Drahla, Le Tour

…as recalled by Amy Lilley

Aside from having to put up with constant tapping, twitching feet and partial deafness in my partner, there are benefits to going out with a drummer and here’s one…

On 10th November 2017 I headed to London with Sam Juniper, our designated driver for the tour. It was the first ‘proper’ tour Drahla had done, as support to Canadian’s METZ. As a non-musician I felt well lucky to have been able to tag along!

The two of us and Drahla (Mike Ainsley, Luciel Brown and Rob Riggs) picked up our van from Gearooz near Brighton the following day. Apart from the bold dark lettering on the van, which basically said “LOADS OF EXPENSIVE BAND GEAR INSIDE – BREAK INTO ME”, it was fab.  

After a lovely first night in Le Treport, France we arrived the next day in Le Havre and pulled up at the venue ‘Le Tetris’. I was glad to have Sam around for le tour and we quickly took on our ‘Merch and roadie’ roles, loading the gear in, setting up, sitting around, smoking and drinking lots of free beer. It’s a hard job I swear…

The first gig was great, and METZ were SO good. Me and Mike listened to them loads before the tour, getting ourselves psyched up, but nothing prepared us for how ace they are. What a band.

Afterwards we got our first taste of the French band dream with a bit of backstage luxury. I’ve never been in a band, but from my experience of hanging around backstage with Mike, when a venue offers ‘catering and refreshments’ you prepare yourself for warm cans of Carling, some crisps and maybe even a pizza IF you’re lucky. NOT IN FRANCE!! Together with the METZ guys we shared an endless homemade buffet and bottomless wine. Over the tour we’d enjoy loads of homemade meals, cheese, hummus (in the fridge especially for Mike) and lots of booze. I had it so lucky, I wasn’t driving (I knew not learning would pay off one day) and not being in the band I didn’t have to worry about much at all. Me and that wine had a great time!

The first few days of the tour felt pretty breezy. We had days off in-between gigs and wanted to make the most of driving around France, so before heading to Nimes we managed to find time to stop off at the Palace of Versailles and took a quick detour over the Viaduct de Millau.

We enjoyed that time exploring, before the mega stint of gigs, 14th Nimes, 15th Bordeaux, 16th Toulouse, 17th Barcelona and 18th Madrid. If you look at a map and see where those cities are, they’re all over the bloody place! I have a new-found respect for bands that go on tour for weeks and weeks at a time, and still show up every night with as much energy as they did the first night. I don’t know how they do it. By the time we got to Madrid I could no longer string a sentence together and Drahla had to perform like normal, so bravo to them.

I’m glad I took my camera and plenty of film. The whole tour zoomed past. Different cities and landscapes every day, so it was important to document as much as I could. I borrowed a 35mm Samsung compact camera from my friend Jess which was perfect for taking quick shots. All these photos were taken on it, you can’t beat film! The trip got me back into taking photos, in turn prompting me to set up the project foh-toh that WE ARE will be running for Long Division.

Each city and venue was completely different. In Nimes, La Paloma was a huge modern Star Wars ship-like monstrosity (in the best way), which was followed by Theatre Barbey in Bordeaux, a small grungey Wharf Chambers-esque venue with the catering on an old red bus. Absolutely worlds apart, it was great! But no matter how big or small most of the venues were all music/art centres in their respective cities and had something else about them. Either combined theatre, education, music spaces or they had a gallery space and studios in the same block. They were all these vibrant heavily funded creative hubs that knew how to treat their bands. After working in different arts centres and co-running our creative hub Crux in Wakefield, this is what we strive for, but often it feels like that will never happen. That amount of funding just isn’t available, there aren’t enough people to fill up spaces or people are too ‘skint’. It really opened up my eyes to how it could be. If only every city had a space like that, it would make such a difference.

My favourite thing about the drive was seeing how the landscape changed. One day we were high up near the Alps in France where it had snowed, then the next we were in desert-looking Spain. It was crazy how the temperature changed as well. It was a frosty -2 in Toulouse morning of the 16th then later that day we drove to Barcelona and enjoyed 20 degree sunshine!   

A load of our friends came out to Barcelona and Madrid which was ace! We kind of got into our own world in the middle of the tour, so it was a good reminder of how bloody incredible it all was. As if we’re all here watching our mates play this heaving Blade Runner venue in Barcelona. Nuts really!

A total of 3300 miles driving around France and Spain and everything went smoothly. It was the best trip ever, thank you Drahla for letting me join you. After a packed-out gig at The Garage back in London, I headed up North to meet Drahla at their last gig of the tour at the Brudenell.

I got a bit too excited ordering rounds of Tequila at Wax bar which resulted in a glass throwing Bar brawl. At least I waited until I was on home soil until I made a tit of myself, aye…

My top tour tips:
– Take a ‘dad’ character with you on your tour. Sam was great for that. You need someone saying ‘whaddduppp’ to a French guy, pulling out the plastic cutlery packed from home when in need and buying the most floral speedos possible at the first mention of ‘spa facilities’.
– Betting games are good to keep you entertained. The METZ guys taught us how to play dice, and we made up one of our own, ‘How many times will Mike go to the toilet today’ Catchy name!

  • Take photos all the time
  • Get google translate
  • Download the Ricky Gervais Show and My Dad Wrote a Porno podcasts to kill some hours
  • Enjoy those Egyptian cotton sheets because they won’t last

Tour dates:

12/11/17 – Le Tetris – La Havre – France

14/11/17 – La Paloma – Nîmes – France

15/11/17 – Theatre Barbey – Bordeaux – France

16/11/17 – Club Metronum – Toulouse – France

17/11/17 – La (2) De Apolo – Barcelona – Spain

18/11/17 – Moby Dick – Madrid – Spain

20/11/17 – Pole Etudiant – Nantes – France

21/11/17 – Le Trabendo – Paris – France

22/11/17 – Garage – London – UK

23/11/17 – The Fleece – Bristol – UK

24/11/17 – Brudenell Social Club – Leeds – UK
Drahla play Warehouse 23 on Saturday 2nd June at Long Division.

Head to the Long Division website to find out more about how you can become involved in foh-toh

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