September 29, 2001

On location: Live
Words: Simon Young Photos: Paul Harries

Venue: the heart of London's West End
Date: August 31, 2001
Event: A night on the town with Pennsylvania's finest

Inside the tranquil environs of Ban-Bou, an upscale French-Vietnamese restaurant located on Percy Street in London's West End, candlelight flickers gently against the softly illuminated portraits of aged, Oriental women. The four members of Live - vocalist Ed Kowalczyk, guitarist Chad Taylor, bassist Patrick Dahlheimer and drummer Chad Gracey - are currently lining their stomach with rich, spicy food in advance of a night out on the town with Kerrang!, to celebrate the release of their new album 'V'.

"It's weird trying to enjoy food with all those pictures of imprisoned women looking down at you," remarks Patrick Dahlheimer in-between mouthfuls of sizzling beef, tantalizingly served with a lime dipping sauce. Fighting the onset of a bout of 'flu, the affable bassist orders a fresh orange juice to combat his ailment. The rest of his band, however, are ready to let their hair down on this warm Friday night. Quite literally, in the case of the newly-hirsute Ed Kowalczyk's case.

"My wife wanted some hair," Kowalczyk explains of his brand new mop, before ordering the first of many bottled continental beers.

With the meal over, we opt to cross the street to pay a visit to the lively Marquis Of Granby drinking establishment. Patrick reluctantly sips on an orange juice, while Gracey opts not for a pint of lager, but a decidedly non-alcoholic cab back to the comfort of his hotel room. So much for hardened road warriors drinking London dry in celebration of their new album.

Instead, we're left with Ed and the other, more drunken Chad, both of whom seem to be able to put away a remarkable amount of beer for two confirmed spiritual typed. After paying a quick visit to the bar, the latter returns with a horrified look on his face, muttering "shit" to himself as though he's accidentally stepped on a vicious dog's appendage. For one terrifying minute, it looks as though things are about to turn decidedly pear-shaped. It turns out that he has accidentally burnt one young lady with his cigarette. "Still," he beams hazily, "it did clear a space for me so I could order more beer at the bar."

At that precise moment, a small red-headed girl squeezes past Taylor and there's a small yelp as he lifts his cigarette to his lips.

"Shit, I think I burned the same woman again," he informs us with a look of drunken regret.

As the guitarist stands looking sheepish, Ed relates the tale of how he accidentally imbibed a very, ahem, piquant beverage when the band played Belo Horizonte in Brazil a couple of years ago.

"This warmish liquid sprayed in my mouth as I was singing 'Simple Creed'," he says, a mild look of disgust crossing his face. "It turned out to be a cup of Brazilian piss. There's nothing like singing about love with a mouthful of piss. The fact that I kept my emotions in check is due to my meditative life and my ability to transcend," he adds with a self-deprecating grin.

South American urine isn't the only unusual drink the singer has sampled. He admits to once visiting a drug store in San Francisco to buy some Tiger Bone Wine - a reputed aphrodisiac.

"I can't say it did anything for me," he sighs. "Maybe it's because I've been in a rock band for 10 years. I wanted to give it hell in the shower - like, 'I'm on tour, the wife's not here, I've got a hard-on... I'll go in the shower and lather up. A little self-love, y'know. But nothing happened."

Ed's touching story is interrupted by Chad, who has stumbled off the pavement. For some inexplicable reason, he gently places his glass on the curb, then stares at it for a moment and picks it up again. Despite his obviously inebriated state, he still manages to impart some beer-stained knowledge to anyone within earshot.

"Everything, ultimately, is about women," he slurs. "Everything. If you're a girl, maybe it's different. I don't know, I've never been women. Being a man, everything is about women. I might have been a woman in a previous life. Who knows?"

Oh dear. Last orders is approaching, and we've all had quite enough for one evening. Pints are drained, farewells are exchanged and we prepare to head off into the night. Taxi for Mr. Kowal... Kolaw... Kocal...

Oh, f**k it. Taxi for Ed, please!