "send your tape in, folks" competition for a support slot, and once again you send your tape in and forget all about it because it's always someone else's band that gets picked.
Except... sometimes it's not. Sometimes you open what you thought was another final demand from the bank manager and it turns out to be from Mansun's tour manager instead. Dear Casino. You're playing Glasgow Barrowlands. Next week. Welcome to the tour.
Of course, none of the rest of your band will be contactable. You'll spend all night on the phone, having kittens and trying to find someone to tell about it. You'll tell the speaking clock, the Operator and Directory Enquiries. And, of course, when you finally do reach the rest of the band, not a single one will believe you. So you barrel up the motorway and, after holding the letter up to the light to check it's genuine, each member of your band will go into shock.
We'd sent a tape in to Mansun's bassist, Stove, way back in the summertime and promptly forgot about it, other than a quick "damn" when the main support was announced and we hadn't heard anything. To tell the truth, we hadn't even bothered our arse too much with the presentation - quick letter, run off a tape, stick it in an envelope and there goes another couple of quid down the drain. So we weren't exactly expecting a letter from Tommy Winstone, the tour manager for Mansun.
The letter itself was very straightforward. Welcome to the tour, here's the times, here's what you can and cannot do. The bulk of the rules were about friends and passes: don't give your "access all areas" pass to anyone else or you'll be ejected from the venue; please don't bring 200 mates and expect to get them in for nothing. Please don't run over your allotted time; please don't upset us on the night. You're probably thinking that it's all common-sense advice. So did we... but it makes you wonder how previous support bands have behaved if the Tour Manager feels he has to spell it out in the welcome letter.
The letter wasn't a negative one by any means, though. We were told everything we needed to know, given a guest list of six people plus our own crew and Tommy wished us all the best for the gig.
We're still jumping around the living room at this point, of course. But eventually we calmed down and started thinking about the guest list. Six people means one-and-a-half people each, so that ruled out squads of friends because anyone who doesn't get on the list would petrol-bomb our houses. Instead we were sensible and used the places for the scout at King Tut's Wah-Wah Hut and the people who help us out by driving to gigs, humping gear up and down stairs, all the crap stuff that we can't afford to pay anyone to do yet.
In addition to the guest list, Mansun would also pay us fifty quid. Doesn't sound too impressive but when you consider that record companies pay thousands to get bands onto tours, it's not bad at all. And it's fifty quid more than we usually make. The letter also suggested that, if we wanted to have Mansun's sound engineer, monitor engineer and lighting director for the gig, it would only be £15 each. We thought "that's bloody good value" and decided against using our own people; off went a fax to Tommy Winstone detailing the mic list, stage plot and contact numbers. Then we went off to phone the speaking clock again.
The next step, we thought, was to try and get some publicity. It was at this point we learned an important thing about support bands: nobody cares. The Daily Record and Evening Times said they'd call us back, then didn't and hid under the desk whenever we phoned; most newspapers were quite huffy and either told us to sod off or didn't reply to our messages and faxes. We did get one word in the NME, though. The word was "Casino"... but it's a start, isn't it?
Finally we struck gold when The Sun decided to run the story. Page 19, top of the page, photo of us and a photo of Mansun. We looked like a bunch of serial killers but it did have some unexpected effects: sarky comments from workmates, mostly, but our guitarist Mark was recognised by a taxi driver and spent a happy evening in a nightclub being propositioned by young women.
The gig itself turned out too surreal to be scary - the stage crew thanking us for helping them unload our van was probably the most bizarre moment. What amazed us was how well we were treated - national support Gay Dad gave us huge quantities of lager; crew and engineers went out of their way to make us feel welcome; Stove and Paul from Mansun made a point of diving backstage to say hello and invited us to the aftershow party. The contrast to pub and club gigs couldn't be more marked. No attitudes, no prima donnas, and - at last! - we could hear the vocals onstage.
Because everything was so well-organised, we weren't scared at all when it was time to go onstage. We ran up the gangway, bathed in blue light, and resisted the urge to shout "Hello Glasgow! Are you ready to rock?". We'd put together a set of our strongest, best-rehearsed songs and as a result we could concentrate on the important things: jumping up and down, making faces and striking guitar hero poses.
Unusually for us, nothing exploded, no strings snapped, I only forgot a few of the words and our bassist didn't fall over. We played well, the audience liked it, and with the combination of decent PA, lights and a very vocal crowd we felt like pop stars. We won't forget the sound of cheering for a long, long time. And we got asked for autographs afterwards.
Apparently there are better things to do on a cold Saturday night than jump about onstage in front of 1,000 people. We're not convinced.