Jas Josland leads an interesting life. Originally (and still mostly) from Christchurch, she prefers to say that she’s based globally these days, often Hong Kong and other places in Asia. She left the dream job of working on superyachts behind for another, dedicating her life to being a full-time musician. Not only does she write a great rock tune, she also has a suitable voice to pull it off. Often performing as a solo acoustic act, her recorded sound with a full band is something you’re sure to hear more of in 2017 – her debut album is due towards the end of the year. Originally planning a European tour for her own band through Netherlands-based booking agency TJ Concerts, she got roped in as the solo support act for American southern rock trio Candy’s River House. Take it away Jas…
A Dutchman, three Americans and a Kiwi meet at the airport in Amsterdam… sounds like the start of a great joke. This was our crew for our European tour. Candy’s River House are led by Jordan Matthew Young on vocals and guitar, with Nathan Simpson on bass and Matt Howitz on drums. They were bringing their groovy southern rock sound to Europe for the first time and took me along after a tour TJ Concerts’ rep Jordy Duitscher and I did last year, opening for Italian rock act Diva Scarlett.
Overcoming a few language difficulties – explaining ‘tea’ meant dinner, ‘sweet as’ is not about a bum, ‘togs’ are for swimming and ‘stuffed up’ is like screwing up, we got along just fine. I also had to set the record straight that we don’t have kangaroos or koalas, but yes, New Zealand is basically like the Lord of the Rings movies with hobbits hanging out everywhere.
When you’re from NZ and you are suddenly immersed into the cobblestone paths of Europe with turn of the century implacable buildings outing with history piled upon history, you release NZ is just a baby. Since the Christchurch earthquake, I have a newly developed fear of brick buildings…so it’s good to see in Europe these have withstood a lot during their lifetime.
My set up for this tour consisted of my Little Martin guitar, a Boss RC20 loop pedal and two microphones. I performed a mix of solo acoustic songs and simple loops to add a bit more variety.
Playing solo acoustic after playing electric guitar in a band can come as quite a shock in certain venues, not having the drum fills and bass lines to fill out the songs or sharing the vibes with the band but shock can also be great. I love venues when the acoustic sound is so good and the audience so attentive you can literally hear a pin drop. The tour was split into three parts.
Holland has some really nice Government funded music venues, with top of the line sound, lighting and crew. Podium Duycker in Hoofddorp is one. We played with a local seven-piece covers band called Bambooze who put a refreshing spin on popular tunes. This was a nicely welcoming start to the tour.
Rocks in Enschede was a cool cosy rock’n’roll venue, with a name for hosting top bands. Just near the venue is a really old church that if you take a close up look you can see where people used to sharpen their knives back in the day.
In Munnekezijl’s De Sluys we played one of our most memorable moment shows, as one of the punters turned up in clogs and was really going for it on the dance floor. The venue owner and his wife were lovely but made us try a lot of different shots including ‘the fireman’. Because I used to be in the NZ Fire Brigade I was already a huge fan. Luckily our tour manager warned us about it, joined by past band stories. We made sure ‘the fireman’ didn’t follow us home.
At De Taverne in Bergen the Bud Spencer Rock Explosion, another one of Jordy’s bands, joined us for the night and singing upbeat humorous songs that included a kazoo solo. On the Monday off the boys introduced me to a new game called Farkle, which basically consists of rolling dice, luck and taking a few risks if you want to win. Farkle always came in handy when we’d have a couple of hours to kill between soundcheck and showtime.
Week two saw us heading to East Germany. It’s so exciting to be able to drive to a country, especially when that country has the Autobahn. The tour van was pretty sweet. The dashboard was filled with memories of previous tours, and the back seats had cow print and blue fur seats. This tour I brought Jordy a llama from Macchu Pichu when I was there. We also found a wind-up toy from Hamburg to add to the collection. (If you’ve ever been to the Reeperbahn, I’m sure you can guess what it was.)
It was a reasonable drive to Gotha. The local venue was a large, open space disguised in an old school brick village connected to a bar with great memorabilia, comfy chairs and some kind of soccer ball game in the urinals that the boys were pretty excited about. This venue suited me well, and the audience were 100% music lovers. The promoter even brought his dog to the gig.
Sommerda was our first sold out show on the tour. Venue after venue it’s so refreshing to see people come out to unknown bands touring in their towns. The bar had amazing paintings of Hendrix, Joplin and other awesome artists on the outside, and on the inside, there were oldskool rock’n’roll memorabilia, the walls lined with currencies from around the world. The owner was amazing and we had the best goulash I’ve ever tried. The audience was a nice mix of energetic dancers and attentive listeners.
In the morning we headed to Schorsch’l in Eisenach via some cool castle ruins. We were given a whole banquet of food at the venue – when you’re on the road for a few weeks you really appreciate such grand meals! Schorsch’l was also a strict music lovers audience in a cosy and packed and an appreciation for live music.
It was great to get such positive feedback from the audience. My songs tell a story and I wasn’t even sure if they could understand the lyrics. It was very refreshing when they would come up after the show and chat about a certain lyric or something I had said in-between.
We headed to Arnstadt to be greeted by Udo the owner of Rockkneipe Jungfer. I did merch for this gig as The Psychonauts from Switzerland headlined the show. Udo got up on stage at the end of his show with his harmonica and the crowd roared. Everyone was dancing like usual and it was a great Friday night.
We headed back to Holland on Saturday to Vaals. I played here on the tour last year. The owner from cafe T Vereinshoes prides himself on great food and made us another feast.
On Sunday we had a three-hour drive to Groningen in an awesome Tim Burton-style venue called Proflokaal t Kantoor for a Sunday early evening gig. The crowd was great and really enjoyed the music, while the venue passed around huge platters of meat and cheese. After the gig, we headed back to our house in Holland for a well-deserved day off.
Touring Europe with a tour manager is fantastic, not having to drive or navigate your way around the back alley roads or working out where to park. John Cleese was our Tom Tom narrator for the trip – every time we got to where we were going he would let us know by saying, “You have reached your destination, get out – but I’m not going to help you with your bags.” Thanks a lot, John.
On Tuesday we headed back to Germany, this time for two nights in Hamburg. The Cowboy Und Indianer turned into the official after party for Black Smoke, who also had a gig that night in Hamburg. Dellacoma, a four-piece rock band from Oz and Texas, opened the show for Candy’s River House in Hamburg. Thursday we headed back for a couple more shows in Holland.
Our last four shows just flew by. I had been to De Engel in Den Helder last year and saw a few of the locals that had seen me then. On Friday we played in Oostburg with Rob Klerkx and the Secret, on Saturday in Alemre at De Meester, another government-funded venue with a super high stage. Here we played our second show with the Bud Spencer Rock Explosion.
Candy’s River House were such a great band to tour with – drama free and great musicians with the right attitude. Jordy was the perfect tour manager. I’m looking forward to seeing their success in future. I’m heading to Berlin for a month to work on some new songs and will be releasing my second single soon.