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Do It!

Back in my university days, I luckily had one musical ally in the form of my housemate Jack. I'd spend all day looking out of the window at next door's cat sunning itself on our tin garden shed roof and Jack would often come up, swing open the door...

Tinchy Stryder and Fuda Guy with a very excited Jack Savidge in a dressing room shower. Photo by Prancehall

Back in my university days, I luckily had one musical ally in the form of my housemate Jack. I’d spend all day looking out of the window at next door’s cat sunning itself on our tin garden shed roof and Jack would often come up, swing open the door, bang on one of his grime 12"s (DJ Eastwood and Oddz’s “Champion VIP” was his fave), fart loudly and then leave. Everyone else I knew would just sit all day listening to the Magic Numbers and smoking hash in front of Columbo repeats. Jack is also one of the reasons I began writing about music. He started a blog, and with nothing better to do I followed suit, solely so I could take the piss out of what he was writing about. The rest, as they say, no one really gives a fuck about. So anyway, Jack’s band, the inimitable Friendly Fires, recently toured the country with Tinchy Stryder and some lesser-known dude called Jack Peñate, so I asked him to keep a diary of what went down. Here are some excerpts. DAY ONE—I’m really excited to be touring with Tinchy Stryder. The first time I ever came across little Tinchy was in his awesome cameo on Prancehall’s copy of the Conflict DVD, (pretty much the essential grime artifact). He dominated the room packed with long-established MCs when he was on the mic—some literally twice his size (not you, Sharky Major, you’re easily three times his size). Stryder’s steely, relentless unbroken voice on early Ruff Sqwad stuff can be chilling. So it’s pleasing to see the Newcastle crowd of wholesome Jack Peñate disciples going batshit for his stage show. Strydes, hype man MC Fuda Guy and DJ Spyro bounce around the stage geeing up the crowd, giving away t-shirts, and doing some of the cutest little bits of choreography since the Sugababes first started. Introducing “Sick Inna Head”, Fuda shouts to the crowd, “Newcastle, I want you to show me that you’re madder than anyone in London,” and short of shitting on the floor and smearing it on their faces, they totally do. Later that evening, I knock on their dressing room door, and introduce myself, probably sounding posher than Brian Sewell. Even though Fuda’s entertaining some ladies he takes the time to chat to me. We talk about Tinchy and Ruff Sqwad’s new deals—360 affairs with Takeover Entertainment—and Wiley’s new single deal with Atlantic. Fuda tells me that Wiley gets dropped from labels because “he’s mad, he’s so caught up in music, it’s his whole life, and the stuff that labels tell you to do doesn’t interest him”. I thought it was because he never showed up to meetings. Tinchy’s young manager comes in complaining that the diminutive E3 Casanova has run off with his phone. Apparently he uses the manager’s phone to contact girls so he doesn’t get hassle on his own line. Wise thinking. DAY FOUR—The tour rumbles on to the leafy campus of the university in Norwich, where we’re sharing a dressing room with Tinch and his entourage. After the soundcheck we get stuck into the rider. While it’s de rigeur for corny indie cretins like me and my band to have a number of nerve-settling drinks before going on stage, Tinchy and the man dem barely touch the stuff. The three of them spend most of their time on MSN, receiving messages from girls that seem to consist mainly of animated pulsating hearts and stars. Even when they’re onstage there are messages pinging—which I kindly respond to on their behalf. “Hey there sugarlumpz, I’ve got a couple of gun-fingers here with your name on. LOL.” After the show I take a look on Jack Peñate’s MySpace to see if anyone’s left any fawning praise for us. I’m taken aback by one comment which reads: “Whoever decided upon the first support, MC Gangster and little Will Smith and their ‘MAKE SOME F*N NOIZE’ and ‘I’M SICK IN DA HEAD’ should be shot, then hanged, then maybe burned. I wasn’t sure I’d entered the right gig. And my ears are still ringing 27 hours after due to the HORRIBLE BASS.” The commenter was a trainee manager at Sainsbury’s in Skelton, so I’m guessing there was a massive semi-skimmed milk spill in the dairy section that day or something. DAY FIVE—On then to Wolverhampton, home of Goldie, Enoch Powell, and Babylon Zoo. I’ve now been asking for a free Star in the Hood t-shirt for four days, and nothing has materialised. Seriously, if I don’t get one before the show tonight I’m running onstage with a balaclava and robbing the one off Tinchy’s back. I really do need one. It would go perfectly with the pink New Era cap I stole from Jack Peñate’s bus the other day. Before the show, I play a bit of football with Tinch in the dressing room. He humiliates me with a couple of nutmegs, and it takes all my will power to not do a Taylor-vs-Eduardo-style career-ender on him. DAY ELEVEN—Finally, to Shepherd’s Bush for the final date of the tour. Something seems amiss, though. In place of the usual beef and bars fare emanating from Fuda’s laptop, today the dressing room air is filled with the turgid keen of Nickelback. When I ask him what’s up, he explains that it’s to make me and my indie-rock pals feel more at home. He also lets slip that they’re one of his favourite groups. After the gig, me, Tinchy, Fuda and Spyro pop downstairs to enjoy the hospitality in Jack Peñate’s rammed dressing room. One of the entourage approaches with a sealed package saying it’s for me. I tear it open and there it is: my very own new-smelling Star in the Hood t-shirt, gold print on black cotton, just like I asked for. I just about manage to choke back the waterworks as I move in for a sweaty hug with Tinch, who swiftly sidesteps out of the way. I really do think we made a special bond on the tour.