Tour Diary: AYLA takes us on the road and behind the scenes of her epic tour with Kim Churchill

The September-October tour supporting Kim is the longest run of shows I’ve done yet. I played thirteen of the shows with him across the country, getting to see some places I’d never seen before and meeting some amazing people. It was some of the most fun I’ve had with music.

LEG ONE – VICTORIA

SHOW #1 – THE CORNER HOTEL, MELBOURNE

I had my alarm set for 3.30am, to make the 6am flight in Brisbane. We left a bit before 4am to make it down to the Brisbane Airport (a bit over an hour away from where I live on the Sunshine Coast). We touched down in Melbourne at about 8.30am, and the other guys were already there (coming from Sydney). I knew I’d be going to the shows in the van with Kim and his crew, but I didn’t know how many of them there would be!

There was Kim and his two bandmates, Tom and Mikey, as well as Ben, the tour manager; Smithers, the sound engineer; Cello, the lighting engineer; Michael, the stage tech, a videographer (just for that show and the Sydney show) called Connor, and also Taj Ralph (the other support) and his manager Oscar. I’d never been in a van with crew like that – I figure driving to Sydney with my band in my Toyota Corolla doesn’t really count – and it was a lot of fun.

We drove to the Corner Hotel from the airport, stopping to pick up some backline (amps and drums) on the way. Apparently there was some sort of football event on that weekend (…the AFL Grand Final) that they seemed really keen on in the suburb that we were playing in that night: Richmond. We drove through a moving sea of yellow and black scarves and day drinkers and began to unload. I hadn’t played a show for a few months, and walking into the venue felt good. Venues are strange in the day. They’re dark and often smell a bit dank with spilt drink and the remnants of the chemicals in smoke machines. They make me excited.

I napped for a good couple of hours on the couch in the green room, and when I woke up everyone commented on how amazing it was that I could sleep with everyone around – this quickly became a common theme. Some friends of mine met me upstairs and we had dinner together, before coming down and catching the end of Taj’s set. The show was sold out, and one of the biggest on the tour. It was amazing to start the tour off with such a nice big show. After I played, I danced with my friends to Kim’s set, and then even a little bit of the DJ’s set, until the load out.

SHOW #2 – KAROVA LOUNGE, BALLARAT

Lobby call was at 10am the second day. I got there by 9.50am and was worried everyone would have been waiting, but I was the first one. The others slowly trickled down between 9.58am and 10.05am – this also quickly became apparent as a reoccurring theme. We all hopped into the van again, and off we went to Ballarat. As soon as we hopped out of the van, it became apparent that Ballarat is cold – very cold. It was definitely the coldest place we went on the tour, and I quickly donned as many layers as possible. We checked into our accommodation on the way through. Almost all of the places we stayed on the tour were pretty nice. This one was no exception. I mostly had rooms to myself, and this one was a quaint little room, but it had a great king sized bed and a heater, which I immediately made use of!

We made our way to the venue not long after and repeated the routine: load out, set up, I nap while Kim’s band finished setting up and sound checking, then my sound check, then Taj’s. Taj was the opening support on each of the shows, and it was really great, and inspiring, to meet him and watch him play. He’s only sixteen, had just been a finalist on triple j’s Unearthed High, and has some serious talent. So, I had my daily nap again (this time on a nice black leather couch under my jumpers in the green room, while Kim did yoga in the other corner), then I got ready (did some warm ups, put my face on) and went over for sound check.

This venue was a lot smaller than The Corner Hotel, but I found the crowd more attentive when I played. I stayed to watch Kim’s set again afterward, and met some lovely people who invited me to sit with them and gave me beers. They were three brothers and their partners all catching up, and it turned out that the older brother had convinced everyone to come along to the show to watch me, which was really lovely!

SHOW #3 – SOOKI LOUNGE, BELGRAVE

Belgrave is a pretty little town, and I enjoyed going for a little walk around before the show. It wasn’t too far a drive from Ballarat, and we had filled up on a great breakfast at some weird gothic type place before we left. Meal times were great on this tour. This group seemed really keen on good food, which suited me very nicely. Food is great.

The green room at this venue had a SECRET BOOKCASE ENTRY, which I thought was the coolest thing ever! I must have been hyped up on that, because I didn’t even nap this time. It was fun hanging around with all the crew in the green rooms, eating the food and drinking the rider. The venue seemed a little odd at first, as we were sound checking through a seated dinner service, but after they packed away the tables and chairs, the room started to fill up and there was quickly a great vibe and lots of energy in the air. By the time I got on stage, I felt pretty warm and happy from the Jameson in the green room, and had a great time! This time I only watched a song or two of Kim’s, then went back to the green room for a bit more whiskey. We ended up getting back to the accommodation at about 2am (which was pretty standard for all the shows), and had to check out at 5am to be back at the Melbourne Airport for our flight home.

LEG TWO – ADELAIDE & TASMANIA

SHOW #4 – FAT CONTROLLER, ADELAIDE

I spent the few days I was at home between the Belgrave and Adelaide shows working on my last assignments for Uni, so I was very keen to get back on the plane and into the next run of shows. This time we left from the Sunshine Coast at 3am with my flight in Brisbane at 5.10am.

We arrived in Adelaide bright and early and carted all of our gear over to the hire car area while Ben (the tour manager) sorted out our hire van. Everyone was excited to be back into it, and the van was filled with chatter. We went to another great café for a late breakfast, and then checked into the guys’ hotel – I was staying with my manager’s best friend Sally (who I’d never met before) in Adelaide.

I’d never been to Adelaide, or Tasmania, before, so it was great to see a little bit of the city. We went to the venue after the late lunch and repeated the load-in routine. After a bit of napping and then a sound check, I went to have dinner with Sally (who I was staying with) and her partner and friend. We had Vietnamese and talked about bands and it was great fun!  After the show, back at Sally’s house, I made friends with their Chihuahua: José.

SHOW #5 – WARATAH HOTEL, HOBART

Another 2am night with a 5am start (this why I had to nap so much!), and then we were off to Tasmania. Like Adelaide, I’d also never been to Tasmania. Playing shows with Kim was definitely a great way to see more of the country!

We flew to Launceston, because it’s so much cheaper, and then drove over to Hobart. It really was so beautiful in Tasmania, like everyone says it is. It was so green and pretty, and there were a hell of a lot of sheep.

My Mum (who also lives in QLD), loves Tasmania, and flew down to see this show with her friend Jill!  It was so lovely to have them there, and I stayed with them in a lovely Airbnb in Hobart, within walking distance of the venue. The guys let me off load-in duties to hang out with Mum and Jill, which was very nice of them. Mum, Jill and I went for a bit of a walk, went into a cat cafe because mum thought it would be fun, then walked straight back out when we found out you have to pay to go into those. Mostly we just hung out at the AirBnB.

It was another fun show that night, and then I stated to watch Kim’s set with Mum and Jill. At one point, Mum turned to me and asked if people in the venue would be on drugs, to which I told her ‘probably not, they spent $30 to get in here to see music. Maybe some of them’, and then, she asked me how you get drugs if you want them!  She says she was just curious, but I was very shocked and worried with this coming from my fairly reserved mother. It was pretty funny.

SHOW #6 – THE ROYAL OAK, LAUNCESTON

After our stay in the AirBnB, Mum, Jill and I woke up fairly early to head off to the Hobart markets. We saw some great buskers and had some yummy food and it was a lovely day. All the crew met at the tour van at 10am, and once again we were off. We drove back to Launceston and straight to The Royal Oak to load in and set up.

There were a few interesting things about that show, one of which is that the venue was on the local ‘ghost tour’ and is apparently haunted, and the other is that there were botanical gardens right across the road with MONKEYS! I’d heard about these monkey’s, and despite feeling sad that they were caged, and honestly, probably weren’t having the best time that they should be having, it was still cool to see them and watch them interact for a bit. I’m sure they’re very well looked after… well, I hope so.

So we’d all done our set ups and had our sound checks, and then we wanted to know a bit more about this ‘haunted’ business. The ghost tour lady came on through, with two people in her tour, and I tried to tag along, but she wanted to charge me $30 to go into the green room, so I gave that one a miss. I found the rest of the guys hanging out upstairs trying to scare each other. Kim kept leaping around corners and saying funny ‘spooky’ things. I drank beer and laughed along with them all.

LEG THREE – WESTERN AUSTRALIA

SHOW #7 – FREMANTLE ARTS CENTRE

Finally, FINALLY, we were somewhere warm! It felt great not to need three layers anymore. This night had the best accommodation yet. We checked in straight from the airport to our little villas that all surrounded a lovely pool, which I made good use of the next morning (while everyone else was waiting for their 9.50am alarms before check out at 10am).

The show was at an amazing venue. Apparently it used to be a mental asylum, and was once again haunted!  It was a big old stone building with beautiful little sunny, grass courtyards, and it didn’t feel very haunted to me.

The sky was treating rain for this one, but Kim (literally) asked it [the sky] very nicely to hold off for the show, and it did. I met some lovely people who came up to talk to me after the show, and then packed the van with everyone before heading back to our nice villa accom in Perth.

SHOW #8 – THE PRINCE HOTEL, BUNBURY

This venue was probably the ‘pubiest’ on the tour. It was a little rough, and we were staying in the hotel accommodation, which were some small rooms above the venue.

I was keen for the beach, but ended up having another great nap instead, and after that I went for a walk. I found my way up some stairs to a lookout on the top of a hill. There were 360 degree views out to the ocean and over the city. It was beautiful.

This time, after my set, I went upstairs to the green room and hung out with Taj and his manager Oscar. We found a whiteboard and played a bunch of hangman. When everyone had cleared out after the show, the crew all stayed around for a little while and helped to get rid of the rest of the rider while playing poker with drink coasters as chips.

SHOW #9 – RED ROOM, DUNSBOROUGH

This was such a lovely venue. We arrived, as always, in the day and there was a lunch service on. There was a beautiful green lawn out the back that ran down to a little dam. It was very scenic, and we played a bunch of frisbee on the lawn and then sat around absorbing the sun for a bit. I say ‘we’, but different people were intermittently busy. Andy, the sound engineer, was busy from arrival at every show, and Cello, the lighting engineer and Michael, the stage tech, weren’t far behind.

While we were in this lovely scenic area, we rehearsed and recorded tea little acoustic video of one of Kim’s songs “Weight Falls” with Taj and I doing harmonies, as well as Kim’s band (Tom and Mikey), which was a lot of fun.

LEG FOUR – SYDNEY

SHOW #10 – FACTORY THEATRE, SYDNEY

There was just one show on this leg, but it was one of the best. I’d been solo for all the previous shows, but my band would be joining from this show onward.  My manager Chelsea picked us up from the airport and we went for beers and hangs on a beach not too far from her house.

This was one of the bigger shows on the tour, and it felt so great to get out and play it with the band. I hung around after the show and met some really great people. There ended up being a bit of a follow on with a bunch of people coming back to Chelsea’s house and we stayed up until late in the early morning.

LEG FIVE – QUEENSLAND

SHOW #11 – SOLBAR, MAROOCHYDORE

The home show. Solbar is literally 20 minutes from my house, so that was great! My band and I met at the show a bit early, and had some dinner together. A bunch of my friends came to this show, so it was really fun to hang out with them. It was another full band show, and it was one of the best, being the home town show. There were quite a few people singing along to the songs, which was incredible!

SHOW #12 – SOUND LOUNGE, GOLD COAST

My drummer, Reece, lives on the Gold Coast, so he met us down there, but my bass player and guitarist, Tom and Ryan, and I carpooled down. We arrived at the venue and loaded in our gear, with enough sunlight left to get in a quick swim and some fish and chips while Kim’s crew were setting up and sound checking.

It had been great hanging out with all of Kim’s crew, as well as Taj and his managers, and having my band there as well just made it even more fun. We had a big night that night and ended up going back to Kim’s accommodation with everyone for a bit, until we found our way home.

SHOW #13 – THE TRIFFID, BRISBANE

The last show, The Triffid, was by far the best.

We started the day by waking up in the Gold Coast and going for a beach trip with everyone down there. I’d been wanting to go to the beach since the warm weather in WA, so I was stoked!  After Kim’s crew headed up to Brisbane, Tom, Ryan and I took  our time to get back up and went for another swim in a river outlet and jumped off a bridge. It was really beautiful and fun.

There was a buzz in the air at the venue, and everyone knew this was their last chance to play a show on this tour. I was feeling super drained, especially after all the swimming, and ended up having a power nap… right in front of the speakers, on the floor. I’m sure there were better places to nap, but it was an emergency and I went down where I was.

After the nap, my energy levels were back up and I was keen to play the show. Somehow, we all (my band) seemed to muster our energy together and put on the best show we’ve ever played. There was an amazing crowd, and an electric energy that made it knew of the best shows I’ve been a part of. Kim’s set was fire, and the night finished off with Taj and I jumping up on the last song to sing the harmonies we had done in the little bush video in WA. standing up there with our arms around each other’s shoulders and taking a bow at the end of the song, it was the best possible way to end the tour.

Catch AYLA on the road in January at the below venues!

January 12th | Black Bear Lodge, BRISBANE | Tickets
with Royal & The Southern Echo, Asha Jefferies and DJ Tom Bloomfield

January 19th | The Penny Black, MELBOURNE | Free Entry
with Otious, Magnets and British India DJ’s

January 20th | OAF Gallery Bar, SYDNEY | Tickets
with Aikonawena, The Longboys and Rare Finds DJ’s

Photo by Zak Kaczmarek.