Irrational Encounters With The Modern World

Dubious Claims To Fame – 6

This claim to fame isn’t perhaps entirely dubious, but it is still relatively low on the spectrum of “celebrity.” Although, these days, most celebrities are pretty low down on that spectrum too. This claim to fame may actually put me in line for an appearance in that jungle reality show yet.

It is no secret that my favourite band of the past seven years is Combichrist. I first encountered them at Edinburgh’s Dark City festival in 2005, where I was working as stage crew – helping bands in with their gear, then doing the changeovers between sets. I took a chance on a couple of the bands I didn’t know, bought their latest CDS, and thus discovered Combichrist and Rotersand – great acts, and even better live.

That summer, we were both coincidentally in New York, and so I headed to the city to see them a second time. At the end of the year, they played a one-off show in London, and I travelled down for it. I have since seen every Scottish or London date they have played.

I stayed in touch with the Edinburgh promoter, and this led to me crewing all but two of Combichrist’s subsequent returns to the city, as well as gigs by singer/writer Andy LaPlegua’s side-projects. When circumstances changed and they began playing Glasgow instead, where the new promoter already had his own crew in place and no space for me to join it, I opted to make the experience memorable in a different way, and began travelling the country to see the band play three or four dates on the one tour. To date, I have seen them play twenty-four times, and witnessed their gradual expansion from a duo into a four- and five-piece live band. I don’t recall seeing them play as a trio, but I found footage online just last week of a gig in 2008, where I crewed, and it looks like they played as a three-piece that night.

The upshot being, I met Andy way back before this band’s career took off, and have kept in vague touch over the years. I’ve met all of the band, in most of its incarnations, and have moved from helping them (or latterly their road crew) bring their gear into the venue and set it up, to just going to the show as a fan and then hanging afterwards to catch up with them.

I’ve come to know the local promoters in Scotland and London, and it was through this intricate web of friendships, acquaintances, and chance that I ended up introducing the band onstage with comedy at their show in London in 2011. That is, perhaps, a clearer and better claim to fame than most of the ones documented here, and if you’d like to read how that came about, and how it went, the relevant blog is here.

This year, I went to the Glasgow, Manchester, London, and Brighton shows. The band, in a relatively rare move, came to most of the club after-parties that week, and so I got the chance to hang out with various members of the band (and them with me, haha!) four nights out of six. It was great fun.

This tour, “Evolution”, was billed as a mix of old and new, and reflected their line-up changes over the year, starting with two band members on stage and with the others joining one by one over the course of eight or so songs. Glasgow was good, but Manchester the next night was incredible – so much power, such a tiny room, dense with smoke and strobing lights throughout. Amazing, one of their best shows I’ve seen, and then afterwards we ended up in a really cheap pub followed by a nearby house party.

When I got back to my hotel, I logged in to my emails and found one that I initially took to be spam. Opening it, I discovered that I was being asked to write a short (hundred words) review for Metal Hammer, the renowned UK music magazine. No problem for someone well versed in the history of the band, and a keen writer too. Most flattering of all, though, was the discovery that I had been recommended for the task by the band’s manager. It’s nice to be appreciated.

Here, then, is my latest claim to fame, from Metal Hammer issue 234/Summer 2012. Click on the image to see it full-size.

Click for full size

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