God it’s weird being back in London. Seeing the sights and sounds, the hum of Heathrow, all the shops near Koko, all the places we first saw when we were first a wide-eyed band in love with a country. I wanted us to be the Smiths or something like it. The American Smiths? Is that a contradiction? The Cure without the makeup. Another contradiction. The Clash with some folk songs. That’s probably closer.
Everybody just means it so much here. The magazines bitch and scream and proclaim someone a savior at the very moment they profess their disgust at how spectacularly one failed at saving anything—or that there was nothing left to save. And you’re American, besides. Which is to say: simple, arrogant, rough, ready, quantifiably cliché.
So we’d stumble through the streets after the show, up to our necks in beer and whiskey—chasing this ghost or that of who we wanted to be. Some of you became close friends. Some, even closer. And we learned you were just a country and we were only people—and this massive daydream was only as real as the feelings we had skipping drunkenly through the cold alleyways trying to meet the bus before it left in the morning.
In case you’re wondering, we fought with our label then demanded they sell us our European rights back, which they did, at considerable expense, which we were happy to pay out of pocket for. This was a year ago, before we made Such Hot Blood. And now we have this record and this time and we don’t even know what will become of the 70 shows we played in the UK before even putting out our first record, of those lost ideas about what it means to be a rock band here.
We took a chance and got our record back because we still want all of that. All of it good and bad of what it means here to be a rock band. Something I heard when I was 12-year-old boy growing up in California, and someone gave me a dusty old Stone Roses record and I thought, “Jesus, where did that come from?” And I read the liner notes and memorized the lyrics to “Elephant Stone” then “Ask” then “Like Cockatoos” then “Bankrobber”—all the while thinking that there’s this whole other world, this whole big world outside the mind-numbing hallways of my junior high school with it’s mind-numbing predilection for music I could not relate to because I did not own Adidas sneakers and I knew in my heart of hearts that I was just too weird and wondered where all the other weird people were. And I’m not saying that they were in England. I’m saying that this music—this English music, this English conception of rock and roll with it’s desperate, cloying, angry, winking beating heart made me feel less alone.
I wish I could tell you how far we’ve traveled, what it’s meant for us, what you mean to us. Just know that we are grateful for the journey and grateful to you. And no, in case you’re wondering why we haven’t been here for a year: it’s not that we’ve given up on you. Quite the contrary. And we can’t wait to play tonight.
best to you–