Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Professional Punks

I read an interview with the band Frau recently, in it they were asked about the punk scene in the UK.  One of the responses offered was that the UK punk scene is full of professional punks.  That a lot of the people involved, whether in bands or running labels, booking shows or writing zines, whatever, a lot of them have professional jobs.  This got me thinking, being that I’m now back in school and aspiring to something along those very lines.

Reading the interview reminded me of a conversation I had with Mark from Black Breath/Go It Alone about the differences between the scenes in North America and Europe.  He told me that he thought it was amazing that so many of us “older guys” were still playing in bands, that it seems like it’s a much more accepted thing to do in Europe than on the other side of the pond.  That is, being old and playing in a band is not frowned upon over here like it is for those guys back home.  He was curious as to why this was.  One reason may be that culture and subculture is supported a lot more by the government in Europe, even though there are plenty of complaints to the contrary from people here I think this holds water somewhat.  I remember when we were kids in the band Sect, applying for a Prince’s Trust grant from the government to fund the recording of a demo tape.  Some woman came down to our practice space at the local community centre and interviewed us, it took about twenty minutes and then they posted us some money to put towards the studio.  Free fucking money, couldn’t believe it.  In Sweden today you can apply for money to support your art from an organisation called Studiefrämjandet which gives support to bands in all sorts of ways, donating money for equipment and so on, all you have to do is, once signed up, send a report off stating when and how often you’ve been practicing, and you can claim money back.

I’m not saying that "the system" over here doesn’t have huge flaws, it does, and it’s getting worse for sure, but I’ve always been amazed by how much harder things seem to be with everything in North America, especially in the good ol' US of A, land of the free.  At least that’s the impression I always get from friends who are from there.  Mark told us that if you’re still playing in a band after the age of twenty five you get looked at like you’re a bum whereas over here there seem to be people still doing the band thing well beyond that.  Indeed it isn’t that uncommon for punks in their forties and fifties to still be at it.  I always remember how Mark put it: You can play in bands when you’re young, up until about twenty five it’s deemed okay, but then if you haven’t “made it” by that point it’s time to scrap it and get educated and get a proper job.

“Made it” has always been a fucked up concept to me.  What the fuck does “making it” mean really?  The thing is, slowly but surely getting back to the point, job/band thing, the one doesn’t necessarily have to be sacrificed for the other in Europe.  You can have an education; you can have a professional job and you can play in a punk band simultaneously.  That conversation with Mark, sparked into the conscious again by the interview with Frau, brought me to think about the fact that I know quite a few punks or people in and around the scene that have some mental jobs that they leave behind on a Friday night to go do this punk thing at the weekend, or even every now and again for a lengthier period of time.  Of course, I now belong to the older generation where this phenomenon is more prominent.  Amongst the younger, of which I once was, it’s a lot easier to do punk full time, before kids come into the equation, before “digs” becomes rent and when your body can still physically function after endless months of touring, function at a bare minimum at least.

But yeah, the older you get the larger part normal life plays for most of us.  For most of us punk becomes an impassioned hobby, but a hobby none the less.  It’s not something you’re forced to give up at twenty five or face being labeled a bum.  And as much as I know some charming bums within the scene, I know a fair few others who have professional jobs, as Frau would put it.  My mates Karl and Jamie who play in Disculpe and a bucket load of other bands from around the Deptford scene are both professors, or something along those lines, they both work at universities and they’re both clever as fuck at least, one an expert in sociology, the other in music theory.  Alec and Mucky Marcus run a successful tattoo studio and coffee shop business which Kev helps run.  Nige who played drums in their old band Regimes is now some mega rich real estate entrepreneur or something.  We know a guy called Sean from Canada who made millions through the internet boom and can now be seen at practically every London gig going.  Wayne is a vegetarian chef who works at some fancy restaurant in Primrose Hill on and off.  I once knew a guy who worked for the McLaren Formula One team, some physics expert or something, who played in bands back in the day.  I even knew a guy called Willis from Swansea who sang in Black Eye Riot, absolutely mental in the nicest sense of the word, who was rumoured to work for Jackie Chan as his PA in Europe!  I’m not sure that was ever confirmed though.. Still, the thought of Jackie Chan’s PA drinking poppers and almost blinding himself in the backroom at a Speedhorn gig in Swansea is an image I’ll hold dear for the rest of my days.

One of my dear friends mentioned above, Karl Ghostface Kidneybean Broome, is as I said a lecturer in sociology and since I started studying we’ve had a few interesting conversations on the matter.  I’ve decided I’m taking him on as my mentor since he’s soon out of contract with the University of Sussex, although I can’t afford to pay him. Student and all that.  Anyway, Karl, like me is from a working class background and has a long history in the punk scene, and that coupled with a passion for sociology has led him to where he is today, and he’s started to write about these matters on his new blog, What Is Not To Be Done.  Check it out, it’s a very interesting read.

The scene is full of professional punks?   Maybe.  I know a few at least.  A few others beside the lot mentioned above.  Like I said, my aspirations now lie somewhere with that lot too.  I’m at the start of a longish road towards obtaining a degree in sociology which I hope will take me to a job that is a far sight more rewarding that some of the shite I’ve dealt with in the past to make the rent.  Something in the school environment appeals to me at this moment in time.  I figure that with the long summer breaks I’ll be able to both spend time with the family and still go on tour.  Be a professional punk.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

London (Peckham)

It took a while to get going this morning.  Woke up first around ten thirty, closed my eyes for a second and then it was eleven thirty and Andy was all showered and ready to go.  It left me confused for a couple of seconds.  We had big plans today since we had the afternoon to do what we pleased with.  We’d spoken about walking over to Greenwich for a look about, maybe go to the Maritime Museum, or maybe head over to London Bridge and walk along the South Bank, take in the Tate Modern, fuck knows why but I’ve never been.  Of course, we’d neglected one major issue.  It’s January.

Once showered we head down to the High Street with Kev and make our way to Café Bianca for a sitting of English Breakfast.  There’s a big gang of us, all of Victims and Disculpe, tucking into to various fried breakfasts.  Jon is in his element here, mad for the fry up, “The tea actually is greasy too, I love it”

I go for the veggie breakfast of course and for once I don’t feel sick afterwards.  You always get a ton of food and I usually spend the latter half of the meal bloated and nauseous but continuing onwards like wounded soldier marching stubbornly into no-man’s-land.  Not today though.  I actually leave half an egg and a hash brown.  It’s tough though.  It’s like the fuckers are staring at me, mocking my stomach.  One moment of madness that catches my eye during breakfast is Niki, sat across from me pouring vinegar on his poached eggs.  It’s as if he hasn’t a care in the world.  Fully satisfied we head back outside, the icy rain dampening our commitment to our afternoon of sightseeing.  We trudge back along the road to the Waiting Room and as soon as I take a seat and sup on a cup of London’s finest coffee I realize I’m going nowhere for the next little while.  Andy and Jon head off for a wander but they’re back soon enough and we hang out in the warmth of the café with the gang.

We’re supposed to be at the venue for three and so with an hour to kill, we head back to Kev’s to chill out for a while.  Cue everyone sitting around on their phones.  Karl has headed off to practice with his other band Bad Meat, who he has together with Mad John, who are playing at the after party tonight.  Yes, not only are there ten bands playing the gig in honour of Karl’s fortieth, there’s an after party at the Birds Nest starting around midnight with another four bands on the bill.  The thing is, Karl gets in touch after a while and says to Kev he’s not going to make it for Disculpe’s set time of five thirty and wants to push it back a bit.  Kev is flummoxed.  He says they can’t put it back, it’s all organised.  As soon as they decide the Disculpe gig is cancelled, Niki fucks off to catch the first train back to Southend, delighted.  So that’s that, no Disculpe tonight.

We meet back down at Marv’s practice studio just after three to load the gear for tonight into the van.  We need to bring drums and a few extras for tonight.  Kev and Karl have warned about the potentially poor sound at the venue tonight, The Montague Arms in Peckham, having experienced some pissy sounding shows there previously, the problem being there’s nowhere else in south London that’s the right size for the show according to Kev, so they’re doing all they can to take precautions, one of which is bringing a decent drum kit.

It’s pretty fucking cold in the venue, although with doors opening shortly and the expected onslaught of punters through the door, that should change soon.  The venue itself is a big old pub with an oblong room with the bar lining the back wall.  The interior is very Maritime with wooden steering wheels here and antique globes there, as well as an array of dead animals about the walls, it’s quite a place.  The high stage is in a separate room at the bottom end of the pub and although you can see through to the stage if you’re in the bar area the sound doesn’t make it through.  Quite nice really, means you can stand and have a nice undisturbed chat with a beer if any of the ten bands on the bill don’t tickle your fancy.

We’re here early so we can soundcheck since Kev has concerns with the PA.  It’s just as well we do and all since it turns out Kev’s bass head is fucked.  Don’t know what’s up with it but it sounds like it’s under water.  Johan plonks away on it for a bit, looking around for eye contact with somebody.  The sound guy, some young Scottish bloke who looks a bit lost, asks when we’re ready to go... Jamie comes to the rescue with another head.  Soundcheck goes smoothly otherwise and despite the concrete interior of the room it sounds pretty good up on stage.

Jay and Dave Speedhorn turn up during soundcheck, their usual mischievous grins firmly in place.  It’s good to see them as always.  I have to admit it’s been strange at times watching Speedhorn from afar, my band, the band I started and wrote a great deal of songs for, now out playing again.  Of course, I declined the offer to reform many times over the six years since we called it a day in 2008, and I felt that I could no longer keep the other guys from doing it again if that’s what they really wanted.  For me the band finished at the right time though.  But who’s to say what’s the right time or wrong time?  I’ve always been against this huge wave of reunions we’ve been witnessing this last decade, it’s almost like the new thing is the old thing.  For me it really took the fucking biscuit when Refused reformed.  But then, who am I to say?  And isn’t it just entertainment, after all?  If people are enjoying themselves then what’s the harm? Anyway, as much as I’ve supported the guys in their choice I’ve kept myself away from a lot of the press surrounding it, which hasn’t been so hard to do living in Sweden.  It’s been a little strange...  I’m therefore very happy about the fact that there’s no strained feelings with Jay and Dave, I don’t know if it’s because they come to the band a lot later and have a bit more distance to it or whether it’s just because they’ve always been easy to hang out with. Whatever.  It’s good to see their smiling faces again.  These guys were with the band when we toured with Victims and now here we all stand, chit chatting.  Funny how things go.

Soundcheck is done just after four and we’re on at eleven, nine bands between now and then.  Thing is we’re kind of stuck in the middle of nowhere and when I asked Alec earlier about going for a walk around Peckham he just laughed.  Kev is manning the door for the night, he’s got a lot of work on.  He tells me that he’s got around twenty tickets left to play with and within the first ten minutes most of them have gone.  He tells me it’s looking like being about thirty of forty over the two hundred capacity for tonight.  I’m tempted by one of the fine ales they’ve got on sale here but I don’t have much money left and have to spread it out over the night, plus I can’t really get started on the piss now when we’re not on for another seven hours or so. And Kev, bless him, has bought a hundred beer tickets for the bands, even if it’s Carlsberg, it’s at least free Carlsberg.  Free for us anyway, not for Kev so much.  Before any drinking takes place I need some food anyway, so we decide to take a walk down the road on the back of some tips from the pub manager and pick up some dinner.

It’s dark out and the rain is drizzling down miserably.  There really isn’t much around and we take a kebab shop over a rather looking dodgy noodle place, that doesn’t have much in the way of vegetarian cuisine anyway.  Falafel it is.  And it’s fucking good.  Really clean and fresh, the hummus is to die for.  So glad we went for this.  The place has a coal fire on the go where some guy is sat roasting meat on a stick, it looks pretty disgusting but there’s no denying it smells pretty good.  We take a seat by the door and watch the take away clientele pass through the place as we tuck into our grub.  Most of them are wearing jogging bottoms, real give up on life garb.

We head back to the venue, stomachs filled and satisfied.  When we get back I’ve got two shocks in store. One is that the place is fucking rammed, the bottle neck that runs along the bar is jammed and I can see it’s going to take a long time to get served.  The second shock is that our good friend Jos from Holland is here. I look across the mass of heads in confusion, he looks back with a wry smile.  There are a whole load of other mates here too, the Deptford Crew of course and then there are some old mates from home who have travelled down with Jay and Dave, people like Dix from Scurge and Scott from Defenestration, people we’ve grown up with in the music scene in Corby and Kettering.  It’s great to see everyone, this feels like it’s going to be a hell of a party.  I slowly make my way through the crowd to Jos, “Well hello, what the hell are you doing here?”

I fight through the crowd back to the bar to get myself a beer and then check in on the band currently playing, Organised Death Machine, which has our mate Pablo and Kiwi Chris amongst its ranks.  From where I’m stood, just near the door, the sound doesn’t travel to all that well and most of the bottom end on Pablo’s bass has drifted off somewhere into the ceiling.  Seems like they’ve had a pretty good gig though, there’s plenty watching them.  They’re the only band I even catch a glimpse of until Regimes play a couple of hours later.  There are simply too many people in here, I can’t be arsed battling my way back and forth about the place so opt to station myself in the vicinity of Kev and catch people there for a chat.  I hang out with Viv and Wayne for a while, and Misa is flying about the place like an atom, laughing her ass of as always.  She comes powering through the crowd towards me with her compulsory two pints aloft, resting on her head.  She gives me a big hug, “Gaaaaaaaaaaaz!!!” we spend about a minute just laughing without actually conveying anything to each other.  After a while Misa laughs, “Gaz you are so…how do you say?  Is cuddleable a word?”  Cue more hysterical laughing.  Misa is fucking crackers and I love her.

A while later Vik arrives with Bea.  Funny being with Vik and Kev in London and not doing a DB show. Vik turns to me, “There are far too many people here, it’s ridiculous!”  It is actually starting to feel a bit crushed in here at times, if a fire kicked off right now we’d all be fucked.  Kev has at least put a SOLD OUT sign on the window now, but with extra admission and band members its way too much in here.  Kev looks chuffed.

Another friend that’s made the trip from Holland is Ester from Flees and Lice, she’s another real character and an old friend of Misa’s.  Together they make quite the team.  Ester doesn’t recognize me from being in Victims at first, I guess that’s the cross to bear as the “new guy”, I empathise with Ronnie Wood.  Once me and Ester remake our acquaintances, the last time we met was when we played her place the Crowbar in Groningen, she’s into full flow.  She tells me I look tired and says she has some stuff for that, if I’d like some. It’s a nice gesture but I’m good.

I make my way back through the bottleneck and up to the raised area where Johan and Andy are sitting with our merch.  I catch Karl and his wife Jules sat beside them and take a seat myself.  I get talking to Jules about kids TV shows and she gives me some good tips. We talk about Backyardigans, the Canadian TV show that Polly is insane about right now.  Jules is Canadian and she smiles when I tell her how much Polly loves it.  It’s funny when you’re a parent and you realise that the battle for the TV with your kid is a battle you have absolutely no chance of winning, and then before long you start to get into the shows yourself.  All I can say is, Backyardigans has some brilliant tunes on the show.  To be honest, Polly only really discovered the television a few months back and it’s easy enough to draw her attention away from it, all I have to do is put on a record, any record, and start dancing and she’s right there with me.  Still, when you’re making dinner or the doing the laundry or whatever other chore there is constantly to attend to, the TV is a handy distraction.

Regimes are on and then there are two more before Victims are up.  Regimes haven’t played for a long time, except the warm up show for this a few days back, and I’m really looking forward to seeing them.  This will be their last show, I think.  It’s fun seeing Mucky Marcus play guitar again, my SG come to that.  I didn’t really know what to expect from their gig but as much as I always liked the band, I’m not sure I remember them ever being this good!  It’s tight as shit, works great with Jamie on bass too, and the crowd are packed in and going mad.  Kev is in great form too, I’m buzzed to shit watching them.  When they play Chemical Cosh the mosh pit are all singing along to the chorus and a few stragglers make it up on to the high stage to launch themselves immediately off it.  What a fucking bonus.

I catch up with the Victims guys and Vik afterwards and everyone is smiling, surprised by how good the set was.  As soon as Kev is done he’s back to the door.  The squeeze in here just seems to be getting tighter.  I exchange glances with a few familiar faces around the crowd, all of them deflecting back the same sigh I send them.  Kev tells me that the bouncers, who have been a bit freaked out and are acting like cunts, patting everyone down all the time, have said that’s it’s one in/one out, irrespective of whether you have a wristband.  I look through the doorway to the smoking allotment and there is even a crush of people there, waiting to get back in.  I happen to catch little Jay’s face in the mass, shaking his head and smiling.  I hope he manages to get back in before Victims play.  That would be ridiculous.  One person who won’t be getting back in is Kyle, the old bass player from Scurge, who has been caught with a bag of the naughty stuff.  As he’s being led out I ask his mate who is following him out what happened, “Only got himself to blame, fucking blatant!”

I get talking to Kelly Apple for a while, I don’t know if she’s boats or what but she’s going on about Jon, “your guitar player”, she says she’s thinks he’s really hot.  She recalls the last time she saw Victims play, must have been the Grosvenor a few years back, my first tour with Victims, she says that she approached Jon, really nervous and really drunk, and told him that she thought he was really attractive and then threw up on her shoes.  When she repeats the story a few times I begin to understand that she is pretty steaming.  She keeps saying to me that I can’t let her go near him tonight.  I look over at Jon, flummoxed by the whole affair.  I catch up with the guys later and tell them what Kelly said, Jon eyes light up, it’s actually really sweet, I’ve never seen Jon flattered in this way before.  “What can I say?  The ladies love Jonny” he says.  He just about pulled it off.

The set times are running late, how could they fucking not be with all these bands?  I was thinking that it was covered, that the music curfew was midnight and with Kev setting the Victims set time at a very ambitious ten fifteen we were ok.  It turns out in fact that the curfew is eleven, and there are still two bands to go before we play.  I can tell Kev is for the first time, starting to get a little nervous.  He says we’ll get things moving along and he’s cursing one of the earlier bands who took ages at change over.  Well go figure.. Paco Mus’s band, The Lowest Form is up next.  I’ve been looking for him since he has some records for me that I ordered a while back.  The first time I clock him is when he’s up on stage setting up.  I don’t see much of their set, I simply can’t be arsed fighting my way through.  The sound is pretty bad from where I’m standing though, the bass amp sounds like a wet fart.  Shame.

I catch Paco afterwards anyway and he tells me he’s given the package of records to Andy.  It’s nice to finally meet him, to put a face to someone you’ve been corresponding with.  Kluster Fuck are now on stage, and we’re after them.  These are good friends of Kev, good people, we’ve met them before at Ungdomshuset in Copenhagen where they’re involved.  Kluster Fuck are the first band that have played today that you can trust when they say they’ve got a fifteen minute set.  Most of their songs average out at thirty seconds.  It’s not totally my thing but what they do, they do really well.  Anos, who’ve I’ve only ever seen sing, blasts the fuck out of the kit and Kristine has an insane set of lungs and is absolutely manic on stage.  She sounds like a pit-bull being tortured.  Fifteen minutes and it is indeed done.

We get up on stage as quick as we can, knowing time is against us.  The room is packed, the anticipation almost boiling over, I am fucking ready for this.  And then I hear this little Scottish voice, almost apologetic, as if excusing itself for existing, it’s coming out of the monitors somewhere.  “There’s nothing from the bass drum.”  Johan and I look at each other and then together in the direction of the sound guy in his little hut at the back of the room.  Johan asks if we should change the mic but gets nothing in response bar a shrug of the shoulders, the guy looks completely fucking scoobied.  He mumbles something about us just starting and he’ll sort it but somehow I don’t trust that.  When we start looking to address the problem ourselves, amidst shouts from the crowd of  “Just get on with it”, we‘ve been stood here a while now and it’s getting uncomfortable, the sound guy appears on stage.  Johan suggests he swaps the mic with the hang tom, he does as told.  He tries the broken mic lead, blows in it a little, Andy shakes his head but Johan confirms that’s actually a valid course of action since moisture can cause glitches and blowing it away can work. Eventually he gets things sorted and with bass drum now sounding we launch into Death Do Us Part.  The wait was worth it.  The crowd kick off from the very start.

It’s one of those gigs where you feel like a fucking King up on stage.  The place is packed, the crowd is swathing about the dance floor, I clock Jay and Dave in the middle of it all, getting tossed about and loving every second of it, people are stage diving, Kev amongst them, kicking the mic into Johan’s mouth, he doesn’t care.  The gig flies by, it’s one of the most fun shows I’ve played in ages, and last night was no cack affair either.  We drop one of the more mid tempo songs, weighing the feeling in the crowd, we just keep it going.  We’ve got four songs left and I hear that little voice again, coming out of the monitors.  “Last song.”  I can’t work out if it’s a question or a demand although I couldn’t give a fuck either way.  I know the other guys haven’t heard him, even when he repeats himself, so I just carry on.  We finish with This is the End again and it feels like I spend more time pumping my fist in the air than playing guitar, I look over to the right hand side of the room and see Kev and Misa, raised above the crowd with one arm around each other, the other lofted in the air, singing along to the chorus.  Feel like fucking AC/DC up here.  Magic, pure fucking magic.          

How do you top that?  The crowd moves out quickly after the show, everybody I’m sure desperate for a bit of legroom.  I’m fucking desperate for a good pint now but Jamie are Kev and wanting to get moving since they have to take the gear and the van back to the practice room where it will be safe for the night.  We contemplate walking, I could certainly do with the brisk air, but it seems stupid to blow off a lift, and plus, there’s an after party to get to.  Everyone seems to be heading there and up early or not, I need a couple of pints.  I just hope the Birds Nest isn’t as stupidly packed as this place was.  We all squeeze into the van, making space for Vik and Bea as well as Goy, who spends the entire trip laid up behind the back seats on the luggage shelf, pissed up and moaning about the state of music, saying he missed UFO.  Love him.
If it’s even possible, to my horror, The Nest is more crammed than the earlier show.  Fuck.  I’d envisioned sitting down for one thing, with a pint and a nice easy catch up with some mates.  It’s not happening.  It takes about half hour to get served and you can forget sitting, there’s barely room to stand.  Wayne’s band Nembutal are playing, as is Karl, Mad John and Nige’s hard rock band Bad Meat, and Kluster Fuck are on again and our travelling partners Link.  I barely see anything of any of them, you can’t see fuck all in here.  I’m on the other end of the bar with Jos and his mate, Andy and Johan, Vik, Bea and Viv.  The others fleet about but we station ourselves here.  Alec is with us for a while but leaves early, stating he can’t be fucked with the crush in here.  Can’t say I blame him.  Jon is over by the left hand side of the bar, he’s made a connection with Misa.  When I was on my way to the bogs I catch Misa trying to pronounce Jon’s name, it goes on for ages, “Jo? Joe? Joon?”  ad infinitum.  The two make a great match.

We hang out for a couple of hours, I’m surprised we make it that long.  Jos is taking the piss out me and my beanie hat.  I have to admit, I’m going for the Ian MacKaye look, I figure you gotta go with the flow, roll with the punches a thinning hairline throws you.  Karl, suffering with the same problem, age and thin hair, tells me I look prime, bless him.  Jos calls me on it though, takes my hat off me, starts pissing around with his own flat cap, turning it backwards and making faces at me.  Piss taking fucker.  Point taken big guy.  We cuddle up for a photo together.

Another piss taker arrives, Kiwi Chris, although is piss taking is a little more venomous.  He says he saw the gig and thought we were shit.  This is his usual approach.  Don’t know if he has a really small penis or what but there is definitely some insecurity issues there.  Funny, I clocked him down the front when we were on, huge smile on his face.  Viv lambasts him but I can take it, I know where it’s coming from and I know he doesn’t mean any harm, although his tongue constantly purchases him black eyes.  He asks me if I saw his band.  I could easily say that I did and that I thought they were shit but that’s just not me.  He doesn’t believe me at first when I say what I saw I thought was good but when I repeat myself a little smile appears on his coupon.  Kiwi Chris…

We leave around two, we’ve managed to say hello and hang out with most people, although I wish I could have made more of it.  One of those occasions where you’ve talked to loads of people and really haven’t spoken to anyone.  I meet Jay before he leaves, he’s heading off to the Amersham Arms for some drunken debauchery, the rest of that crew are there.  He cracks up, tells me Dave is wearing a boot print on his cheek that he received during our set.  The only person I haven’t really managed to hang out with tonight is Wayne, but we catch each other on the way out.  I’m sure we’ll be back with DB at some point, otherwise I’ll have to make a private trip over with the family.

We get back to Kev’s just after two.  The alarm is set for eight, six hours of sleep on the floor.  I like a hard bed though, good for this shit old back of mine. I hear Kev coming back sometime around three with what sounds like Kiwi Chris’s voice behind him. It sounds like Kiwi is boats.  I get up for a piss once they’ve gone to bed and find the bathroom mirror has been taken down from the wall and laid on the floor and various plastic bottles have fallen into the tub.  I wonder if Kev will need waking in the morning…probably not.  He always seems to make it through somehow.

I retake my position on the floor between Andy and Jon, glad we’re on the afternoon flight.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Sheffield

Wake up and reach straight for the headache pills.  It’s nothing major, just a little tingling behind the eyes, enough to warrant a pill though.  Those of us with kids were talking yesterday about how no matter what time you hit the lights you still wake up early, the old body clock set to dad.  I check on Andy, his eyes are closed but I can tell he’s awake.

I give sleeping another go but it’s no good.  I give up and jump in the shower before heading downstairs to see if there’s anyone up for taking some air.  The sun is shining and I could do with a brisk walk to brush off those remaining cobwebs that the shower missed.  Karl and Alec are alive and up for it so we head down the road to see what’s about and end up in a café.  There’s a rumour that Flash is cooking up some breakfast later but there’s no telling how long that will be, judging by the chorus of snores in the house it’s going to be a while.  The café looks pretty decent and I order some poached eggs on toast.  It’s pretty disappointing though.  The toast is dry as sand and the eggs are petite, to say the least.  Still, nice to get away for a bit.

We head back to Flash’s where people are beginning to stir.  Kev looks fresh enough despite last night’s over indulgence.  I head into the dining room where Flash has put a veggie buffet on, looks fucking amazing. Those who are awake are mulling around the table, picking it to pieces.  Under the table lies Jon, fast asleep in his sleeping bag, completely oblivious.  Even when he stirs a short while later he just lies there rubbing his beetroot red face for the best part of five minutes.  Jamie catches me looking at him and smiles.  He tells me that Jon was stoating about the house last night confused and he stood right on him before falling flat on his ass.  He says he heard him later on in the kitchen taking what he imagines to be a slash into a can or a bottle; the sound of running liquid was interrupted by the sound of pouring every ten seconds or so explains Jamie. Jon eventually pulls himself to his feet and starts telling Jamie how he’d been sleep walking last night, says he always sleep walks when he’s had a drink and that if he doesn’t then he wakes up with an anxiety attack instead.  Fuck knows.  Jamie then points at his trainers and tells Jon how he’d also lent them in the middle of the night and fucked off into the back garden in them.  Jon just looks at me with the usual look of confused amazement.

Out of politeness I help myself to a plate of food from Flash’s buffet but I can’t manage much.  It’s far, far better than the eggs I’d eaten earlier.  Wish I’d waited.  Bad tour economics right there.  We hang out for a while in the front room waiting for everyone to ready themselves, me, Karl and Kev talking about the great emo bands of the Nineties like Moss Icon and the scene in the UK at the time with brilliant bands like Bob Tilton, Baby Harp Seal and Karl’s old band Tribute.  It’s soon time to get moving and we line up outside the van with the Link guys, Flash’s girlfriend and Skit, who Flash keeps shouting at in what sounds like Czech, but I’m not sure, and take a couple of pics.  A permanent reminder of a very nice evening.

The drive up to Sheffield takes around four hours with a couple of stops.  The weather is pretty schizophrenic, one second it’s sunny, the next the sky goes all fucking Mordor and the van is being pelted with hail and snow.  It goes back and forth like this pretty much the whole journey.  The van the guys have hired is a real top-end Sprinter, complete with TV and DVD player.  Kev has brought some discs with him and I think mainly to shock the Swedes, Karl puts on a couple of episodes from the second season of the British cult classic Love Thy Neighbour.  The racial humour in that show would simply not be tolerated today, even though the joke is of course on the racist character played by Jack Smethurst.  It pretty much goes right over the heads of the Swedes.  After a couple of episodes we switch to a documentary about the early years of Iron Maiden, something we can all fully appreciate.  Someone mentions that Steve Harris is supposedly a right homophobic twat though.  It wouldn’t surprise me if he is a bit of a cock since he’s openly admitted his hate for punk rock.

We pull up outside the venue around three pm, about three hours to spare until we load in.  It’s as cold as a witch’s tit up North, the kind of chill that forces your shoulders to hunch up in knots.  We sort the parking ticket out and head in to town in search of food.  It’s a shame it’s so fucking freezing because it would have been nice with a walk otherwise.  Jamie lived here for a couple of years so we follow his guide to a vegetarian café called the Blue Moon.  It takes a bit of a while for him to pin the place down but it’s worth it when he eventually does.  I opt for a mushroom and leak cheese bake which shows itself to be a superb choice.  We’re sat around various tables in the café enjoying the warmth as much as the food.  Jon takes a beer of course, as soon as I saw that they had Samuel Smiths Pale Ale on sale I knew Jon would be taking one, I was tempted myself in truth but decided that I needed some food in me before embarking on booze. Niki Nailbomb is sat at a table on his own when Jon approaches him and asks if he’s like some company. Before long they’re in to full flown conversation.  Niki comes up to me afterwards, “Ee’s alright that boy, we ave a common love of Yoof ov Today!”  Seems like the two of them have hot if off.

When we’re done at the café we walk over to the Crucible Theatre so Jon can have his picture taken in front of it, being a big snooker fan.  He stands there in his big sheepskin coat and Bolt Thrower beanie hat with a glowing smile as Kev snaps away.  As we’re waiting around Niki is talking with the other guys about his plans for getting home tomorrow after the gig, figuring out the earliest possible train he can take after Disculpe have played and when that will get him back to his beloved Southend.  Karl, shaking his head, “It’s amazing that you actually like playing in bands!”

“I dan’t really!  I just like the moosic.”  We all crack up laughing.  Kev points out that the main thing Niki is interested in is being on records and getting his hands on a copy.  We head back to the venue; Bryan and Avi are there setting things up.  It’s great to see them as always.  Tonight’s lineup is really strong and it should be a great night.  Link are playing again and then there is War All The Time and Bryan’s own band Skiplickers, both of which are really great.  I tell Bryan that we had some food at the Blue Moon Café and he laughs, telling me that the food they’ve got for tonight is coming from the very same place.  I think I’ve got room for more anyway.  The space the guys have got here is really cool.  It’s a unit on a little industrial backstreet just off the city center.  There is a small narrow room with some sofas in it as you enter and then a larger, square room off to that with a low stage along the far wall and a bar off to the side.  I think the guys have a studio upstairs since there is a white board in the first room with a recording schedule on it with all the guys bands booked in; Dry Heaves, Skiplickers, Detergents.  What a great little scene they have here.   We load in pretty quick anyway and then with not much more to do we decide to head for a beer.  There is a pub, The Lord Nelson, right next door.

Bryan assured us the place was alright but I’m a little tentative after peaking in through the door.  It’s a pretty small place and there’s a right rowdy crowd of middle aged chavs in there.  I open the front door and, “Come on you fucking twat!” pours out.  I hope they’re shouting at the horses on the box.  We think about heading somewhere else because the last thing I can be arsed with is hassle, I just want to sit down with a pint, but on reflection we didn’t pass that many decent looking places on our excursion earlier so we decide to take the chance.  Jamie leads the way without the slightest suggestion of hesitation.  “I lived in Bermondsey for long enough,” he chirps.

The pissed up crowd at the one end of the bar don’t even register us as we walk in.  There is a large, deserted alcove off to the side with a bunch of free tables so we head for there.  The landlord is a friendly enough looking guy who seems to be doing a gallant job of humouring the rabble he’s been left with.  There is plenty of good beer on tap and I go for a pint of Old Speckled Hen.  Two quid seventy.  Fucking dancer. It tastes like pure heaven too.  We’re sat there for about half hour when Bryan comes in and tells us the food is ready.  I’m just about to purchase another brew though, I really fucking fancy it, although I feel bad about not going to show my appreciation for the hot food.  I decide to make the second pint a quick one.  It’s really relaxed sitting there having a drink with everyone though, it’s warm in here, a lot warmer than the venue, and there is good cheap beer on tap.  Johan seems to be pretty relaxed today, he’s on to his third and is wearing a sly smile.  Jon and Niki are in full conversation about hardcore, new best mates, much to everyone else’s amusement.  The jukebox is playing crappy songs from the Eighties, really loudly and the shower are singing along.  And then a Bob Marley song comes on and they all start shouting along in diabolical Jamaican accents.  And lo and behold a black guy comes in and they all start cheering, pure delight at the sight of him.  “Jamaica!!!” one of them guffaws, holding his arms out to the guy for a hug.  The guy just smiles uncomfortably.  With that I decide it’s time to go see to that food.

Even though it’s lukewarm the veggie lasagna hits the spot, even if the spot is pretty small.  Karl has come with since he was also feeling guilty about not eating the grub.  Besides the food Bryan has got a couple of crates of beer in for the bands.  I’m sure it’s getting better in the country, free beer and food on the DIY scene wasn’t always a given, at least not beer.  It’s still pretty cold in the venue though since it’s not open yet so the cold beer takes a while to go down.  I think about heading back to the pub but decide against because it’s going to be another three or four hours until we play and I’m already on three beers, which is closing in on my limit.  I decide I’ll have another when Disculpe play.

The venue fills up pretty quick.  There must be a good two hundred people.  The first band is some doom/post metal/punk three piece whatever from Holland.  They’re not bad in all fairness but they don’t really hold my attention.  The main thing I notice is that the sound from the PA is pretty strong.  My friend Jeremié who sings in the band Beast as God has made the trip up from Nottingham and I spend most of the Dutch band’s set talking to him.  I’m shocked when I notice he attaches a couple of hearing aids to his ears, before I can form the question he nods his head in resignation.  Fuck.  He tells me all about it, how he’s been through the emotional ringer with it.  I can’t fucking believe it.  It’s a bit of a wake-up call to be honest, is this what lies in store for me too?  First Jos, now Jeremié, our friends in the scene are succumbing to it.  My tinnitus is constant these days but it’s still at a level I can zone out.  After speaking to Jeremié it makes me wonder how much longer that will be.  I don’t have ear plugs with me on this trip either.. I thought I’d made an adult step a few years ago by making sure I always have them in at the practice space since that is the most punishing environment we work in.  Still, Jeremié seems to be dealing with it pretty well now and we’re soon on to discussing happier topics, like our kids.

Disculpe are up next, and there I am, stood right in front of the PA stack on the left, no ear plugs.  It’s great watching them play, this is one of the best bands Kev has done in a while.  Funny watching Karl prowl around the floor in front of the stage, he looks like an enraged bin man on steroids.  Fucking awesome. There is great energy on the stage from Alec and Jamie too which looks ace with Kev stood there concentrating on the numbers on the back of his bass neck, he’s getting better all the time though, he actually looks the part now.  Some of Niki’s mates are in the crowd, shouting at him between songs, they look like a right crowd of piss takers.

Skiplickers are up next and being the home town kings the place is packed for them.  But fuck me, they fucking destroy.  Bryan is a great front man, full of energy.  The band are tight as a duck’s arse and they simply tear the place up.  I met Weird Chris right before he went on stage, he showed me his chest and the one straggly little hair sticking out the middle of it, placed right in the centre of a tattoo of stars and clouds, “I’ve been growing this out for tonight” he says.  Weird Chris…The crowd really kick off for Skiplickers, who are one of the best bands doing this style I've see for a while.  Boulty, our mate from Stuck on a Name in Nottingham, is here, towering above the crowd, fucking streamboats chugging on a bottle of Buckfast or something.  At one point he sprays the fucker all over the place and soaks every fucker around him.  I see that white foam spray heading right at me but it lands in Russ Stalingrad's eye which is blocking it's path towards me.  Boulty carries on, oblivious.

I have to say I’m a little disappointed by War All the Time.  I mean, I really like the LP they put out a few years ago, real nice Totalitär vibe on it, but live it’s a bit still.  Rob, the singer who used to be in the legendary band Kito, looks like a fucking monster with a wide eyed stare partnered with a menacing smile, daring anyone to take him on, but he doesn’t do much else.  To be fair, the sound isn’t the best, very muddy, which doesn’t help.  I laugh to Johan just before they start, you’d be hard pushed to find a more British looking band.  Don’t get me wrong, their set is fine, I was just expecting something else I guess.  Bryan Skiplickers is right down front dancing away the whole set, encouraging others to join him.  That warms my heart somewhat.

I don’t catch much of the Link set again, I’m out in the van for a chunk of it, talking with Karl who is wrapped up in his sleeping bag, lying there in the dark.  It is fucking freezing here in Sheffield.  Living in Sweden you’d think we’d be used to this but the cold on this island is a different beast.  Even if it’s technically warmer here than it is back home, the rawness of the moist island air tears you to fucking shreds. I head back into the venue and catch up with Gords from EGS/Geriatric Unit, he’d managed to find a lift up here.  He’s telling me it was touch and go whether he’d make it because his neck is fucked and he can’t drive.  I have to crack up, we’re all falling apart at the seams, us old punks.  I catch the end of the Link set, sounds pretty good, plenty loud enough anyway.  Niki is hanging out with his mates, cider can in hand, looking chuffed.  “Ad a bit more to drink tonight, getting’ pissed!” he laughs.

So it’s time for us to play.  The place is full, it sounds good up on stage, I’ve had a few beers but, not too many, just enough to loosen me up, and I feel ready for this.  Once we’re set we give Andy the nod and he counts us into the AC/DC style rumble we begin the set with.  It’s met with a big cheer and a feeling of impending crowd participation.  We blast into Death Do Us Part and about ten seconds in I notice, just out of the corner of my eye, a wave of punks flooding towards the stage, I can see they’re going to land on Johan but it happens so fast I don’t have time to react.  Johan goes down under a pile of bodies and with them the drum kit.  Me and Jon are left feedbacking and looking on in amazement as Bryan and Jeremié rush to Johan’s aid and Andy pieces his kit back together.  So this is how it’s going to be?  Fuck me!  Johan pulls himself and the mic stand upright again, he’s got a slight cut above the eye but he’s wearing a smile, and we let the feedback ring until Andy starts the song again.  For the rest of the gig Bryan and Jeremié are right in front of the stage, dancing and fist pumping whilst simultaneously acting as a barrier to block inrushing punks from hitting the stage.  They succeed for the most part but a few get through now and again.  Fuck knows how many times during the thirty minutes Johan gets the mic fucked off his mouth.  Quite simply, it’s a great fucking gig.

As soon as Avi realizes we’re not playing any extra songs he puts the disco into action, now playing cheesy pop/dance songs which suit the situation perfectly.  Everyone immediately starts to dance.  We chill out with a couple of beers after the gig but the whole time we have in mind the fact that we’re driving back to London tonight.  Bryan had asked me a couple of weeks ago if we wanted to stay at his and party, something I would have happily agreed to, but Kev is insistent that we have to head back to London tonight.  It is he who is putting the show on tomorrow and being that he’s booked about a hundred bands to play with us he has to be there relatively early to arrange everything.  Except now Kev is pissed up and mingling away. Jamie comes over around one am and tells me it’s time to move.  Jamie’s the poor bastard who has to drive tonight.  As it is, Avi brings the disco to an end anyway, “That was the last song for tonight folks, thanks for coming down now fuck off!”  Brilliant.

Of course, the last in the van is Kev.  I was leaving with him and he got stuck talking to some old bird on the way out.  When he finally arrives he’s met with a piss taking jeer from the rest of us.  “Well fucking excuse me for trying to have some fun!” he moans, and then continues to mumble under his breath about how he thought playing in a band was supposed to be fun, until we reach the city limits.

We hit the motorway and the van turns quiet, except for Alec’s hard rock classics mix on his phone, which he has playing up front beside Jamie.  A couple of hours in I can tell Niki, who is sat behind Alec, is getting twitchy,  “Are you gonna be playing that fucking music all night?”  Alec just looks at him, totally baffled by the question.

We stop a couple of times on the way back, each time the door opens the cold sends the body into shock.  I waste some money on a putrid portion of French Fries from McDonalds on one occasion but for the most part I just sit in the back, not sure whether I’m sleeping or not, somewhere in the haze I hear Jon's voice beside me going on about how's he's starting an Oi band with Niki.  I start to life around five am when we get back into London. Jamie must be fucking knackered, you can tell by the way he’s throwing the van around the deserted streets of London like a rally car.  It’s five fifteen when we get to Kev’s, my knees are aching from the strained position I’ve been sat semi-sleeping in for the last four hours.  Kev’s hard living room floor has rarely been so inviting.  

     

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Bristol

We were on the seven am flight to London, meaning Johan was coming for me at four-forty five.  I sometimes wonder what I’m doing with all this.  In fact, I constantly wonder what I’m doing with all this. There hasn’t been much sleep these last few nights, I’ve been up late writing a reportage on suicide in Sweden which has to be handed in by Monday, and given the fact I’m fucking off to England with Victims for the weekend I had to get it done before we left.  I was lying in bed last night around midnight, thinking about the fact that I’m in for another night of less than five hours sleep, the third in a row, and how shit I’m going to feel by Sunday after three nights of kipping on various floors.  Still, the shows should be good.

I didn’t feel too bad as I sat in Johan’s car as we drove out to Arlanda.  Weather was shite though, the dark sky emptying it’s clouds upon us.  I hope it’s better in England.  The airport was pretty dead, we were straight through without any hassle.  Nothing worse than queuing at airports whilst keeping a nervous eye on the clock.  I felt bad for this one poor sap that had missed his flight.  We were sat at café in the departure lounge next to a gate that had just closed it’s flight to Helsinki.  This young suit turns up looking flushed, totally baffled by the fact the gate is closed five minutes before his flight is due to lift.  He stands there scanning the vicinity looking for anyone to offer an explanation.  Jon mutters “good luck mate” on a few occasions, obviously finding the episode pretty amusing.  The suit ends up asking the people working behind the counter at the café if they can call someone from personnel to the gate.  What the fuck does he think that’s going to achieve?

Our flight is smooth, something I’m always extremely grateful for.  I seem to get worse at handling the turbulence with age, or maybe it’s the whole being a dad thing the different perspective on your own mortality that having a small child at home gives you.  The plane is half empty anyway so after taking a couple of obligatory snaps of the guys sleeping and sharing them on Instagram I find myself an empty row of seats to sleep on.  I catch maybe a half hour or so.  When I come to I notice a middle aged couple sat across the aisle from me, passionately petting.  The guy, this Mediterranean looking old boy with a pencil moustache and a comb-over that consists of a few oiled strands of hair, he looks kind of like Poirot with a tan, catches my eye whilst he’s stroking his ladies face and putting his tongue into her cake hole.  Feels awkward.  I head back to Jon.

We get to Gatwick about a half hour ahead of Karl who’s picking us up, so we head for some coffee and watch the world go by for a bit.  I was thinking Karl was bringing the van but it turns out he’s in his car.  As we’re walking towards it pushing three trolleys of gear I wonder how the fuck everything is going to fit, I look back at Johan who is smiling through the doubt.  Somehow we squeeze it all in though and we head off to Deptford.  It’s great seeing Karl again, the whole basis of this trip is his 40th. birthday bash we’re playing in London on Saturday.  Since we’re here anyway we thought we may as well make a weekend of it so we’re playing three shows with Disculpe.  Will be weird travelling with Kev and playing in different bands. We sit in the car and talk about sociology almost the whole way to Deptford, being a lecturer in the subject I’m studying he was interested in how it was going for me in school.  I love listening to Karl talk about this stuff, always got a lot of interesting things to say.  We arrive in Deptford and chill out at the Waiting Room for an hour or so, drinking numerous cups of their fine coffee and munching on veggie bagels.  Fucking wonderful.

Jamie and Kev turn up with the hire van, a brand new Mercedes Sprinter, and we head round to Marv’s practice studio to load in the gear.  We joke about how this will do nothing to dismiss the image of us being rock stars that places like Köpi have of us.  The drive to Bristol takes a few hours, half of which is spent travelling through London.  Still, rather see that than the misery of the M25.  The journey is pretty uneventful bar the constantly changing weather.  One minute the sun is out the next it’s snowing.  When we stop at a services for some snacks I note how raw it is. Raw in the way on England can be.

The venue in Bristol is tiny.  It’s this little rough and ready pub called the Red Lion in one of the city’s suburbs that has a carpeted side room that probably hold surely hold no more than fifty comfortably.  Kev tells me he saw Infernoh and Nomad here a while back and it was insane.  The PA fell on Wayne’s head apparently, much to Kev’s amusement.  Hoping for more of the same tonight.  It’s already dark when we arrive but welcomingly enough the air is not as biting now.  I haven’t got a sleeping bag with me, apart from the stupid big blue jacket I have on my back, so I’m hoping that Flash, the promoter’s house, has it’s pipes on the inside.  Otherwise I’m in for a rough night.  Or a very pissed one.

There is a Belgian band called Link playing these shows too, they’re waiting when we arrive.  Seem like good guys.  You can tell just by looking at them that they play epic crust ala Tragedy.  We’re all sharing gear anyway which makes the night a lot easier.  We get loaded in and I’m eyeing up the bar that seems to have an okay selection of ales but until I get some grub in me I can’t partake.  Luckily there is a Chinese chippy right next door which takes care of that little conundrum.  Chips down the hatch I head to the bar.  Pint of Staro to wash the salt down.

Flash turns up once he’s finished work, carrying with him a huge IKEA plastic container box, within it about fifty pints of punk stew sloshing around.  Even though I’m satisfied after the chips I feel it rude not to eat the free food.  It tastes like ash, or bonfire, as Kev remarks, but somehow it’s quite compelling and I nosh it down.   The punks are slowly filtering in as the first band goes on, some young guys playing a mesh of all kinds of manic stuff, a bit all over the place but they were okay.  I get talking to Nicky Nailbomb who plays drums in Disculpe.  Never met him before, funny really since he’s been a part of the scene for years.  He’s a funny guy.  Looks like a cheeky little builder, always got a sly smile on his coupon.  “I tell you wot Gaz, I get omesick if I’m gone for more than a day.  I facking lav Southend!” he laughs, but I can tell he’s not joking.  I like Nicky Nailbomb immediately.

I have to laugh, whilst the first band is playing, me, Nicky, Karl, Johan and Andy, the punk rock dads, are all sat around showing each other pictures of our kids, lots of “Aaaaaah”ing going on.  I look over at Jon who sat in a leather armchair in front of the fireplace in the bar, Arthur Daily sheepskin jacket on, lightly snoozing. Brilliant.

Disculpe play next.  I’ve been really looking forward to seeing them.  Really fun to see Alec back in a band again.  They don’t disappoint either.  The sound is great too, not rip-your-face-off loud but loud enough and you can hear everything really clearly.  Kev plays bass pretty well too, he’s definitely improving.  Me, Johan and Andy stand in the tiny room with about forty others the three of us cracking up every time Kev pushes his glasses back up his nose between riffs.  But yeah, they were great.  One of the best bands these guys have done for a while.  Fun watching Nicky play drums too, he has this weird backwards hands style, kind of like Andy’s feet.

I don’t see much of Link but there are plenty in the room watching them, and I can see a little through the hole in the wall behind the bar.  The old barmaid woman comes up to me asking if there’s any free merch for the barstaff, as in herself.  Cheeky move really but what the hell, I help her out.  She’s definitely at it though.  I ask her what size and she’s all, “Ooooh I dunno, what size do you think I am?”  Jesus… I’m not playing the game though.  “Large?” I hazard a guess.  “Cheeky bugger!” she replies.  I sort her out with the shirt and move along.  A while later she’s at it with the Disculpe lot.  Kev is only too happy to help.  “What size do you think I am?” again.. “You look like an extra small to me love, come on, lets sort ya owt!” he says, grabbing her by the arm and whisking her away.

I get talking to Nicky again who is telling me he thinks the band name is rubbish.  “It’s like, Spanish for “excuse me” or summit.  Bloody stupid name.  Everyone’s taking the piss, saying we’re polite punks.”  Nicky’s other band that he has together with Mad John is called Nasty Bastard.  So I guess he has both ends of the spectrum covered.

We go on around eleven thirty, Link obviously playing for a good forty minutes or so.  Goes with epic crust territory I guess.  It takes us a while to get going since Andy’s drum pedal seems to be fucked.  After ten minutes or so we’re set though, but chasing time since there’s a curfew set at midnight.  Flash is doing the sound so he’s keeping a check on us.  It’s a pretty good gig anyway.  It’s not crazy rammed but the room is full enough.  I have some issues with my lead that I eventually have to change, Jamie coming to my rescue as always, but amazingly I don’t break any strings.  It feels like a very typical “first show” on tour.  There’s plenty of energy being put in but it takes it’s toll.  It’s tight enough although I do miss the start of Circles, thinking we were playing something else.  I feel pretty cack by the last block.  Totally knackered.  Lack of sleep taking it’s toll.  The crowd gets more enthusiastic as the set rolls on though and by the time we’re onto Scars the place starts to erupt.  Karl is down front, singing along.  Always makes me smile to see him in there having a good time.

I find Kev and Alec at the bar after the show.  Both pretty pissed.  Kev’s got that look in his eye, like he’s out to wind everyone up.  “It got better towards the end dinit?  When you started playing the old songs that people actually like.”  Cheeky cunt.  We sell a good lot of merch though, surprisingly so.  You can never bank on selling much to the UK punks.  There’s a good hang out at the bar, although I’m feeling a bit drained.  I look over at Alec at one point who is wearing Jon’s jacket and doing impressions of Arthur Daley shouting at people.  Kev is going mad because he’s heard that Peter Sutclifffe’s nephew is in the place, and he’s trying to track him down.  He keeps telling everyone about it like it’s the best thing he’s ever heard. Apparently Sutcliffe’s nephew sings in some punk band down here.  Kev’s never heard them but they’re already his favourite band.

I’ve only managed to battle through one bottle of beer when Flash comes around looking to start the process of shipping us back to his house where we’re staying.  He’s bought a load of beer in and wants to get back. I’m only too happy to oblige.  Me, Karl, Alec, Jon and Kev take the first ride.  When we get back Kev tells me he’s got a few extra sleeping bags with him, so I’m out of having to sleep in my jacket, which is nice. Flash has bought a crate of lager and another of cider from Lidl, I opt for the Taurus cider.  Jon is flying into the Gallahad Lager.  His bloated little eyes alight with glee. Before long everyone is back and accounted for, except for Jamie, who was last seen chatting to some girl at the bar.  Flash, being the gent he is makes a third trip back to pick him up.  Kev starts cursing Jamie, going on about how he’s always in there with the birds.
Jamie not being here yet though, his pissed eyes turn to me and he starts giving me shit.  Fuck knows what he’s going about, we just laugh the old sod’s drunken ramblings off.  When Flash gets back with Jamie Kev starts back on him again.  Flash tells Alec to put an LP on which causes Alec some panic, he claims he doesn’t know how to work a record player and he’s not the man to be charged with this task.  He’s as pissed as Kev.  He’s soon asleep and we’re taking pictures of him.

The Link guys are sleeping here tonight too, there’s plenty of rooms to choose from though.  We all sit around in the dining room for a good while, chewing on Taurus Cider, chatting away with Flash and his girlfriend and playing with their dog Skit, I’m guessing he’s named after Skitsystem.  We gradually emigrate to the kitchen as people start to drop off one by one.  I’m up for a while longer, Kev still giving me shit, at least I think he’s looking at me.  We end up drinking some David Beckham single malt whiskey, although for the life of me I can’t work out what Beckham’s got to do with it.  Tastes alright anyway.  At three-thirty Andy and I decide to call it a night, we’ve been up for almost twenty four hours now, not bad for a pair of dads.  Flash points us in the direction of the back room upstairs which has a sofa bed in it.  I go looking for one of Kev’s sleeping bags but not being able to work out which one of the three light switches will light the hallway, I paw away at all of them and end up starting a bit of a disco on the living room where a few of the guys are already sleeping.  Flash tells me he has some other sleeping bags upstairs and I gladly head up there and crash out on the small double sofa bed with Andy beside me.  It's a bit tight but it's warm.  Fucking knackeredm I'm out like a light.  

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Paddan (The Toad)

It's been suggested to me before that my memory for fine detail when recounting stories borders on the autistic. Whilst I'm not sure if that's true, I have always liked to spin a good tale though and I've always found myself able to relive the event in my head via a series of mental images ingrained in the old nugget. The good stuff just stays with you. How then I missed this particular detail from the DB show at The Liffey is beyond me.

My friend, Paddan, the tool who was giving everyone hassle for not being punk enough, it seems wasn't quite done after the DB set, despite coming close to getting his head kicked in by the angry Goliath he was pushing around whilst we played.. No, there was more to come and fuck knows how, but I missed it. I guess I was too busy enjoying the Una Bestia set and pulling my shoulder in the process.

Erik, our good friend who also plays in Battle of Santiago with me and Paddan, got in touch with me yesterday and gave me this little snippet of gold that I thought I'd add as a footnote to the tour diary. I'll translate to English for the sake of the wider audience:

"Yo! Just read about the Liffey gig on your blog. Haha. Paddan. I was expecting you to mention when he tried to offer the singer (Una Bestia) a bit of hasch to eat on stage, right in the middle of the gig, and then tried to stage dive, backwards, and broke his rib. Fucking maniac! Haha, well written as usual though. Speak later!"

I could barely believe I had missed such a crucial detail. I texted him back to double check he was referring to the same gig.

"Right in the middle of the gig! On stage! He fucking tried to feed him a bit of hasch and the singer, with a mixture of surprise and fear in his eyes pushed him away. Then he dived down into the floor. Broken rib and cut the back of his head. Hit the post and out! Haha!"

Well Paddan, this one's for you mate. You are a true legend.


Friday, January 9, 2015

Stockholm (The Liffey)


Two Stockholm shows in a row.  This is starting to become something of a habit.  We weren’t really looking for another gig for DB this year, in fact only a couple of weeks ago Kev had been in touch asking if we were going to be playing any more this year since he had to sort his work schedule out at the café.  I’d answered him with a resounding “No”, thinking we’d spend the next little while writing the next record and getting it recorded.   And then I went to the Brainbombs show with Viktor and Lucas and our friend Geraldine who was putting that show on asked us if we wanted to play with Una Bestia Incontrolable…I texted Kev immediately and asked if he was up for up and he replied the next day saying he’d booked a flight.  So it can go.  The Brainbombs show was outstanding by the way…

I really wasn’t arsed about playing Stockholm right now and it’s not something we put a lot of energy into making happen, but the strange thing is that since the band formed in 2012 we’ve happened to play an annual November gig.  It’s purely coincidental but now we’ll probably have to continue the tradition.  Anyway, we were all really chuffed to be playing a show with UBI, one of the best bands to come out of the scene in recent times, for me their LP was one of the albums of last year.  Adrian Fy Fan had actually asked us if we wanted to play a show with them in Umeå the day after Stockholm but unfortunately it had too much going against it, Kev’s return flight for one thing.  Shame, would have been great.  Anyway, Vik and Luk had raved about the UBI show at K-Town Fest this year so tonight came with a lot of expectation.  At least, their set did.  I had a bad feeling how the turnout was going to be.  I hadn’t seen a poster for the show anywhere.

I was pretty fucking stressed getting to the show tonight.  I took the train home from school, picked Polly up from nursery, went into town with her to meet Jen who was taking her out to her Gran’s.  After I dropped her off at Södra Station I got back on the bus to Skanstull, only to realise that I still had Polly’s bag on my back, jumped off the bus, tried to call Jen to stop her getting on the suburb train, phone battery dying a limp and pathetic death as always, make it back to the station, drop bag off, back on bus and then tube home, pick up car and head back to town with the gear.  Kev had flown in with Vik’s girlfriend Bea from London, I felt bad when I got out of the car and Kev gave me a hug asking how I was, obviously looking forward to the gig tonight, and all I could come back with was a pissed off, “Stressed.”  Still, I had to take the car back home again and then return on the fucking train, again, and whilst I’m lugging the gear about the others are all getting ready to tuck into a pint.  One of those classic martyr moments when you insist it’s ok, don’t worry about it, stay and have your pint, and then you drive off murmuring how they’re all a bunch of wankers under your breath.  That’s band life.  And to be fair, Luk got an attack of conscience and asked if I wanted company, and of course I said it’s ok, don’t worry about it.  This time a little more sincerely.

By the time I get back to the the venue in Gamla Stan the stress has dispersed and all I really give a fuck about is getting my lips on a cold beer.  Mood reset to normal again.  I meet G and she gives me the heads up on the gig tonight.  It’s a bit of a mess.  Per, who booked the show is on tour with Sex Dwarf in the States and G’s hand is fucked so her correspondence has been somewhat hindered of late.  Her boyfriend Jocke is on his way to the airport to pick up the Spaniards but there is a lot of confusion over where the money is coming from for the bands.  The venue is run by the club Pussy A Go Go who G and Per hire from once a month but apparently they’ve gotten pretty tight on the money and won’t let them even handle the door, instead placing one of their own there.  Upshot of it is that we probably won’t be getting paid tonight.  To be honest, I don’t really care too much.  Kev’s flight was cheap and he’s not arsed, he never is, and we’re just happy to play the show.  It’s different if you’re on tour and relying on getting some petty money.  At the very least..

After a pint we set up the merch and then tuck into some food provided by the venue, spring rolls and French fries with hamburger dressing.  Pretty fucking cack if the truth’s told.   We end up soundchecking afterwards on the insistence of the sound engineer who has nothing to do whilst he waits for UBI. Someone has to do it I guess.  Soundcheck is always a pain in the ass, at least we always treat it that way, but it kind of hits me that maybe we should give ourselves a shake and actually attempt a good sound for once.  Act like professionals and all that carry on.  It sounds really fucking great on stage during the check too!  Feels totally worthwhile doing if for nothing else than giving you that buzz before the show.  Nice to go on stage knowing you’re going to hear everything really well, unless the mystical sound shifter appears between soundcheck and gig time of course.

The UBI guys turn up shortly afterwards and we get talking to them.  They seem like a good bunch of guys.  Vik has met them before out on the road with Nitad.  They’re in the hunt for some equipment since some stuff got left at the airport, of course we’re only too happy to help out.  I notice Vik is a little cautious about his cymbals though, nervously laughing, explaining to G that his cymbals are crap but if the UBI drummer wants to lend them he can.  G thanks us and rushes back off.  Vik turns to me, “The drummer is a fucking beast!”  Mattis, Poffen and the other Makabert Fynd guys are here too, they’re playing in the middle of the bill, and they end up lending the drum gear whilst we sort out the amps and leads.

It’s pretty chilled now.  We’re just sat around supping on a couple of plastic bottled beers provided by the venue and chatting.  The stress of earlier now completely washed away.  Jen is coming with Vera in a while, as are some other friends including a couple of girls from school, so I don’t want to go on before they, or at least somebody, gets here.  It’s the usual Stockholm bullshit, you tell everyone you start at nine, they turn up at ten.  The show gets pushed back.  Everyone knows how it works in this fucking city.  Stockholm is famous for it.  Gets on my fucking tits.  Andy Victims was supposed to be playing records tonight too but both of his kids have turned in sick so he had to cancel, although he’s still hoping to make it for the show.  My friends from school, Maya and Madde turn up just before nine, grinning, wide eyed and excited to see this world I’m part of.  It’s great to see them here.  They ask if we’re still on at nine.  Nine thirty I tell them…

Finally a few others start to arrive, Erik, Olle and Paddan from Battle of Santiago, as well as our friend Emil, and Jen and Vera arrive in time to see us play.  There are maybe forty people including bands in the place as we’re gearing up to go on.  We’ve sold a couple of shirts anyway, although we’re low on stock and demand outweighs supply.  The twat I am, I realise I’ve left a bag of shirts at home under the bed.. Maya buys a shirt, chuffed as fuck.  We’re stood there talking when Jen comes in.  I introduce them and when Jen goes off to the bar Maya asks if that’s my wife, I tell her yes.  “She’s really good looking!”  I laugh, asking her what did she expect.  Shortly after Lucas approaches.  Maya asks if he plays in my band.  I tell her that yes, he’s the bass player.  “He’s really good looking!”  I laugh, asking her did what she expect.

It’s time to go on and play.  Just starting the feedback up on the amp feels good.  The sound is still there.  Imagine if every show was this way, good sound on stage, sober, or not hungover at least.  There aren’t that many in the place but those who are have enough decency to come up to the stage.  We start with Hypnotic Eye, the slow song, and I find myself in amongst them, down on the floor.  We get to the end of the first block and the energy is good.  I feel fit and ready to blast this out for the next fifteen minutes.  Quick tune up, into the next couple of songs.  Before we get to the end of Good Strong Hand though, I feel a plastic beer bottle smack me in the chest.  I look up and my eyes are immediately drawn to a grinning Paddan, a head shaking Erik stood beside him.  Paddan.. He does this now and again.  It was the same when Erik’s other band, Mary’s Kids, played one time at Southside.  Paddan got fucked up and flew about the floor, annoying people, trying to get a mosh going and shouting about how punk he was and how everyone else in the building were wankers.  I can tell he’s on that trip now.  I hear later that at one point he grabs some big, leather jacketed guy by the arm semi-aggressively and tries to throw him into the non-existent mosh pit.  The guy politely tells him he’ll kick the fuck out of him if he doesn’t piss off.  Paddan apologises and slides back a step.  No more bottles from the tit, the rest of the show goes by without incident and by the end of the set there are a couple of punks starting to move, although Paddan is stood tentatively behind them.

The show felt great though, felt tight as fuck on stage, maybe the tightest we’ve ever played.  I’m pretty buzzed about it.  The amount of people in attendance often has little bearing on how much I enjoy the show.  I’ve played gigs in front of thousands going mad and had a subdued time on stage and I’ve played in front of ten and loved every second of it.  First and foremost it’s about my own release, my own escape.  If anyone else gets the same from it then that’s a bonus.  Maya and Madde come up to me as soon as we’re done, they’re both chuffed as fuck.  “My eyes have been opened!  I had no idea this kind of thing existed!” enthuses Maya.  “It was like some kind of art performance!  I loved it!” exclaims Madde.  I had a feeling they’d be a little shocked.  The me on stage is a pretty different entity to the quiet, reserved guy in class.  I was really glad they came down to hang out.

“It’s supposed to be a fucking punk show!” moans Paddan.  “What’s with everybody?”  We’ve been here before.  Paddan is pretty boats.  Erik is still shaking his head, although a sneaky grin is showing the first signs of cracking, calling Paddan a tosser.  I can tell Olle’s had a few too since he’s raving about the gig and going into detail over our set, pointing out the dynamics of the songs and the different elements we explore.  I laugh, “It was just a punk gig mate.”  Dynamic isn’t something DB often gets accused of.

Andy turned up just as we were playing the last riff of course, but to be honest, I’m just happy he’s made it out to see UBI.  We’re not important tonight.  I want Andy to see what should be one of the gigs of the year.  Andy and I are the two from Victims that still enthusiastically buy records and search out new bands in the punk scene and I wouldn’t want him to miss this.  It’s a shame Johan couldn’t make it though, I think he would have had a good time but it’s not as simple as just heading out to a show when you have a four month old at home.  He texted earlier on apologising for not being able to make it.  I know if anything that Johan would want to come out to support us, but it’s no big deal.  There will be other times and his baby boy is his priority.  There will be plenty of times for punk and beers later on.  I didn’t even bother asking Jon if he was coming, knowing he’d most likely be bowling.

As is so often the case when the sound on stage is great, I’m told, on this occasion by Jen, that the sound out front wasn’t the best.  Apparently the guitar was missing a lot.  It’s kind of a bummer for a minute, you want everyone else in the place to enjoy the same sound you have enjoyed yourself on stage, but I realise it doesn’t really matter.  It’s a small venue and those who were stood in front of the band probably got enough of the sound from the stage.  We had a good gig so fuck it.  Vik is chuffed anyway, he tells me the Avskum drummer came up to him after the show and was raving about it, saying we reminded him of Heresy in the eighties.  I’ll gladly take that.  Time for some more of the plastic bottled beer.

I don’t see much of Makabert, or “Mackaburt” as Kev pronounces it in his thick East Midlands accent.  I’m at the back talking to Andy and hanging out by the merch.  It’s true what Jen said though, from back here at least, the sound is a bit pants.  Not much at all in the way of guitar.  Still, they seem chuffed with the gig afterwards.  They always do.  I like the Makarbert guys.  Mattis puts a lot in to the scene, both through his label and his studio.  For someone who likes the booze as much as he does he’s a productive bloke.  All respect to him, he’s a genuine guy.  He’s got his distro here tonight and I pick up a Straight Jacket Nation album from him, but short on cash I ask him if he can save it for me.  He just tells me to take it and send him the money when I can.  No hassle.

So, it’s time for Una Bestia Incontrolable.  I haven’t been this buzzed about seeing a band since Brainbombs.  But before that it was quite a while… It hits you straight away.  These three regular looking chaps at the front of the stage and then this man mountain sat behind them.  He and the singer start the show off by attacking the kit whilst the guitarist and bassist kick into a monotonic, driving riff.  The singer on the floor tom, the Mountain blasting the rest of the kit.  I played with Gordon in Speedhorn for ten years and I didn’t think I’d see anyone hit the drums so hard again but I’ve never seen anything like this.  Every time the guy hit the cymbals I thought they were going to disintegrate.  It was quite a sight.  Vik looks over at me with an all knowing smile.  And from the first song they play, the forty or so people in the venue are down the front dancing away, a gaggle of raised fists and broad smiles.  Punk at it’s best.  I’m stood in the middle of it all, next to Andy, pumping my arm in the air to the continuous, almost tribal like thump of the drum kit when I feel a strain in a muscle somewhere.  Fuck sakes.  Feel like I’ve cricked my neck whilst dancing, if dancing is what you’d actually call it.  Ridiculous.

UBI play their set and before they even leave the stage everyone is shouting for more.  They come back on and play the Nou Mon from their latest seven inch, despite the fact they’re already played it once.  The singer bashfully explains that they don’t have any other songs.  Nobody cares.  We’re all happy just to keep them playing.  I look over at G, stood dancing whilst nursing a glass of red wine, at Vik and Luk down front pumping fists and singing along in an attempt at Catalan, at Andy beside me rocking back and forth on his heels.  It’s so fucking ace.  When they’re finally done, Andy turns round to me, “That was stupidly good!”  It’s not often he gets that psyched about bands these days.  It was stupidly good though, that’s a great way of putting it.

We hang out a little more by the merch after the show, but the party is dying slowly.  I think they want us out of here as soon as possible.  Bea is a bit sauced up and she seems to want to party, as does Vik’s mate Kalle.  Kalle is always smiling though so it’s hard to tell.  Saying that, he’s always wanting to party.  He’d seen our set earlier and said to Vik afterwards, “I don’t know what the fuck you guys are doing up there but it’s always a blast to watch!”  The lights in the venue gradually intensify and most of the small crowd have left before long.  G tells us that they’re going for drinks at a bar nearby and asks us to come.  She wants to show the UBI guys some Swedish hospitality and plus, she’s an old friend of Kev’s through the Bristol punk scene and wants to catch up.  Jen is heading home but being that Polly is at her Gran’s for the night, I’m up for it.

We grab one pint of something nice upstairs in the tacky Irish pub full of even tackier Brits and then we head along to Medusa, the rock bar on the edge of Gamla Stan where G has taken the guys.  This place really takes some beating.  You first walk into a tiny little bar which is all neon lights and horrible rock music like Rob Zombie, Machine Head et fucking al, but then beyond that is a labyrinth of dungeon like rooms with various bars, the music getting louder, but not any better, the further in you go.  The tap beer is poison, but it’s cheap.  Vik and Bea are stood over at the side by the door, already on the beer before I’ve realised what’s going on, Bea buzzing with that contagious smile of hers, Vik beside her, equally as chuffed.  G and the Una Bestia guys have found some weird little room which is basically a tiny balcony above some stairs with a couple of tables.  We all squeeze in, Andy’s long, spider like legs somehow finding space.

I don’t really remember much of what we’re talking about, just the usual I guess.  I’m sat next to the singer telling him the show was great but the humdrum of the bad metal seeping up from downstairs and the numbing effect of the beer makes it all a bit hazy.  Numbing.  It’s that effect rather than anything else the beer is giving me.  I don’t know what Kev has done to offend the girl sitting beside him and opposite me but she starts ripping into him, calling him silly, or boring, or something to that effect.  She’s pretty nasty with it, giving it large with the condescending tone.  I feel bad for Kev, he looks a little put out by it, although I can’t really make out what’s going on.  We sit there for another hour or so, another couple of trips down to the bar for a round of poison and then it’s time to head home.  I thank the guys for a great show and tell them I hope to see them around again at some point and make my way home.

Kev heads back to my place with me.  It’s around three thirty.  We get back and I make a pot of pasta, nothing but olive oil, sea salt and chili flakes to top it with.  At this hour it does the job though.  Kev had looked very doubtful as I was serving it up but he’s raving about it by the time he’s half way through.  “How does this taste so good?”  I guess at three thirty in the morning on a stomach full of beer most things pass as eatable.  We attempt a bit of TV but we’re both nodding off within minutes.  Time for bed.  I head to our bed where Jen has been sleeping for a few hours, Kev heads to Polly’s vacated room.  We’re up in the morning for practice, got to take advantage whilst Kev is in town.  We had agreed to meet at mid day.  I think maybe we’ll make it one.  Stockholm style.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Stockholm (Strand)

We booked this show a few months ago.  The people who run the club have been asking us for a while but to be honest I’m not always that bothered about playing shows in Stockholm.  Not that there’s anything wrong with our hometown but it’s always a pretty stressful affair whenever you play in your own back yard.  The phone never stops for one thing, even when it’s free entry before eight...

Still, it’s been a while since we played here.  The last Stockholm show was at this same venue, supporting Poison Idea a couple of years ago.  Actually, Victims shows have been somewhat sparse of late, there has been a lot of child making going on.  This is only the third show in two years I think, and one of them was Jen’s birthday party.  It’s funny, there was a couple of people I go to school with who were talking about coming tonight, people who come from a completely different scene but are a little intrigued by this thing that I do, this little world of ours.  A week ago they were really psyched about it but in the last couple of days the doubts have crept in, “Thing is I have this party.. I might not make it, when are you guys playing next?  I´ll definitely make it next time”.  It’s hard to explain sometimes... These are nice people I go to school with but it’s okay, they don't have to come see my band play, they wouldn’t like the music anyway.  I like that this thing we do is not something everyone can understand.  When I got involved with this music twenty years ago I understood very well that it’s not to everyone’s liking, which was a big part of the appeal if I’m honest.

Anyway, if Victims shows are sparse then DS-13 shows are like lunar eclipses.  There’s been a bit of excitement about the fact they’re playing tonight, and some nerves around the DS-13 camp too.  Christoffer has been in touch with Andy, debating whether they or we should play last.  Playing second of three is always my preferred position on the bill since you have time to relax with a beer and relax whilst watching the final band instead of having to pack down and get out, or at least deal with whatever needs to be dealt with after the gig.  We’re all in agreement that they should play last since it’s their first gig for a long, long time and people are psyched but Christoffer is nervous they’re going to look crap and unrehearsed compared to us.  Don’t know where he gets that from... This issue is soon put to rest anyway.  As I’m driving over to the venue with Andy in my car and a load of gear in the back his phone starts to ring.  I can tell immediately from Andy’s tone that it’s a: Christoffer and b: something is up.
Fredrik, DS-13’s vocalist is sat on the bog at Umeå airport and won’t be leaving anytime soon.  He’s contracted an acute stomach virus and in a valiant attempt has made his way to the airport in the hope that things will settle down.  But no, he’s just called Christoffer direct from the pan, it’s simply not happening.  Christoffer is broken.  This was to be a one off gig.  That’s it.  No reunion, just this one night.  They’d even printed a bunch of shirts with the date of the gig on the back to commemorate the occasion.  Bummer.  Literally...

Andy tells Christoffer to call the promoter and to wait at the venue but by the time we get there he’s gone, saying he can’t handle the anxiety.  We meet Jonas the guitar player outside the venue who looks a picture of shellshock too.  He tells us he has friends from Germany who have flown in to see the show and even worse he’d received a message from a guy from Indonesia earlier in the afternoon, wondering if they’d have any merch on sale.  You simply couldn’t make it up.

After a while Christoffer comes back, he’s decided that he’ll hang out for the show and that they’ll still sell their merch.  What else are they going to with it really?  I’m glad he’s returned though, would have been shit to just let the thing defeat him and send him into hiding.  What can you do?  It’s just one of those things.  Shit timing.  Literally... We’re talking about the possibility of DS rescheduling their show for another occasion, but Christoffer is doubtful, “That would make it seem like we’re back together and we’re really not.”  I guess once the wound heals they might feel differently though.

Of course, word has spread pretty quickly, Christoffer is addicted to Twitter and has a big following there so it’s not long until the comments start coming in.  There are people travelling to this show so it’s only fair to let them know.  We’re sat around wondering if we can get anyone else to hop in and play last minute, I’m very doubtful anyone will be up for it at this late notice, names like Damaged Head and Neu-Ronz are bandied about but incredibly Johan who plays in the opening band Iron Lamb has sorted it in no time.  Massgrav have stepped up to the plate.  Heroes.  The mood lightens considerably.  I guess that means we’re playing last though...

For once there seems to be little in the way of nerves surrounding the show tonight.  Fatherhood must have chilled Johan out, he’s normally on edge when we’re playing on home turf.  The mood is very relaxed though and soundcheck feels really good.  I can’t really imagine us filling out this big venue but hopefully a lot of the travellers coming for DS have decided to carry on with their journey.  Or maybe we’re underselling ourselves a little..

Johan heads home after soundcheck but the rest of us decide to stay.  Doesn’t feel like there’s much point heading anywhere at this hour.  I understand Johan though, little Billy is only a few months old.  I remember how it was when Polly was that age.  All of fourteen months or so ago.  A lot happens in that time though.  Anyway, whilst sat around waiting for the doors to open we find ourselves in the backstage room, us, the Iron Lamb and Massgrav guys and the guy who’s running the club tonight.  Of course we soon get onto tour stories but it’s slightly darker tone tonight being that the head subject is van crashes.  I’m happy to say that so far I’ve never been involved in anything major, the odd prang here and there but there have been a few near misses, some so close it makes me shudder just thinking about it.

One that always stays with me was a time when we were out on our first UK toilet tours and American George was driving.  We’d stayed at his Uncle Harry’s place in Torquay and we’re driving along the windy roads of Dorset heading to the next gig, Southampton or somewhere I guess.  We’d been stuck behind a slow moving truck for what seemed like forever and Roddy and a couple of others were egging George on to overtake.  With the roads being so snakelike it was no easy task and every time he edged out into the middle of the lane my heart sank a little.  I’d been involved in a car crash that ended with us in a ditch a short while earlier and was a very nervous passenger at the time.  Eventually George decides to go for it when a long stretch of clear road opens up.  But the stretch has a slight incline, enough to slow the heavy van down.  Immediately it feels wrong.  And then a car appears from around the bend at the top of the slope, must be three of four hundred meters ahead.  We’re level with the lorry, blocking both sides of the lane, a steep ditch to the left of us, an articulated lorry to the right.  And this car coming at us doesn’t seem to be slowing down any.  Everyone goes quiet except for Frank, “Come on George” he urges quietly.  The car is getting closer.  Everyone wide eyed and silent now, until George lets out a scream, “Shiiiiiiiitttttt!”  We make it by what feels like the width of a cock hair.  Looking back on it I have no fucking idea what the person in the car was playing at.  Like a scene straight out of the film Duel.  Fucked up.

Jens and the guys have some other tales to share, some ending on a happier note than others.  We of course think about our dear friend Stachel who had a bad smash a few years back where he was thrown from the van and fucked his arm up pretty bad and then there is our friends in Baroness who last year were involved in a crash bad enough it forced two of the guys in the band to quit.  Touring isn’t always fun and games.

It’s free entry tonight before eight, even so I’m surprised by the amount of people streaming through the doors.  I spend most of the evening stood at the merch table where I’m kept pretty busy.  I realise how fun selling merch is, at least when you’re selling, since it’s where you meet most people.  The two hours I’m stood there selling shirts and chatting to various mates and acquaintances turns out to be one of the most fun nights I’ve had out in ages.  Vik, Luk and Anja turn up after having been at a pre party with a gang of our friends.  I get the feeling Stix has had a few since he has a cheeky grin on his face and immediately starts giving me shit about the way I look.  I have my hood pulled up over my head.  Mainly because the merch table is stood next to the door and there’s quite the draft.  “Look at this Sofo gangsta!” and other such nonsense comes my way.  He looks chuffed.  Jen and Jempa arrive a while later, they’ve been on the Hot Shots at our place, Polly is at her Grandma’s house so we have a license to party tonight, although there is always the hangover the next day to think about…

There is a really nice buzz about the place by the time Massgrav step on to that high stage.  The place is pretty full.  Chuffed with the turnout.  I met Johan a while back at a party at Snövit bar through our mutual friend Daniel, or Dödsrunan as our black metal circle used to call him, which consisted of me, Daniel, Tim and Bonden from Sound Pollution, my friend Rasmus and a few others, consistently talking about doing a band called Drep de Kristne.  During the couple of years we spoke about it we practiced twice I think.  Maybe thrice.  Anyway, I met Johan at this party and Daniel said then that he thought it strange we’d never played a gig together.  The thought crossed my mind as I stood and watched Massgrav pummel the audience for twenty minutes, both musically and verbally.  I love the way they take the piss out of everything and everyone.  Johan and Ola the bass player proudly state that they stepped up and took this gig at the very last minute, menacingly punctuating to the crowd that such a thing would never happen in Göteborg or Umeå, that in Stockholm this is how we do things, we have each others back.  I can’t work out exactly who they’re taking the piss out of but it cracks me up all the same.  And then they blast into a song taking the piss out of the DIY punk scene with lyrics as blunt as a butter knife.  Love it.  It worked out great that they could take the show tonight.  And I’m glad we finally got to play together.

Iron Lamb are up next but I miss most of the show since I’m back on merch duty and from where I’m stood you can barely hear or see the band.  It’s a strange venue where the sound doesn’t carry too well, although it has gotten better since Debaser took over the place.  I was here once with Jen at a Sleep show and it was fucking rammed.  They’d sold probably two hundred tickets more than necessary and yes, we turned up just before they went on but we ended up stuck behind a concrete pillar and despite the fact we were stood within ten meters of the stage where one of the “world’s loudest bands” were playing, you could hold a conversation like you were sat at a hotel bar.  Not that we were talking but most of the fucking poseurs around us were.  Infuriating.  And Sleep were boring as shit too.

It’s a nice feeling to walk on to a big stage at a club in your home town, where the room is pretty full and there isn’t an ounce of nerves in the system.  It doesn’t happen very often but tonight I feel confident.  With DB there is always the feeling that anything can happen, there is a lot more chaos involved, which is part of the charm, but Victims is pretty controlled.  I love playing on both bands for varying reasons but there’s been a lot more DB of late and I’m ready for this gig.  The sound on stage is top notch, everything is set.  The only smudge on proceedings is the fact there is one of those daft red curtains across the front of the stage and me and Jon have to grab it from either end and pull it aside.  Feel like a bit of a cunt but that aside it’s all good.

It’s one of those gigs where from the first chord you know you’re safe.  The crowd is up for it, the hands are flowing and you can hear everything on stage perfectly.  I can even tell that I’m not breaking a string tonight.  In the fucking zone!  The crowd has faces of various friends dotted about it and eventually to the left hand side of me I notice Vik, fists pumping the air, singing along.  It’s a great feeling having one of your best mates that you play in another band with supporting you to the tilt, despite the piss taking.  That’s what a scene is all about.  Supporting each other. On that note, Jon dedicates the We're Fucked to Fredrik from DS13, after explaining the situation with his arse.

Afterwards I meet up with Vik, he’s chuffed with the gig.  He’s laughing about the fact he noticed I was a little wilder on stage tonight with Victims than I’ve been with DB of late, but then it hit him just how much faster DB is.  It’s true enough, DB makes playing in Victims a most relaxing experience in comparison.  Which is nice.  Fuck, after the first show I ever did with Victims I was on the verge of collapse.  It felt like the longest twenty five minutes of my life.  I was nervous as fuck which didn’t help but more than that I just wasn’t used to playing that fast.  I was used to the one hour, pissed up ramble that was a Speedhorn show and thought twenty five minutes would be a breeze.  How wrong I was.  Just as I was a few years later about DB’s fifteen minute set.

Anyway, everyone is chuffed with the gig, band members and friends alike, Jen is grinning like a Cheshire cat that got it’s hands on some coffee, whipped cream and Galliano, and Jempa, equally as chuffed is showing me a bunch of pics she took of the gig.  We’ve sold a shit load of merch tonight too, which is fucking wonderful since I’m in dire need of the money this month.  It would be perfect to play one of these shows every month, would keep the student budget topped up just nicely…

After a bout of mingling we take ourselves down to the quieter bar at the bottom end of the club.  Jen has headed home but I’m in desperate need of a quality beer and some peace and quiet away from the dancefloor where Christoffer’s girlfriend is keeping the party going.  The four of us in the band enjoy a pint of Pale Ale and a chat.  Actually, the beer isn’t that enjoyable, weird aftertaste.  Still, it’s the first time I’ve shared a beer at a bar with Johan since they had Billy.  Not that I spend a lot of time in bars in Stockholm these days.  After the one he’s off though, very disciplined.  It is actually one-thirty though.  He asks me if  want to share a cab and although I know I should take advantage and avoid taking the tube back, I know that I won’t regret staying for one more beer.  You only ever regret the last beer if it’s the last in a long line.  But tonight I’m sober, I’m enjoying a chat with Andy and Benke Nitad and Polly is staying at her Gran’s house and I feel like another.  I do only have the one though.  And a shot that my friend Ebba who’s working in the bar gives me which I drink because I’m too polite to decline.  But that’s it.  I take the train home around three, happily  listening to Brainbombs whilst watching the young generation of Stockholm making their way home in a drunken haze and wondering how many pints of regret have been drunk this last hour.