News & Insights 9 November 2006

Sandwich-ageddon in the Big Apple

Thursday 9 November, 12.30pm (Outside a deli, Manhattan, New York):
Sitting on a plate in front of me is a sandwich that’s going to change my life. I mean, I’ve had some pretty momentous things happen to me in my time – my first word, Cub Scout initiation, house burning down etc – but I really do feel like this is it. The motherload.

Most people criticise Americans for being a tad on the large side. But if their on-average mightier girth contributes to the continued existence of sandwiches like this, then by George I applaud them for it. OK, so I’m asking you to imagine Vesuvius, right – the volcano – but instead of pyroclastic rock you’ve got pumpernickel bread, and instead of divergent tectonic plates you’ve got a delicious tower of maple-roasted turkey, and in place of hot gushing streams of molten lava you’ve got honey and mustard sauce. Basically it’s bad-ass. It’s Sandwich-ageddon.

God Bless America.

We arrived in the city about half an hour ago and our New York host, Jon’s son Dan, immediately took us to the nearest deli to quell the appetites we’d spent the 2-hour journey from New Jersey forming. So now, the November sun is blazing, our stomachs are replete with insanely delicious sandwiches and we have a whole day ahead of us in the Big Apple. Life is good.

Thursday 9 November, 11.45pm (NYU Dorms, Manhattan, New York):
Right. We’ve done the Rockefeller Centre, the Empire State building, Macy’s, Sach’s 5th Avenue, the Statue Of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, Bryant Park Ice Rink, Ground Zero, Little Italy, Times Square and Dunkin’ Donuts. We’ve basically acted completely unashamedly like tourists. This, however, is a privilege of being on tour and I refuse to be ashamed of it.

Tomorrow night we are playing the Baggott Inn in Greenwich Village. Coincidentally, at precisely the same time, Guns ‘N’ Roses are headlining Madison Square Gardens across town. I sense a head-to-head coming on.

Friday 10 November, 9pm (LYs Photo Shoot, Times Square, New York):
We are standing in our trademark Flying V photo-shoot stance in front of the American flag in Times Square. Our photographer Rob is busy dodging tourists and trying to get the perfect shot in time for us to get back to the Baggott Inn for 9.30pm. Rob has snapped us underneath Washington Arch, on the subway, in some phone boxes outside a Broadway theatre and now in front of what turns out to be a military recruitment centre in Times Square. We are, of course, wearing our LYs army jackets. Two burly Navy guys, fully uniformed, walk past and eye us with heavy suspicion. Their expressions seem to imply that they simply cannot imagine what we are doing. Oh, and also that they could totally take us in a fight.

Time to head back to the venue, I think…

Friday 10 November, 10.30pm (Baggott Inn, The Village, New York):
We’ve just finished our first ever show in New York. Everything went smoothly and an impressive crowd turned up – it turns out that lots of our fans in London have sent their American friends down to check us out. Adam and D, however, who have made the 3,500-mile journey from Derby, UK, take the prize for furthest distance travelled to see us. Good work chaps.

I fall into conversation with the proud father of the youngest band ever to play at The Baggott Inn, which is a strictly-policed 21+ venue. He tells me that his son’s band, Blackout, now 11, have been gigging together since they were 8. Apparently they were chaperoned to and from the stage and immediately dispatched from the building the minute they strummed their last chord. It sounds like he’s pushing them pretty hard – they tour constantly and have a punishing schedule for a band who probably still have their own tree-house. I contemplate dropping into conversation something along the lines of “Let’s hope he doesn’t pull a Macaulay Culkin on your ass and burn out on crack-cocaine before he’s 18”. I decided against it in the end though and, on reflection, I’d say that was a good move.

OK, now here’s where things really start to get interesting. We’ve been invited out to a bona fide NYU college party. You know, the kind you see in movies where big-necked frat guys guzzle lager through funnels and all the girls – by day simply your run-of-the-mill university students – turn out also to be professional strippers. And everyone drinks out of red cups, instead of straight from the bottle. I’ve always found this rather quaint and assumed it to be a common fiction adopted by Hollywood, but no – they really do drink out of red cups! Regulation ones, too! You can buy them all over the US. I find this astonishing. I tell some girls this at the party but I think they fail to grasp the true impact of what I’m saying. They do like my accent though, which I have Hugh Grant-ed up a little bit, just for effect.

Sat 11 November, 3am (Japanese Restaurant, somewhere in New York):
I am eating an eel. I really wish that I wasn’t. That’s partly because it’s 3am, but mainly because it’s an eel and eels are slimy and disgusting.

At some point, we get back to the dorm, collapse in a heap and catch a couple of hours sleep in preparation for returning to New Jersey tomorrow for our radio interview and the climactic gig of the tour – a Saturday night headline show at Milkboy in Ardmore…

Chris Lightyear

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