Frank Turner has recently returned from his first solo tour in mainland Europe and he kept a tour diary for Room Thirteen. Over the next week we'll be adding all three parts of his diary so stay tuned for more.

Part One: Arrival, Paris
My first solo foray into Europe was actually based on some groundwork done by my old band, Million Dead. We'd been due to tour in France and Belgium for a few weeks in late 2005; however, we broke up just before the tour was due to start and thus never got to do it. The tour was supposed to have been supporting a French punk band called Guerilla Poubelle, and it was being organized by their drummer, Daniel. We were all pretty gutted when it didn't happen, but a chance meeting at the Kingston Peel earlier this year led to a revival of plans, and Daniel suggested that he could book a tour for me on my lonesome. It was all agreed, shows and flights were arranged, and at some ungodly hour on a Saturday morning (11 am ish) I arrived in Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, Terminal 3 (the cheap one).
I was met by Daniel, who quickly told me to call him Chamoule, as this was his nickname that everyone else used. Apparently this translates roughly as 'cat cunt'. I didn't ask. My grasp of French at this stage was a little rudimentary, being basically the tattered remnants of my GCSE's plus a little bit of slang garnered from French films like 'La Haine'. Chamoule spoke good English though, so we were OK. We didn't have a show arranged for that evening, but there was one happening in a suburb of Paris called Savigny-Le-Temple, so we decided to do a little bit of sightseeing before going to the gig. It was here that I discovered two of the most striking things about French cities. Firstly, they have a chronic issue with parking. Our milometer (kilometer-o-meter?) told us at the end of the tour that we'd driven over 3500km, but I guarantee you that almost half of that was trying to find somewhere to fucking park. Madness. Secondly, there is dog shit everywhere. And most of it has been walked through at least once. Nice.Chamoule
Baiser SaleAnyways, we made it down to Savigny, to a venue called L'Empreinte, to catch a few bands (including The Pookies and Dead Pop Club). In the event it was generally decided that, seeing as I was there with my guitar, it'd be stupid not to play a few songs, and so unannounced I made my French debut. I'd been a little worried about how people who don't use English as their first language were going to take to my stuff, being as it is pretty heavily centred around the lyrics. But it went down remarkably well, and there was much rejoicing. In the event, playing to non-Anglophones was quite a good learning experience, in that it allowed me to evaluate songs in melody rather than lyrics (and thus realise that some of the new ones I tried out were a bit shit). After the show we went back to Chamoule's house and crashed out for the night.
Day two dawned and we headed back into the metropolis. Sights were seen, including the Eiffel Tower (big, metal), the hill of Montmartre (big, not metal) and the Place du Concorde (big, no guillotines any more). I'd never been to Paris before, and it is an awesome city. Thumbs up. Anyways, the show that day was an afternoon affair. Bizzarely enough I was playing with a Swedish group called Jenniferever and an American outfit called Appleseed Cast (who I personally thought broke up eons ago), in a little jazz bar called 'Le Baiser Sale' (the salty kiss). The show was disarmingly civilised (lots of silent contemplation and Parisian pouting from the seated crowd) but went well, and I got the chance to meet some old friends. We also met an English couple (John and Claire) with whom we went and got shitfaced after the 8pm curfew on the show. Finally we staggered back to an apartment belonging to Chamoule's girlfriend's aunt and passed out.John in Abject Terror
Larry (HR)I was pretty excited about the next day's show. I was playing at a venue called Le Nouveau Casino (roughly equivalent in size to the Garage in London) supporting some old friends of mine, Hundred Reasons. The day's Parisian wanderings were regularly interrupted by a stream of text-message invective (inclduing Larry's awarding-winning 'where are you, you complete idiot?' on their arrival). HR had just been around Europe with Thrice and were on their way home. They had MD's old sound-guy Rich in tow as well, so the venue meal was just like old times (or something). It's worth mentioning here, for those who don't know, that European venues treat bands about a million times better than UK ones. It's standard practice for bands to get fed an evening meal, get pretty much all the drinks they want, and even (with slightly more punk shows than this one) to get put up for the night. It's a refreshing change from the 'crate-of-beer-play-fuck-off' approach of most UK venues.
The show itself was cool, apart from me breaking a string quite early on. This isn't usually a problem, but Paul HR failed to find the spares in my case a record three times, because he's a melon. It all came together in the end though and the show ended up being a laugh. We went back to the same flat for (less drunken) sleeping, and to prepare to hit the rest of France in the morning.

Part 1: Arrival, Paris [click here]
Part 2: Lille, Belgium & Return to Paris [click here]
Part 3: Heading South and Home [click here]
Restringing Crisis