Richard’s N. American photoblog 05 March 2012

new york / wednesday / 2012

sorry for the lack of updates – we’ve been busy, and new york is one of those cities that makes you want to go out and do stuff, rather than stay indoors and blog! i’ve taken a few pics though, and i’ll be putting them up soon, if not right now, but in the meantime, here are just a few.

breakfast at the noho star. french toast with fruit. and coffee. and maple syrup. and tim.

i have no idea what "curb your dog" means

and a few more from cleveland

this guy brought all his friends along to the show

cleveland / sunday / 1948

the helio sequence have just finishing an outrageously good set for the audience at the 18th annual great american cook off, here in sunny cleveland. i’ve just had a vegetarian dinner, but the smell of the ribs was pretty amazing! went for a wander around the festival, and the tower mall, and met some very friendly keane fans, some of whom had driven many hours to get here. i hope you like ribs too, then it would be a great day out. i’m always amazed by the distances people travel to see bands in america and canada – i guess the countries are just so huge that the distances seem small. it’s not uncommon for people to drive a thousand miles to a show. i am hugely flattered, and honoured! to put it into context, driving from land’s end to john o’groats (the longest journey from the south west of england to the north east of scotland) is 874 miles. you cannot drive 1000 miles in the uk without having to turn around and head back to where you began!

today has been fun. definitely an insight into a great american day out. cleveland is a very industrial looking city, and i’ll try to get some pictures of the steel structures that dominate the landscape – bridges and flyovers seem to be everywhere. in the meantime, here’s what i’ve been up to today, and i’ve put a couple more toronto pics below too.

jack on the bone ribs – cooked in jack daniel’s… sure smelled good!

i love this oven!

a previous winner

this buildng dominates the cleveland skyline

prizes awaiting their victors

the end of the line

jesse wants one of these. badass buggy parked outside the mall

i’ve never been to a mall with an entrance hall like this before


the building in the background (the may company) is lovely

663 ft above sea level

figures in the window of an empty building

the beer slide – aim for the bull’s eye!

i never managed to work out what these ducks were for.

more toronto-by-night pics

toronto / sunday / 0100

gig was great, except for the insects that seemed to be trying to eat me alive, or land on my drums – they must have had a nasty shock. anyway, i’m on the bus and i’m gonna try to upload one photo that i just took. it’s me and rob – partner in crime, lighting genius and all-round good guy, with the whole of toronto laid out before us. i am very pleased with this one. hope you like it. (might even make it clickable, tomorrow, if i can work out how). UPDATE: you can now click the picture to see it a bit bigger…


toronto / saturday / 1636

we just soundchecked, and have time to put up a few tourist snaps from yesterday. i had two veggie dogs for lunch – one mild, one spicy. they were bloomin gorgeous.

one of my favourite bits of graffiti ever!

the white squirrel coffee shop is lovely (west queen st)

whoever put up this sign needs their eyes tested…

my foot, on the glass floor, in the big middle blob of the tower.

the view from the top blob (aka sky pod)


toronto / friday / 1250

just got into town, and have the rest of today to wander. i love this town – the people are friendly and the music shops are good! it’s also very veggie-friendly. kyle’s favourite veggie hot dogs are right here in toronto!

rob and i managed to, um, "gain access" to the dry dock behind the back of america pavilion, but only after dark, sadly. it’s definitely getting worse – the handrails we had used to climb down into it last time were pretty much collapsed. we stayed at ground level… the cranes on the dock are amazing, and i love taking pictures at night. i hope you like the results…

you can see a plane taking off in the background (it’s a 30 second exposure)

the bright blue shape at the base of the crane is the gig venue


philadelphia / wednesday / 2010

just sat listening to the a camp record, colonia. it’s gorgeous. we drove to philly overnight, and woke up at the world cafe for our radio session and guest presenters spot – it’s fun choosing records to play, but it’s so hard too! how can you ever choose just three or four songs from the millions out there? i chose a findlay brown song, plus classic blur and r.e.m. and finally donny hathaway – i’ve been listening to the album he made in 1972 with roberta flack – totally brilliant.

can’t believe it, but i’ve finished watching series 2 of breaking bad – the best thing i’ve seen on tv in a long while. i’m gutted to have no more episodes to watch. sorry to say that i haven’t taken any pics today. i meant to, but never quite got round to it. i haven’t managed to get further than the venue or the bus – it’s one of those days on tour when you just stay on tour, and the real world stays at arm’s length.

washington, district of columbia / tuesday / 1923

tons of pics to upload. jesse took this first one about three hours ago outside the whitehouse. today is a global day of action for troy davis ( ). troy’s case is increasingly high-profile, and rightly so.

we have had a couple of days here, and had a chance to wander a fair bit. we also spent a bit of yesterday recording some drums for a fun cover we are doing (sorry… can’t tell you what – it’s a secret right now in case it turns out we ruined it!), plus a couple of drum loops for a demo tim is working on. managed to get that done in time to go to see the washington nationals play the pittsburgh pirates. poor washington – they were doomed to lose from the moment i bought one of their caps in support! it was fun, and followed by a night out. sadly, thomas sweet was shut by the time we wandered home (tim and i had some of their amazing ice cream the night we arrived), so instead we had a late night snack / early breakfast at the georgetown cafe (open 24h) on the way home. not the healthiest of days, but a really fun one.

our dressing room – the conductor’s room. you know you are in a classy joint when that’s on your door.

anti-nuclear protest outside the white house

navy yard subway station

and then the sky turned this amazing colour!

i set up a long exposure shot, and the guy hit a home-run – that’s why the fella stood up and cheered. nice timing, but crap photo!

the studio, out in arlington. it was a great place, expertly run by Don Zientara, who engineered for us.

scott (drum legend) soundchecking the drums when we arrived

this is one of my favourite shots of tim, ever – never happier than in a recording studio.

we recorded to tape – i had approx 16 minutes to get it done – three takes plus 90 seconds for the loops!

don and his desk

jesse was there to lend a second drummer’s opinion

and to help packing up

tourist shot no.1 – people playing with kites in front of the monument. it’s bloody massive. i think there must be several million american flags in washington.

tourist shot no.2 – the back garden.


pics from chicago

cool mural

there are a few really cool old theatres in this area of chicago – this was where we were playing, just along from a venue we played a while back, called the riviera.

and this place was being restored – maybe next time!

i guess we found the swedish area

windows at the aragon

the entire venue was hand-painted by one man, over the course of 3 years. it’s insane.

real plant / painted plants

alien mops

the iconic overland train system

firefighters memorial


and someone had asked for a pic of me, so i took this in the mirrored tiles at the venue in st. paul.


chicago / saturday / 1900

the helio sequence are just finishing a great set – went out to front of house to watch the first half. they are really fun to watch and make a really powerful sound, and i can tell by the applause that the chicago crowd enjoyed it.

went out for a wander today, and took loads of pics, but haven’t had time to go through them to look for good ones, so i’ll do that tonight / tomorrow.

chicago is a good town to wander around. jesse and i found some great music shops on N Lincoln Ave, but i couldn’t persuade him to spend any money, despite my best efforts. we wandered past a park where there seemed to be four different kids’ baseball games going on – it couldn’t have been more like a film (probably where things are about to go bad – think the park scene at the start of terminator 2! or do i have a dark imagination?) anyhow, we’ve had a good day here, and i’m looking forward to playing. the venue is already packed out, and i can hear bittersweet symphony ringing out of the PA. next up for your listening pleasure – mat kearney. have a good saturday night, wherever you are!


the twin cities / friday / 1639

just finished soundcheck. my shadow x 100. it’s not the easiest song to play…

yesterday was a stopover in lincoln, nebraska – our second stopover day there (last was a couple of years ago). i went to the university bookstore to buy a snowglobe (and some cornhuskers merchandise for some american pals back home). jesse and i had a nice healthy lunch in the coffee shop – and a really good coffee (on P between 13th and 14th, i think). we have been to the cinema both times we’ve been here – spiderman 3 last time (not the best film ever); star trek this time – much better! both starring kirsten dunst, coincidentally. whoops, it’s just been pointed out that it’s actually the fabulous jennifer morrison (star of house – sorry ms morrison!)… tom bought me the best popcorn ever, and then helped me eat it. i think it had about a pint of liquid butter poured over it, so if we have heart attacks onstage tonight you will know why. rob had scoped out the railway yard, so we went down there to take some photos, then met the others for pizza at yia yias (who have an amazing selection of beer), then went to see local guy marc thornton ( play at the zoo bar – i really enjoyed the set.

hit the bus and hit the road at midnight, and woke up here. looking forward to the show tonight – i remember the last time we played here – it’s a great venue. should be fun!


leftover shot from denver

love old-school limos

agee was repairing a 1952 chevrolet

look at this photo and tell me car design has improved…

ummm… does this look dodgy to you?

ok, i’m gonna upload a ton of pics of the lincoln depot. apologies in advance, but i just love the symmetry you get with all the straight lines. the sky was amazing too – just seems to be huge over here.

bullet holes in the waiting room window




denver / wednesday / 1650

just finished soundcheck and said hi to a few fans outside tonight’s venue. we tried out my shadow in soundcheck for the first time, and it sounded rocking. still got a bit (actually a lot) of rehearsing to do, and tom wants to find a better guitar sound for it, but you never know, we might be able to bust it out at some point on the tour.

we woke up on the bus in boulder, for our now regular acoustic slot on KBCO – that place has such a good little studio, and it looks out on the mountains, so i took a few pics. i could definitely live in boulder for a while – all that rock climbing and healthy air. wouldn’t get any work done though! oh, and the guy who served me at starbucks was probably the most friendly and polite barista i’ve ever encountered. jesse has been filming everything on his new flip camera.

the gig tonight should be good – we played here a couple of years ago and it was a lot of fun, so let’s hope tonight matches it. in the meantime, here are a few pics from yesterday and today.

reservoir dogs?

us, on the security screen at the social security office. in hindsight it wasn’t such a smart idea to take this pic, but the security guy realised i am just a harmless idiot, and let me off. he even looked after my camera for me instead of making me take it back to the hotel. nice guy.

i concur!

jq and i went to the university campus shop. i bought gifts for my niece and nephew, and the utah shirt i was wearing after the show last night. jesse bought me a pen – thanks jesse!

boulder – the view from the radio station. climbers will like the look of the amazing looking slabs on the right.

we are going from left to right…


tom and jesse working out my shadow in the dressing room / dungeon

my shadow is one of those songs with a long intro with no drums – should be great for taking photos onstage.

it’s also a while til the bass kicks in!


salt lake city / tuesday / 1230

went for breakfast at the lovely lamb’s grill cafe. i had an omelette with hash browns – proper ones, not the big triangle things you get in europe. it was good, but i can’t get used to half and half in coffee – makes it too sweet, in my humble opinion. tim had the short stack, beth french toast with bacon. i tried both (not the bacon) and they were amazing. really really fresh and crispy. the maple syrup was great too. col had poached eggs. he is incredibly healthy these days!

just been to the social security office to apply for something or other – more paperwork for colin, probably.

went bowling last night with some of the crew – i broke 150 but production manager ant was the star, winning both games with scores above 160. not sure the locals were too threatened…

oh, and here’s a match ball from anaheim the other day – we got given some as our venue was right by the ground. thanks very much!

people seem to like tv sets in windows here – you get the sound pumped out too. i have no idea why.

one of the older buildings in the town centre. it’s pretty business-centric in the centre. i went into one newsagent but it seemed to be stocking bongs and crackpipes more than the new york review of books, so i left pretty quickly.

odd self-portrait in the reflection of a table

the town hall

wherever you are in salt lake city, you can see the surrounding mountains, and some of them still have snow – it’s my main memory from last time we were here, and gives the city a really great backdrop.

if you look closely you can see rob…

thom, overwhelmed by the power of the brunswick 2000

our winner, holding his pose!

(i kept tripping over my laces)

ant checking the scores; rob bowling

the wonderful lustre king

spotted mr w in the window of benihana. also (not pictured) tiger woods; bill clinton…

our breakfast joint

french toast and bacon

the short stack

dentists look away now…

omelette and hash browns

it’s a lovely place

and it has hat-stands for every booth. awesome. i want a hat like this – i know i’ll look ridiculous, but they are just damn cool.

salt lake city, utah / monday / 1716

listening to teenage fanclub grand prix. got a few pics from the journey across – nearly 700 miles.

we popped into a small truckstop on the way. i found my biggest snowglobe yet, so i’m pretty happy about that. i’m also trying to collect fridge magnets of each state we go through. i don’t know why – i guess this is the lure of the truckstop. here are the pics i promised, plus some from the shop…

i should go and get some lunch, but i just found a box of oreo cookies in the minibar. the temptation of miniature bottles of whisky has never been an issue for me, but oreo cookies? game over.

oh, and Chris… Arlene is the bus driver!


see that white peak in the distance? that’s where we are headed (and this photo was taken over 450 miles into the journey). america is huge.

the joy of getting off the bus for a few minutes…

…as demonstrated by ant and thom!

what is cheese curd?

rob looks like he suspects there might be some colo(u)ring in this cookie. it was very pink indeed.

pepper teriyaki buffalo jerky anyone? it’s tender and delicious, apparently.

or perhaps a metre long snake of candy?

there’s that mountain again – still miles away

i love seeing yellow school buses, just like the yellow cabs in new york. it’s like being in a film.


bus – on interstate 15 between fillmore and scipio, utah / monday / 1120

good morning everyone, we have an internet connection on Arlene’s bus! it’s slow (the connection, not the bus), so i can’t upload pics, but i can do text – so this is what’s going on: we’ve travelled 430 miles since we left annaheim last night, and i just got up. tom is up, so is colin, tmtts. no sign of jesse, beth or tim. we’re driving through a beautiful high mountain plain – we are at an elevation of about 6000 feet – Arlene says we have been climbing all night. mount catherine is coming up on the right hand side. it looks hot out there, but some of the peaks still have some snow on them. i love these roads – you can see for miles in every direction. jesse just appeared – he says he slept well and has been writing emails in the back lounge (i’m up front, watching the world go past). we just drove past a ranch – looking place – white fences and horses grazing. this is what touring in america is all about – just seeing the landscape, the space and the absence of people. i don’t think anyone from europe gets to experience this kind of empty space. i’ll take a couple of snaps and put them up later…


west hollywood / saturday / 1808

just a quick update. the first show of the tour was a stormer! oakland really welcomed us back to the usa. thanks so much! we drove overnight to los angeles, and are here for a couple of days. jesse and i took the chance to hit the shops on melrose, and had a nice breakfast at the m cafe. we ended up staying out for hours, and i hadn’t taken my camera, so i’m sorry for the lack of photos. imagine sunshine and blue sky, and two lost-looking englishmen and you’ve pretty much got the picture… went over to the venue for soundcheck, and then headed back to our hotel for a bit of dinner before the show. tonight we welcome mat kearney, joining the helio sequence for our bill for the tour. if last night sets the tone, then this is going to be a great tour.


oakland / friday / 1924

a few pics from today… went for a walk down to the water (i’ve never been there in all my visits to this city). it’s a lovely place. i loved walking through chinatown, and the italian quarter, then finally to the waterfront. had a nice lunch with tim and jesse, and then headed to the venue for soundcheck. it’s a beautiful theatre, and i’ve put a few pics of it below.

san francisco / friday / 0750

just woke up – not a bad start on fighting the jetlag! got here yesterday afternoon, sunshine, mid-twenties, very pleasant. went for a wander with jesse – he was fighting the urge to buy a new camera (though not the leica that he’s had on his blog). last time i was here i came into town for a huge anti-war march, but today all was quiet. i have never been sure what to make of this city, but i’m definitely coming around to it. it’s really walkable (for an american city – they are often really spread out) so you don’t need a car – that helps a lot. seems like a pretty healthy place to live if you have some money, but there is a huge amount of poverty here too – there have always been a lot of homeless people here, but it just seems to have increased this time around, or maybe i’m just noticing people more because the economy is in the news. quite a few closed-up shops too – the huge virgin megastore on market is now just an empty space. we had a good wander round, then went to lori’s diner for some food with tim and colin. i had the best onion rings i’ve ever tasted. managed to stay awake until about 1030 (the equivalent of 6.30am in the uk). not bad!

that snowglobe…


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