Dominic Hoey (aka Tourettes) reports from his
17-town 16-town tour of New Zealand with singer-songwriter Skyscraper Stan and sidekick Josh Jugum.
The tour is over. As I write this I’m back at home smoking weed and watching nature documentaries. I wish I could say the same for Stanley.
Who knows why he left, maybe it was me and Josh calling him “Australian Steve”, maybe it was Josh beeping the horn whenever he fell asleep in the car, or perhaps he just got sick of hearing the same shitty jokes night after night. Whatever the reason, he’s gone now.
As we headed back up the country Josh had started to take his job as fake manager very seriously, getting drunk every night and screaming “Where’s my 20 percent!” at no-one in particular. “Don’t fuck this up” became his motto, which he took to hissing it at us before we got on stage each night.
In Moutere we played in a country pub; a local accountancy office was having their Christmas party in the next room. Drunk accountants kept spilling in and shouting abuse at Stan as he struggled through songs from the Grease soundtrack.
Watching him on stage, drunk and wild-eyed, performing a particularly primal version of ‘Hopelessly Devoted to You’, maybe we should have known he was close to breaking point. But the end of the tour was in sight, this bullshit had been going for over a fortnight and, besides, Stan was a professional. He’d played at the Dave Dobbyn tribute night at the Auckland Town Hall for god’s sakes.
Later that night, as the three of us shared a single bed above the Moutere pub, Josh rambled drunkenly about his vision for our futures.
“We’ll get dogs, two each, malamutes, do you know what they are Steve? Like a tough husky.”
But Stan didn’t answer. In fact, he didn’t utter a single word as we drove back to Picton, caught the ferry to the capital and headed north.
It was in Palmerston North that night that he left. In hindsight, the warning signs were everywhere. He had been wandering off and talking to English backpackers all week and had started playing a new song entitled ‘Fuck You I Wanna Go Home’.
The show itself was uneventful and Josh and I left around one. The next morning, we woke up to find Stan’s bed empty.
“Where the fuck is Australian Steve? We got a schedule to keep,” Josh yelled, throwing on his black turtleneck. After reminding him that he wasn’t actually a manager and there was no schedule, we set about looking for our lanky friend. First stop was the local backpackers. They said someone fitting his description had been drinking in the bar with a group of obnoxious English tourists but had been thrown out after refusing to stop singing ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ by Journey. We drove around the town for 15 minutes before deciding it was a lost cause.
It was unusually quiet on the drive back to Auckland. The only conversation was around what we were going to do at that night’s show. Ticket sales had been good, there would be a sizeable crowd. But, without Stan, we’d probably have to cancel the gig. By this point, Josh was in the throes of some sort of megalomaniac break down.
“The show must go on,” he kept muttering to himself, swerving in and out of traffic as we sped up State Highway One.
We arrived at The Wine Cellar and broke the news to Rohan.
“I don’t care,” he said, sweeping a dead rat out of the smoking area.
We sat at the bar drinking as the venue filled up. Just as I was heading in to call the whole thing off Josh grabbed me by the arm.
“I’m going to do my stand up set,” he said solemnly. By this point, I was too pissed to care and simply shrugged.
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The “set” was one long meandering joke about the Auckland art scene, seemingly devoid of a punch line. It was quite divisive to put it mildly, and by the time I got up to perform the venue was empty apart from Rohan and Josh, both heckling me from behind the sound desk.
We cancelled the show in Leigh and returned to our former lives, Josh giving up life as a fake manager for life as a fake artist, and me teaching haiku to teenage criminals.
As for Stan, there have been sightings of him in backpackers up and down the North Island. One paper reported seeing of a seven foot ghost singing ‘Grease Lightning’ to red-faced backpackers from Blackpool at a campsite in Cape Reinga. Wherever he is, I hope Australian Steve has a cold beer and an annoying British tourist to talk to.
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