Travel Diary: Perth rock group Rag n Bone take us to Singapore for Music Matters

Up-and-coming Perth group Rag n’ Bone – who this week were nominated for both West Australian Music Awards and the National Live Music Awards – recently embarked on a tour that took them to Singapore for the annual conference and festival Music Matters, before heading to China for the Concrete and Grass Festival and a string of shows around the country. Now back on Australian soil, the band are exclusively sharing their journey with AU Abroad – and start us off in Singapore

10.09, Singaz Slingaz.

Axel – We leave Perth in the early morn after a night of screen printing, drinking and feeling maudlin (well, at least for me) – I’ve never felt so personally rough by so many things before going on tour before, so was looking forward to perhaps some sort of catharsis. It kinda came in a film I watched on the plane (LOL) called The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, an anime that starts out as a fun school romp but ends as a deep meditation on the transient nature of relationships and time – fun stuff. We get to Singapore around noon and after breezing through customs have a two hour wait before our driver picks us up to go to our accommodation, so we decide on lunch at the funniest named place we could find: Heavenly Wang. Two runny eggs, spooned on cheesy bread with a kofi, aka weak coffee with heaps of condensed milk mixed in – not exactly the lunch of champions.

Later, I eat McDonalds because I was bored, and maybe it was the first tinge of missing home, but by god, the veggie burgers served up at Maccas in Singas were pretty good! We get picked up around 2 by our new mate Ben, a very gregarious, fast talking person. Throughout the drive of leafy green trees and endless immaculate apartment blocks, we arrived at a bridge which opened up the entire city: Ben made us film the whole thing. After a quick snooze at our Air B&B, we walked down to Clarke Quay, probably a ten minute jaunt, that resulted in the first big wallet draining experience of the trip – certainly not the last. Sunk some Singapore Slings, a recurring drink, then retired with extremely spenno shitty beers and groceries, the weirdness on the horizon still a distant thought.

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11.09, Bugis Street.

Kiera – We didn’t have to be anywhere today so we spent the morning laying around at the apartment drinking coffee & enjoying the aircon. A friend of Jamie’s told us to check out the Bugis St Markets so we jumped on the metro (which was relatively easy to navigate) and headed out. Walking through the markets was crazy! The place was packed with people, food stalls, bric-a-brac & cheap clothing. We began our hunt for our Tour Mascot – buying a plush toy mascot for every tour has become a tradition. We almost bought a giant plush poo emojii (which in hindsight would have been perfect #shittyguts) but eventually the scorching heat made it a pretty sweaty experience and we decided to stop at a burger place and buy some beers to cool down.

This is where we learned that we wouldn’t be able to continue to eat & drink in Singapore at the current prices! ie. $20 for a stubby. Instead we would seek out all the places doing happy hour and start going to the Hawkers Food Halls. While I was walking down a laneway I saw a poster for Yuck – playing the same night as us next week in Singapore! I fantasised about how we could play our show and somehow still get to theirs while we walked to a nearby backpackers to continue to ‘hydrate’ – there’s water in beer. From there we went to Chinatown. I assumed this was just a taste of what was to come when we travel to Shanghai next week (I was wrong). We squeezed a lot of plastic chickens which made the most horrendous squawking sound and to finish off the night we went to Clarke Quay & drank Pina Coladas whilst watching video clips of non-stop Mariah Carey. Is this heaven? We also created Tinder accounts in a bid to get more people to our showcases. #networking101. Sounds of the day: Au Pairs, Suicide, The Raincoats, Bill Evans. Mariah Carey.

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12.09, I Love the Veronicas.

Jamie – After a therapeutic day of lounging, sketching and a few ‘pre-party Tigers’, we were at a good level for the Music Matters opening party where fellow Aussie musos, The Veronicas were set to serenade us into the night. Upon reflection, starting the night off with a little cocktail referred to by the bar staff as a ‘wrong island ice tea’ wasn’t our brightest move. But we rolled with it. Highlight of the night had to be watching Taiwanese pop/rockers ‘P!SCO’ who reminded us fondly of Perth legends BOYS BOYS BOYS! They were even nice enough to share their whiskey with us backstage. (Not that we needed it). As the night went on, we watched several more amazing acts, met several more wonderful people and sank several more vodkas – which leads us to a story for another day which involves drunken ramblings to The Veronicas’ tour van and inviting them along to our show the following night…..They never came.

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13.09, Aussie BBQ.

Axel – After the debaucherous antics of the previous night, we decided to lay low and lick our wounds for the day, ostensibly missing the entire reason we came to Singas in the first place: the conference! However, it was also the night of our first show: the Aussie BBQ showcase, again at Millian. Glen would host, his lack of tooth and giant teddy bear head prop a shining beacon throughout the room where people shuffled their feet, always at 3 o’clock (my watch had stopped on this time and this would prove a running joke that would light up even the darkest times). We met Larry from this ol’ mate, who interviewed us with aplomb and grace. While setting up my Guitar shit on stage I fatally realized I had left my trusty awful boost pedal at home in Perth – bugger! The response to the gig was good however and we continued to spend copious amounts of money on drinks, me personally never wavering from the promise of vodka sodas. Lots and lots of them. Thankfully I didn’t throw up on the streets of Singapore this time and after a bizarre encounter with an Uber driver snaking its way through every crevice of the map we ventured home, elated but again, and certainly not for the last time, tired.

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14.09, Conference?

Sara – After our short comings the previous day, we decided to get up extra early and make our way down to the music matters conference at the Marina Bay Sands (3 structure hotel with a big boat on top), well, right next to it. After getting initially lost and following the wrong people, we found it. We pummelled down the cucumber sandwiches on offer, swigged a coffee (yep the real stuff!) and caught a couple of the programs before eyeing up a like minded fella adorned in shorts and a t-shirt amongst a sea of suit; Nick Findlay. He pointed us in the right direction and I ate the best Indian food of my life, and the restaurant staff only improved the experience by sharing ghi and some recommendations on how to eat the stuff. Worth mentioning the beer was also affordable. A complete win. Thanks Nick! We headed to our second show at the Timbre substation. It is important to mention that Axel had to flee the car early and run 20min to find an equaliser pedal, but not before trying 2 other shops with either no luck or viable ways to pay for it.

The substation is a semi-outdoor gig, set up similarly to a restaurant; it boasts a fully equipped stage including some lovely backline. New friends Maefire from Melbourne killed their set, and so it was our turn. In the humidity, my arms were sliding off the bass, and we were thrashing and contorting our bodies as hard as we could in the conditions. After sweatily getting down off stage we were greeted by some old mates and new (hello Tinder, hello neighbour) who joined our wolf pack and contributed to the degeneration of the night. I apologise to the house cover band who had to put up with ridiculous requests including Daryl Braithwaite and Tears for Fears ‘Head Over Heels’. (Lol they played Everybody Wants to Rule The World) and we enjoyed bohemian Rhapsody too, but I think the entire bar knew that. Sozza.

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We arrived home in the early hours, with a flight to Shanghai to prep for. Due to irrational anxieties and fears I harbour around flying, I decided to secretly check out the weather for the following day. Super Typhoon Meranti had hit Taiwan and was heading for the coast of China. Officially graded the worst storm of 2016. FUCK.

Stay tuned to AU Abroad as the band take us to China! Don’t miss Rag n’ Bone on Friday, October 21st at Badlands in Perth! Find out more about the band on Facebook.