News & Insights 4 November 2008

Guest Blog: How many Lightyears does it take to change a lightbulb?

Tony suggests salad for lunchDuring the band’s recent American Tour, New Yorker Ashley Stubblefield boldly stepped up to the task of tour-managing the boys through their many adventures. To help exorcise her trauma, she wrote a blog about her experiences…

How many Lightyears does it take to change a lightbulb?
by Ashley Stubblefield

To kick things off, let me just say that I spent several hours cleaning my flat last Sunday. Dusting, sweeping, doing dishes and picking up the piles of laundry from my floor. I seeeeeeeriously shouldn’t have bothered with that, as The Destructo-years probably didn’t even notice what a lovely clean home I let them crash in. It was an honor and a privilege (as well as a bit of a trying task) to host three of the UK’s most charming as they made their way Stateside to divide and conquer. Chaos and hilarity ensued… 

At the airport, I met the (surprisingly awake) band and we hopped in a cab to dash off and play in front of thousands at Union Square. My enquiries into the comfort of their flight were met with excited shouts of “Quail’s eggs!”, “Champagne!” and “Business Class has beds!”, all of which are hugely exciting but difficult to decipher when three people are repeatedly yelling only those phrases at you at an extreme volume. So, to calm them down, I started giving them some of the things I had brought for them to use that week.

“Ok, first off, the extra set of keys to my place – who’s the most responsible member of the band?”

Everyone points to Chris, who shrugs. I hand him the keys and a cell phone. “And here’s the phone you’ll be able to use – ”

“There’s a phone?” Chris and George look on in astonishment, whilst Tony, oblivious, is talking to the driver in the front.

“Of course! I have the number written down somewhere… let me just get out my folder for you guys – ”

“You have a folder?!?” Chris is all amazement, and George pulls out the video camera and begins to record the folder. And record me opening the folder. And record me looking at the maps I printed for them.

“And there are MAPS?” Chris, evidently, is not strong on organizing. Or paperwork. If he even keeps paperwork…

The cab however, dropped us in good time at Union Square, where they played a fab show and made billions of new fans who all wanted them to sign a copy of their new EP. You know, the one with the black CD and the black cover? I ran to the store and bought them lovely expensive silver markers to use, asking them not to lose the markers so that they could sign stuff all week. Note to self: Never hand a marker, phone, set of keys, child, elephant etc to a member of The Lightyears if you don’t want it very, very lost within an hour. I wish I were kidding. I am not.

And after the show it’s the after-party (which they refused to call anything other than the “after bobby”. I still have no idea what that means). There was a sweet acoustic set until Tony gave up drumming in favor of beer and George abandoned the guitar to talk to a model. It was a musical crowd though, and two of our cohorts jumped in on the guitar and drums. They stumped Chris with a Weezer song (“El Scorcho”) and my favorite person ever who is named Neil (aka Spitf*ya) did some aaamazing beatboxing. It was a great night and, when the jetlag finally kicked in, we headed back to my flat to crash on various couches and chairs and beds. And by that I mean my one couch, my one chair and my one bed. True New Yorkers (or so I told the boys) do not need space! We successfully slept five there that night, including our friend Alexis who’d been dragged along for the ride. I’m fairly sure every spare inch was covered by a sleeping person or a musical instrument, and Chris spent most of that first night snuggling with his keyboard.

The next day they were up bright and early and ready to explore the city. This is when I discovered that, for The Lightyears, having a good sense of direction is not a membership requirement. As we walked, the guys would inevitably just wonder in a random direction, despite the fact that they had no idea where they were going. It was like herding cats trying to get them even to the diner just a few blocks over. And whenever we got off the subway I’d have to turn around and do a quick head-count to make sure that one of them hadn’t gotten distracted by something shiny and forgotten to get off the train. In Midtown, whilst eyeing all the glitz and glamor, Tony would ask if it was time to go shopping while George would eye the closest restaurant, asking if anyone else was hungry again. It was the overpowering silence after that question that made me realize that we’d lost Chris. Most often we’d find him about half a block down, either distracted by his own hair reflecting in a shop window or reciting full scenes from Wayne’s World (in what was actually a pretty good mid-american accent) to a stranger or traffic cop. I’d gather them all together, point them in the right direction again and hope that Chris wouldn’t come across any ardent Wayne’s World fans before we reached our destination. 

Ashley Stubblefield, Rock 'n' Roll PhotographerMid-week, the three misguided ducklings and Alexis and I piled into a van to drive down to Philadelphia for the band’s show at the Milkboy. As we finished loading up in NY, Chris and George came swaggering down the block in outfits that looked strangely familiar. 

Me:  “Chris, are you wearing my scarf?”

Chris, with a hairflip and a I-wish-were-as-cool-as-James-Dean glance at me: “Yeah… is that ok?”

Me: “Well, I… George, is that my jacket? …And my hat?”

George, giving me his I’m-too-adorable-to-be-in-trouble puppy-dog eyes: “We raided your closet a little, hope you don’t mind.” 

Me: “Of course I don’t… Wait! Are you wearing my mascara?”

Chris, very serious: “Actually, Ashley, I think the proper term is MANscara.”

George, pointing at me as though imparting wisdom: “Or guy-liner.”


Once Tony had returned from the local Taco Bell with several gallons of Dr. Pepper we hopped in the van – Alexis driving, Tony navigating. After five or ten minutes in traffic, Tony leans out the window and yells: “Are you having a giraffe, mate?” at a passing driver. As the lone Americans in the group, Alexis and I would often stick together, purposefully ignoring the boys’ random slang and inside jokes. This one, however, we could not let go. Alexis plucked up the courage to ask first: “Did you just ask that guy if he’s having a giraffe?”. On cue, all three Lightyears launched into a half-hour explanation of Cockney Rhyming Slang. From what I now understand, it’s something to do with baths and disbelief and not being allowed to pronounce the “T” in mate. 

However, the miscommunication worked both ways and later Tony stopped Alexis and I mid-conversation to enquire after the meaning of “Dude, I was, like, totally pissed at her ‘cos she was being such a jackass to the bartender, but then I bailed on the convo and was like, whatev”. Roughly translated, this means “Yes, person of either gender who I am currently addressing, I was angry with her because she was behaving unkindly to the bar staff, but then I stopped speaking to her and thought to myself that it didn’t really matter”. I’m not even sure I want to know what that translates to in Brit-speak.

In the end, staying in my tiny apartment was a blast – though, as the boys were intent on underlining, it was nothing like the posh suites they stayed in in South Korea, in as much as it is quite lacking a bar, roof-top balcony and a jacuzzi. Oh, and as for the lightbulb question? It wasn’t rhetorical. It must take more than three Lightyears to change a lightbulb because none of them could actually do it. When they asked if there was anything they could do to make up for staying, I told them the one and only thing that needed to be done was fixing the light in the kitchen (I’m too short to reach and it’s been out for ages). Chris tried but couldn’t get the cover off the fixture. George faffed about for a bit and said he’d have a go later and then Tony grappled with it, also unsuccessfully, until eventually tiring of the task and settling down to read the paper. 

“It’s ok,” I told them, more amused than disappointed, “I’ll ask my super to do it.” 

Tony: “Right-o. Sorry about that old bean. Anything else we can fix? You know, so you can make the most of having three burly men around the house?”

Nice to have burly men around the house, eh?!Chris: “We could move some heavy furniture for you! Want to see my sweet guns? Go ahead, ask me which way to The Gun Show.” 

I refused. “Right,” he replied. “Then can I borrow your hairdryer?” 

At that moment, George stuck his head out of the bathroom, “Erm, Ashley? Is the handle of your faucet supposed to be broken off like this?”

Are you having a giraffe, mate?

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