Friday, 14 March 2014


The Brazilian Neurotics
(named this way as they were originally meant to be the only backing band)

The Brazilian Neurotics in their 'Tour bus'.
Left to Right: David Moore - Drums and backing vocals,
Steve Drewett - Lead vocals and guitar,
Demente - Bass and backing vocals
Thiago Lopes - Bass and backing vocals
Bass duties were swapped during the set and who ever wasn't playing the bass at any one time provided extra backing vocals, both were excellent. This provided a rich backing vocal layer to the sound that added an extra element to the set.

The Basilia Neurotics

The Brasilia Neurotics
Left to Right: Uri Formiga - Drums,
Steve Drewett -Lead vocals and guitar,
Caio Braga - Bass and backing vocals
A three piece line up which reflected the traditional structure of the Newtown Neurotics. As well as being a great band, Caio's backing vocals were exceptional and I had a lot of fun adding some new elements to some of the songs.

The tour organisers

Isabella Cordaro
(Instigator and co-ordinator)

Demente (Sao Paulo leg)

Gilmar Santos (Brasilia leg)

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Every journey ends with a single step.

Because of the severe traffic problems in Sao Paulo, it was decided it would be better this morning to take me to an airport closer to us, and then I catch a bus to the one I am meant to depart from. The bus has a dedicated lane and so will get me there on time, where a car could not. Here, bus lanes make all the difference.
Last night I had undertaken a series of emotional goodbyes especially to Thiago and David who all said it was not a goodbye, for we are a family now and that I will be back.
Demente had dropped me off at the bus station and we talked in a similar way, we would not let the threads that bind us drop away, it was too important for that.
Then he drove off and left me alone with...


It was the 5th July 2013 outside the Das Nyx venue in Bonn Germany, she was in Germany to visit her sister and her husband who was working in a nearby town. So knowing I was doing a solo gig not far away, they came to see me. Outside, after the show, we all had a great time chatting and laughing and then Isabela said to me.

"Would you be interested in playing in Brazil?"
I said "yes" (but there is a million miles between a declaration of interest and something happening, and the logistics was something I could not even comprehend). I can think of so many times that things like this have been suggested for other parts of the world, by other people, and then never happened.

But this was Isabela

She said she had never done anything like this before but she thinks she might know a few people who could make this happen. Now, I avoid offers of gigs or tours by people who have never done it before, because it is opening yourself up to potential nightmares. I could easily do without the hassle.

But this was Isabela and I trusted her.

She had come to see me play in Harlow, London, Blackpool, Venice and now Germany, she had become the Neurotics greatest fan and now she was about to hand over to me, one of the greatest experiences of my life and turn from fan to friend.

Isabela, Thank you!

And thank you too, the chain of people that made it happen, Demente for the Sao Paulo leg and all those that helped him pull it together, and Gilmar for the Brasilia leg and all those that helped him. I just could not believe how lucky I was to have two fine bands and luckier still that they became two fine groups of friends. Thank you all.

Isabela waited with me to make sure there would be no confusion on what bus I got on, and finally it arrived. After I had loaded my guitar and bag into it, we hugged.

I don't remember what I said, it was barely the scrapings of what I felt. I was tired and over emotional and somewhat overwhelmed.

I said my final goodbye and I was gone, but she was with me until I landed in Britain, they all were, in my heart and in my mind.

At Heathrow with little more than an hour's sleep out of twenty four, I wandered with my trolley, disorientated, looking for the way to the 'Heathrow Express' but getting out of the lift on the wrong floor. I was in Departures. I needed to get back to the lift again.

I took a single step to the left.

And I came face to face with the coffee shop that I, and around five other people, spent the early hours of the morning all those weeks ago, trying to stay awake, waiting for the first 'Check in' to open.
Then, the concourse was empty and I was a cold and anxious man, now as hundreds of travellers swarmed around me, I stood in the same place...

A man transformed.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

The Genie is put back in the bottle.

We are now on the road, flying out of the city of Sao Paulo, heading for the Teatro Universitario in Curitiba and I am feeling pretty good considering how little sleep I have had. I feel well and there is a certain contentment on how much has been achieved in these past few weeks, and that I am about to do the final gig. I feel satisfaction at my adaptability, something I didn't realise I could do so well, and I have done a whole range of very enjoyable gigs with two bands. I feel like a touring veteran now so I am not that anxious about what we might find at our next destination.
The Brazilian Neurotics in their 'Tour Bus'.
Left to Right: David Moore, Demente,Thiago Lopes,
 Steve Drewett
That is despite Demente telling me that at a Psychobilly gig at the same venue a few days ago, there was massive trouble because the event was stuffed full of Nazi's. This resulted in was one punk and three Nazi's in hospital with stab wounds. As me and this band Juventude Maldita who are playing tonight are left wing, he hopes there will not be an act of retaliation this evening, either from them or interference from the cops.
I put it out of my mind and watch the beautiful landscape that we are beginning to drive through, full of banana plantations and mountains, I originally thought I would use this opportunity to sleep on this long journey but now I do not want to miss the scenery.

I fall asleep.

It was a lovely day when we started but then as we got higher into the mountains, the mists descended and then we found ourselves in the pouring rain again. This is the fourth gig in a row that has had rain that could potentially reduce the audience numbers. The only good thing about this precipitation is, according to Demente is that the Nazis don't like the rain so don't come out to maim or murder when it is wet. Bless em, they should buy umbrellas and rain hats. Then the darkness fell and we at first struggled to find the venue.

Eventually, we located it, it was below street level and to approach it we needed to descend some steps. I could see there were a lot of punks gathering down there and as I came down to their level, people began to realise who had just arrived. One man breaks out from the crowd, cups his hands over his heart and then kneels down and prostrates himself to simulate kissing my feet.
I am stunned, I have no default position on people doing this, I don't want anyone revering me to this extent, I don't believe in the hierarchy of dominance that keeps people in their place.
This is ridiculous, and as I didn't have the language or experience to defect this sort of reaction, I let it continue but, instead of it re-enforcing any idea of my stature in this country, it blew it away and stripped me of any pretentiousness I may have accumulated on my journey through this land.

I'm just Steve Drewett, playing some songs and very lucky to be able to, that's me, in a nutshell.

Eventually the man gets up and I shower him with many 'muito obrigado's' to help counterbalance his reaction.

Ace designer Lyn Nimtz and Steve Drewett
The next person I lay my eyes on is a woman I was very much hoping would be here, Lyn Nimtz, she created a series of posters for my tour that I believe defined it before I'd played a single note in Brazil. In my opinion, and many others, a very fine piece of design indeed. She is from Brazil but did the design in Portugal where she was working and she sat and watched the excitement of everyone on Sao Paulo and Brasilia building up knowing she could not be a part of it. Being a big Neurotics fan, that must have been difficult. But rumours started getting to me that she was going to try to return to Brazil to catch one of the shows. Then the night before this gig, I see a locational post on Facebook saying she was at Lisbon airport and I then knew, she was on her way.
And here she was, so at last, I could thank her personally and suggest that she could so some work for me in the future. She and her companion in turn gave me a present of a couple of really good Brazilian speciality beers. A photo session then took place to prove what had taken place.

When we get into the hall, we can see that the PA and the onstage equipment were of a very high quality and the stage area was generous too. We had our own dressing room which even had two mirrors with light bulbs all around it like you find in Theatres. There was also beer, water, wine and food put out for us. Great.
We got there just in time for Demente and his band Juventude Maldita to kick off. They play a really good set and before I knew it, it was time for me to take the stage.

So this was it, the final gig in Brazil, the final time on this tour the single stabbing note of  'Wake up' would disturb the air in this country. As I was playing the intro I began to feel sad knowing that everything was drawing to a close.
The other thing was, I had just come back from a different line up of the Neurotics and now I'm back with my original Brazilian crew, the changes in approach are strange and I need to adjust a little before I can click in. However, we only have this gig so I have to adapt fast, also, these guys haven't played with me for a week and we had no refresher rehearsals. So on a wing and a prayer, once again we rock.
The set is good, it is not perfect but it is very enjoyable and we decided early on that we would do the full set, everything we had rehearsed together was going to be played, not so much for the audience but for us. Because it was the last time.

'Oh No' got played, it was originally rehearsed to be played especially for Isabela as it was a favourite of hers. Discarded by me as a minor 'b' side, Isabela's love of it and Thiago proclaiming that it was a 'beautiful song' with many nods and mumbles 'yeah really beautiful song' from the rest of the band, encouraged me to give it a go. And it came out sounding better than it had ever done, and on this night, this final night, we played it brilliantly.
Demente, Thiago, David and myself had become close friends in a very short space of time, and on this final gig it really felt like old friends playing together, the audience lapping it up, our vocals were entwining in a way that suggesting the potential of a longer relationship. Just like the Brasilia Neurotics, we had achieved so much so quickly, this really was like living life in the fast lane.
We roared, we sweated, we played our hearts out, hovered for a dizzying moment or two in the reggae section of 'Living With Unemployment' and I never wanted it to end.
But end it did and when the last chord came to a final 'blam' we disappeared in a puff of smoke, the genie was placed back in the bottle.
We had created great magic together but now we had run out of spells and there was no flying carpet to take us home, we had a six hour journey to do (maybe less at night but still daunting).
No after show party, no end of tour party, no hanging around outside with admirers, it was back in the car and back down the route we had arrived on just a little bit earlier. The sound of the road under the car was a constant rumble which only eased when we stopped for a break or change drivers. It had been going on for so long that Demente described it as an infinite road. I know what he meant, but for us all it was the end of the road tour wise and it couldn't be both.

When I got to my apartment I couldn't go to bed straight away, I had to gather almost all my possessions and put them all back in my bags for I was leaving fairly early in the morning.  So in a stupor, I checked and double checked I hadn't left anything behind, I tried to tidy the apartment up as least a bit, ready to hand back to Isabela.

Finally I got into bed and then I got out of bed, a mere two hours had passed.

I was going to the airport,

I was going home

Job done!

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

And out of the darkness came the Angels.

What a contrast, now we've pulled up outside a big bad ass Hell's Angels Club and some of the Chapter are grilling meat out in the street. These are Demente's friends and the first thing that happens is I am offered some of the barbecue which I decline because I am not hungry. Demente then turns to me and says, "You really should try some of the meat" At this point, I can't tell if it's his use of English or that he is really saying "If you don't try the meat, they will be offended, it is customary to accept this token of friendship". Then he adds, "it is really good". Naturally, very soon I am accepting every bit of meat offered to me. Just in case.
You don't get to wander into a place like this, you have to have a contact with them and the outside world, Demente was the contact. He and Vampiro the chapter's leader greet as only old friends do.
Recently, Nazis had murdered one of Demente's friends and to make sure that an attack did not occur on my appearance at his Estudio Noise Terror gig, he had invited the Ceiferos Chapter of Sao Paulo to be there in case there was trouble. These Hells Angels hate Nazis. Luckily enough there was no trouble but they did get to see me play and so I am instantly recognisable to them when we arrive and I am welcomed with open arms.

Home of the Ceiferos Chapter of Hells Angels
This place seems to be at the end of a suburban street which makes it look surreal, to the residents, it must be like putting up with a huge wasp's nest at the end of the garden. There are some enormous low slung, machines here, painted black like they had just come off of a Batman movie set. If you ride one of these beasts you are almost reclining. If you close your eyes and imagine what a Hells Angel bar looks like, you've probably got the picture in your head right now, There was no surprises apart from me being there in the first place.
As I wander around the place I notice that there are leather waistcoats hanging from the ceiling like ghoulish apparitions, I thought they may belong to dead bikers and this was their way of remembering them.
I got it wrong, these waistcoats (which I seem to remember are called 'Colours' ) have been taken off of previous members who have been ex-communicated for transgression of the Club's codes for one reason or another.

How you make good and get your 'Colours' back I have no idea. But there they hang, reminding everyone else that they cannot do what ever they like, and for a sub-culture that doesn't like rules, there are still rules.

There are always rules.

I am really strung out, it is not just what I have consumed this evening but the night before I got around two hours sleep as I had to catch a plane. This was the early hours of the morning of the third day. I felt like I had matchsticks keeping my eyes open and that I was walking on stilts.

In my head I was doing some calculations. If we leave soon, Demente will drop me off and probably get, if his is lucky, three hours sleep before we all set off again and he then drives for six hours to the final gig, we will be there a couple of hours in which he will also perform, then after a couple of drinks and a smoke will then drive back another six hours. Conclusion: I am going to die in a car accident coming home from a final gig of the tour.

Hanging with the Ceiferos Chapter of the Hells Angels
Left to Right: Steve Drewett, Pequeno, Pequeno's cousin (Grande?)
Vampiro, Demente, Thiago. Middle and below: Karina, Marcelo.
Demente was enjoying a good conversation with the Angels and although I could work my calculation out, I could not articulate my concerns considering the way I felt, I just hoped we would leave soon. I got invited to play pool, which I did, which then got extended to three games (best out of three). I managed, three or four brilliant pots to begin with and then could not get a thing down after that, my sense of physics had completely deserted me by now like most of my other faculties.
After the pool finished, we appeared to come to the natural conclusion to our evening. Before we left we gathered around for a photo, with me standing next to the biggest Hells Angel I have ever seen (his name is Pequeno which is Portuguese for small) , and next to him, a small guy for added contrast. Much hand shaking, hugging and backslapping and a personal goodbye delivered to Vampiro by myself, occurred before we made it back outside.

Back in my apartment, I laid down on the bed and then I got up again, I think three hours had passed.
I was now picked up and taken to Demente who was standing in a market being held across the road from his studio, and he greeted me with...

"Good Morning Steve, how are you today"?
"Fine", I replied "but I am worried",
"Worried about what?" he enquired,
"We were out to very late last night"
"Hey it's Brazil"
"I'm worried that I'm gonna die, this has been such a great tour and I really would hate it if I were to die right at the end of it".
I then hit him with my calculations and he smiled and said,
 "Don't worry", there will be several of us sharing the driving".
Oh, I said in a relieved voice, that's alright then.

Before we leave, Demente defuses a potential altercation in the market place and then we hit the road.

In six hours’ time we will reach the final gig of my tour, me being re-united with the band I started with, the Brazilian Neurotics.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Give me another shot of monkey brains and leave me to the night!

I eventually find myself back at Congonhas Airport waiting for Demente to pick me up and I stand there straining to hear the sound of both engine noise and chinking bottles, but he has kept up his cleaning regime in the car and initially drives straight past me before I realise it.
Once picked up, we catch up on how Brasilia went, with me being constantly aware that speaking about the Brasilia band in glowing terms might appear to cast a shadow on him and the boys in the Brazilian Neurotics (are you keeping up with the distinction?) but it was not intended to, and the Sao Paulo boys were simply not able to make it due to the work commitments of  David, the drummer. So Demente was more than happy to hear that it all worked out so well for me and that making me rehearse with another band, with a second set of people I had never met before, had not resulted in disaster.

Demente also mentioned that he had some three hours of work to do and then he was free to do something together if I wished. I said that would be great, so when he drops me off, instead of catching some sleep because I have only had a couple of hours, I decide to drink a couple of beers whilst updating my blog. Then when Demente has finished we can go out, catch some lunch, go somewhere.

Early evening comes and then 'early' slides away to become just evening. Demente still hasn't arrived, he has Facebooked me to tell me something had cropped up that he needed to deal with. He had let me down in a similar way the previous week and now I was getting the distinct impression, he might do it again. I had eaten two bags of peanuts on the plane and nothing more because I thought we were meeting up to eat lunch. Now as evening was here my stomach was empty and gumbling. I then panic and try to contact a couple of people to see if they fancied going out with me. I get no immediate reply, when I do, they all want to do something at the same time and I can't put them all together aaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh.

Anyway, in desperation I decide that I will go to the rather fine Pizza place across the road from my apartment and eat before I collapse. Once ensconced in there I find out they have free Wi-Fi and so can keep in touch while I eat. I tell Isabela via Facebook that Demente has so far let me down, she rings Demente and then Facebooks me back that she and her boyfriend Bruno will meet me in the restaurant and Demente will meet me there.
It is 9pm, I think that when he turns up we will go for a drink for a couple of hours, this feels like the end of the evening.

In reality it is only the beginning and I won't return to my apartment until 3am.

When he does turn up, he has Brazilian Neurotics bassist Thiago Lopes in tow and after we leave the restaurant, he finds somewhere to grab a snack, we go and pick up their friend Marcelo and then we race into the night, springing up and down the Sao Paulo roads.

Eventually we draw up at a tall rectangular slot of light which looks like the open door to a house.
No Sky Sports in this bar
But this is no ordinary house. This is an illegal drinking den and it is both marvellous and scary at the same time. Not so much scary because of who was in there, they all seemed nice enough but this is where livers get shredded.
The bar is something else, not really configured in anyway like conventional watering holes, there are massive barrels in the room for one thing. The other is a rack containing rows of huge glass bottles full of every flavour of Cachaça you could think of and then some. Inside the bottles apart from the drink itself was various ingredients like fruit and herbs to give a distinctive flavour to each bottle.
The rack to me looks something like a mad scientist's lab where he has bottles of monkeys brains he is attempting to electrocute back into life.
There are no sensible drinking guides here, there is no information on the strength of the brews you consume, people who come here don't worry about these things. There are no health and safety regulations followed in the brewing of these homemade delights, so anything could be in these drinks, it is an imbibers Russian Roulette.
I am bought one particular type in a little specimen cup, I take a swig and my head and chest explodes with surprise and warmth and I warn you now, to any who may easily succumb to these things, it was like a warm kiss from a beautiful Brazilian woman (or man, this is gender neutral) on a hot moonlit night.

For a brief fleeting moment,

It is so seductive that you want to experience it again, so you load the barrel with a different flavour and fire the shot to the back of your throat.

It isn't the same, but it is still very, very nice and you can chase this demon for the rest of the night and never manage to catch up. But leave it until another day and the first hit will do it again and so off you go once more drawing you closer and closer to the abyss.
The mad professor's monkey brains or
Cachaça in it's many flavours actually

This drinking den is below the radar of the authorities and so are many of the people who drink there. The problem with being under the radar, is that one day you might simply disappear and no-one will notice. Here you never drink alone, you drink with the mosquitos if you have no friend.
This is what I like about exploring a country in this way, you'd never get to experience something like this blown through the convention channels of tourism. But with local knowledge, I get to bungee jump into another way of life just close enough to almost taste it and then the elastic pulls tight and springs me back out again. I am a voyeur, a scum class tourist if you like.

Cachaça is a wonderful drink, too wonderful, be careful all who go there.

We leave my narrative revelry to enter deeper in this club, we pass by many side rooms, one with a loud TV squawking out news reports of the coming Carnival time, it is slick and predictable as they have been doing these festivities since the dawn of time. This place is a bit of a labyrinth but right at the back is a little venue with a little stage and a little PA, just sitting there empty and around the edges were some settees so we make ourselves comfortable and continue to drink.
How long do you think, that a bunch of musicians could sit facing a stage, amplifiers drum kit and an acoustic guitar with a working pick up on it and not get on it? Not long, in a spirit of fun we climb up, Demente on drums, me on crumbling guitar tuned to the wrong key for my songs, (unfortunately no bass) and Isabela on backing vocals and what a fine racket we made, not for public consumption you understand and the Cachaça had done its job on me as I was completely smashed. When I finally could not take any more fumbling guitar and monotone (ish) vocals I put the guitar down and realised that some people from the other rooms had filled the settee opposite, we had an audience, ouch!
We were about to leave when Demente couldn't resist picking up the guitar himself and playing a few songs.
After that we left, but hung around in the street for some time chatting.

What a night!

After a while Demente says "let’s go" and we career of into the night again. I am happy to be going home as we have been out for some time and tomorrow we have a six hour drive to get to our final gig. Phew.

However just as I was getting used to the idea of falling into bed, Demente points to a single lit window high on a hill and says we are going there now, to the greatest club in Brazil, you must experience this!

Here we go again.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

The Haiku of rock 'n' roll!

After we have finished and the applause had died away I pack up and drag my sweat dripping body outside
to pose for another million photos, sign some freshly bought merchandise and chat to those who can speak English and gesticulate to those who cannot, saying many a time, muito obrigado.
The Brasilia Neurotics
Left to Right: Uri Formiga, Steve Drewett, Caio Braga
Then the Brasilia Neurotics come back together after drawing breath and we smile at one another with a collective understanding of what we have achieved in such a small period of time, with a blinding gig right at the end. In retrospect, the difficult gig the day before, was a test that we had experience to make the band real, for it is the difficult times that test the mettle of a band and it is that mettle that can produce great moments. We had formed, rehearsed, played, triumphed and then split in five days, we were the Haiku of rock 'n' roll. It is a heady mix, euphoria and sadness and we were drunk on it. We repeated the same exhaltations again and again having run out of ways to express our swirling emotions.

Everything ends in goodbyes one way or another, ours was to say that it wasn't the end, it was just the beginning and I will be back to join them again.

I am a realist though, so I know that is not necessarily the case and also, as a realist I  know that we do need a positive view of the future to encase our farewells.

If I do return, it will not be the same, we can't chase a glorious past, we can only try to create a new glorious present and if we do, it will be different, for better or for worse. It will be different.

We say our emotional farewells and we take our time about it. In the morning I am doing the same to Gilmar in the airport, and then I go through the passport check to return to Sao Paulo. Once through, I look back and Gilmar is still there waiting to give a final wave. It is very touching, this is what families do in seeing off a loved one, squeezing in a final moment before they turn and finally disappear.
And in my mind I think of all the fans I met in Brasilia and the ones with barely any English, who could only express themselves by pointing at me and then cupping both their hands over their heart.

With that thought, I turned and walked into the final chapter of my adventure.

In Brazil

In March

In 2014

All you need is love!

He has slipped onto the floor and there are feet dancing all around him, he is not the first person this has happened to, it happened to someone else earlier  and the same thing happens after his fall, the people nearest him in the audience bend down and help him back up. There is a father with a young daughter on his back dancing together, there is a young boy of thirteen or fourteen dancing his heart out, maybe this is the first band he has ever witnessed, maybe his endorphins are so high that he will not be able to help himself and will want to form a band as soon as he can. He is the future and I am the past but we share a beautiful moment in the present as I glimpse him through my sweat splattered shades.
The punks at floor level are dancing their hearts out, the audience outside are 100% plugged in to the excitement as they can see every detail, a sort of unavoidable hi-definition and are grooving along too.
Even Gilmar is dancing and I am glad, this is an validation for him in bringing me over along with Demente and Isabela, it is a validation of all his hard work. This is turning into the greatest gig of my life, I know I sort of keep saying this but believe me I am left only with a tired vocabulary to express what I feel. The punks dance inches away from me always considerate not to bash into me, a guy is moving between the band filming. He doesn't bother me, it is intrusive light I hate but you can rest assured that if we had gone for the single blue light bulb tonight, he would have been there with his bright light on and I would be hurling him back into the audience. But that wasn't the case so all is positive.
When I glance over at Caio, I can see the rawest form of what music can do for a performer, along with Uri, we are joined by sweat glistening audio threads into one, bound into a whole, into a deeper meaning.
I have a new voice here and it has changed some of the songs forever, what the hell, I realise now that these songs are living things, they shouldn't be exactly the same for eternity, they should evolve with the person.
The only way, we could get this going in such a short space of time, two rehearsals and three gigs, is because we tapped into the greatest drug known to mankind.


Love of my music, love of performing, love of creating, same goes for the Neurotics of Sao Paulo, it only works because of love, and I swear that it manifests itself in such a powerful way as the drug rushes through the veins of us all.

No YouTube clip will every show you all this, this is an internal matter, you will only get the top layer, this is personal and we don't care what you think, these moments are ours but now you know how I feel and now you know what it means to me. If you can tap into this and feel some of what I did, then I am so pleased.

 If not, I don't care.