‘A bad tour with The Prodigy made me realise what was important’
Time of My Life: MayKay, musician and broadcaster
Firemartyr: MayKay performs with Fight Like Apes at the Electric Picnic festival in Stradbally in 2010. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire
I know I’m not alone in wishing I could appreciate things as they happen. And not the big, obvious triumphs. And not months later. The day-to-day wins.
I’ve tried lately to look around me and be glad I am where I am. But so far the only result is me shouting “I’M REALLY ENJOYING MYSELF, BY THE WAY” at a group of surprised and unnerved friends on a fairly tame Tuesday night in a pub. We seem to be constantly chasing, running and (sometimes) catching up - but never fulfilled enough to stand still.
Years ago when my band, Fight Like Apes, were in a van queuing up for a ferry, our manager called. Up to this point I had been excited about this upcoming tour. They were small venues – but they were sold out. We had no money – but we had beers.
He says, “Liam Howlett has been in touch. He wants you to support The Prodigy on their upcoming UK tour.” I cannot describe the excitement that ensued. Suffice to say I was on the bonnet of the van and someone got sick.
My phone credit eventually ran out but I tried to ring everyone I had ever known.
Thanks to Firestarter, even my aunties were aware of The Prodigy.
Everything we did after that day led with that. Press releases, interviews, tweets, random conversations. This tour we were setting out on was a bit overshadowed.
Fast-forward a few weeks and we arrive at the first enormous venue. The first person we meet is Liam Howlett. “Your band is really good,” says he. “So’s yours,” says I. Bit of a facepalm moment there, but it was the very best I could do at the time.
I’d love to tell you that the tour was amazing. And if you call selling one T-shirt a big success then I do apologise for my negativity. It was weird. Very weird. Only after we left the stage on the first night and watched The Prodigy come on did we realise why. This was a very bad booking, one that no one in their right mind would turn down, but very, very bad. And it didn’t improve.
On night three, someone threw a full pint glass at me while I was on stage. Apart from the shock of someone having enough dosh to waste a whole pint of beer, I thought that guy must really not like us. That night, a great friend drove 150 miles to give me a pep talk. I would never have left the stage or the tour. But I needed motivating.
I’m saying all this because it made me sad. It made me sad when I thought of that first tour that got overshadowed. Small venues – but sold out. Ecstatic fans, singing every word. Amazing hospitality everywhere we went. That was the amazing tour. That was the news I should have been telling media and family when I was afraid that it wouldn’t mean anything to them.
It seems we don’t know we’re in the Good Ole Days until we’re out of them. And that’s a scary thought. I’m going to continue the effort to appreciate the day-to-day wins.
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