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Alex and My Very First Time in London - 2007

Alex and My Very First Time in London - 2007


I hope you’re doing well! I’m actually sitting in the Eurostar as the train is quickly leaving London for Amsterdam where I’ll be switching for a local Dutch train headed to Groningen. I just spent two wonderful days in London where the only thing I did was run around town for meetings! It’s been amazing…! Even above and beyond expectations! The next step will be to meet more people around those 2 days and a half at the Eurosonic Festival where a bunch of festivals, concert venues, and bookers gather, hoping to finalize their summer events. I woke up at 6 am this morning and it’s now 9 am, thank God for coffee! I’m actually listening to From Here to Eternity from The Clash as, yes, I need to wake up a little more than I actually am! 

Every time I step foot in London, I always feel like connecting with history for some odd reason. I don’t know if it’s the simple fact of being in Europe coming from North America, or the fact that this city and country truly impacted me on so many levels musically and author-wise? Maybe it’s the strange feeling of standing under the rain in January or that I haven’t slept much on the plane, or the “food” they give you on board (Air Canada did great this time - thank you for all your messages!) I don’t know what it is, but I like this feeling a lot, and it happens every time I’m in this amazing city and this, since the first time I came with our previous band, Your Favorite Enemies, back in October 2007.

As I was running around town for my meetings, I walked in front of the Camden Underworld where we played our very first London concert, then I walked in front of the Camden Academy — which used to be called The Barfly — where we played twice in 2012 and 2013 and many of you showed up! Just further down that same street, I then noticed The Dingwalls, where we played twice in 2014 ahead of Trail of Dead for the release of our album Between Illness and Migration. But it’s when I noticed the Kerrang offices, with whom we had an amazing photo shoot and feature, that I realized I couldn’t help but walk down memory lane, and I thought it could be cool to invite you with me down this road!

Growing up in Montreal and its working-class surroundings, traveling to Europe wasn’t something you would never hear anyone talk about for any of us in the band. All eyes were on the South for us as we started the band, the home of the braves, the land of the free, where huge opportunities felt much closer and a more natural fit since the borders are only one hour drive from Montreal, and New York City only a 6-hour drive. Until one day, early in 2007, I received an email that read: “Hey Your Favorite Enemies, my name is Nigel and I’m a booking agent based in London and I would like to speak with you about bringing your band to the UK and in Europe this upcoming autumn! I’ve been receiving a serious number of emails from your fans begging me to bring you over here.” I must have read the email a dozen times and felt my face switch colors from green to white before screaming something like “ALEX!!!! I think we need to talk!!!!! Like RIGHT NOW!!!!!”

I wisely learned over the years to never scream those words in that order again, since Alex arrived and was somewhat whiter and sweatier than I was, wondering who had died, if Canada was at war with the USA, or if our MySpace page had been hacked or taken down since I had screamed way too loud. He was ready to hear the worst of all news when I told him with a huge smile and tears in my eyes:

Me: You won’t believe it! 
AHF: Too late, try me. 
Me: (No sounds could come out, too many mixed emotions. This never happened to me before.)  
AHF: Just say it… No matter what it is. But please, say something… This is getting weird!  
Me: I received an ail…  
AHF: Received a what?!?!?! 
Me: … an ail… recei…. A …  
AHF: Do you need water?  
Me: We’re going to play K and ope..  
AHF: Going to play what? Sit down, have some water, breathe! 
Me: Thank you! We’re going to play in the UK and in Europe  
AHF: WHAT?!?!?!?!?  
Me: Do you want some water? Sit down and have some water! Your face is switching colors between white and green!  
We both couldn’t believe this was truly happening, especially the way it did happen. After a little more than a year of existence, we never saw that coming and we were far from being ready, as we had never toured before! We were obviously so flattered and felt like the best band in the world, but we were also scared, wondering how we’d do this, would people show up, do we need visas, how about the back line, our instruments, what kind of luggage can we bring, and so on! A real mixture of excitement, fear, anxiety, and being proud of ourselves! Picture us, standing up, dancing, screaming, and laughing, and then sitting down, exposing our doubts and fears, then back up dancing, screaming, then down doubting — repeated over and over for at least a few hours. We never met anyone in our lives, band, family, or friends who had been in Europe before this email was received! I even called some Montreal managers and artists we knew in order to ask them questions, but no one really knew! Insane! 
I’m sparing you loads of details on how we, in the end, managed to put that tour together with a tour bus, sponsored back line, and one of the most in-demand Montreal MTV (Musique Plus) VJ with us for three weeks hitting Nottingham, Manchester, London, Cologne, Berlin, Paris, Den Haag, and a second London show. The only thing we couldn’t afford was merch, but some people created their own, which was one of my highlights of this tour! So punk rock!!! Just how we like it!!! I’m still laughing just at the thought of it! Seeing us, making phone calls to Europe, lying to music gear company people saying how big we are and how they desperately need to sponsor us, which would increase their yearly sales by at least 35-50%… Pure insanity, but great memories! It worked out, and we’re still very good friends with most of those people…! Only a few kinda took it seriously… Oddly enough! :) Maybe it was the francophone accent and they didn’t get half of what I was saying!!!

I’m inviting you to picture us as we got out of the plane and into the tour bus at Gatwick Airport under so much rain falling down...! It was so beautiful and memorable to simply stop for a split second, look at all my greatest friends smiling wildly, not really believing nor realizing what was happening as it was so much to gather all at once… But Alex and I stopped right before stepping onto the bus, careless about the rain, and hugged each other, knowing everything it took to get right there where we were at in time! London! Bloody Hell! Anarchy in the UK was raging in the bus as Alex was educating some about what happened in the English culture following the first time the Sex Pistols played Manchester! Joy Division, Factory, The Clash, The Birthday Party, Mute Records, 4AD, and so on were the topics that followed as we were still drying from the rain, drinking coffee, fighting our very first five-hour jet lag, wanting to simply enjoy and embrace every minute of this first of many passages on the old continent…! Life could not be better than it was at that very precise moment… Beautiful!!!!

I’m a little emotional as I’m writing those words down, re-visiting all this incredible journey we’ve been on for more than 15 years now. Of course, the fact that Alex has to go through surgery in the upcoming days is a hard thing to erase from my mind, but also — and especially I think — the fact that we’re the same band members, the same original vibe and spirit, driven by even more passion and dedication than ever before, knowing so greater things have to be unfolded as we’re about to get on the next album and tours. We’re kind of around the same time of the year as we were in 2007 when I received that email that changed our lives forever, and I strongly believe the same will occur this year as we’re entering a huge chapter of our lives, our career, our dreams, our relationships, and our goals & objectives. I not only feel, but I know this year will mark something huge in all our lives, something greater than us all is just around the corner as we’re crossing the most important crossroad of our existence to this day! 

We first came to London as young punks wanting to change the world through our art, passion, dedication, and motivation to see our generation rise up and make this world something the entire history would remember as the second renaissance! I’m now back here standing in between two generations that not only still believe in this, but that are way more motivated than ever before, way more engaged, way more determined to witness pure soulful let go and real heartfelt freedom gain terrain within our deep selves as the year will go by…! Seeking not only a second renaissance, but a complete resurrection!

I spent more than an hour on the phone with Alex last night, sharing what my day and meetings were like…! Usually, when one is excited and on fire regarding a project or new ideas & opportunities, the other one simply takes a step back, naturally double guessing in what kind of ground is this kind of vibe rooted? Sand? Mud? Dirt? Air? Solid Ground? But when it came to what we wanted to touch, share and accomplish musically and artistically throughout the year, we didn’t care about this at all for once, we both were on fire and so excited to get down to it! This was simply fabulous and inspiring! I know we’re somewhere else in our hearts and minds!  
It’s with that very same vibe and spirit that I’m heading to the Netherlands for the Eurosonic Festival, meeting people from all over the world. Our story is not special nor unique, but it’s our story, and it’s pretty far from being half written, and this is something I’m very proud of.

I wish you an amazing week and invite you to keep dedicating yourself, like never before, to what’s the dearest to your heart even when you don’t feel like it! 
Let’s be great to one another!  
Your Friend and Host,  

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