Driving away from Heathrow, back again in the Elephant Riders van like old times, the band was elated to hear our tour manager Ben’s new recording, a song titled “Achiever.” It reminded us of Toto. It reminded us of Everything Everything. It’s proggy. It’s sexier. It’s more r ‘n’ b. It’s a wonderful song, and I predict it will have a strong presence on this tour’s soundtrack. Throughout the afternoon, the band assailed Ben with ideas about his new project, what the name should be (Wild Rice* is a strong contender), what Ben’s image should be (Darwin is in favor of a Bowie-esque “plastic man” presentation). Ben politely but bashfully entertained our ideas, as is his wont.
There are three things in which the British undisputedly excel: smoothies, pre-packaged sandwiches, and brekky. I turned 29 on the plane ride, and to celebrate, my birthday request was to seek out a fry-up in Luton, which we effectively accomplished despite the customary British drizzle. We ate roasted tomatoes, mushrooms, crispy hashbrown triangles, all at suspiciously low prices. I indulged myself in a whipped cream engulfed chocolate pancake for dessert. My birthday cake, if you will. We sang the happy birthday song in a delightfully abstract, atonal manner. Darwin presented me with two oddball jumpers at our hotel, including one bearing the enormous image of a teddy bear. Our group tried to throw back some beers in my honor, but we couldn’t make it through the first can. Everyone, exhausted from the journey, was out like a light by 7:30 pm.
*Ben liked the name DJ Wild Rice, which Greg made up on a previous tour as a joke. We’ve discovered Greg has a serious knack for nicknames. The name refers to the Uncle Ben’s brand of shitty rice products.