Life on the road with Spacehog isn't always as glamorous as it seems.
Life on the road with Spacehog isn't always as glamorous as it seems. (Photo: Mike Popovich)
Drums everywhere.
Drums everywhere. (Photo: Mike Popovich)

A day in the life on tour with Spacehog

The life I have led so far as a musician transplanted to the United States from Yorkshire, England, is certainly a lot different from that of my parents'.

I was just on the phone with my dad today, telling him how great a job he had done raising a family of four kids on one salary, and getting us all through college. Hugh (my father) is 82 and is like our dearly departed Robin Williams, a Parkinson’s Disease sufferer. Williams' suicide brought acutely into focus the indignity of a condition which has the power to render you nonfunctional to all around you.

After a lifetime of supporting everyone in your family, it must be doubly humiliating to succumb to the syndrome.

So after all that it is probably hard for my folks to understand the pressures of the modern creative, but things have changed for sure. To start with, it's hard to imagine any family surviving from one salary these days.

And if one’s job requires that one is away from home for periods of time, it makes it all the more complicated. For these reasons I have to think twice before stepping away from home and onto a tour bus.

For some reason most people think that artists read from a completely different rule book: You're not a "real artist" unless you are in a constant state of purgatory. The only way to really enhance your credentials as a musical trailblazer is to jump off the nearest cliff! But I reject that completely. I am nobody’s martyr!

With my partner wholly committed to a full-time position in corporate fashion, it fell on me to leave no stone unturned before leaving town. First order of business was to interview and hire a full time nanny. Check.

After that, we had phone and Skype to reassure my 2-year-old that Daddy was, in fact, coming back. I learned this helping raise my now 16-year-old from opposite sides of the Atlantic after I broke up with my ex-wife: That a plan to meet again before you said goodbye went a long way to ease the anxiety of those months apart.

As a teenager,…

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Spacehog at its show at the Wisconsin State Fair earlier this month.
Spacehog at its show at the Wisconsin State Fair earlier this month.
And Spacehog, at Summerfest, in 1998.
And Spacehog, at Summerfest, in 1998.

In the meantime, as it is

When my buddy Andy Tarnoff at OnMilwaukee.com asked me to write a few words; a blog if you will, I spent the first couple of days in a stunned catatonic state.

Newly arrived in Seattle, from New York and originally from Leeds England, what could I possibly write about that would resonate with his readership?

Taking a look at the website, I could see that it was a resource very like the ones I would use in the aforementioned cities; taking the reader to places they might not have visited, both physical, intellectual, artistic, epicurean, libationary and otherwise.

It got me revisiting some of the times I came to Milwaukee with my band, Spacehog -- the countless times we played Summerfest, our appearance at Shank Hall, and random visits to the state to play places like Oshkosh and Sturtevant. The warmth of your average Midwesterner is noteworthy; I knew because I had tended bar with a couple back in New York, none other than Spoon's Rob Pope and The Hold Steady's Bobby Drake.

Andy has shown tremendous support to Spacehog over the years and has tried to step out every time we played. He didn't let me down on at the Wisconsin State Fair on Aug 7, when I was back with some old faces on the Summerland Tour.

After some apprehension about the nostalgia angle, we ended up having a bangin' tour with Everclear, Soul Asylum and Eve 6.

Sure we had some differences with Art Alexakis back in the day, owing to our opposed views on sobriety. But they were graciously put to bed after he invited us back to Summerland after an 18-year absence.

Yes that's right, we did the first Summerland, put together by Art in 1996! We wound up playing as part of (yes you guessed it!) Summerfest.

I remember being disappointed at the time because the agents had been talking a big game about getting some of the strongest names on the scene at the time. Names like No Doubt, Bush and Oasis. It wound up being Ourselves, Everclear, Tracey Bonham (with whom we got along famously) and Seattle's' Seve…

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