Teatotallers and weak beers: rock excess ain’t what it used to be
IN THE EARLY days of Blur, Damon Albarn would get so homesick on US tours that he would tune into the UK and Ireland shipping forecast, simply for the sheer aural comfort. His fascination with the Shipping Forecast made its way into Blur’s song This Is a Low, which references Biscay, Dogger, Thames, Forties and Malin (the only time anything to do with Co Donegal has been mentioned in a Britpop song, pub quizzers).
The band I Like Trains recently displayed similar feelings about Old Blighty while touring Europe. Being rather fey types, their big yearning was for a nice cup of tea, which our continental cousins are genetically incapable of. In the throes of withdrawal symptoms – the well-known PG Tips DTs – the band came up with the spiffing idea of launching their own brand of tea.
“Once the tour had reached Nottingham and we were back enjoying a pre-gig tea in one of our favourite cafes, Lee Rosy’s Tea Room, it really started to take shape,” they say. “We asked Lee Rosy’s whether they would be interested in collaborating on the project, and they were only too happy to get involved. The next step was blending the tea.”
Demonstrating the same sort of fastidiousness that goes into their beguiling music, I Like Trains took some time to give the once-over to different samples and strengths until they settled on their official “signature blend”. “We have gone for a strong blend with a unique taste that is suitable for consumption with or without milk,” they controversially say.
I have instructed I Like Trains to send me over some of their tea forthwith, and if you can hold your breath we’ll bring you an exclusive review next week. Meanwhile if you want some indie-tinged loose tea, you can order 100g that comes in “a lovely white tin” for £5 at shop.iliketrains.co.uk. (They also have customised mugs for £10, but I’ve seen better in Aldi.)
You really don’t know how serious the band are when they say their diversification into the tea market has been prompted by declining record sales. “Tea can’t be digitised,” they argue. “And as we all know, digitalisation is the process
where things that once had value are turned into a worthless string of ones and zeroes. The technology required to digitise tea is some way off – you can not, as yet, download tea.” True dat.
By a spooky coincidence, my courier will also be delivering another music-related beverage next week. Elbow, using much the same logic as I Like Trains, have just announced their own bespoke Build a Rocket Boys! beer. You’re nobody in music these days without your own official drink.
Elbow jollied themselves along to the Robinsons Family Brewers in the urban paradise that is Stockport, Greater Manchester to sample their wares and come up with their own distinctive brew. They’ve gone for a Golden Ale (again, controversial), which has “a rich rounded body, smooth bitterness, a subtle tang of malt and a fruity aroma”. It’s 4 per cent ABV (unofficially, this strength is known as “girl’s beer”), so you might want to order it by the crate instead of the bottle.
The Alebow beer (geddit?) debuts at the Manchester Food and Drink Festival in October and then goes on general release through pubs nationwide. It will probably be available on import over here at the same time.
So, it’s official: tea and beer are the new T-shirt. Add an extra table to the merchandising stall.
Have a cuppa: David Martin of I Like Trains. Right: Elbow’s special brew