Travel Diary: Exploring Thailand with Adelaide band Sincerely, Grizzly

Adelaide’s Sincerely, Grizzly packed up guitars and drums and headed abroad not too long ago, heading to Thailand for the first time to perform their first debut headline shows outside Australia and also some primo spots alongside the legendary good guys of …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead. As frontman Joshua Calligeros recalls, the trip was all time…

DAY ONE

Hi, I’m not sure whether it’s worth trying to explain who we are and how we ended up here, but we’re us and we’re in Bangkok. The first show of our first tour outside Australia is tonight at a place called Play Yard. This one has been organised by Boat; a friend of a friend of a friend, who doesn’t speak English. I don’t speak Thai. We’re just excited to be here.

Wat Pho Temple.

Rowan, who makes up the other 50% of us on this tour, has arranged our accommodation above a coffee house that makes 11/10 coffee opposite Wat Pho temple. This morning we walked around it and its impossibly ceramic spires while learning that one day in the Buddhist realm of Naraka (hell) is the equivalent of 142,000,000 years in our human realm and lasts for 2000 years. I left optimistic it ends, 284,000,000,000 years later.

DAY TWO

Last night was like an Adam Sandler movie. Everyone we met was more than accommodating of our inability to speak their language, genuinely interesting and reciprocally interested in what we were doing. There’s no analogy, I just really like Adam Sandler and his films.

My New Year’s resolution for the last two years has been to hang out with Adam Sandler. Do you remember that Facebook hoax where he was holidaying in Victor Harbour? If you did that and you’re reading this, you broke my fucking heart.

We were fed and bathed in Leo longnecks at Boat’s orders while the two bands we played with; He Men Crown (which we only later found out translates to ‘pungent vagina’) and Diaries did things we felt like we hadn’t seen over and over before at home in very different ways.

I can’t remember this guy’s name which is fitting because he delivered copious amounts of banter in Thai but holy hell was he born to perform. Just look at the picture.

After the show we met John; who is organising our show on Friday, and his friend Ben, who took us to a bar where we dropped all the money we’d made that night on the night and forged lifelong bonds people we’ll remember forever, but whose names now escape me. I do remember holding the DJ hostage and playing the entire Songs From The Big Chair Tears For Fears album, though.

DAY THREE

We spent our first and only day off in Thailand experiencing the wonders of the traditional Thai massage, the spectacle of twenty dudes beyond humbly beating the living shit out of one another at a Muay Thai tournament and the realisation that the culture and demographic that we belong to has completely fucked whatever Khao San Road once was.

The silver lining to the whole night is the spirit of one Thai kid who stared me down and without breaking eye contact grabbed me by the balls and told me to get the fuck out of his country as we walked into what we would later realise was a Thai only club we were recommended to go to by a friend of mine. After seeing what we saw taking place outside on the road I wish there were more of him and less of us. Also, I wonder if my friend is trying to kill us?

DAY FOUR

After how well we’ve been received by everyone we’ve met here, Khao San Road has really got me down, but we have another show tonight at Soy Sauce that’s far, far away from there and that I’m really looking forward to. Noomie; who we met years ago while she was working at Radio Adelaide and who is the only person we knew in this country before coming here, is coming to the show and I’m really interested to hear what the bands we’re playing with tonight sound like live, in particular this hardcore band called Sinners Turned Saints and this band that is kind of like what I imagine Thailand’s Closure in Moscow to be called, The Ginkz.

Regular photo of Bangkok.

DAY FIVE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpUYjpKg9KY

It’s now 5:30AM and we’re at the Bangkok airport due to fly into Phnom Penh on the redeye. Tonight, or maybe it’s last night now, was the Thai word for grouse. Tonight, or tomorrow depending on your penchant for tense, we play Golden Street Festival in Wat Lanka with …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead which is the reason we’re here, but right now we haven’t slept and I thought it would be a good idea to try and knock myself out with a cocktail of melatonin and yakult so more on everything later.

Garnier or 100% relative humidity? Photo: Numarion

We’re now in Phnom Penh and this is Low Feel Blvd. I haven’t showered, I’ve left my credit card in an ATM in Bangkok, my circadian rhythm is in a Stranglers – Golden Brown 13/4 and I’m starting to get sick.

I’ve now awoken a second time to find that I’ve slept through almost all of the other bands on the festival that I’ve planned to see and am still wrecked. That said, behold:

‘You’ve got a face with a view’ is what I would softly whisper to my hotel If it had a face.

DAY SIX

Despite my moods’ best attempts to sabotage it, last night’s show was the Cambodian word for grouse. The festival was set up on a road called Golden Street with two stages facing one another some distance apart. I’m bad at estimating distance, so let’s just say it was between a metre and a kilometre. Bars, clubs and hotels lined either side of the street and like it, were packed full of people who let’s just say numbered between one and 284,000,000,000.

Golden Street Festival. Photo: Steve Porte

We played second to last and after finishing our set scrambled up the five flights of stairs of our respective hotels that faced one another, threw our gear into each of our rooms and sprinted back down in order to meet at the front of the stage to hear …Trail open with “Will You Smile Again For Me”. It’s from an album called World’s Apart. It’s the best album ever written. Listen to it right now. It makes me feel like how I imagine Tal Bachman made the girl who he wrote this song about feel. Man, she probably still feels that way, that’s a damn good song.

The band were missing Jamie; who is off punishing drums with Vanishing Life somewhere in Europe and Autry; who is off making the internet a better place but also playing bass in Vanishing Life, but were joined by their friend Rich on bass. After spending the first few songs looking for Kevin, who used to play guitar and punch darts in the band and who Conrad had explained he had arranged the festival in part for so he could play his first show with them in seven years, he tapped me on the shoulder and asked me to reach a beer on stage for him.

I wondered at the time and it’s now been confirmed, that this hasn’t been received well by the rest of the band and that last night was the first and last night of the tour that we had very loosely planned with them, but strangely it didn’t even matter, as I watched Rich enjoy the living shit out of himself, Jason make the Hadron Collider look like the Diet Coke of smashing matter together, and Conrad’s inner monologue debate whether it was going to destroy everything in sight or not.

After collapsing almost as soon as the show had finished last night, Rowan and I enjoy a civilised breakfast together where I apologise for being irrationally angry at him for being a rational human being the day before. He apologies back, at which point I realise that he’s no longer being rational and also that there is nobody else that I could have gone on this journey with that it would have made it what he has, and what he has is better than what we have built it up to be for the last decade playing music together.

We walk up the street to find Jason in the bar next to Rowan’s hotel still awake and playing GTA 5. After hanging out and drinking beers and catching up on the last couple of years it’s been since we’ve seen one another, Conrad takes us to a barbecue restaurant where we eat all of the animals the kingdom has to offer.

All of the animals.

AND ON THE SEVENTH DAY AND THE DAYS THAT FOLLOWED WE NO LONGER LIVED BY DAYS

Despite the tour having ended almost before it begun, Conrad takes us to Kampot; a town three hours south of Phnom Penh that’s like the equivalent of Carrickalinga to Kampot’s Adelaide, where the days bleed into one another around us.

Here, he tells us his life story. From growing up an orphan in North London to his fateful meeting with Artful Dodger, introduces us to his friends and bandmates in the Kampot Playboys and we all develop a penchant for Blue Hawaiian’s.

There’s a whole bunch more but I’m going to level with you, I’m writing this right now in Adelaide from memory and maybe not being able to remember it all is indicative of the fact that each memory was better than the last and that there were so many of them and not just the beginning of short term memory loss.

Whatever the case may be, Kampot, and maybe even the entire trip, is embodied in this moment where we’re lying in a hut in a villa overlooking the Kampot River and Conrad plays Audrey Hepburn’s version of Moon River. This is that in digital form:

Moon River.

If you can read this far, you can start a band with your friend and tour Asia, it will be the best thing you ever do and you can share moments like these:

We spent a really long time looking for what Cambodian television advertising told us we needed and they were right. Pocari Sweat are actually planning to be the first beverage on the moon.
We are laughing and we are very good friends. Good buddies sharing a special moment laughing and enjoying our friendship, and someday we’ll look back on this with much fondness.

For more on Sincerely, Grizzly, head to their Facebook Page.