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On Tour with Tired Lion

From storms in Germany to nerves at Glastonbury – and back home for Splendour in the Grass – we tag along with the Perth rockers as they head out on their first big tour.

Perth’s Tired Lion have spent the last few months criss-crossing around Europe, playing over a dozen shows during their four week jaunt. Now back home, the band are currently prepping for yet another series of gigs, this time in a supporting role on Violent Soho’s biggest Australian tour yet.

The band have managed to jumble together the tales — the good, the bad and the exhausting — of their first ever overseas tour, exclusively diarised below for Rolling Stone Australia.

All words below by Tired Lion (Sophie Hopes, Matt Tanner, Ethan Darnell and Nick Vasey).

June 23rd: Paris

TL Paris

Sophie: One thing we have noticed is that people in Paris are great at English but refuse to speak it if you don’t appear as though you are trying. Here are a list of things I learnt how to say in order to survive our few days there.

A jug of water please: Une carafe d’eau, si vous plait
Whisky and Coke: Whisky et Coke
I’m sorry: Je suis desolé
The bill please: L’addition, si vous plait
Have a good night: bonne nuit
We are from Australia: nous somme de l’australie

Matt and Ethan shared a romantic kiss under the Eiffel Tower which made me forget we were so far away from home and how weird I was feeling. This strange out-of-place feeling wouldn’t stick around for long as soon as we loaded into our very first European show supporting Anti-flag. We loaded on to the stage and took part in our first sound check. It was very cute watching the sound guy speak his best English, saying things like ‘Mon it Tores.’ (as in monitors).

We smashed out a set, met a rad bunch of people from The Kenneths (the band playing before us). Our first ever French fan bought our vinyl. We then loaded into the van for the long journey to Germany. The van, oh the little van — we were all excited it actually had a TV in it and a power station for when we needed to charge laptops. We chucked on a Curb Your Enthusiasm episode and drifted to dream land.

June 24th-25th: Hurricane & Southside, Germany

Sophie: The drive didn’t go as smoothly as we intended. What appeared to be a newish style van started making scathing/rattling noise. It was instinct to pull over immediately but our driver kept up the pace until we found a service station. Fuck. We jumped out of the van and the whole exhaust pipe was hanging by a thread, scratching along the ground. To top it off the TV and power stopped working in the van too. Naturally I was a little stressed but found the humour in what we had to do.

Luckily, Ethan’s dad was a mechanic, so he had learnt a few things about cars. He ripped off the exhaust which was about 2 metres long. We continued the drive to Germany — staying on schedule so we could still get to play. Maybe this was an omen. Maybe in fact we were never supposed to make it to this show. You’ll find out why shortly.

Okay so…

This show looked promising. After a 4-hour drive or so we made it to the festival — the weather was a little bit stormy and the ground very muddy. It was huge, man. Way bigger than I had envisioned, that’s for sure.

TL Glasto StockWe slogged it over the mud trying not to dirty the only pair of shoes we bought for the tour. Attempting to wipe off our shoes so mud wouldn’t fall into the circuitry of our pedals, we set up for sound check. We hadn’t received a rider as of yet and sent our reliable manager Jake for a 2km mission to our artist room to bring back our pre-gig rituals of Jacks and cokes and beers. Time was ticking and having our bottles of confidence were becoming more and more of a fantasy then a reality.

A very kind stage manager approached us and said due to the storm and health and safety our show had been cancelled. Sheesh. Maybe we weren’t supposed to make it to the festival after all. Spirits were low — morale and alcohol levels. We packed up our gear and hung around the festival, indulging in the huge buffet and our rider. I remember feeling so strange, like I didn’t want to leave our green room. I was bummed, so I had half a Valium and a Jameson and began to feel even more down.

Today was a full travel day — our first experience on the euro tunnel. The idea of being in a huge train with multiple cars underwater was a claustrophobics nightmare. I have to admit I was a little uneasy but found comfort in the fact we would be playing the prestigious Glastonbury festival. The idea of playing this festival would make me question a lot of things. What reality am I living in… is it even a reality?

June 26th: Glastonbury, UK

Sophie: It’s the day before I turn 25 and I’m not sure if I’ve died on the plane coming over to the UK, but shit is about to get very real for everyone.

Glastonbury festival. Today is the day. I think we are still all struggling to come to terms with playing such a prestigious festival and trying to believe it. We woke up earlier than usual, buzzing with expectations. I’d start to think too much, my mind running over time about how many people would be in the same place at the same time, and then I think ‘ahhhh not a good day to start psyching yourself out, Sophie’. We headed off on a winding road towards the festival grounds. We stopped off at a servo, acquiring some cokes and paper cups for our makeshift bar we had prepared in the back of the van. Nick signalled the alarm tone and yelled ‘the bar is open,’ very formally. It was time to drink ourselves into a comfortable place before we arrived.

The backstage area was a complete zen zone and at one point in time there was a mother and child simultaneously playing vibraphone. We headed to our backstage area and bumped into a few familiar Aussie faces, the legends in Matt Corby’s band. After hearing they had been on the road for 7 months, I toughened up and began to enjoy the nerves and adrenalin.

We hit the stage — it was huge, the crowd was responsive and the overload of cameras projecting our faces onto the side panels were semi-distracting. We were so excited to play a show after the last 2 had fallen through, and this was one we’d never forget.

Adrenalin pushed through our blood via bourbon and Coke — we were playing the John Peel Stage [at Glastonbury]!

It was a big top tent that was far larger than I had imagined. The set ran smooth. The lights were blinding and in full swing. Sweaty shows always means a good show.

We all went our separate ways to see different bands. A few familiar faces were spotted: Jay Watson from Tame [Impala] watching ELO, Mac Demarco hanging near our tour van and I awkwardly bumped into the singer from Band of Horses after the set. To be completely honest, I only checked out a few bands. Crowds freak me out — this festival was too huge and hectic. I hung out in the artist area. Drank some tea and liquor and soaked in the atmosphere. The highlight of the show would be watching Mac’s gear being loaded in to the stage area — things like Roland cube amps and tacky bass gear — I dig just how much he doesn’t give a fuck.

June 27th-28th: Travel Days

Sophie: Stumbling down the narrow metal path with my pedal board and 14kg carry on luggage — trying not to raise a sweat so the flight attendants wouldn’t notice I’ve exceeded the carry on limit. I patiently made it to the stairs to board the flight to Copenhagen. The Swedish rain began to slip down my face acting as some sort of fresh start. I immediately felt healed. I looked up to the white greyish sky and believed that there was something good out there and that one day I’ll be able to do this touring without so much self doubt.

Today, I’m alright. I managed to eat something this morning which is a good start. After seeing stars whilst sitting on the toilet my body kicked into survival mode. It’s strange you know, how everybody is so different. My mind seems like it goes from bursts of being stable and knowing who I am and what I want and then the next minute I’m so weak and have no self recognition. So far we have played 3 shows. It’s been exhilarating, I’ve bargained with myself more than I feel comfortable admitting and now I’m sitting on a flight desperately seeking the stability of our shitty tour van.

June 29th: Bravalla Festival, Sweden

Sophie: After a short flight from Heathrow and a disgustingly large luggage bill (always book luggage ahead guys!), we arrived in Sweden and piled into a van once more for a two-hour journey to Norrkoping. I think it’s safe to say this was the favourite stop of the tour for everyone. The town centre was beautiful and the extra several hours of sunlight in the Scandinavian summertime gave us plenty of time to explore, after which we retired to the apparently closed spa for booze and snacks.

The next day at the super-zen backstage area, hammocks were plentiful, and some more top notch European catering was on offer. We then headed outside the artist area to catch some sets from August Burns Red and to what I can only describe as a Swedish version of Cat Empire. After scoring some sweet free sunglasses and taking a peak at our stage (which was booked up with stand up comedy all day before us), Matt, Ethan and I watched a packed out set from Bring Me The Horizon and an unfortunately quietly attended set from At The Drive-In.

Some fun was then had back in our green room where we decided to record our own cover of the Spongebob Square pants theme song to get us hyped up for our set.

Before long it was time for us to load onto our stage. The vibes were looking grim with not many people hanging out around our stage area as we set up and sound checked. It seemed as though we’d been booked on the wrong stage with café facilities, dining area and very strict noise restrictions in the tent. “Did they think we were a folk act?” was the kind of question running through our minds. But as soon as the first chord of our set rung out, bodies piled into the miniature big top tent. The crowd was happy to oblige our invite to come up and do a “shoey” and learn a little piece of our band tradition. We then packed up and headed back to our green room to grab some more amazing free food. Much to my disappointment we did not get to witness Rammstein’s set as our transport had to drive us 3 hours to our hotel back in Stockholm. I can imagine it would have been very intense after seeing their incredible stage set up and the fact that they had a police escort guarding their green room at all times.

July 1st-2nd: Open Air Wettingen, Switzerland

Nick: After another short flight via Copenhagen we arrived in Zurich and met back up with our well-missed driver Matuez and drove to Wettingen. Our hotel at first glance looked like an old abandoned prison from the outside but looked pretty amazing on the inside.

Our second day was rather gloomy and rainy but was hard to let that affect anything in such an awesome looking town. After a bit of exploring we headed to the open-air festival down the road in the town centre. It looked more like a carnival for kids, which concerned us a little as we don’t really consider ourselves an extremely family friendly band. But once we checked out the place we realised that amongst all the kids rides and games there were many bars and questionable gangster rap tunes being blasted out next door to kids stalls, this calmed our concerns considerably. Backstage, we were fed many ginger liqueur shots and a variety of beers by the bar staff before having to set up to play our set. It was a pretty sparse crowd of mixed ages for us, but we got through it with some positive encouragement side of stage from a British band [Will And The People] who we befriended backstage after our set — it turns out they had done a tour recently through Australia with Sticky Fingers.

July 3rd – 4th: Rock For People, Czech Republic

TL Czech R

Nick: After a 6-hour drive from Switzerland we arrived in a small town called Hradec Kralove. After a little walk around that night I discovered how ridiculously cheap food and drinks were which ended up making the sleep that night a little more comfortable. The next day, after a failed attempt to find a laundromat due to language barriers, I turned my undies inside out and met up with everyone else and headed to the Rock For People Festival. Once we arrived we walked around and checked out the site. There was a definite sense of passion and general excitement for music emitting from the punters here, it was amazing to see festival-goers attending purely for the love of music. Our show was easily one of the most responsive crowds we had so far on this tour, they moshed, danced and clapped along to pretty much every quiet section of our set. This overshadowed the fact that there didn’t seem to be any fold-back speakers actually running on stage. After a hasty load out, we travelled back to get another early night before the 8-hour drive to Eindhoven.

Matt: I’d just spent a night in what would become the worst accommodation of the tour, although it was supplied compliments of the promoter. The sun rose on our side of the building and Matuez (our driver) and I slowly started to cook as the bricks heated up. We decided to head downstairs and have a morning beer and cigarette (only because we could smoke inside at the bar). The others slowly made their way down and we had a chat about the atrocities that were inside our rooms. I couldn’t get past the ‘poo shelf’ that sat at the back of the bowl presenting whatever left your body on a podium (let’s just say I avoided that privilege). Sophie and Ethan’s room had mould in the shower, blood on the carpet but at least was on the side of the building that didn’t cop the morning sun.

Rock For People seemed like a huge festival run like a small block party would. Everyone was in good spirits and the audience absolutely went off while we played. There was even a pool just in front of our stage for punters to cool off in. The stage crew had some ‘Czech Rum’ which they made us try which tasted pretty nice and gave a bit of a buzz. We had one more night in what majority of us labelled ‘the shit hole hotel’, my hard drive with all my movies broke and with lack of internet I nearly went insane.

July 5th-6th: Stroomhuis, The Netherlands

TL Stock 3Nick: We arrived into Eindhoven pretty late in the afternoon and headed out together that night. We grabbed some awesome local brews and food at a pub down the road, but then realised that we were in the Netherlands and they had some pretty good laws (or lack of) when it comes to weed. So naturally we found the closest coffee shop, headed there and indulged in a joint, which turned out to be a rather weak mix. We later found out that in this town they do not usually serve foreigners so we considered ourselves lucky anyway.

The next day was the first headline show of our tour. The venue was a very cool shared art-space area called Stroomhuis, it had some incredible décor inside which consisted of all sorts of old toys, machines and local artists’ creations. Once we loaded in and sound-checked we headed out back to indulge in more of the European hospitality, which involved some more amazing food provided by the venue. The most incredible part, however, was hanging out with the two in-house cats, which our whole band definitely have a soft spot for. The show itself was rather quiet in attendance which was somewhat expected as it was a Wednesday night, but we still had a good time hanging out with one of the dudes from the first support act who insisted on delivering us some more legal weed. The second band, Teen Creeps, were incredible to watch and definitely psyched us up for our set.

Matt: We spent most of the time leading up to the show checking out Pokémon Go which was just released that day. A couple of people checked out a local coffee house while the others went for walks through the estates where mansions were surrounded by moats. The show itself was pretty close and intimate with only about 50 people even fitting into the venue. We met a dude called ‘Jasino’ from a local band whose personality left a lasting impression on the band, we can’t say too much about him but he was a bit of a legend. Ethan also got a good night kiss from a local girl who took a shining to him.

July 8th: 2000 Trees, UK

Matt: When we arrived at 2000 Trees it became apparent that this was a small niche festival for the music lover. There were retro gaming tents and amazing food stalls. We accidentally arrived too early because we’d been told an earlier set time, so we got nice and drunk too early… but we managed to still play a good show. We were blown away by the number of people that came to see us on the tent stage. Kagoule, a band on just after us, were incredible! We met up with the Milk Teeth dudes and a few mates from Australia, which was a nice little mid tour treat.

July 10th: Joiners, Southampton, UK

Matt: We were told to not leave valuables in our car in Southampton, I don’t know if that made us feel like this was going to be an unsafe place, but on arrival we were greeted with a smile and lovely food. We saw signs that UK music royalty like Radiohead had been through the venue in the day, which gave me a little tingle inside. We had a few bands on before us who were brand new so it was cool to see some fresh faced dudes smashing it out onstage.

July 11th: Bodega, Nottingham, UK

Ethan: Bodega was a cool venue with a sweet vibe. My obsession with the Terminator 2 theme song was getting out of control, I was blaring it through my laptop speakers to annoy everyone, but I think it was getting a bit too much, to the point where I’d put it on and walk around like a robot. You do strange things when you’re deprived of sleep. We played our set which went well, we didn’t hang around after for very long as we had an early start the next day. We did walk around after the show though and got some desert from McDonalds which is always a good way to end your night.

July 12th: Nice and Sleazy Festival, Morecambe, UK

Ethan: We arrived at our accommodation only to be told they had accidentally doubled booked us, so we didn’t have a room. After a long drive that is the last thing you want to hear, so we jumped online to try to find another room, which was a bit harder than usual because there was some golf tournament on so everywhere was all booked up, but we finally found a place to stay. The show was pretty cool, we had some friends we made at 2000 Trees come and watch us, so we hung with them and it was a great vibe.

5 shows left. Here is a poem Sophie wrote…

I feel like the crumbled green mould that’s growing on the side of my hotel window. Like a thin t-shirt that’s been hung out in the rain for days or even that door that just won’t budge. I’m the cold sandwich on the rider no one wants to eat. I’m an alien. A pest who’s starving for attention from my loved ones but they’re deep asleep within their dreams. Unsatisfied. I’m satisfactory- again I’ve forgotten who I am. I’m the buzzing in your ears and the sand beneath your sheets. I’m the fury feeling on your teeth and the laziness on your breath. I wonder who I’ll be tomorrow…?

July 13th: Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham, UK

Ethan: This was one of the smaller venues that we played. We entered the green room and as usual we saw an array of sandwich making things. I think we had been living sandwiches for the past week or so, there is only so much you can do with cheese and ham. The support band Dolomite Minor came and hung with us and we just spoke about music and the scene and how it’s different. They are awesome dudes, so we were really excited to see them play. They had such a cool vibe — heavy guitars with lovely melodic vocals, the riffs hit hard and they just had this cool vibe about them. I really enjoyed watching their set. We were pleasantly surprised by our new friends Milk Teeth who came to the show and watched us play.

July 14th: Lexington, London, UK

Ethan: We got to the venue and we were presented with 2 flights of stairs we instantly sighed but got to work getting the gear in the venue. We met the sound guy who looked like the lead singer of Sum 41, he was pretty funny but he had a great vibe. Dolomite Minor killed it once again with a great set and got me super pumped to play. The venue was really packed and it was an incredible turnout. We played to a packed house and it spun me out that people in the audience knew the lyrics to our songs. There is no way of describing how that makes you feel, your first thought it is like ‘what the f##k how do these people know this stuff?’.

July 16th: Truck Festival, UK

Ethan: On the way to this festival I was so stoked to see that Spring King were on the line, as was Rat Boy. The festival looked so beautiful with the hills surrounding you and the beautiful green grass. We hung out for a bit in our barn-like green room before we headed out and went for a wander. The vibe of the festival was really lovely to be around, it was all ages and seemed very family friendly. Once again we were stoked on the turn out and people really enjoyed our vibe they sang a long and made us feel welcome. One girl shouted out to Matt “ol’ Robert Smith” — Matt was pretty stoked with that. After the set we went for another wander to get some food and watch Rat Boy, another girl approached Matt and asked for a photo and then said “it’s because you look like Robert Smith”. We watched Rat Boy who are really rad, they have so much energy and really know how to get a crowd going. We hung around for Spring King as they are one of my favourite bands at the moment.

July 17th: Latitude Festival, UK

Ethan: This was the last stop of the tour so everyone was feeling a bit sad. Once again, another festival situated by a beautiful landscape.

It was time for us to play our last set of the tour. We started the first song to about a half packed tent and then by the third song the tent was full. We all gave this show our all as we we were all feeling a bit down that we would be on a plane home the next day. As we played the last song, Sophie said we aren’t leaving ’til you guys sing this one with us. We got the audience shouting “I don’t think you like me”, it didn’t take much convincing for them to yell the lyrics at us. We jumped off stage and everything was going fine until Matt realised he had misplaced his bag which had his passport, laptop and pretty much anything thing else you care about in life. We realised another band had accidentally taken it, but we luckily got in contact with them and got the bag back! We walked around and took in the sights before we headed off for the last time.

TL stock 2

July 24th: Splendour In The Grass, Australia

Sophie & Ethan: Jet lagged after nearly 20 hours of flying we arrived in Perth where we spent less than 24 hours trying to recoup — before heading to Brisbane bright and early. We made it to the site, it was difficult faking a smile or sanity to our partners who we had bought along with us for the vibes. A few of us not being able to eat, some of us suffering from sunstroke and not to mention the over indulging of liquor to counteract jet lag – it’s safe to say we were all feeling at our lowest. We had arrived at the festival 3 days early where we thought we could recoup before the show but it was full steam ahead. The first morning we woke up from our sun baking tents and headed to a surf lesson with Beach Slang and the legends from Mambo & Soul Surf School. It was pleasantly therapeutic — a few beers were drank and things were feeling more relaxed.

More drinks, familiar faces, friends from bands and idols… the days just kept rolling on. It was now time to play.

We headed backstage early where we received an amazing Splendour show bag — Ethan was so excited to receive his free bottle of fake tan and it wouldn’t surprise me if he developed an addiction to it in the near future… 

Words will do no justice in describing the way we all felt up on stage viewing out to the crazy amount of people who gathered so early to watch us play. The feeling of coming home and playing to a packed out tent with our favourite Aussie crowd was the icing on the cake that only exists in lucid dreams. When you spend a month on the road across several different countries as a fairly unknown band you feel as though you have to prove to everybody you’re worth a listen. It isn’t an easy task night after night. What we were feeling on stage at Splendour was so different. We’ve never felt so at home and the energy of the crowd was one of our strongest to date. The tour was now at the end and what a way to finish it off. Now we sleep.

In This Article: Tired Lion