Dear FishHeads, Freaks, fans and the Company,
We are moving ever closer to June and my first trans Atlantic adventure for too long a time.
It's been one of the most stressful and demanding set ups either Yatta or I can remember and has consumed so much time and energy as we broke down one wall after another to make it happen.
Just last fortnight McKinty pulled out after his "main act" Katie Melua added another clutch of dates to her tour. Vince O'Malley came in as back line tech but the visa section wouldn't allow us to change the name on the application and so we had to reregister. As it was late in the day we had to use the "express" application procedure which all in all came to £2000 and brought the tour into the pink part of the balance sheet.
We still have the expense of getting everyone to London for a day to be interviewed for their work visas.
I don't foresee a problem as nearly everyone has had work visas for the States before but we have to go through all the hoops.
It's a major undertaking and we will be sailing quite close to the wind and totally dependent on merchandising income to provide life belts.
I have approved the two new US tour designs and they will be posted on the web site later today.
The Ts arrive sometime tomorrow and will be on sale this weekend at 13.99 plus VAT and post and packaging.
Anyone buying these is directly helping the tour and your support is greatly appreciated.
I am waiting the imminent arrival of the double vinyl gatefold album of "13th Star". The discs are high quality 180 gram vinyl and the track listing is as the album with "Circle Line", "Square Go", "Miles de Besos" and "Zoe 25" side 1, "Arc of the Curve", "Manchmal" and "Openwater" side 2, "Dark Star", "Where in the World" and "13th Star". Side 4 is made up of live material from the tour. "Circle Line" from the Rome show last year with "Dark Star" and "13th Star" from Amsterdam Paradiso this March, all mastered by Calum Malcolm.
It's a limited edition of 2500 and will be on sale next week in advance for 14.99 plus VAT and postage and packaging. We have specific packaging to deal with the vinyl shipments to ensure safe delivery.
Anyone purchasing one of these albums in May will be sent a signed copy.
Again this release is directly helping fund the North American tour.
I will not be carrying these albums on the tour as we have weight and customs issues.
I will however have digipak versions of the entire solo catalogue and NTSC DVD's to sell at the venues.
I cannot stress how important the merchandise is on this tour and on that subject I'd like to go into some ideas.
Nearly all the venues are taking 25% from our merchandise sales. There is no way round it. Thankfully their take on CDs is only 10%.
I mentioned this before but what I would like to do is organise to sell merch before the gig at the meetings. This means that the prices outside the gig will be lower as I don't have to accommodate for commission.
I know from the forum that there are already pre gig meets in place. We just have to fill in the gaps.
What Mo has proposed is that we set up a diary on the web site or Forum where the nominated venues can be put up and where we can announce times of when I will be there.
For those venues already nominated I think someone from the area should be found who can contact the owners to make sure it is OK to sell there.
I don't plan a huge display and we will probably be selling from a suitcase! :-) It should be pointed out that we won't take up much room in the venue and that it will be very informal. I will be signing autographs and perhaps conduct a small interview on the day if the place has a PA.
The permissions are very necessary and as I would prefer not having to pay commission to the bar or restaurant we set up in any discussion should include the understanding that we bring in the customers and get the right to sell in return.
Perhaps it could be an idea to work with the venue and get some response from local press. Everyone benefits.
Should some institutions not want to let us do that then we should look for an alternative. Obviously the closer to the venue the better as times for meets will be around late afternoon/early evening. I think the offer of a horde of drinking customers and potential free press is a good incentive!
I have taken on a US press officer who will be dealing with coordinating press and radio during the tour. I am waiting on hearing from her on some proposals I have made but obviously it would be possible to explore the possibilities of publicising these meet and greets.
By Mo creating the diary it will be easy to organise times and post details for the entire tour and I will know how to plan my schedules around the meet and greets.
Mark Wilkinson is putting together flyers for download on Monday which will have tour dates and a small amount of information. These will be added to the media section of the web site and directions will be provided.
If fans could print these off and perhaps distribute them in places where potentially interested people hang out then it all helps spread the net to catch the audiences we need to make it all work.
I will post a small biog for printing and sending to anyone in the media who is interested in giving us coverage.
If anyone knows or has direct contact to radio stations please let me know and we can follow it up either directly from here or through my US press agency. Same applies for local media. Anything that can be done to broadcast this tour is more than appreciated.
I will be filming the Nearfest show and possibly recording another live radio performance on the tour which will go with the "behind the scenes" tour diary and blogs to make up a future DVD release. Tara will be our camera woman!
I appreciate all the offers to dinner and BBQs. They are really touching and say a lot about you all :-). As I don't have a clear view of my travel plans and overall itinerary I can't really commit to anything at present. I will be on line on the bus and will be posting regularly to the site. It will become easier to sort things out once we are on the ground and know more about the thread of our 5000 mile road trip.
I admit it's daunting and there are nerves about as this is a big undertaking for everyone concerned.
It was always going to be a big call and we have made it. Now we need your support on this.
Thanks for being out there,
all the best