Thursday, 27 April 2017

The Kestle Mill Soap Company

“I’ve got to cancel the tour!”
“The tour, I’ve got to cancel it!”
My friend stared at me from behind his cup of pomegranate tea. “Why!?”
“Why? Let’s see. Two players have pulled out. The drummer’s fucked his shoulder and might not be able to drive, let alone drum. Leaving me the only driver with over 2000 miles of road ahead. My girlfriend’s heavily pregnant. We have no accommodation for half the venues. Oh, and the band have £19 to our name!”
“It sounds like the premise to all your tours” my friend reminded me. And it did. How often have we started an adventure with a list of mishaps, all the odds stacked heavily against us and yet always we’ve made it work? Heck, that’s what we were about? We’re The Odd Folk. This was what we did best. But this time we couldn’t pull it off. This was the straw that broke the camels back. Was it the guitar player pulling out? Was it the lack of funds? Was it the pregnancy gnawing away at me? Or was it, simply, fatigue catching up with us at long last.
“You better call the boys” said my friend refilling his cup.
“The boys?” I grimaced. “I’m more worried about the fans!”
I did phone the boys though, outside in the rain. The drummer understood. The bass player was gutted and the piano player didn’t even know we were touring!

Almost two months have passed since then and I still feel guilt about the whole thing. Not regret. Just guilt; a little self reproach, a little melancholy. These are what we live for, these trips. This wild abandon, these reckless jaunts on the open road. Meeting new faces in new places is what it’s all about. Yes, seeing the familiar faces in our old haunts is just as much a part of us, but there’s something really rewarding about taking a plunge into the unknown. And something really frustrating about turning it down. I guess, because you don’t know how many more adventures are left. In this tank. Under this banner. It’s no secret we’ve found it hard to commit to this ship in recent times. The ever changing lineup is proof of that. In our first three years we used a total of just four musicians. In the following three, we’ve used twelve. Real life wins over in the end. This is just a passion project after all.

But there is still passion, don’t worry. Still a project, if not entirely to the description of the word: A major undertaking, especially one involving considerable money, personnel and equipment. Perhaps we can better rephrase that: We are a small undertaking, one involving little money, lessening personnel and dated equipment. There you go. Passion project; tick.
The months that followed were, on a personal level, monumental. I gave birth to my second son, or rather my partner did. Little Enys became the 4th OddFolk baby born under our watch. A number almost as many as we. The future’s bright. Even if the present is a little unknown. I suppose it’s only fair to fill you in on the rest of the gang; the guitar player moved a stone patio from Mrs Bansell's front garden to the back. The piano player broke his phone, lost his leads and turned up to a gig that we didn't have. The bass played staged-managed the young classical musicians of the year masterclass in Prussia Cove and then dislocated his shoulder while snowboarding through the Swedish mountains, and the drummer did stuff in Bristol.

But the band did little. Did nothing. And as the long winter months trickled by the distance between our last live performance totalled 6 months, our longest abstinence. It appeared at one stage, after the cancelation of our tour, that perhaps it was also to be a cancelation of our time. How ironic it would be to organise a farewell gig only to tell the packed arena that we weren’t quitting and then in the months that followed: quit anyway. As it happened something small made us change our mind, a CD order came through on the online shop, nothing new there, 100’s have come in with not much thought about it. Usually it’s my mother who takes on this most mundane job of posting and packaging to Camborne and Crewe and Cricklewood. Only this time I did it and the address really tickled me: Marc Porll from Junglinster in Luxombourg! Wow, how did Marc hear about us? Intrigued I scrolled down the list of previous buyers, in amongst the Plymouth’s and Peterborough’s were
Rhidorroch House in the
Rhidorroch House
Scottish Highlands and The Kestle Mill Soap Company. And further down, 6 CD’s were sent to a villa in Tuscany, 4 to the Third Britannia Royal Anglian Regiment in Suffolk. A chap named Peter Jackson bought one from Wellington New Zealand fuelling speculation it could be a famous movie director!? Others of note are Warrick University and the university of St Andrews in Scotland and a chap named Dondu Cort from Turkey. As well as half of Europe, CD’s have been posted to the US, Canada, Mexico and as far as Tasmania! Uplifted I phoned the guitar player and persuaded him to come gigging again. After that I answered a few emails and suddenly we had a summer of gigs in front of us. The passion project fully restored. Inspired by the length of our reach, inspired by soldiers in Suffolk and Dondu Cort, by how far we’re loved and how so many of our fans have never seen us play. And so I set about trying to find them. And the upshot is we’re back! A limited addition bumper summer season that see’s us at Fire in the Mountain, Ale and Anchor, Shambala Festival, Costa Del Folk and various local jaunts up and down the country.
You never know, with all this tracking the fans malarkey, we might even play at The Kestle Mill Soap Company ;-)