2007 Tour Diary Part 8  - posted Jan 24th 2008

Rock Freebase – 'Thou Shalt always Kill'

The end of the tour is the dangerous time.

In the last week people start to unravel. For a whole month we've been treated like émigré princes. But In the back of our minds, the Real World looms closer every day, as a bad debt. Our balloon will burst. And then we will go home, and offer up the remains to our wives, girlfriends, and accountants, and they will say to us 'why have you handed us this filthy piece of broken rubber?' And then they will hit us.

Rivalries, neuroses and infections have been developing and festering for several weeks. Now, as our mobile hydroponic hothouse nears its terminus, strange fruit must flower...

Everybody's worried about Rock Freebase. He has been seen alone in the dressing room, chuckling at something that isn't there. And he keeps talking about killing people. Killing Larry, Killing Himself, Killing Us. On the bus he giggled all the way thru Alien vs Predator, an extremely violent film (which we initially thought was a documentary about Larry's relationship with his girlfriend). Also, at random moments, he keeps on shouting 'COCK!!!' and tittering in a weird way...

Now we're in Dublin, and after a half-arsed soundcheck, we're briefly free to sample the Fleshpots of the city...Where should we go?

'Lets go MURDERING!!!' exclaims Rock Freebase, and laughs and laughs and laughs and laughs and laughs and laughs and laughs and laughs and laughs.

One by one, the rest of us quietly, and carefully, leave the room.


I don't care what's going on in the rest of your life, doing a good gig will cheer you up no end. I've gone on stage hobbled by depression and bronchitis, and come off stage bouncing like a little baby goat. Rock 'n' Roll is, after all, a form of Necromancy, as D.Wayne has consistently pointed out...

In the cellar bar of Eamon Doran's, me and Rock are play fighting, slapping and pinching each other like the overgrown infants we are. I decide to pull my Mortal Combat special move. It's the one that never fails to destroy my opponent in hand-to-hand encounters: the Kiss of Death. I grab rocks face in both hands and snog him passionately. He staggers back as his face forms into a circuit diagram of revulsion... I haven't cleaned my teeth in two days, and I’ve thrown up at least once in the last 24 hours. He is completely traumatised.

Lip quivering, red eyes bulging, he says to me,'That was disgusting. Orlando, I love and respect you like a brother. But don't ever, EVER do that again.'


Three hours and nine billion dead brain cells later, I'm in the back of the bus with Ed, Chris and Delia, a voluptuous property magnate from Dublin...In my wisdom, I have decided that She, a businesswoman of substance, will be my manager from now on. Anyone who even wants to look at me will have to go thru her first. A formidable negotiatress (?), in return for her representation I have signed away 90% of the rights to everything I ever say or do to Delia, in a contract written in purple lipstick on a Rizla. It's a considerable improvement on the original deal I signed with the Alabama 3.

Comprehensively medicated, we're babbling and giggling like Teletubbies with Down's Syndrome when the chiselled and incredibly angry face of Rock Freebase appears thru the curtain. In a disturbingly calm voice he says:

'Right. I'm going to sleep now. And if anybody makes ANY noise whatsoever, I WILL KILL them.'

And then Rock goes to bed, and nobody says anything for a long time.


So now it's 3am, and as the bus hurtles towards Belfast, Larry and I are (very quietly) discussing survival strategies. Now and then we peer behind the corridor curtain, hoping Rock hasn't heard us.

'If he comes for me first, push D.Wayne in front of him, His belly will take the impact, and I can do a runner through the emergency exit.' Larry offers, heroically.

"Oh thanks, leave me to be brutally murdered why don't you. Anyway you won't get past them. The corridor's very narrow, D.Wayne's very wide, and Rock's psychotic."

At the other end of the corridor, D. Wayne has built himself a bunker out of cushions; occasionally his pale sweaty forehead appears over the top of a beanbag.

In hushed voices, we speculate over the state of Rock's mental health.

'Think about it. Anybody who locks himself in his bed-sit and teaches himself to play 'Flight of the Bumblebees' perfectly note for note has got to be a bit touched. And why does he keep talking about Murdering People?

'Maybe he's got a bee in his bonnet'

We immediately stifle our giggles. We're actually pretty scared. We're not sure Rock isn't roaming around he bus, waiting to strike. It's like going on a campervan holiday with the Terminator.

For me, I'm worried that it was my aggressive snogging that tipped the manly but psychologically fragile Freebase over the edge. Have I unwittingly pushed some psycho - sexual panic button and crashed the Freebase motherboard, triggering a fatal exception that must lead to my own doom? And Have I, with some sort of Freudian irony, brought a homocidal gay-bashing upon myself at Rock's hand? 

As for Larry, he's arguably the chief architect of Rock's predicament, and should be first in line for Rock's righteous anger. I myself have frequently fantasised about killing Larry Love. He's the one that press-ganged us all onto this ship fools in the first place. And you know what? He's the one with the money. He's the one with the house in Dulwich, with a bloody weeping willow in the garden, while Rock is homeless, and I'm still in council accommodation. Come to think of it, I might give Rock a hand...

Yeah... Rock could stab Larry thru the heart with the pink flying 'V' Ukulele I gave him in.in fact, it’s possibly the only way to kill such a vampire. The crime scene photos would make a fabulous posthumous record cover...and then the rest of us might make some fucking money.

There's a filthy black cloud of doom hanging over Alabama 3. It's a Faustian Robert Johnson at the Crossroads thing. We've been running a book on who's going to die first for some years now. Amazingly, It's yet to pay out, but at the moment I reckon me and Larry are both at 2-1.

Murder is actually a fairly rare occurrence amongst musicians; suicide is far more common amongst such introspective self -strokers. Rather it tends to be the control freak producers, the Meeks and the Spectres, who tend to externalize their rage and put other peoples brains all over the menu. But To be topped by the guitarist.... that hasn't happened...yet.

There's a first time for everything. And at some point, there must be a sacrifice.


On waking the next day, my relief at not being dead is somewhat mitigated by my disappointment at finding Larry alive. Poor old Rock has manfully apologized for his homicidal behaviour. We can breathe again...

It would be easy, and slightly cruel, to mock Rock Freebases' psychological difficulties. So that is what I have done.

But it's just as easy to take the piss out of Larry, D.Wayne, Johnny or me, or Piers, or any of us. We're giving it away. We are, collectively, Mad as a Balloon, and not always in a Fun way. I could tell you about the time in Scotland I saw Larry, when told he didn't have time to eat his supper cos he had a radio interview, cry like bullied child. I could tell you about D.Wayne in Norburg, his mind twisted by withdrawal, berating a bemused audience of hippy German students for burning his Jewish grandmother. Or I could tell you about the time that I, after a roasting by certain members of the Levellers on a support tour, smashed a pint glass over my head and daubed the doors of our hotel in crosses of my own blood, screaming 'UNCLEAN!!! UNCLEAN!!!’ Joining the Alabama 3 is a crash course in mental self – harm; we're all prime candidates for full-time registration at the Laughing Academy.

We, and by extension you, are all in the same rudderless boat. Whenever I get on that bus, I cross myself and say a prayer that I’ll disembark with my marbles intact. Hopefully I'll get by, with a little help from my friends, and hopefully, so will you. And so, God willing; will Rock Freebase. After all, anybody who locks themselves in their bed-sit and teaches themselves to play 'Flight of the Bumblebee' perfectly, note for note, has got to be a little bit brilliant...


(c) Orlando Harrison 2008