Tomorrow night, we roasters in UNIFORMS are playing in Glasgow at what is likely our biggest show to date supporting The Flatliners. It’s not every day that you get to support one of your favourite bands and it got me to thinking about how lucky we’ve been as a band over the last year. Tomorrow night also sees the culmination of our efforts over the past year and is one of the last few shows that we’ll be playing this year, so I thought now would be a fitting time to cast the mind back over everything that has happened this year. This show tomorrow night feels like a very important one to me, almost like everything we have done as a band has been leading up to this point. I know that sounds hyperbolic and over-dramatic, but I take what we do pretty seriously and we’ve spilt endless amounts of blood, sweat and tears (not to mention spent a fuckload of money and clocked up some serious mileage) doing what we do over the last year. I know the story is by no means unique as there are millions of bands doing what we do, but it’s special and important to me because this is OUR fucking band and we’re the last fucking gang in town!
It was just over a year ago that we started properly practising, with Jamie and I having spoken about putting a band together for a while and finally came up with the concrete idea whilst we were drunk in the back of a car returning from the Iron Chic show in Glasgow in May last year. Last May really wasn’t that long ago and it boggles my mind somewhat when I think about what we’ve done since then.
Jonny, Jamie, Luke and I had first jammed sometime in the June I believe, but it wasn’t until around the end of July/start of August that we started to do anything “serious”. It was only really once we had booked our first show that we realised we had best collectively remove the finger from the proverbial and get down to some serious songwriting. I wrote the riff to “Schoolboy Errors” to annoy Abbie while she was watching TV and it seems I must’ve done something right as it then went on to become the first proper UNIFORMS song. I feel like I’ve been playing that song my whole life and it blows my mind that it was only written a year ago. Anyways, we recorded our first demo in a day of drunken debauchery with our main man Boab at his house in Cambuslang after spending the whole night before in the boozer and after Jamie had gotten lost the morning of recording when he skipped out of practice to go buy some refreshments. Regardless, we managed to remain (somewhat) coherent enough to record three songs that would become our demo. As it turns out, they would be three pretty important songs, even if I do sound like I’ve suffered some pretty serious head trauma on “Photographs”. You can listen to and download the demo for free by clicking the photo below.
That was on September 24th last year and we released the demo on October 10th. Thanks to our good friend and spiritual leader Randy Reddell (of the incredible Spanish Gamble, who we’d met when the Make-That-A-Take collective had put them on in April of last year), we had managed to blag a show at pre-fest at the now-defunct Wayward Council in Gainesville, Florida as part of Fest 10. We’d been wanting to go to Fest for years and the fact that we’d be playing when going to our very first one is still absolute madness in my mind.
So yeah, we recorded a demo and had merch before we’d even played a show, as we are mad punx like that. Our first show was in Edinburgh and was promoted by our good friend Raph of Walk The Plank Promotions. I’m pretty sure that everyone involved in the Scottish (and UK) punk scene knows Raph, but if you don’t then you need to remedy that. Raph is a very talented and charming gentleman who always puts on incredible shows in Edinburgh and it speaks volumes about the man that he was willing to take a punt on a bunch of roasters like us without ever actually hearing a note of our music. As such, Raph was happy to put us on as support to RVIVR, one of the more vocal pro-feminist queer-core bands featuring the always-polarising figure of Matt Canino, formerly of (and now once again current member of) Latterman, alongside The Stay Gones (RIP) and Smithsonian at Edinburgh’s emporium of madness that is The Banshee Labyrinth. The show was a sell-out and one of the most life-affirming shows I’ve ever been to and I can honestly say that I’ve rarely been so stoked in my life. Looking back at the videos from that night, I think it’s safe to say that it was one of those rare occasions where everything seems to come together and everything goes off. I really don’t think that first shows come much better than that. Unfortunately, I’ve still got no fucking idea where that speaker cable went!
It was pretty odd to play our first show in another city supporting one of punk’s most interesting bands but our second show was in our spiritual home at The Balcony Bar in Dundee with our brothers in Shields Up, Roscoe Vacant and The Gantin’ Screichs plus young Arbroath punks Third Floor Incident (who’s guitarist Geordie strikes an uncanny resemblance to our beloved cowpunk roving reporting Ryan Gallagher). It was one of those sweaty awesome tight-knit shows that we all love and was pretty much the perfect way to introduce ourselves to our friends. To be perfectly honest, I don’t really remember a whole lot about it as I’m pretty sure everyone there made a good attempt at drinking the bar dry, something that has become par for the course at MTAT shows. A couple of days later and all four of us were off to Glasgow to see Red City Radio play. I had never really listened to them that much but knew about them, but Jonny loves that band with all his heart so we all went down. In a random turn of events, the guys from Cavalcades, who were meant to be supporting, broke down on their way from Aberdeen and, seeing as all four of us were there, we stepped in and played a few songs thanks to The Stay Gones letting us borrow all of their gear. That was an unexpected bonus and it ended up being another incredible evening, although I was a little gutted as I’ve still yet to see Cavalcades. This will be remedied at Book Yer Ane Fest VI.
Then it was off to Florida for what would prove to be the first of many ridiculous missions that we would undertake. It seems we hatch a hair-brained idea, ponder for approximately thirty seconds about how ridiculous said idea is and how much grief it is going to cause us, then go ahead and do it anyway. The whole concept to playing our fourth show in America was ridiculous, but just ridiculous enough that we knew we had to do it. We flew out from Edinburgh, first to Paris then to Atlanta and finally onto Gainesville, the plane for which was pretty much the aviation equivalent of the number 57 bus. Randy was there to pick us up and we made our way to Turkey Town, the Spanish Gamble house, and made the first of several trips to the 7-11. Eventually we made our way to our super-ghetto motel, got washed and changed and did what any sensible bunch of goons would do; head into town and get fired in about the grilled cheese and PBR.
I could write for ever about how insane the whole Fest experience was but it really is the kind of thing that you need to experience yourself to fully understand. As mentioned, we played at the legendary Wayward Council, a DIY cooperative record/book/zine store, meeting place, venue, activist space run by volunteers right in downtown Gainesville, such a cool spot. There were loads of our friends at Fest for Andy and Sam Chainsaw’s wedding and it almost felt like playing the Balcony, but in the heat of Florida. Honestly, I’ve never sweated as much in my life playing a show as I did that night. The Florida punks took such good care of us. We didn’t take a single piece of equipment with us and everyone went out of their way to help us out, especially Randy. It’s no mistake to say that this man has done a lot for our band and there was no way that we’d have been there playing if it wasn’t for him. The memories from that first trip will last a lifetime, if I can remember them.
After Gainesville, we played a string of Scottish shows; Perth with The Jackhammers and Vega’s Loft, Edinburgh with our pals in Acid Drop before taking them to the Balcony alongside Maxwell’s Dead and The Brothel Corpse Trio, and wrapping the weekender up in Aberdeen with the same line-up (minus t’drop). That was the first weekend that we played “Heads Down, Thumbs Up” too, if I remember correctly. We rounded 2011 out by playing early on the Saturday of Book Yer Ane Fest V, sharing the stage with possibly one of the finest line-ups ever assembled in Dundee, then played a benefit show in Blairgowrie for the SOS Bruno and Debbie campaign (to free them from Somali pirates, which eventually met with success!), before embarking on an absolutely disastrous mad mission to London to play a NYE party with our pals The Rocco Lampones in a squatted nursing home. I accept full responsibility for said disaster, although I’m sure everyone (well, maybe with one or two exceptions), would look back on the experience, if not favourably, then likely with a sense of humour! Plus, everyone had made up by the time we got home.
Our first show of 2012 was a Wreckin’ Pit Promotions affair at The 13th Note playing with Anti-Vigilante and Bandito Fleeto. That was the first night that we played “The Fear”. We then did another cheeky little weekender, playing a free show at The Green Room in Perth with our pals Bonehouse, Drug Couple and Shields Up before going back to Edinburgh to play with Shields and Clocked Out. Then it was Dead To Me in Dundee, which was one of the best shows that we’ve ever put on and was simply a magic night all round. Hopefully we’ll bump into those guys again before too long as they were RAD DUDES.
Our Welsh roaster pals Question The Mark came up a couple of weeks after that and we played shows in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Falkirk (which was absolute insanity). That’s when we originally hatched the plan for the forthcoming split 7″ on Team Beard Records. Realistically at this point, it’s looking like that’ll see the light of day some time next year, but if we can get the finger out and get it sorted before then, then we shall do! Those guys have been super-sound to us and they are some of the nicest, most helpful and funny dudes you could possibly hope to meet, not to mention a great band. We’ll be having them in Dundee for BYAF VI, so in an ideal world we’ll have the split sorted for then. We played in Stirling around that time too with those nutters in Shatterhand and Yeah Detroit at Whistlebinkies. That was a total blast from the past and took me back ten years to when SLAMS (Stirling Live Alternative Music Society) put on shows there.
We then moved on to the serious business of recording our EP. We hatched another ridiculous plan and clocked up nearly 800 miles in Batista moving gear and picking up bodies before settling into our “secret location” for a weekend of recording. Brains fried as usual, we set up a drum cave where Luke proceeded to spend forty-five years obliterating both our skulls and his drum kit while Jamie and I drank beer and Jonny got annoyed. Everyone knows what it’s like when you’re recording; the soaring highs and crushing lows are always there, but I’m pretty sure that we’re all pretty happy with the outcome. Once again, Boab and his endless patience engineered the process and we wrapped everything bar the vocals for the songs in the weekend. I then went home to watch Wrestlemania before we played a show in Glasgow with ONSIND, Eric Ayotte and Scragfight a day later. A couple of days after that, we finished recording the vocals for the EP before hastily sending it off for mastering and duplication in time for the Cobra Skulls tour. In between, we played a show in Aberdeen with Cleavers and Beatdoon Festival in Dundee where I managed to fall off stage like a complete dickhead. That’s what you get for rocking out too hard and lacking spatial awareness. Click ol’ Tezza’s face below to stream/download the EP.
My dad died suddenly on April 27th. At this point, I was faced with a huge decision. We had the EP coming out, our UK tour with Cobra Skulls booked and all flights and dates for our US tour with our Colorado cowpunk brothers Loaded .45 sorted. Jamie, Jonny and Luke were amazing and left the decision up to me. I knew, and know, in my heart of hearts that Mick would’ve wanted us to plough on. He’d have kicked my ass if he thought that I’d second-guessed myself for a minute and he knew how hard we work for our band. I remember the last time I saw him and he told me that he’d see me at the release show. Obviously, that never happened.
We made the decision to tour and have the release show. It’s what Mick would’ve wanted and it was what I needed. The shows on the whole were pretty amazing, the experience of being out on tour with one of my favourite bands was so surreal given the circumstances that we were in, and most of it felt like some kind of outer body experience for me. Derby was notable insofar that someone tried to steal our spare guitar, but that passed without incident. Both Jamie and I have written quite extensively about the the UK tour. You can find Jamie’s musings here and here.
We got back home and a day later it was my father’s funeral. I’ve written about that before and everyone who was there knows exactly what happened, so I’m not going to go into that here. I miss Mick every day and I’d dearly love the boot up the arse he’d no doubt give me right about now. I’d also hope that he’d be proud of how strong we’ve been and how hard we’ve fought through everything. Then two days later, it was off to the USA. Again, both Jamie and I have written about the insanity of that experience already, but it’s safe to say that it was a privilege and an absolute pleasure to meet such great people in so many places so far away from home, difficult though it was for us all. You can read the previous pieces here, here, here and here. Once we got back from the States, it was straight from Manchester to Crash Doubt Fest 2 in Lincoln before an eight hour drive home in a state of complete zombification, a state that we remained in for weeks. Cue the post-tour blues.
Since then, we played a couple of shows with The Day I Snapped and Mug in Dundee and Glasgow, as well as playing with The Flatliners for the first time in Bridgend, Wales along with the Question The Mark boys and rocking a biker rally in that most rock’n’roll of locations; Brechin Town Hall! On the surface, it looks like we haven’t been doing too much but we’ve been beavering away working on our new stuff and getting ready for recording. We had plans to head out on a UK tour with Loaded .45 but unfortunately real-life problems get in the way of the best-laid punk rock plans. The tour is still going to happen, likely some time early in the new year.
I didn’t intend to write so much when I started this post about two hours ago, I was just going to mention how much I’m looking forward to tomorrow night and how it feels like the culmination of our graft over the past year. I know it might not look like too much, but I feel we’ve done ourselves proud in our short existence. It takes a special kind of relationship to get through all the shit that we have in such a short period of time. Speaking only for myself, this has been the toughest time of my life and the band has been one of things that has helped me cope with everything that has been going on. Focus, passion, drive, the will.
Tomorrow night is one of the last show’s we’ll be playing this year. We’ll be playing the Elway show in Dundee on September 30th, then playing a show in Glasgow with The Cut Ups the night before Book Yer Ane Fest VI kicks off, at which we’ll play our last show of the year. We’re going to write and record for our split releases with Question The Mark and Loaded .45. We may also throw out another cheeky EP as we work our way towards our first full-length. I honestly can’t wait to see our shit pressed on wax.
Tomorrow night is likely to be somewhat emotional.