Highgate band take music on the road for an 'impossible tour'
- Credit: Archant
What started as impromptu gigs during the weekly clap for carers, grew into an 'impossible tour,' album and documentary for musician Will Fairhead
During lockdown one, Will and guitarist flatmate Eddie would play for neighbours at the corner of Highgate Avenue and Southwood Avenue. Will was delivering Meals on Wheels while developing his music career by night.
"I was playing solo getting to know the London scene and the band came together last January," he says.
"We had arranged a 2020 tour that got cancelled by the lockdown so me and Eddie started to play on the streets for the Highgate community at the NHS clap."
As lockdown eased, the group, who had met on the folk rock and blues scene, embarked on an open air tour - starting with a gig in Pond Square for the Highgate Festival.
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"I come from a folk background and love the storytelling element, while Eddie is brilliant on guitar. We left the flat, people gave up their jobs and threw themselves in, going from town to town to make a tour despite what was happening in the world. We called it the Impossible Tour because at that point it seemed impossible, there were lots of challenges but if anything it reconfirmed our faith in possibility."
Travelling and sleeping in vans and tents, band and crew hit the road, playing a Hastings skate park, a Brighton pub, a gig at Nottingham University, and busking outside the Welsh Parliament where Cardiff Police agreed not to intervene.
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"We didn't have much of a plan we were just looking to see if there were opportunities in each town, four guys turning up ready to play some rock n roll with our crew to make sure it was safe and not getting silly."
In Europe they met with bureaucracy, were kicked off busking spots due to bans on amplified sound and off campsites because they were British. But in a German forest hideaway they held a socially distanced gig, and a friend lent a derelict freezing French Chateau where they recorded an album in exchange for clearing the land.
"The concert in Germany happened by chance when we knocked on someone's door and they told us about this amazing space in the forest where we invited a small group to come and enjoy food and played a beautiful gig."
Along the way they experienced "a lot of goodwill with guys giving us money to keep up the good work". Will Fairhead and The Gulls' impossible tour had amazingly made a profit.
With plans to release a single in April then go back on the road, they are also editing a documentary of the Impossible Tour shot on iPhones along the way.
"Touring honed the songs, honed the band and all the struggles that came with it are in the album," says Will who believes audiences are hungry to hear live music in open spaces.
"How we go from here is a good starting point for a music revolution, bands like ours playing out in the open, even if it doesn't make a million. And the rules are going to have to relax because the pandemic has changed things. If you can't go to the pub, people will want to reclaim these spaces and the right to be outdoors and enjoy yourself and experience something magical."