As penned by Ryan Norris of Lambchop fame...

HeCTA is a new project from some musicians who may well be intimately familiar to you.

The group are composed of certain members of Lambchop, moving in unexpected realms. Swapping palatial Americana for something rather more electronic, it's the sound of a group of friends gleefully tearing up expectations.

New album 'The Diet' is out on City Slang, and it feels like a group refreshed. To coincide, Clash invited the band's Ryan Norris to take part in Good Trip, Bad Trip - a regular feature that focusses on touring tales.

Naturally, he focusses on his time with Lambchop, revealing some hugely entertaining stories in the process.

- - -

- - -

Best Tour Trip...
...would have to be the Kort excursion to Australia in January 2012 in advance of Lambchop's Mr. M tour. We were unexpectedly marooned in Honolulu for 12 hours - where we had one of the best meals I can remember - after a passenger had a heart attack mid-flight. This obviously put us late into Sydney and shenanigans followed; sunbathing beneath the hole in the ozone layer, body-surfing amidst colossal waves, a feast of suckling pig, an opulent Chinese dinner and one band member's encounter with a girl whose hidden Christine tattoo apparently referred to her sister. I've never laughed so hard or so much.

Worst Tour Trip...
It's difficult to tell your friends and girlfriend you didn't necessarily have the greatest time in such scenic locales as Portugal, Spain, Italy, Montenegro and Croatia but a recent Lambchop tour to said destinations was a fairly miserable affair and for one reason: the heat. As residents of the Southern United States we're well accustomed to oppressive heat and humidity. However we find quarter in the salve of air conditioning, the balm of ice, the coldest beer. But there was little respite to be found in these climes. Air conditioning was infrequent and inadequate, ice was difficult to come by and everywhere we found stacks of poorly cooled beer. To say my ass was chapped is true both literally and figuratively.

My favourite foreign venue...
Hmmm, perhaps the Vienna Konzerthaus. Aside from its incredible beauty I'm not sure of the reason except that you really feel you're on top of the heap there.

We're surprisingly popular in...
Well it's early yet for HeCTA to be surprisingly popular anywhere but if we're talking about Lambchop, hmmm, I'm not sure I'm surprised by much anymore but it's always fun to go anywhere in former Yugoslavia. The shows are well-attended and there's a rowdiness to the crowds that's surprising and refreshing.

Best and worst exotic foodstuff...
I pride myself on being an adventurous eater so perhaps that's bourn out by the fact that I can only think of two bad exotic food experiences. The first - non-tour experience - was tripe in Romania. I can only describe it as tasting exactly like what it was: another animal's stomach. The second was mystery brains in France. I found them in a meat casing and they looked a bit like tripe which I thought I'd give another shot. I was operating under the stinky-yet-delicious paradigm that applies to so many soft European cheeses. Just because it smells bad doesn't mean it tastes bad, right? So wrong.

Honorable mention: jellied meat in Serbia. Best exotic food experiences would probably be the aforementioned in Honolulu - of poke, edamame and other things I can't remember - and Sydney - legit Chinese of an extremely high caliber, lazy Susan and all, though I'll be damned if I recall what any of it was aside from the blue crab and Tsingtao.

The most interesting individual I've met on the road...
...would have to be Tom Um, or Umb or 'umb, possibly short for Thumb. Tony Crow of Lambchop and I met this leather clad gent when we went round the pub for a pint in Brighton between setup and soundcheck. Or was it Bristol? At any rate, we found what we like to call an "old man bar" - a place inhabited predominantly by older locals and mostly free of hipsters where the prices are affordable - only to encounter a gentleman absolutely pissed on red wine in the middle of the afternoon and dressed head to toe in black leather: boots, pants, vest and duster, all topped off with a black leather stove pipe hat. Through wine-stained teeth he continually requested Tom Waits songs from Tony.

He then regaled us with stories of his near-greatness, telling of how he was Echo and the Bunnymen's first choice for drummer but was "busy with other things" thereby forcing them to invest in the drum machine that legend has it became their namesake. He then asked if we were curious how he got his name. "When blokes used to ask my name I'd say it's 'Tom, ummmmm...'"

Worst on-tour injury, accident or infection...
This didn't affect me directly but a Lambchop band mate - who will go unnamed - after a long night of revelry in Amsterdam got on a bike, nearly hit a traffic sign, over-corrected and ended up face-planted on the sidewalk minus one front tooth. He somehow took the event in stride and finished the tour with much poise and gravitas. I remain impressed.

My essential travel item...
Books, books, books. It's difficult to find time at home to read as much as I would like so I tend to bring stacks on tour with me. It's not always easy to read on the road either but I once devoured everything I brought on the way to the U.S. west coast and was forced to stop by City Lights in San Francisco for more!

- - -

HeCTA's album 'The Diet' is out now.

Buy Clash Magazine


Follow Clash: