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Stiff Little Fingers

March 2010

My weekend: Jake Burns, Stiff Little Fingers

I’ve been living in America for the past six years. My wife is American and we moved to Chicago for her job but we’re in the process of moving to Washington DC because she has a new job.
I’m very much an ex-pat. Whenever Newcastle United are playing and I can find them anywhere on the television, that tends to be where I’ll be. With the six hour time difference it means I’ll be sat in a bar watching a game at nine in the morning.
I support Newcastle because I lived there 15 years during which time they got under my skin. They’ll be promoted this season but I think we’ll be straight back down again next year.
I stopped going to gigs just before the move to Chicago because it had started to feel like a busman’s holiday. But it was a brand new city and there were new venues to go to. An astonishing amount of stuff comes through the city. For example, we went to see Bob Dylan supported by Elvis Costello. A tour like that in Britain would cost and an arm and a leg. I saw Brian Wilson in Newcastle before I moved and it was £60 a ticket but soon after he played Chicago and it was $35 a ticket. I thought, that’s about £20!
My wife watches the TV more than I do. I tend to buy a lot of DVDs. She claimed not to like crime dramas but when I got The Sopranos box sets she became addicted to that. And we watch things like Law & Order.
I love old horror movies. I’m not so keen on the slasher style movies but I really love old Vincent Price movies and the Hammer movies. The cheesier the better. I like to see the make-up falling off the monsters.
I’ve a huge collection of Hollywood b-movies, ones that you can tell they knocked out in a couple of weeks. I load them on to the iPod to bring on tour.
I’m quite an anti-social person on the road. I’ve either got my nose stuck in a book or with the headphones on watching an old black and white movie.
The book I’m halfway through at the moment is called The Quincunx by Charles Palliser. It’s a Dickensian style whodunnit? I was looking for something around the 800 page mark that would last me for the six week tour. I buy literature by the yard.
That said I’m about halfway through it and we’ve only been on tour for two weeks so I’ll be diving in to Waterstone’s before we head off to Europe.
When you’re on tour it’s too easy to get in to the habit of eating in motorway service stations, so we use The Good Pub Guide.
The tour manager said to us, I thought you were going to give me an itinerary and instead you dropped The Good Pub Guide in my lap and said ‘and don’t screw it up!’.
There are some really good meals in pubs these days. When we started out a shepherd’s pie was exotic. Although the descriptions of some of the food on the menu is hysterical - ‘a slow cooked shoulder of lamb relaxing on a bed of vegetables’. Why not pass it a magazine to read?
I try not to eat takeaways. It’s always the last instruction I’m given by the wife before I leave the house to go on tour -- ‘and don’t eat too many crisps and chocolate and kebabs.’ I tend not to own up to those when I’m on the phone home.
The wife would like me to get a bit fitter. You have an annual MOT at the doctor over there so I know I’m overweight, my blood pressure’s high, that I should be cutting down on salt and not drink so much beer.
But as I pointed out to her, we have an exercise bike and a rowing machine at home and they’re really handy for hanging me shirts up.

Stiff Little Fingers play Rock City March 21, 7.30pm. Tickets are £15, call 0871 310 0000.

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