samedi, septembre 08, 2007

The Streets

Hip to the beat of the Streets.

Rob Fitzpatrick uncovers the contents of a successful Streets tour

Saturday September 8, 2007
The Guardian

"I had Rohypnol on Friday," says Fulham-born rapper Elliot Example Gleave. "It was a mistake - someone spiked me - but I still lost my wallet and woke up with a headache.

Example has just returned from a five-night tear-up across Scotland with his colleagues (the Mitchell Brothers, Professor Green and the Streets - there were 32 people involved) from Mike Skinner's Beats label. "I'd planned to be really well behaved," he says. "But the whole tour was pretty blurry to be honest."

A rolling, full-on party, one without recognised start or end times, a Streets tour is one that, however out of hand it gets, is always immaculately dressed. The shows, from the "pilled-up craziness" of Dundee to the "bouncing nutters" of Edinburgh, were all (in Example's words) "completely amazing. I got used to waking up stinking of cigarettes and beer, but I never got used to arguing with people who stole my breakfast cereal. But the crowds made every hangover worthwhile - every Scottish person I've ever met has been fucking mad. And I mean that as a compliment."

Originally intended as a one-date warm-up for the new Streets album, the tour grew when Skinner decided he wasn't going to finish it in time. "I'd been working on it for a year and I didn't know what I was listening to anymore," he says. "I needed a holiday - I thought this would be a great way of getting away and having a good time."

Skinner's tour diary reveals his desire to provide Johnny Drum Machine with a suitably vast and luxurious armchair, his enjoyment at lumbering the crew with extra soft furnishings and the quality of each evening's "crowd surf". Example's notes are full of the desire for quality, nervous-system soothing comfort food ("I opted for a chicken and ham calzone from some classy Italian deli, nutritious breakfast smoothie..."), mixing his album on the tour bus and securing stage wear on the cheap. Sounds lovely, but there must have been bad moments?

"Someone stole my bunk's duvet one night," moans Example. "Although that might have been my fault for only getting to bed at 5am."

And why were you going to bed at 5am?

"Well," he says. "On the first night a girl came up to me backstage and handed me a packet with 20 pills in it."

Add this to some of the team's enthusiasm for a tour tipple known as "H2E" and you begin to understand why DJ Professor Green wrote in his own diary how, "a smell of destruction lurks, just waiting to rear its ugly but familiar head".

"I needed another holiday after that," Skinner admitted. "There were levels of madness that shocked even me," offers Example. "I've been eating healthily and running every day. I've now had two complete weeks off. Apart from the Rohypnol, of course."

· Example's What We Made album is out Sep 17

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007