“What happens on tour stays on tour” – a very common saying on the road, but where’s the fun in that?!
Music has been important in my family since I can remember, and even before that. My mum and dad went to an Iron Maiden concert when she was heavily pregnant with me and says all I did was kick through the entire thing. I spent a lot of time on the road as a child. Mum and I would travel out to see my dad when he couldn’t come home. I still spend a lot of time on the road – working in merchandise and helping the tour manager with big dreams of one day managing bands myself. As a kid I had an obsession with my dad’s vinyl, I referred to them as “big CDs”, pulling them out their sleeves and laying them on the floor. My dad naturally lost the plot. I’ve yet to replace his entire Beatles collection as they now look like the cat has been at them – scratched to smithereens after years of disrespect.
I remember when my fascination with the road began, I watched ‘Almost Famous’ – a film based on the autobiography of Cameron Crowe. A young boy is asked to write a piece for Rolling Stone on his favourite band, he joins them on the road and has an adventure, meeting his idols and lots of interesting and infamous characters we have all heard or read about. It seeded a deep, romantic notion within me, though the truth is being on tour is a lot less glamorous than I originally thought. Still, there is something that draws me to that smelly tour bus. It’s not the lack of vitamins, excess of alcohol and sandwiches but the live music, the relationships and let’s face it – awakening in a different city every morning has its thrills.
I’ve been modelling for 8 years now, my love of fashion has grown with time. I used to trawl the wardrobe in the hallway of our old house for hidden gems. It was filled with mum’s fur and leather coats, with a shop-like shoe rack at the far end. I would spend hours tearing down shoe boxes and trying on every pair, none of them fitting me. On one occasion I reenacted the scene from Grease where Sandy stubs a cigarette out in a killer leather outfit and black heels…I ruined my parent’s bedroom carpet and almost broke an ankle. Playing dress-up with my mum’s extensive collection of clothes was another favourite way to pass the time. If I am honest I still raid her closet, she has some excellent 80s padded jackets and sequin dresses. Maybe playing dress-up and taking on different roles fostered my love of modelling – or maybe it’s just an identity crisis brewing.
We all know music and fashion go hand in hand, the music people listen to tends to influence the way they dress. I have never stuck with a style of music or fashion. Every morning it’s a fashion version of ‘Stars In Their Eyes’. “Today Matthew I’m going to be Joan Jett”. My style changes, mostly determined by what I am listening to that morning but also what my day entails. If it involves kicking some ass I am not going to dress in a Stevie Nicks-esque floaty dress but instead channel Viv Albertine or Grace Jones…though I am not sure Leith is ready for that much fabulousness. I was brought up on Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Bowie, Small Faces, Fleetwood Mac and Marc Bolan but my mother was more into disco. She was even a member of the Abba fan club! I was introduced to R&B and Rap music when I moved to Berlin then discovered Blues and Soul when I returned to Scotland in my teens. I dabbled with Folk and Indie before going through a brief Heavy Metal “I hate the world and love emo fringes” phase. I am very happy to say I came out the other side with an open mind to most genres…bar heavy metal: that ship has sailed.
I don’t think anyone has seen my full wardrobe, I haven’t even seen it in its full glory for a few years! My nomadic lifestyle means my clothes are scattered across numerous friends’ and families’ houses or in bags ready for the next adventure. Limited access to washing machines and the constant fear of a red wine spilling on the moving bus means I am burdened with fashion limitations and spend a lot of time in joggers and Dr Martens. The only thing you can get away with on tour is jackets and coats, I have developed a small tour tradition of my own in which I buy a new addition to my collection every time we go away. One very hungover morning we arrived in Mestre just outside Venice to do a gig. I stumbled off the bus in a newly cracked pair of shades and with a saunter brought on by gin the previous night I walked through a market with everything from beautiful oil paintings to fake Beats headphones before I came across an old man with a rack of fur coats. There it was! A long white fur with wide sleeves and a big collar. As I tried it on it transported me back to my mum’s Narnia wardrobe. Though I know buying fur is frowned upon by some, it was obvious this piece was vintage and it was one of those heart over head moments. I soon found myself haggling the poor man down. I stumbled into the gig with my cracked shades and newly purchased Venetian coat for 90 euros, found a corner and passed out in a furry heap. The only other times I have worn it are at a Studio 54 styled shoot and to walk through customs at Calais…I got a few looks from the Italian students queuing up to have their passports checked!
We go away in November for a 6 week stint around Europe and the UK. It’ll be a long one and on the run up to Christmas which naturally means lots of Mulled Wine stops and terrible decoration of the bus. I have my eye on the Isolated Heroes Mermaid sequin biker, the perfect jacket for the festive period and I can be sure the boys won’t lose me in a crowd. I’m already excited to jump back on the movable hotel and see my road family – some of whom I have known since I was born. The relationships you develop on the road and the people you meet along the way really make the ride. Touring is like doing a very large circuit of the world visiting your friends, sharing drinks and listening to live music. Sure there are some bumps in the road but I can’t think of anything I enjoy more. So I’m getting ready to hang up my heels for my docs once more. 5 weeks and counting, let the good times roll.