Last weekend saw Camden’s streets crawling with drinkers, seeking out their favourite bands and their next pint. It was the weekend we all know as Camden crawl, only this year it was re-invented and slapped with a new alias: CC14.
Bands including Autobahn, The Crookes and Mazes played the Friday whilst Saturday saw Brawlers, God Damn and Spit Shake Sisters take to the stage of Camden’s sticky-floored pubs and bars. Bad for Lazarus promised me it would be their “best gig ever”, and it certainly was a night to remember – or not remember.
Luckily, when I caught up with Bad for Lazarus, it was early on before the crawl began, and before my eyes could no longer see the bartender I was ordering a cider and black from.
“Preparation for tonight? We just sit back and relax for a few hours, then get on stage and give it all we’ve got. I don’t feel like there’s much we can do on the day, except have a few beers and plenty of water…of course.” Rich Fownes, guitarist and vocalist for the band, shakes his ice cold cup of water at me.
The boys are sprawled in their seats as if about to have a nap, but their faces and voices contain enough energy to fuel the entire crawl. They are possibly the most intriguing people I’ve ever met – at least up there in the top 10.
Rich makes a bold statement, skull-ringed and eyeliner-wearing, with his silver nail varnish, long curly dark hair and aforementioned accessories, but a smile that suggests he’d apologise profusely for splashing beer on your shoes in a mosh pit. Liam, the bassist, however, presents a more middle-aged-just-got-back-from-Benidorm look in his bright, floral shirt. The scruffy curls, intense blue eyes that could definitely see my soul and and scattered tattoos mean that they make for a interesting pair, certainly a feast for the eyes.
“I can’t get this tattoo out” Liam says, toying with the buttons on his shirt. “Am I allowed to say I hate it? Yeah I hate it. I blame my dad, he’s the adult and he should never have let me draw a horrible black pointy shape and then allow us to both get it tattooed on us.
“The one here on my arm is from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and this shape below is the symbol from my old band”. Rich interrupts with, “Just for the record he doesn’t have a Bad for Lazarus tattoo – just wanted to get that out there.”
After showing me the faint blue mark of a make-shift tattoo that he later scratched off, created on one drunk night by an over-confident friend, a needle and a pot of India ink, Rich, dubs himself the most sensible one. “We used to live across the road from each other, he’d be calling me the morning after to bring him hula hoops and juice. Oh and nuts are a good hangover cure too, cashew nuts, they’re plain or salty. But definitely hula hoops because they’re plain enough to just shove them all in and keep them down.”
Just for the record, sensible Rich did admit to having his arse wiped by his mum, after a particularly rough night and one too many White Russians.
There was definitely some take-home educational advice there, and as I left, I had the urge to hug them both. Before realising it was probably better to just buy them both a drink.
Later on, I met up with Slaves, a garage punk duo, who don’t take life too seriously. Their laughter could probably be heard from the other side of the Lock, and when they finally finish laughing about the time Isaac tried to cycle home drunk, writing his bike off and scarring his face, they are eager to give me their tips for curing a sore head in the morning:
“Nurishment. That milky drink in a can, no one believes me but it works, I swear you can actually feel the nutrients repairing you”, explains Laurie, swigging from a Corona.
Isaac is sipping on a green tea, which he decides is his favourite drink, except for when playing a gig, where he prefers cranberry juice with a squeeze of lime, which is apparently, “something really quite special.”
The boys are exactly the kind of people you want either side of you at the bar. Their infectious laughter and constant messing-around makes them ooze boyish-charm, with more than a dash of charisma. Talk about tattoos though, and Laurie suddenly becomes more serious: “I used to be a tattoo apprentice before this, hence the sleeve. I want to extend that down to my hands now and the next big plan is to shave my hair and get the back of my head tattooed, but I haven’t thought properly about what I’d have there yet.” Whilst everyone is intently scanning his intricate sleeve, we are brought back down to earth by Isaac in his crisp suit and gelled hair, with: “I’m going to get my right ear pierced”, and once again everyone is rolling around with laughter.
The madness of Slaves didn’t stop there. I was played ‘Dickhead’ by Robbie Williams, whilst they all sang along and admitted that they were not ashamed to love Robbie, and then was tested on my cognitive ability by a strange thumb-pinky game in which you have to alternate the fingers between hands. I fucked it up. The best part, though, was I almost forgot to breathe between laughter and got so caught up with the boys I had to be told that it really was time to leave.
The rest of the night was spent looking through the end of a glass and soaking up all that Camden has to offer. From KOKO to Purple Turtle and Camden Eye, the air was filled with riffs, the squealing of microphone feedback and the unmistakable sound of people enjoying everything that Camden stands for.