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The Fields | Oversized Portions

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band_fields_smAnglo-Icelandic electronic/indie quartet Fields came to America for a week of shows, video shoots, oversized meal portions, and drives along the Coast. We asked Nick Peill (vocals, guitar, keyboards) to keep track of the band's exploits. Following is his impression of the exploits of himself and bandmates Torunn Antonia (vocals, keyboards), Henry Spenner (drums, vocals), Mattie Derham (bass, keyboards, vocals), and Jamie Putnam (guitar). Fields' debut EP, 7 From the Village, came out this summer.

 

09.29.06

Dublin. We just can't seem to avoid the place. Having spent nearly three months acquainting ourselves with the city and its people, we found ourselves winging our way toward it once again en route to America. Due to arrangements and rearrangements, we had flights booked to the United States from the Dublin airport that could not be transferred, and so we were flying there to pick up the Air Lingus flight to New York City. You really can't complain ever about going to America for work, but an extra six hours on a long journey is never as much fun as it sounds. Still, as we landed in New York roughly 12 hours after arriving at Heathrow that morning, we all started to get excited at the prospect of our eight-day U.S. adventure.

band_fields1A few drinks in a local bar and some pizza was a nice way to ease ourselves into what would be a hectic week, although Henry and Jamie were a little concerned by the scary-eyed freak who accosted them at the bar, demanding to know who they were. Seems to be a recurring theme with New York, but it has to be said that they have the most friendly and helpful freaks of any place I've yet been.

09.30.06 | Video shoot

Today was the day that we shot our first big-budget video, to accompany "If You Fail, We All Fail." It was hard not to feel bowled over when stood on a rotating disk surrounded by blinding lights, deafening music, and a crew of nearly 30 very lovely New Yorkers gathered there just to make us look good (good luck!). Mattie seemed more impressed by the catering and spent most of his time seeing how much food he could put away, including two roast beef dinners, bowls of cocoa pops, beef and chicken burritos, bagels, platters of cold meat and cheese, assorted snacks, and as many Jelly Bellies as he could manage. It's a definite perk of going to things like this that you are provided with a huge table of food from which to graze.

The shoot seemed to go really well, despite Henry almost passing out from spinning on his own rotating podium for too long, and we are all excited at the prospect of seeing the finished item, although it was quite hard to picture how it will turn out. Our director Shawn seemed to have a very clear idea of what he was doing and made the shoot run to course.

After we finished, it seemed rude to not sample at least some of the nightlife on offer so we headed down to the east village to meet up with friends at one of our favorite watering holes, The Annex. A few drinks later, all thoughts of jet lag and video shoot exhaustion were forgotten and we began to feel right at home. New York is a really welcoming place.

band_fields210.01.06

Hard to believe it is October already, especially on a blissfully sunny day off in New York. Finding it impossible to raise the others, Jamie and myself decided to head off into the city to make the most of the day. Thinking it wise to start with a light bite, we made our way to a Texan BBQ place somewhere near Times Square (I think it is called Virgil's). Perhaps the clue as to what we about to do to ourselves lay in the name of the platter we each ordered: the pig out. One of the things that always impresses in the U.S. is the size of the portions on offer. The "pig out" did not disappoint, with wood-smoked cuts representing most of the animal kingdom being presented amid BBQ beans and coleslaw. No one likes to see an unfinished plate of food, but when midway through we both started to hallucinate through the meat sweats, we decided to admit defeat and look for someway to clear our heads.

Spending the afternoon in Central Park proved to be a wise idea, and between watching the crazy New Yorkers at the roller disco in the park and rowing on the lake, we began to feel like we were on a proper relaxation holiday.

The night was spent at dinner with friends (which I had no appetite for, still being stuffed with smoked meat) and at the Town Hall watching Sufjan Stevens, which was so good I almost considered giving up music for good in order to follow him around the world-but then that would be a bit creepy, so I gave up on that plan.

10.02.06

The morning began with me and Hen getting breakfast rolls (sausage patties and egg) from our friendly local deli and eating them in the sunshine in Hells Kitchen Park, which resembled a scene from Sesame Street as cute little kids ran amok amongst the drunks and hobos. It was then a quick dash (with a hilarious taxi driver who asked if we knew his friend in England—as if it had a population of about 100) over to the Fearless TV studios to film a short live set. We played the usual numbers, "Song for the Fields," "Charming the Flames," "Brittlesticks," and "If You Fail." But it went really well and was good to get in some practice before tonight's show at the Mercury Lounge.

Next stop was to meet up with Janine (our lovely press officer) and Pat from the NME who was over to do a review. We decided to butter him up with a trip to the Stardust Diner where "on the up" actors wait tables and perform songs while you eat. It's a vaguely surreal experience to drink a foot-tall milkshake with a cherry on top while someone dressed in a 1950s-style apron sings the Darkness back catalogue. Only in New York, surely...

With the taste of onion rings and ice cream in our mouths, we got ourselves over to the East Village to set up for tonight's gig. The Mercury Lounge is a wicked venue and we played a corker of a show; it is good to remember how much fun it is to play live, especially when the venue has a P.A. loud enough for us to rupture the audience's internal organs. We met plenty of really lovely people and got to hang out with our elusive manager, who led us to a variety of our favourite East Village bars. Thanks must go to Jason from the Dark Rooms who always makes us feel at home there. Also there was a tinge of sadness at the thought of leaving New York so soon. Even though we have only been here a couple of times, we have met so many nice people it almost feels like a second home.

10.03.06

band_fields4Thorunn.....Thorunn.....Thorunn.... Thorunn has many wonderful traits and is a truly lovely person; however, her sense of punctuality is pretty nonexistent. This was particularly apparent this morning as the rest of us waited anxiously at the Skyline Hotel foyer for her to return. We had a flight to L.A. to catch and were seriously running low on time to make it. After calling every number we could think of to track her down, an executive decision was made to leave it to fate and go without her. I must admit a feeling of guilt as our taxi made it way out of the city without her, but we are all a happy-go-lucky bunch and stuff always seems to work itself out. Although the thought of playing our debut West Coast show without her was not a pleasant one.

But credit where credit is due, there we were, buckled up and ready for take off some three hours later when who should appear dashing down the aisle in glamorously dishevelled fashion but the one and only Thorunn. Always one for a dramatic entrance, the mighty Thozza!

The bulk of the day then consisted of a really uncomfortable, hung-over, and sleepless flight to L.A. in seats that seemed to reject your body and try to stick you in the back just as you are getting comfortable.

Upon arrival, though, we began to feel the West Coast vibe-that is, until we got stuck in L.A. traffic and spent three hours on the short drive to the hotel. Not even a trip to Mel's drive-though Diner could stir my exhausted body as I almost fell asleep in my mushroom Swiss burger and black-and-white malted milk shake.

Time for bed.

10.04.06

The morning began with some bad news. In the rush to get the video ready for airplay, it had been hastily shipped over by air to L.A., during which it was mistakenly put though an X-ray machine en route. This resulted in the entire footage being wiped from the tape! We quickly realised, however, that this would mean staying here a couple of extra days in order to re-shoot the whole thing. Expensive way to do a run through!

Despite the annoyance at the video disaster, we had a fun day doing promo. We played an acoustic session for Indie 103.1 FM (I shook hands with a very disinterested-looking Steve Jones from the Sex Pistols), did a really fun interview for an unknown radio show (sometimes it is really odd when you are doing things like this and have no idea who or what they are for), and then a live performance for a show called The Daily Habit on Fuel TV. This also provided a source of great amusement, as they had some promotional material for a solo male artist going under the name of Ponce. Odd to think that particular phrase hasn't made it over the pond.

Having got all the promo out of the way, we headed back to Beverly Hills to the Troubadour where we were to be playing with the Dears. They seemed like a lovely bunch of people and really impressed. It felt like a very comfortable match and the resulting gig was really good, despite the fact that our transformer blew up, forcing us to play almost the entire gig without keyboard and some guitar effects. It didn't seem to alter the reaction from the crowd, though, and it felt good to have gone down so well in a place with such an impressive heritage.

We made the most of our evening in L.A. hanging out with a variety of lovely people, and again thanks must go the wonderful Ray and Chandelier, and also Chris and Cassie for making our brief stay so good.

10.05.06

Road trip. I've always dreamt of doing the classic West Coast road trip, and so was really excited to get in our van and head out of town on the way up to San Francisco. The sun was shining and we had some great music on (Darker My Love in particular need to praised for adding to the atmosphere). Pit stops on the way for burritos and fresh fruit added to the feeling that I was in a road movie (although I prayed it wasn't to be Duel, which I couldn't get out of my head all day).

After a wicked drive through amazing countryside, the arrival at San Francisco was unbelievable. It is a place I have always wanted to visit and I was worried I had maybe built it up a bit in my mind. However, as we crossed the bridge over the bay and the city opened up in front of us, we were all really excited to be here. The local air force even seemed to have put on a display for us as jet fighter planes were looping the loop and flying in formation alarmingly close to the tops of the buildings. It was actually a bit worrying, as the noise they generated shook the buildings around us. Mattie made us laugh as he compared them to oversized metal birds who did a "constant blow off." It was the use of the term "blow off" that caused particular amusement, being straight from the infant playground.

band_fields3We checked into our hotel, the Phoenix, which had a great kitsch charm, being like the apartments Daniel LaRusso lived in in the Karate Kid. All turquoise, glass-fronted rooms around a pool designed by Andy Warhol. And once washed and unpacked, we made our way to 330 Rich St., where we were to play at Popscene later that night.

The gig went very well and there were no technical hitches tonight of the generator variety. Following the gig, we hung out at the venue and then were introduced to the delights of Sparky's Diner by some of the friendly locals. Our guardian and team leader Matt almost fell asleep in his burger, though, and we decided to call it a night. It felt like we hadn't really got to see San Francisco and I am very keen to return there at some point next year to see a bit more of it. The people were very friendly, though, and it had a nice atmosphere about it, even with the hoards of drunks roaming the streets like the zombies of Night of the Living Dead.

10.06.06

A bit of a non-day, really, as we flew back to L.A. to get some rest for tomorrow's re-shoot of the "If You Fail" video. However, on the plus side, we had been booked into the Long Beach Hilton as some form of compensation for the inconvenience of staying an extra day. This also included dinner from room service, and so we settled in for some mindless entertainment in the form of pizza, beer, and Snakes on a Plane viewed from the most comfy bed of recent days.

10.07.06

Well, we finally arrived at the last day of our trip and it was oddly like the first. A 3:15 a.m. call did nothing to reduce the dreamlike weirdness, and the whole day felt like some sort of surreal Groundhog Day, as we re-enacted the same shots we had filmed the week previous. The crew were really lovely, though (as was the catering—again) and it turned out to be very enjoyable. Also this time we got to see some of the footage and so left with a better idea of how it would turn out-pretty good, truth be told.

By the time we reached LAX airport to get our flight home, we were all feeling the exhaustion of a hectic week and that is where I am now, typing in a state of semi-confusion and fatigue. Still, it had been a wicked trip and we are all sad it has come to an end. Mattie in particular seems to have lost the plot, leaving his passport in the toilet and being summoned by the security desk to come and retrieve it.

Still, at least we get to start our British tour in two days. Busy, busy, busy!

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