Saturday, June 27, 2015

London

School’s out for summer.  It’s been a long time since that sentence has had any relevance in my life, apart from being a vastly overrated song by a vastly underrated band.  But today it was like being sixteen all over again.  This was the last day of Year One at college.  I’m basically doing A-Levels, but in Swedish.  And A-Levels in Swedish are a little different from back home, or at least how they were was when I was at school.  My major subject, or theme, is Sociology.  That’s what everything is based on.  But it’s not enough to just study one subject here at this level, you have to study English, Swedish and Maths too.  Yes I, who struggled considerably with Maths at GCSE level, am now studying Maths at A-Level.  In Swedish.  I seem to have a habit of going about things the hard way.  I was beyond chuffed then to find out yesterday that I’d received the highest grade of the year.  I’ve never been anywhere close to being a top student before.  I’ve worked hard for it though, but then it doesn’t feel like hard work when you’re really interested in what you’re doing.  And I’ve realised how much more effective I am when I’ve got a lot on.  College, daughter, bands, blog writer.  I can’t afford to fall behind at school simply because I’ll never catch up, so it’s best to stay ahead.  One year of A-Levels to go, and then at least three more at university.  But now, after a year of hard work, I could sit back and relax for a while.  And what better way to do that than to head straight to the airport and fly to London for a gig with DB followed by a few days holiday?

We were actually only in school for a couple of hours this morning, for a ceremonial send off assembly.  Almost everyone turned up dressed in nice clothes, all the younger students were geared up in frocks and suit jackets, even my mentor, Charlie, who wears the same black shirt and combat trousers every day, was dressed in suit and bow tie.  I was sporting whatever punk t-shirt the system had picked out.  It was a little emotional saying goodbye to everyone for the summer, it’s been an intense year at times.  A lot of the guys were gathering down next to the lake for a picnic but I was meeting up with Jen, Polly and a couple of friends for some lunch at Färgfabriken, the art gallery/cafe where I work now and again.  It was a glorious day, the sun beating down harder than it has done all year.  Shame I had to leave so soon.

I walked back to the station with the girls after lunch where we would part ways, since they were going to Jen’s mum and I was heading home to pick up my suitcase and leave.  The day then took a strange turn.  First off we’re told the station at Liljeholmen is closed off due to a robbery and a bomb threat.  And then we walk around the station as instructed to get the tram and find some old man has fallen down with his shopping and has a pretty bad nose bleed.  A couple of students help me lift him up and they cause a bit of panic by suggesting we call an ambulance, to which the old boy is totally opposed.  To be honest, it doesn’t look that bad once we get him lifted.  But still, things like this can leave me with a lump in my stomach for a while afterwards.  Strange way to say goodbye to the girls.

I meet up with Luc back at Central Station and we take the Arlanda Express out to the airport.  I’m a little ashamed to admit that I’m happy he now has to pay full price, now that he’s turned twenty six.  The fucker used to like pointing out how it was a lot cheaper for him, he the youngster.  As it is, they have a two for one deal in the summer anyway so we only paid half price.  Vik was meeting us at the airport since he was working until three thirty.  That had made me a little nervous since the flight was at five thirty but Vik was calm about it.  Turns out not to be an issue anyway, the first thing we see once we get through security is that the flight is delayed an hour, or worse, estimated at an hour.  I immediately get flashbacks to last summer when me and the girls were delayed all night and ended up staying at the airport hotel, weekend in London totally fucked.  I’m relieved then when they change the message board from “Estimated six thirty” to “Delayed until six twenty-five”.  And then Vik turns up shortly afterwards, gagging for a pint.

The flight is smooth, once we get going.  The delay was caused by stormy weather in London earlier on in the day which had caused a backlog.  The only bastard is that it’s fucked our plans for dinner tonight.  We’d hoped to make it to Deptford in time for a meal at the Orient with some of the gang, as is tradition, but it’s almost eight when we land and those plans are now defunct.  It’s nine thirty by the time we get off at New Cross station and walk along to Deptford High Street.  Dinner ends up being a veggie sandwich from a Subway on New Cross Road.  It’s not bad but I can’t help feeling disappointed.  Funny thing is, all three of us order the same thing, and the guy serving asks all of us in turn if we want cheese, to which we all in turn reply, “Yes please, lots”.  I don’t know if they have a policy or if the guy is just a dick but we all receive a measly two triangles of cheese which by the time it’s been melted in the nuclear grill has all but disappeared.  We eat up and head to the Bird’s Nest, where Kev has said he’d meet us. He’s sat at the tables outside with Wayne and Miles and a whole load of other people.  Pissed.

Kev, not knowing exactly when we’d arrive, had been holding out on dinner and ending up drinking four pints whilst in wait for us, enough to get him pretty sauced.  He’s got that silly smirk on his face and is rapidly interchanging between hugging us and telling us he loves us to calling us a bunch of cunts.  Wayne and Miles are enjoying a giggle at his expense.  It’s good to see everyone and the first pint goes down a fucking treat.  Kev says it’s been a scorcher of a day but now the sun has clocked out for the day there is a considerable nip in the air.  We decide to head back to Kev’s to dump the bags so as to be able to squeeze into the busy pub and enjoy another couple of jars.

The Nest is pretty busy, as is usually is these days.  The boy who runs the place, Joel, has really done a job in turning this place around, as has Kev and the Keep it in the Family crew, who have been steadily putting on decent shows here for the last few years.  Kev tells me that they had Halshug on a couple of weeks ago, on a Monday night, and they all ended up battered and headed down to the New Cross Inn afterwards.  There they’d made a nuisance of themselves by falling about on the pool table whilst these bikers guys were having a game.  Fucking miracle they didn’t get their heads kicked in Kev admits.  The Danes from Halshug didn’t know what to make of the Deptford crew I’m sure.

As I’m stood waiting to order a pint from the bar I haven’t really noticed the band playing, I’m fully zoned in on attempting to order a pint.  There seems to be a lot of people watching them though.  They come in to focus when I notice this slowly shuffling blues rock type riff, just kind of rolling away in the background.  Then I hear the singer, in uber Cockney, “Pinky and Perky-ah, Peter O’Toole”.  This grabs me immediately.  What a fucking lyric.  I hear nothing after that, I’m straight in Stix’s ear, relaying it.  The pair of us crack up and continue to repeat this line for the rest of the evening.  Stix asks me for a sample of my pint, a Shoreditch Triangle IPA, and makes a grimace as it contacts his lips.  “Ooh ya fucker, that’s lovely!”  He’s now gutted with his pint.  I must admit, as good as the pint is, I know I’m taking a risk due to the fact it’s six and half percent and all I’ve had is a measly sarnie for dinner.  By the end of what it this, my second pint of the night, I’m already feeling drunk.  That kind of drunk where your mouth feels numb as you try to converse.  Seems like everyone else is in the same boat, and Kev is now saying he doesn’t care anymore, what about, I’m not sure.

In thoroughly predictable fashion we end up buying chips and cheese from the kebab shop on Deptford High Street on the way home.  This is the kind of thing I would only ever dream of eating in England, or maybe Holland.  For some reason it seems like the most delicious thing in the world as you’re ordering it pissed, a craving running through every morsel of your body for the fucker, and then as soon as you’ve licked the last slither of cheap, grated cheese from the styrofoam box, you feel sick and disgusted with yourself.  We pop in the store on the way back to Kev’s and pick up some crisps for dessert and scoff them down in front of the tv in his living room, some rubbish film on the Horror Channel.  I leave Stix and Luc to debate what spot they’re claiming to sleep and head for Kev’s bed, not really bothered whether he’s happy to share it or not.

We wake in the morning and we’re all feeling the effects of last night.  Four pints is all it took for me to achieve a hangover.  Great… We’re practising at midday at Overdrive, just round the corner from the cafe.  We head to Bianca for a fry-up where Karl and his daughter Kali come along to meet us.  Greasy food always champion in these situations.  Afterwards we head to get some much needed coffee from London’s finest, the Waiting Room.  It’s pretty packed but Miles is outside collecting dishes and he takes our order and comes out with the beverages in express time.  Feel like one of those creeps you see cruising past the lines at the horrific nightclub on Östermalm.  Still, the coffee is much needed and very thankfully received.

Practice is no great success to be fair, at least not for me.  It sounds pretty chaotic in the small carpeted room, my red SG that now lives in Deptford struggling to make any kind of decent sound.  Also, I’m not sure how, even though the strap is fully extended, the guitar is sitting very high up my body, feel like one of those toughguy hardcore tits.  This red SG of mine really does need to be put out of it’s misery.  If I had the money and the will I’d give it a service, change the pick up which now has a crust of filth on it, but I don’t.  The poor thing has done a lot of gigs in the time I’ve had it.  The neck has been off it twice and there are holes all over the place in the body.  “Bride of Frankenstein,” Speedhorn’s old tour manager Doug used to call it.  Anyway, the rest of the guys seem satisfied enough with practice, despite the hangovers.  When we’re done we go and sit outside with Big John, who runs the studio and have a chat.  Vik asks him about Paco, his best mate and old Conflict partner, who recently died fairly suddenly.  John tells us he’s heartbroken about it and you can see that he’s holding back the emotion.  Sad to see the old boy like that.  Life, what a cunt it can be at times.

We meet up with Karl, Jules and their daughter Kali and head to the Nest for some refreshments.  The sun is fucking blazing so we take one of the benches outside.  Kev got a call a while ago from one of the people organising the fest we’re playing tonight up in Tottenham.  They’d said originally that we should be there at four in the afternoon but we’d declined that request.  What the fuck are we going to do in Tottenham between four and when we play at midnight?  Balls to that.  Apparently though some girl who is picking up merch for the organisers is swinging by Deptford to pick us up in a cab.  Spot on.  Beats taking the tube all the way with the guitars.  But now as we’re sat there outside the Nest Kev gets a text saying that the cab isn’t happening, that the girl ended up getting a lift off someone else so we’ll have to make our own way.  We tell Kev to get on the blower and call but he seems resistant.  Karl laughs, saying Kev doesn’t like talking on the phone.  Kev dodges around the subject for a while and then finally says he doesn’t want to call the guy from the gig because he speaks weird and he can’t understand what he’s saying.  Looks like we’re doing the tube after all.

I’d been tempted by a pint at the Nest but knew deep down that I didn’t really need one.  I was planning to take it easy tonight since I’m supposed to be getting tattooed by Marcus tomorrow and I can’t be arsed feeling like shit for that.  Plus tomorrow is the start of my four day holiday in London and I don’t want to start that with a hangover.  I go for what Kev’s drinking, a Deptford Sunrise, which is basically a virgin Sex on the Beach, we had a variation of it at Snotty once called Snog on the Beach, which I thought was genius on my part.  Anyway, it’s good and I’m glad I made this particular choice, even if Vik’s Shoreditch Triangle does look very satisfying… Vik ends up tanking three of the fuckers in the hour and a bit we’re there and is well on his way to tipsy by the time we make our way to the train.  We say bye to Karl and the girls and tell him we’ll see him later at the gig, if he makes it that is.

We get up to T Chances, the German community center which was the same venue that held the Fuck Reddin’ Fest we played a couple of years ago, around seven.  Perfect timing.  This time it’s Bastard Fair though.  And we’re playing last.  And it’s on the big stage.  And apart from our friends Hello Bastards, I’ve never heard of any of the bands.  Joe, who is running the show, says he has a good feeling about tonight since he’s been getting a lot of good feedback about it.  I can’t say I share his optimism.  For the life of me I can’t understand why they’re not putting it on as a floor show in the small room.  We get stuff sorted and then head off in search of some dinner.  They’re providing the usual punk stew here, which I’m sure is fine and I’d happily nosh down if we were on tour right now, but being this is a one off and I’m on holiday I feel the urge to find a somewhere else, a little calmer, where we can sit, eat and chat and maybe have a drink.
We make our way up Seven Sisters Road towards the football ground in search of a spot.  I’m in the mood for Chinese since we missed out on The Orient yesterday but it’s not happening.  All we pass is a couple of kebab shops and some Fried Chicken places.  It seems like shitty Fried Chicken is taking over this city, it feels like I’ve felt the scent of it since I got here.  We pass a couple of terrifying looking pubs whilst gandering about, the two of them wall to wall.  The first is just the usual chav bar, footy on the screens, wankers looking angrily at them.  The other pub looks like National Front HQ.  Fuck this place.

We end up a little further down the road in Manor House where all of a sudden everything looks a little hip.  We decide on some cosy looking Italian place on the corner, just under the rail bridge.  Everything looks relatively cheap on the menu, which I guess should have served as some sort of warning.  We sit there quite a while before being served, Lucas eventually catching their attention by waving the menu in the air, much to Kev’s horror.  The pasta looks and tastes like it’s straight out of a packet, the pint of Moretti hits the spot though.  Stix, feeling a bit saucy goes for a glass of the house red and receives a large glass of acid.  He manages to get through it though, before announcing that he’ll now be taking a break until we play.  Kev wins this round with his pizza, by far the best purchase.

We head back to the venue in time to see what is the second band of the night.  Petrol Bastard from Leeds.  For a second I stand there in shock at the sight of it, not knowing whether to laugh, not knowing whether it’s any good or not.  Twenty minutes later I’m wishing a slow, painful demise on the two cunts on stage.  They’re basically a piss poor version of Sleaford Mods doing their best to be shocking.  THe one guy is dressed in a sleazy blue suit and is wearing cyclops sunglasses, the other is a boots and braces skinhead doing his best to look thick as fuck.  They’re ranting something about, “My girlfriend’s a bastard” and other such shocking statements over weak techno beats.  It’s very light in the large room and there are about thirty punks watching them, some of them are dancing.  There are about another hundred punks outside in the car park, but my gut instinct tells me well they’ll be there the rest of the night.  I don’t get the whole scum punk thing to be honest.  They flock down to the gig and then refuse to go inside, instead sitting in the car park drinking cheap cans from the offy in some sort of protest.  Watching Petrol Bastard I get the first inkling of how this is all going to be a huge miss.  Kev and I spoke about the concept of Bastard Fest ages ago, thinking the likes of the Japanese legends Bastard, or Bastard Noise, or an array of others.  And then someone else, in this case Little Joe, goes and does it, but it’s called Bastard Fair instead.  And if Petrol Bastard is anything to go by then the whole concept is fucked.  For a second there is a spark of excitement when a guy stood with a small crowd by the bar at the back shouts, “Stop being so fucking shit!” at the band but it soon becomes clear that he’s friends with the band.

I spot Hanna Trash stood beside them and head over to catch up with her.  Nice to see a friendly face.  Hanna has just taken over on drums from Niki Nailbomb in Kev’s other band Disculpe.  She played in his old band I Like BUGS through which I first met her.  She’s a great girl and an amazing drummer.  We stand there chatting over the din from the two pillocks on stage, throwing the occasional glance at the spectacle and laughing.  After a while I head over to our merch and restring my guitar, almost having forgotten that it had to be done, sitting there praying for the band to finish.  Relief finally comes.  It can’t get any worse than that tonight, can it?

It can.

Vik has been sitting watching the Champions League Final in the small bar with Jeff from Hello Bastards and I’ve been floating back and forth between there and the car park for a while.  The human typhoon that is Misa has turned up and she’s laughing hysterically as always, two pints on the go, jumping all over everyone.  I can’t be arsed watching the football, it’s so fucking boring anyway, so head back in and find Anti Bastard on stage.  Again, I’m not sure if it’s a joke.   Although, this joke isn’t as offensive as the last lot.  I can’t really work out what it is they’re supposed to be playing or what they are.  There is this anarcho punk guy on the one guitar who looks like a bit of a plonker, the singer looks like a bit of a Smiths geek, the other guitarist looks like he’s in the Levellers and the other two kind of just fade into the background.  When I walk in they’re in the middle of some song that is clean picking guitar verse with Smiths doing his best to sing, like sing sing, and making a painful mess of it/crap distortion chorus with Smiths doing his best to scream, like scream scream, and making a painful mess of it.  It sounds like the kind of thing you produced when you were thirteen in your mate’s parents garage, the trouble being these guys must be in their forties.  And to make matters worse the sound from the PA is absolutely awful, just a blithering mess of reverb.  When they go back into clean picking guitar verse I notice Anarcho stood there, eyes closed, head lifted to the ceiling poignantly, really feeling it.  I catch Luc’s eye and we piss ourselves laughing.  When the song comes to an end Anarcho takes care of proceedings, obviously wanting to deliver some important political message to the handful of punks who have been arsed enough to come in a watch.  The problem is though that there is so much delay on his mic that you can’t make anything out, it’s just a cloud of noise, the only thing I can pick out is the word “Tories” now and then as he stands there with his hand on his hips looking like a complete tool.  By this point I’m actually crying with laughter.

Surely it can’t get any worse, can it?  It can.

Although thankfully there is some respite in the form of Hello Bastards set.  Of the six or seven bands on the bill tonight it’s only ourselves and HB that are even remotely in the same ballpark as each other.  It’s become obvious that there has been a vast mishandling of this event.  It was a fun concept, to have a Fest where all the bands on the bill have the word Bastard in their name, but unfortunately that seems to have been the only criteria required.  I can’t help thinking how much better this would have been if Kev had booked it.  Maybe next year.

Hello Bastards blast through their set in about fifteen minutes and for the first time tonight there is a pretty good crowd in to watch the band, at least sixty of seventy people, and all of a sudden it doesn’t feel so bad.  Plus Miles has turned up, and Sean, and some other friends, not Karl though.  But still, it feels like it could be a fun show after all.  Fuck it, playing is always fun anyway, no matter what the crowd.  It is after all the reason we’re here.

When Hello Bastards are done normal service resumes and we’re tortured for the next half hour by a seven piece ska punk band.  As much as ska punk makes me feel nauseous I can still tell when it’s played well, A Fish Called Bastard unfortunately don’t achieve this, not that this music played well makes things much better, but still.  I hate to sound like a snob, and there are people out there of course who think the bands I play in are crap, and that’s anyone’s right to feel that way, just as it is of course everyone’s right to get up on stage and play.  We all like different things and that’s a good thing.  It’s just a bit of a bummer when you’re stood there waiting to go on and play a gig that you wouldn’t, not in a million years, ever pay to go to yourself.  All that said, the guys who put the gig on are paying for our flights which I’m very thankful for, I can’t imagine they’re making the money back to cover them though.  

Fuck it, it’s time to play and as I’m looking for some sort of sound out of the Marshall combo amp propped up on a chair on the high, brightly lit stage, the words of Chuck Dukowski come back to me, as they have done many times over the years, “You play your ass off or you don’t play at all”.  Those words have stuck with me ever since the first time I read Get In The Van.  They made me realise that it doesn’t matter how many people aren’t at the show, all that matters is the people that are and they’re here watching your band play and you don’t rip them off.  As it is, there is a pretty okay crowd in by the time we start anyway, maybe sixty or so, although the room holds maybe four hundred.  I see that our good mate Wayne has made it here, having darted across London after finishing his shift.  And our mate Jamie has arrived too.  That’s the last little lift I need before blasting into the opening riff of Hypnotic Eye.

It ends up being a fun show, although I’m struggling with the equipment, my guitar sounds like piss and is sat so high that I have to arch the legs pretty low to be able to play comfortably which ends up giving me achy thighs, and the lead I’m using is cutting out now and again, not to mention the balls sound from the little amp, but the punks watching us are having a good enough time and they all move about for the duration of the gig.  Wayne ends up floating about on the crowd at one point.  This is our punk rock.  And I love it.  Despite everything, no matter the circumstances, I still love playing.

After the gig there really isn’t much to do but pack up and figure out how we’re getting back down to South London.  Kev had put out the money for our flights and Little Joe tells him he doesn’t have the cash on him for them tonight since they had a bad one but he’ll get the money to him in the coming days.  Kev has no qualms though, he says they’re good people and they’ll sort it.  I think we sold two shirts and a couple of sevens, that ain’t going to cover any flights… We pile out into the car park and discuss the options.  There had been talk of a cab but that has been dismissed, too expensive considering there’s a night bus that goes from here all the way to London Bridge.  As we’re discussing this a cop van pulls up and a herd of them jump out and roughly grab some punter from the gig saying they got a call about someone matching his description brandishing a knife.  It seems like a right load of bollocks to me.  Some other punks are milling about, protesting the cops actions and it all gets a bit silly.  The whole time Vik, who is pissed and hasn’t understood what is going on is shouting at us, “Are we taking a cab or what?”  Disappointed, he follows the rest of us to the bus stop, telling me how he steers clear of the cops since he got busted in the States.  He tells me this a few times.

We’re waiting for the bus and I’m eating a bag of crisps, some punk kid looks at me and snorts, “Gimme one of them!”  Absolutely.  You twat.  He seems surprised when I kindly pass him the bag.  You don’t need to talk to others like a cunt just because you’re a punk.  Luc is getting nervous because there are a crowd of tough looking types hanging out at the bus stop and he’s convinced we’re going to get robbed.  No one else in our crowd seems to have noticed or cares.  I think Luc is just tired and a little bit anxious about his flight that takes off in about six hours, poor bastard.  The bus finally comes and we head back to the south, along with Misa, Sean and some girl who is a girlfriend of someone the guys know, who wanted company.  The bus takes a while to weave through the weekend nighttime traffic and by the time we get to Hoxton Kev has gone pale in the face, desperate for a slash.  Vik is soon with him.  Luc is sleeping beside Vik obvlious to Vik rocking back and forth.  I’m glad I chose to stay sober tonight.  Misa is punching Kev in the stomach and laughing her ass off, Kev is begging her to stop, saying he’ll end up pissing in her face.  When we alight at London Bridge Kev and Vik run and piss in the nearest shadow, crying as they do so, knowing fine well they risk problems with the cops if they turn up.

We end up back at Kev’s around three am.  Sean and Vik are passing a bottle between them, something out of the drinks cabinet that Kev inherited from his mum.  Me, Kev and Misa are searching online for the best cab options to get Luc to the airport.  Luc heads into Kev’s room to get some sleep around four, his cab is at five.  Sucks.  For the money you save booking the early flight, you lose it on the cab to the airport being that there are no trains running at this time.  I feel bad for him, but being sober I’m desperately tired and by the look of things here in the living room the lights won’t be going out any time soon.  I risk pissing Luc off and lay down beside him on the double bed in Kev’s room.  He’s rolled himself up in the duvet, which I’ll be needing.  I’m in my jammy bottoms and it’s cold.  Sorry buddy.  He probably thinks I’m a right selfish cunt.  I wake up a few hours later and in Luc’s place now lies Kev.  I wonder how his journey was.  Well actually, I know, I’ve done it myself.  I try and get back to sleep for a couple more hours.  My holiday in London starts for real today, three days here hanging out before Jen comes over with Polly.  I’m hoping to start the holiday with a lie in.  

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Good Coffee/Bad Coffee

Sometimes your day gets off to a right shit start.  Haven’t slept, feel knackered.  The flat is upside down due to the bathroom being renovated, meaning you’re looking for an alternative place to shower for the next month.  Polly doesn’t want to get dressed or go to nursery.  When you finally get things moving and you're sat on the train to school your phone rings and it’s the plumber telling you that you’ve locked him out of the flat.

This was my start to the day.  At least the sun was shining, always something.  I call into school and tell them I’m going to be late.  It’s the last week of school before summer break.  All the coursework is done and dusted, all deadlines have been met.  Today we are having meetings with our mentor’s and finding out our grades for the year which will give a good indication of the progress we’re making going into the all important third year next autumn.  I’m quietly satisfied with how I’ve done this year.  Anyway, my mentor tells me that I may as well just meet them in town since we’re having a frluftsdag today, activity day, out in the fresh air.  I head to the rendezvous point, over by KTH, the Technical College on the north side of town, an area I rarely frequent, and find nobody from my class here to greet me.  I call a friend and they tell me they’re still at school and will be there for the next hour.  Fuck sakes… I best go find some coffee, I think to myself.

The initial walk down Vallahallavägen doesn’t exactly fill me with hope, the busy street has little more to offer than kebab shops and dodgy pasta and noodle shops aimed at the office lunch crowd.  And then I come across this really cool place, the name, Pasta Rapido, makes me a little wary I have to admit, but the locale itself is ace.  They’ve built a space in what used to be the cargo entrance to the East Station.  This front wall of the oblong room, the wall facing the street is entirely glass and the space itself is painted white and kept nice and basic, a few long wooden benches and some potted plants here and there.  I’m not sure if they’re open or what they have on offer, the two guys hanging out either side the rough and ready counter, one with a  broom in his hand, the other leant over looking tired and not totally ready for the day ahead.  Broom has a wry smile on his face.  The pair of them just the right side of hipster.  It’s a total Stockholm thing to say but this place doesn’t look like Stockholm, it reminds me of the place we played in Antwerp with Victims a couple of months ago.

I ask them if they have coffee and a sandwich, anything vegetarian.  They tell me, in a most friendly pair of voices, that they can fix me something.  They ask if there’s anything I’d like in particular.  The smell of bacon frying is filling the breezy passageway and it smells like England.  I ask them if they can do me a fried egg sandwich.  Delighted to.  The coffee is basic black filter coffee, perfect for my needs, and tastes great.  But the sarnie is something else, Broome just completely winging it.  Lightly fried fruit cob, parsley oil drizzled lightly on it, egg, cheese, red pepper and chopped spring onion.  It’s fucking sublime!  I chat away to him about the history of the building, about how the East Station used to be a main cargo rail hub.  By the time the sarnie is made I’m out of coffee so order another.  Forty kronor for the lot.  Amazing how the little things, like good coffee and a sandwich and a bit of pleasant banter  can change your day, bring it back from the brink of severely frying your piss.
Balance well and truly restored.  I now have a reason to hang out on the north side of the city a little more.    

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Sleeping - Part One

We just recently went out on a ten date European tour with DB.  It’s the first tour, as in real tour and not just a couple of shows, that I’ve been on in a while.  The first since Polly came along.  It was a lot of fun but it was also hard at times, missing my daughter is not something I’ve had to deal with previously.  I still loved it though.  We had a great time with our friends Pyramido.  After all, touring is what it’s ultimately all about, this punk rock, DIY, hardcore thing... As much as I’ve developed a greater interest in recording music over the years, it’s touring that has been the carrot on the stick since I was eighteen years old.  I used to think recording was the biggest pain in the balls, it was just something we had to do to sustain touring.  It’s touring above all else that keeps me playing in bands.  If playing shows and touring was no longer an option then I wouldn’t really see the point in playing music anymore.  

I’ve always had a great sense of adventure, ever since I was a little kid.  I think I get it from my old man.  He would tell me all about the times he’d travel around the country and then later on mainland Europe, following his beloved Liverpool FC.  All those journeys in the van, the shit they went through, the places they slept.  When you’re roughing it, you end up sleeping in some of the shitest places, something I’ve done many times over the years.  But the thing is, roughing it, sleeping in all sorts of misery, as horrible as it has been at times, is all part of the adventure.  I’ve thought many times when I’ve been lying on my back wondering just what the hell I’m doing here, about my dad and the time he slept on a table at a railway station somewhere in Germany, or Holland, making his way back from a Liverpool game.  My dad’s everlasting words of comfort to me, since as far back as I can remember are, “At some point you’ll look back at this and laugh”.  Those words have helped me through many a rough spot. And my dad’s words have proved to be true time and again.  

Last year we played a few shows in England with DB and one of those nights we slept in the room above the classic Nottingham pub/venue, the Old Angel.  The flat up there isn’t anywhere you’d take your better half to stay on holiday but it’s not the roughest place I’ve ever slept, just a bit dank and dusty and there is the odd fag butt here and there on the carpet.  When I woke up on said carpet I felt rough as shit, hungover to piss, and the first thought that went through my head was that I hoped Polly would never sleep in a room like this.  But the fact is, I’ve slept in far, far worse places.  And if Polly would end up doing the same, then I just hope she’d be able to laugh about it afterwards.

My first adventures roughing it were long before I was touring although music was still very much the reason for doing it.  When we were fifteen we started going down to London at the weekends to see bands.  We couldn’t afford the ludicrous train prices so the only option was the bus down to Marleybone.  Even when we could afford the train, a year or so later due to having shit summer jobs, we still had the same problem.  The last train, just as the last bus, departed far too early.  It meant that if we wanted to catch it we’d have to leave before the end of the show.  It was a choice between seeing the end of the Sonic Youth gig at the Kentish Town Forum or taking the last ride back to Corby.  No fucking issue.  I remember once me and my mate Doris left a Dirty Three gig at The Borderline early in order to catch the last train, the pair of us gutted.  I’ll never forget just how much hate I felt for Corby at the point in time.  I decided then that never again would I make such a sacrifice.

Of course, in the days where we could only afford the bus, or indeed even when we could afford the train, we didn’t have the extra money or the nouse to book a hostel for the night.  We simply chose to head to the station at Marylebone and sleep on the pavement outside until the first bus left in the morning.  It didn’t feel the slightest bit fucked up at the time.  I always had my backpack with me, which as well as being part of the skater look, I never actually skated, acted as a pillow.  My favourite memory of sleeping outside Marylebone Station was one night, I don’t remember the gig but there was me, Snitch, Beany and Woodsy, there may have been someone else.  Anyway, Woodsy wasn’t normally in tow for the London trips, but this night he was there.  Woodsy was a bit older than us and always fancied himself as a bit of a hard man.  I loved him,  he was full of patter.  Whereas the rest of us were laid there on the pavement wearing scabby jeans and band t-shirts, Woodsy was dressed like a football casual, fucking pink Ralph Lauren shirt he always had on.  We’re lying there about three in the morning when a cab pulls up and this guy rolls out, obviously steamboats.  He sees us lying there and heads over.  He tells us he’s had a row with his wife and been kicked out.  Woodsy, being in particularly jovial mood, beckons him over, “It’s alright pal, you can crash with us, the more the merrier!” in his plastic Jock accent.  The guy, who the rest of us christen The Punter, expresses his gratitude and lays down at the end of the row next to Woodsy and then falls asleep.  A while later I’m woken by Snitch digging me in the ribs, pissing himself laughing, “Fucking Punter is cuddling Woodsy!”  I look over and right enough, the two of them are fast asleep and Punter has indeed got his arm wrapped around Woodsy.  Woodsy would’ve been enraged had he been aware of the situation.

Eventually other sleeping options became available to us in London, my cousin moved there, another mate’s sister was studying there and so on, but those early outings when we had no plan except seeing the gig set me in good stead for the years ahead.  I’ve spent many a night roughing it since then, and as much as I’ve uttered the words, “I’m getting too old for this” recently, and I admit that I like to sample the finer sides of life too, I still get a buzz out of the adventure of roughing it.

When we started Speedhorn we embarked on a journey of roughing it in every way.  Eating and sleeping conditions were pretty bleak at times.  I think one of the worst night’s sleep I ever had provides a shining example of being able to “laugh about it in years to come” because at the time it was sheer fucking hell.  Me, Frank and Tony had taken the train up to Nottingham to see some band at Rock City.  We had a great night, we’d made the usual stop at the Tap N’ Tumbler, the pub where the Notts crew hung out before Rock City, and then seen the gig whatever it was, and by the time the lights came on when the aftershow rock disco was done at three a.m. we were all pretty steaming.  It was only then that it occurred to me that we hadn’t thought about where we were going to sleep.  I don’t know if we imagined we’d hook up with some girls, not likely, but being soaked in sweat from dancing about like a bunch of twats and pissed drunk, I really felt the need for a bed.  It was that classic situation when you come out of the club, the cold air hits you and all of a sudden you can barely walk.  It was middle of winter too so the pavement wasn’t an option.  I was desperate for a bed, any fucking bed.  We trawled around Nottingham, pleading with every hotel and bed and breakfast in the city centre to give us a room, we had money, but everywhere was fully booked.  It was chaos on the Saturday night streets too.  Total misery.  We ended up trudging sadly towards the train station.  It was open at least.  The ticket hall at Nottingham train station is kind of like a tunnel though and the wind blows right through it, or it did then at least, so we headed for the lift that takes you up to the platforms.  Felt like a genius idea at the time.  

The three of us lay down in the cramped lift and tried to get some sleep.  It wasn’t ideal but being boats helped and we soon nodded off.  But a problem soon arose.  The fucking twat lift went up and down all night, on automatic.  And every time it reached its destination, whether up on the platform or back in the ticket hall, the door opened and cold air rushed in.  I remember there was some old guy sweeping the platform who looked at us every time the lift door opened, every two minutes or so, a mixture of pity and contempt on his face.  I’ll never forget the look on Frank’s face, he looked so sad and desperate.  He was lying against the back wall of the lift, wrapped up in his parka jacket fighting to keep his eyes closed, obviously hoping that would entice sleep to return, shaking like a fucking leaf.  Tony beside him looked at the old guy sweeping the platform and then at me, “This is fucking shit.”  I could only agree.  Whenever I’m travelling through Nottingham Station nowadays I look at that lift and smile to myself.           

I remember another time with Tony when the two of us were sleeping at Bianchi, our manager’s place.  We’d just come home off tour and had to stick around in London to do some promotion stuff.  I always hated doing that crap so it was miserable anyway.  But hanging out with Bianchi was usually fun and we’d had a few drinks.  Anyway, he had this place in Harlesden and we were crashing there.  The flat was pretty small and the sleeping options consisted of the two seater couch in the living room and the wooden floor beside it.  I grabbed the couch leaving Tony with the floor.  Not really sure which was the better option to be fair.  Poor Tone couldn’t get to sleep however, the thin sleeping back offering little in the way of padding from the hard floor.  He ended up standing up in his sleeping bag against the wall, trying to sleep that way.  Still, at least we were under a roof.  We’d spend many a night on tour during those first few years of the band where the only roof was either the van’s or the the thin sheet of a tent.

That was the genius plan to solving the sleep issue on tour back then.  We take a tent with us and all we have to do after the gig is drive out of town and stop at the first available spot along a quiet country road somewhere.  There was normally around eight of us on tour so we’d have three in the tent and five in the van.  The van was some rental job, either a Sherpa or a Transit, either way the only seats were the three in the front and the drum cases and guitar cabs in the back.  During the summer this worked fine.  I remember one night spent on Hastings beach, which apart from the fact it was pebbles, was really pretty cosy.  That night we’d squeezed about four of us in this two man tent and John ended up kipping just outside the entrance to the tent on the pebbles in his big puffy jacket.  We had lots of booze and hash to keep us warm though.  Funny how the budget, no matter how small, always stretched to cover those things.  

Anyway, when it hit me that the tent idea wasn’t all that great a solution was this one night we’d played up in Newcastle in January.  I mean, Newcastle is fucking cold in June never mind January.  We were heading to Scotland the next day so we stopped at some layby on a quiet road by the border and pitched up for the night.  The tent was John and Tony’s, they both still lived together at their parents at the time and their relationship was quite strained.  But being that it was their tent they decided they were both sleeping in it.  I sensed trouble since they didn’t enjoy each other’s company at the best of times.  Roddy, who was driving us, joined them in the tent.  It was fucking freezing.  Once the engine went off the metal of the van’s shell soon converted the place into a fridge.  And then the rain came.  Ice cold rain.  I don’t know why, probably because we were tired, hungry, cold and drunk, but me and Gordon got into some argument about something and the pair of us were in a right huff.  Proper on the verge of turning nasty vibe.  Then Roddy opens the door to the van and climbs in proclaiming, “I’m not sharing a tent with that pair of twats,” referring to the two Loughlin brother whose silhouettes you could see arguing through the walls of the wonky tent, a few feet up ahead of the van on the grass verge beside the road.  Apparently they were having a beef about who was getting out in the wind and rain to fix the tent, obviously whoever had put it up in the first place had made a right arse of it. 

I remember that the sound of the brothers arguing cheered me up a little.  And to be honest, the extra body in the van was welcome since even if it was cramped as fuck the warmth it provided was invaluable.  It was still unbelievably cold though.  At some point in the middle of the night I whispered to Gordon beside me, asking if he was still awake.  He was.  Our argument was now long forgotten.  I asked him to cuddle up and spoon me so we could share body warmth.  He did, without hesitation.  And so we finally fell asleep.  When we woke in the morning daylight we were treated with a sight that set us all into fits of laughter.  The two Loughlin brothers were still lying fast asleep in their now fully collapsed tent, the outlines of their bodies rigidly still.  What a pair of stubborn cunts they were.        

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Bloody Kev's Introduction to East Midlands Slang

When we started Diagnosis? Bastard! Kev and Lucas didn't know each other.  It didn't take long until they were in love though, a kind of father figure type thing going on I think.  Lucas comes from Belo Horizonte, Brazil and Bloody Kev comes from Retford, England, miles apart geographically but close to each other in many ways.  Retford is basically like Belo Horizonte minus the sun.  The more time Lucas has spent with myself and more importantly Kev, the more his tropical twang has been replaced by a subtle British tone, his accent has now landed somewhere between Liz Hurley and Danny Dyer.  His fascination with the way Kev spoke when we started the band compelled Kev to write him a list of slang words from his youth; a kind of guide for Lucas to help him navigate his way around the East Midlands in safety during future visits.

Any road - Up north instead of saying anyway, they say "any road"!

Bodge - We bodge things all the time here. I'm sure you do too! To do a bodge job means to do a quick and dirty. Make it look good for the next day or two and if it falls down after that - hey well we only bodged it! Applies to building, DIY, programming and most other things.

Bung - To bung something means to throw it. For example a street trader might bung something in for free if you pay cash right now! Or you could say "bung my car keys over, mate".

Daft - My Dad used to call me a daft 'apeth which is short for a daft half penny (in old money). It basically means stupid.

Dekko - To have a look at something.

Gormless - A gormless person is someone who has absolutely no clue. You would say clueless.

Jammy - If you are really lucky or flukey, you are also very jammy. It would be quite acceptable to call your friend a jammy b****rd if they won the lottery.

Leg it - This is a way of saying run or run for it. Usually said by kids having just been caught doing something naughty.

Nesh - My Dad used to call me a nesh wimp when I was a kid and I wanted him to take me places in his car because it was too cold to go on my bike. He meant I was being pathetic or a bit of a nancy boy

Nowt - This is Yorkshire for nothing.

Piss poor - If something is described as being "piss poor" it means it is an extremely poor attempt at something.

Skive - To skive is to evade something.

Snog - If you are out on the pull you will know you are succeeding if you end up snogging someone of the opposite sex (or same sex for that matter!). It would probably be referred to as making out in American, or serious kissing!

Sod all - If you are a waiter in America and you serve a family of Brits, the tip is likely to be sod all or as you would call it - nothing.

Strop - If someone is sulking or being particularly miserable you would say they are being stroppy or that they have a strop on. I heard an old man on the train tell his wife to stop being a stroppy cow.

Suss - If you heard someone saying they had you sussed they would mean that they had you figured out! If you were going to suss out something it would mean the same thing.

Twat - Another word used to insult someone who has upset you. Also means the same as fanny but is less acceptable in front of your grandmother, as this refers to parts of the female anatomy.

Yonks/Ages - means a long time

Friday, April 17, 2015

Malmö

It’s dark in the room.  Did my alarm go off?  Or did I dream it?  Sticky comes into the room, his knitted jumper already adorned.  “Sorry guys, we have to start moving.”  Balls.  The shuttered windows had led me to believe it was the middle of the night.  I really could lie here all day.  Fucking knackered and I’m starting the drive this morning.  Still, Ronnie has taken every morning so far… Last show today.  It’s been a blast, but it’s time to go home.  I miss my family.

I’m glad I took the chance of a shower last night, and I’m glad that we packed the van too.  There’s no time to shower now and an eight hour drive back to Sweden feeling grubby would have been cack.  We head upstairs to the kitchen to find Loffi has put a spread on for breakfast.  It looks great, although unfortunately I’m not all that hungry.  Still, free food and all, force a little down.  Loffi hasn’t been to sleep yet.  He tells me the party went on until around six, he was playing Eighties cheese and dancing around all night, and then when the last dregs left he went straight to the store and bought food for breakfast.  He still looks fighting fit though I guess the not drinking thing helps with that.  Loffi has been doing this shit for years on end and like Kev, his love for it hasn’t diminished an iota.  So much respect for these guys.  Ten days into a tour, and about ten years younger and I feel done.

We sit around and chat for a while over breakfast and coffee, Loffi tells me about his new espresso machine he’s got at home, the guy loves coffee, some hi tech thing he has that he’s very enthused over.  The ball of fire in the sky is already warming the day and the back garden looks very inviting.  More inviting than the van I have to say.  We take some group pics of the bands together outside the house, it’s time to do that since we’re parting ways after tonight, and then we say bye to Loffi and jump in the van.  The streets of Potsdam are calm and we have a quiet little browse at the sights as we meander through the small city.  I’m still a bit tired and get a bit of a shock when I hear this bang at the back of the van.  I look in the wing mirror and see this angry looking old guy on a bike, serious as fuck in all the clothes and those ridiculous shorts, I’ve stopped at the lights and I’m halfway into the bike lane.  A few minutes later we see him racing along ahead shouting at some mum and her kid who is dordling along on his bike, blocking his way.  Seems like Shorts is having a bad morning.  What a fucking knob.

I drive for around three and half hours, the GPS leading us through some back roads out in the countryside which makes it slow going for a while, however picturesque it may be I’m longing for the autobahn, just put it in sixth gear and cruise.  I drive until we change to the road that leads us to Puttgarden.  The drive had been a little challenging since people drive like fucking maniacs on the speed limitless road.  Sticky and Stix, the two drummers are sat up front with me, Sticky nervously keeping his eye on the road, Stix fast asleep, mouth gaping open, head wobbling about all over the place.

Luc takes over after we fill up the tank and drives us the rest of the way.  As we drive into the coast, the estuary on either side of the road, Stix calls out for one last time, “Sprit, sprit, sprit!” Everyone joins in and suddenly the van has come to life.  The bar in the van door is almost depleted now though.  And poor Crappy is sat behind me looking white as a ghost, he’s pretty sick.  All I can hear is the sound of his chest wrenching up phlegm accompanied by stifled giggling from the rest and the sound of ring pulls opening cans of beer.  Luc shouts back from the driver’s seat, “Sightseeing guys, take photographs!”

“We’re drinking,” replies Dan Arne.

I’m going to miss these guys.  I haven’t experienced this feeling for a while now, the end of tour mixed emotions of missing your family, amplified nowadays by a longing to see my daughter, and being bummed about having to say adieu to your new friends whom you’ve just spent an intense ten days with.
We get to the ferry port where we meet a miserable looking old cunt sat in his cabin who charges us twice the amount we paid coming the other way.  He grumbles something about the length of the van and waves us forward.  There are long queues and we spend a little over an hour waiting to get on the boat.  I mention to Ronnie that I’ve never had to wait this long for a boat here and he reasons that it’s probably because we’ve never been through here on a Saturday afternoon, that one is normally taking a boat here in the middle of the night or early in the morning in the middle of some tour or other.  I look around and observe the various cars and vans stuffed full with crates of cheap beer from the Border Shop.  These sad wankers drive all the way down here and stock up on crap beer just to save a few kronors.  I guess it’s quite a few kronors but still, the frenzy it causes between these idiots makes me laugh.  They’re all Swedish of course.

The Pyramido guys buy a couple of crates on the boat’s duty free shop since the show tonight in Malmö is a bring your own booze affair.  We decide we’ll all pitch in and drink it and whatever is left will go to Pyramido’s rehearsal space.  We’ve been looking at the tour costs and it seems like we’re on target to break even, which I have to say is a huge relief.  I can’t really justify fucking off during the entire Easter break from school, leaving Jen with Polly and the dog all week, and then come back with a few hundred quid to cover.  Not when I’m studying and Jen works full time and supports me with this stuff.  The words break-even have been ringing in my mind this last week or so.  It actually turns out though that it’s been cheaper than being at home for a week since we’ve had food every day and all in all I’ve spent about thirty quid in personal money.  Pretty cheap week.

We get to the venue in Malmö around seven.  Kalle Hårda Tider is putting the show on and he’s there to meet us with his usual broad smile.  We’re a little late but that was to be expected, and Kalle isn’t stressed.  The Malmö Hardcore Crew is here, they run this place together, and there is plenty of help on hand to load in the gear.  The venue is some office building or something with a largish room a couple of floors up where they have a stage built into the back wall.  They normally have wresting here, totally underground of course.  They started putting shows on here a month or so ago and it’s been going well.  Kev is chuffed to be here, playing Malmö is a big deal for him he says.  Malmö Hardcore is the biggest scene in Sweden, there are a lot of bands from here, and it’s nice to be here and play.  You kind of feel like an outsider though when you arrive in a city that has a thriving insular scene, you can feel like you’re intruding a little maybe, but the guys here are all super friendly so there’s none of that.  Whether many of them will get our chaotic take on hardcore is another matter though.

I’m glad anyway that Pyramido are playing last.  Sticky was saying he didn’t want to play last in their home town, that it felt daft, but Dempe says it’s probably best that they do so that people will stick around.  I’m relieved to hear it, feels stupid going up and jumping around like a tit for fifteen minutes after Pyramido have just crushed the place into oblivion for thirty five.  The guys soundcheck quick and then we tuck into some dinner and a beer.  There is this young sound guy who seems to be buzzing about his job, wants to know if we’re going to soundcheck.  I don’t really understand the need though, there’s only a bass drum mic and vocals up there.  Have to admire his enthusiasm though.  He keeps calling us Diagnostic Bastard too, which is funny.  I don’t have the heart to correct him and leave it be.  Alex from Kids Love Ink and his mate are here, they’ve made the trip over with their skateboards and have been hanging out in Copenhagen for a few days, hitting all the hot spots over there.  It’s good to see them here.  Seem like they’re enjoying themselves.  Jona Infernöh is here too, always good to see him.  Stix and Kev are going to stay at his place tonight.  Åke from Desperat/Mob 47 has also turned up.  It’s great to see him, happy as always.  He tells me Mob are doing a South East Asia and Australia tour at the end of April.  Sounds fucking amazing!  Chuffed.      

Kalle says there are a lot of people coming tonight and that he’s going to have to warn people to turn up early.  He’s not wrong.  By the time the first band go on, Bastard Graves, a death metal band from Helsingborg, the place is pretty packed.  Kalle says to us, ten more people, and he’s calling it.  Bastard Graves have a girl on bass that Kev tells me he’s in love with.  He’s been in love about five times this tour though, he mentions that he’d fuck most of the guys in this room too.  Bastard Graves are pretty good anyway, although they play a little long.  The crowd seem well into them though.  I like the fact they have a bit of a punk edge to the classic Scandi death metal sound.

We go on just after ten, it feels like the crowd has thinned out a little.  I guess a lot of people were here to see Bastard Graves.  It’s still a good amount of people in though.  Sounds decent enough on stage so we just get on with it.  Unbelievably I break a string right at the start, in the middle of the first riff in Hypnotic Eye.  Have only broken one string all tour, which is amazing for me and my ridiculous guitar playing non-technique.  Of course it had to happen.  It gets to the break where it comes to my solo riff, which actually requires two strings, one of which I’m missing, and I just stand there twanging on the bottom E like Dick Dale.  Stix looks at me confused and then sees the hanging thread.  Don’t know if anyone else notices.  We cover it anyway.  It’s a bummer though because I now have to take it easy for the rest of the set with my extra guitar.  And I notice a couple of songs in with the spare guitar that it’s way weaker in volume.  Luc tells me to crank it before we go into Am I Stupid? Or Idiot! And from there it feels like the gig gets going.  The rest of the set goes well although I feel it’s a little constrained and there’s little space up on the high stage, I give Kev a few bangs in the back as we play.  I don’t see anything from the crowd but Luc seems chuffed with it afterwards, says people were moving about.  There was this young punk couple down the front at the end calling for more, “The whole set, one more time, the whole set, one more time!”  First time I’ve heard that.

I get talking to one of the guys from the collective in the kitchen after we’ve played, he tells me he’s been reading my blog for a few years.  Says he really enjoys reading it with his coffee in the morning, that’s it’s perfect when a new post turns up once a month since the texts are pretty long.  He says he hasn’t had the chance to read anything from the tour yet.  I guess he’s got something to read over his coffee for a little while.  Really nice guy anyway, always fun to meet people through that connection.  The other guys from the collective seem to have enjoyed the gig too, Kalle grabs me and says, “Well there was no messing there!”  It wasn’t the ultimate show, not by a long way, we’ve played far better to far less people at times on this tour, but I’m happy enough with it.  Hopefully we can come back some time in the future.

It’s time to see Pyramido do their thing for one last time on this tour.  Again the crowd is considerable thinner than it was for Bastard Graves but that doesn’t stop them playing a great show.  I’m amazed by Crappy’s performance considering how low he was looking during soundcheck.  The poor fucker hasn’t complained once.  I have to laugh at the end when they ring out the last riff and Crappy hold his Flying V aloft and then turns it upside down and turns his pedal off with his pointed headstock, killing the sound.  Good end mate, good end.

The place empties pretty quickly when they’re done, and the lights come on, the yellow tiled walls creating a strange light in here.  Seems like we’ve sold a few bits of merch too.  We bought another box of the first seven inch from Stachel a week ago and they’ve all but gone.  That first seven inch is almost gone now, feels nice to get rid of it.  We’re thinking about putting an LP out of the first releases and it’s nice to not have the first seven inch hanging around if we’re going to release the songs on a compilation record.  The tape sold out on this tour and the second seven inch is sold out/destroyed in Jocke’s flood.

We pack up the van and head back to Pyramido’s practice space.  It feels weird to be back here already, feels like only yesterday we were picking the guys up.  Time goes fast and slow simultaneously on tour.  Once off loaded Jona turns up to pick up Stix and Kev, we’ll see them in the morning.  Kev is flying back from Copenhagen and Stix is coming back with us.  We drive around town dropping the guys off at their homes, a series of hugs and goodbyes.  Luc is a bit drunk and is in the back shouting a lot as we drive about Malmö in the middle of the night.  By the time we’re dropped everyone bar Dan Arne off we’re starving so stop off for some famous Malmö falafel.  The queue is coming out of the door at Jalla Jalla though, so we head next door.  It’s a little cold by the time we get back to Ronnie’s place but it does the job.  It’s around two thirty by the time we me and Luc bed down on the sofa bed.  My aim is to get going for nine, I want to be home to see Polly before she goes to bed and it’s a long old drive.

Now the tour is over, I just want to get home.  It’s been a good time, and financially it’s gone better than I could have hoped for, we might even have enough money to pay for flights to Finland for some shows we have in October.  We’ll see.  That’s the future.  Now it’s sleep and then home.        

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Potsdam

We had the run of the place this morning, only us in the building.  We didn’t really have any plans to hang around in Wroclaw, deciding a couple of hours in Berlin would be a couple of hours far better spent.  We had a quick bit of breakfast, I skipped the Turkish coffee and went for tea, I had a quick shower that was through a garden hose attached to a tap, and then we loaded the van and got going.  It was another glorious day, would be perfect if it was like this in Berlin.

Whilst loading the gear some weird kid walks past the van and in through the gate and just kind of stands there hanging around smoking a fag as we load the rest of the van.  Anywhere else in the world and you’d tell him to fuck off but not here.  And then he gets on his phone and starts talking to someone and we decide he’s obviously calling a posse and we have to get out of here before we’re all slaughtered.  We’re in a tight spot with the van and it takes a bit of wriggling around on Ronnie’s behalf, and there is this guy who looks like He-Man changing the tires on his car right beside us.  I can’t even imagine what would happen if we pranged his car.

The weird kid comes back out and then starts walking about the car park and looking at himself in windows and fixing his hair.  I’m happy to get out of that grove and on the road again.  We drive through the city and I’m consciously looking for the area which Dr. Doom called breathtaking, but I don’t see it.  It’s pretty cool in its own but it’s not exactly Vienna.  The road out of Poland turns out to be pretty easy too, driving through Poland has turned out to be far less painful than anticipated.  Ronnie takes the whole shift to Berlin which takes around three and half hours.

It’s nice to be back in Berlin, it’s been a while since the last time.  We drive through the streets of Kreuzberg and the sun is shining, everyone sat outside drinking beer, lapping it all up.  There’s a buzz in the air, there always is in the city.  It’s funny, I’ve played here about eight times I think and I don’t think I’ve played the same venue twice.  There is such a good scene here, it’s a shame we didn’t work out a gig for this tour.  We pull up outside a record shop in Fredrikschain, the guy running it is a friend of Pyramido.  We hang out for a bit whilst we’re waiting for Clarrisa, a friend of Luc’s from Brazil, to turn up.  I’ve got no money for records so there’s really no point in looking, it’s just punishment.  I go and lie outside in the sun on a bench outside the shop, close my eyes and enjoy the heat.  It’s a wonderful feeling.  Kev is probably not into this weather too much.  The guys asked him the other day in the van what he thought the perfect temperature was and his was “cold.”

Luc’s friends turn up not long after, another friend of his from Brazil who now lives in Paris is here, and they’re all coming to the show tonight.  Seem like a nice bunch.  We walk a few blocks over to this vegan burger place called Yo Yo’s which is a big favourite of the Pyramidos, especially Crappy.  He tells us that they were here one time and they went for both lunch and dinner here in the same day.  He says he likes the comfort of familiarity.  “I know what I’ve got, not what I’m getting”, he explains.  “Classic Wendel” laughs Ronnie.  There are around fifteen of us including the Brazilians at the joint, I’m amazed by how fast the food actually comes out.  I’ve gotten my burger within a few minutes.  It’s good too.  I have to say I’m not too into the vegan cheese, the one thing keeping me from going vegan I reckon, but the burger tastes good.  And its joy just sitting there in the warm shade in just a t-shirt, eating good grub.

When we’re done we head off in search of a chair in the sun and a beer, leaving the Brazilians behind to finish their food, those guys are never in a rush with anything.  Kev, Stix and I find a bar on a quiet corner and order some beer, Kev going for the cheapest pilsner and me and Stix opting for a weissbeer.  When the beers comes out Kev laughs at our cloudy brews served in what he calls vases, and says we should have a flower in the top of them.  To be honest, it’s not as good as I imagined it would be.  I remember that I don’t actually like the German wheat beer, it’s the Belgian variant I like, it just seemed like a good idea on such a sunny day.  Kev’s tastes like piss too though so I don’t have too many regrets.

We drink up and head over the big railroad bridge to this hip bar by the Wall next to the river that has a man-made beach within its grounds.  I remember being here with Battle of Santiago a few years ago in the middle of the summer, we had a day off and spent the afternoon sunbathing and drinking cocktails that they served out of a hut which is closed today.  The beer garden they have here is packed today, being that this is the first hot day of the spring, so Stix and Kev head off to the bar whilst I grab a seat.  When they’re not back after ten minutes I walk over to the bar to find out what’s going on and find the two of them looking well pissed off.  Turns out they’ve stood there being totally ignored by all the staff, not even looked at.  Kev tells me to ask one of the staff running around, since I know this business.  I politely ask this one guy who is walking past with a tray and rude as fuck to me, a total cunt.  Won’t even look at me when he’s talking to me, says just sit down and they’ll come over, so I treat him with the same attitude and we all walk off.  I hear him chasing us, “Hello, hello!”  Kev turns around and gives him the finger as we leave.

We meet up with the rest of the guys on the way back over the bridge and we all head back to a little kiosk next to the record shop which has some tables outside and we sit there have a perfectly nice, cold bottle of pilsner.  We leave around five thirty and head out of the city, back through the streets of Kreuzberg and towards Potsdam.  As we’re creeping through traffic we spot this guy on a corner juggling, he keeps dropping them though.  Dan Arne sticks his head out of the window and tells him to stop it, tells him he has no talent.

We get to Potsdam around six thirty.  The venue is an apartment building on a very quiet, very pretty little street in the middle of a housing estate.  We’re wondering at first if we’ve gotten lost again but then we see a punk and realize we’re in the right place.  It’s good to see Loffi again.  It’s been a while.  Loffi is one of the main people in the German punk scene, he’s been heavily involved in both Leipzig and Potsdam, he booked Hard to Swallow a couple of times back in ´96, which was their first European tour.  Luc was seven at the time.

We load in the gear, through a gated door and into a large back yard where they have a brick outhouse where the gig will be tonight.  The place has a bar at the back of it and at the other end we set the gear up.  Twenty people in here would be pretty good going.  Loffi is expecting a few more though.  The house itself it really nice, clean and really well taken care of, not a hint of graffiti or brick anywhere.  We set the backline up and then let the guys in Debre Lebowski, who we met the other night in Leipzig soundcheck.  I don’t bother standing in and listening, there’s no need, you can hear it pretty well from the bedroom in the house where we’re sleeping.  Fuck knows how they manage with the neighbours, this would never work in Sweden.

Loffi gives us some beer tokens and tells us food will be on the way but it takes a while longer than expected.  I go and hang out with the Lebowski guys in the garden, the night is closing in now and the air has chilled considerably but they have a steel drum bonfire going and it’s cosy sitting there in the warmth of is its flames.  Wendel has been feeling rough all day, coming down with a bad cold, coughing all the time and feverish.  I saw him earlier wandering around the bottom of the garden and then later on he was sat on a chair having a bit of alone time.  It’s dark down the bottom of the garden so I can’t see him now.  Ronnie comes out asking for him, I say I haven’t seen him since he was at the bottom of the garden earlier, which is maybe twenty foot away.  Ronnie’s is wondering aloud where he can be and then he looks in the direction of the garden and calls his name, “Yes?” comes a soft reply, he can only be sat a few feet away, immersed in the darkness.  It’s food time, anyway.  We head upstairs to the nice, clean kitchen of one of the flats and tuck in to some great vegan food.  Absolutely wonderful.

We take the food to a lounge just off the kitchen and I sink into the sofa.  I’m feeling really low on energy today.  A little homesick, a slight headache, my eye is stinging again, don’t know what the fuck that is, and now I’m full again.  At least I got to speak to Jen and Polly early when we arrived, the first time for a few days.  Felt better for that.  But the energy is severely lacking tonight.  After dinner we head downstairs to the gig shed and watch a bit of Debre Lebowski.  There are a lot of people here already, maybe forty inside which makes it pretty much impossible to see the band playing, and then another twenty or so hanging out in the garden, drinking around the fire.  Lebowski sound good in any case, power violence with its share of stompy sections.  The sound is strangely dampened inside though.

Will from Born Dead, an old friend of Stix’s, has turned up, making the trip from Berlin.  It’s nice to see him, I met him for the first time a while back when Victims were in Hamburg where he used to live.  He was hoping to sort out a gig for us in Hamburg for tomorrow but he’s been in the States with Born Dead for a while and couldn’t arrange it.  Malmö works out better anyway really, driving home from Hamburg would have been a pain in the tits.  It’s nice to catch up with Will for a while anyway.  I get talking to another guy whilst waiting for the toilet, some guy called Barry from Scotland who lives here, he’s a friend Kev made a while ago who lives in Berlin.  Nice guy.  He was telling me about when he and his mate biked from Berlin to Copenhagen and back a couple of years ago, with no money and pretty wasted the whole time.
It’s our turn to play around eleven.  It takes a while to get sorted out with the gear, things a bit chaotic in the alcove behind the drums where everything is stored.  By the time we’re ready the place is packed and it’s hot as hell.  There is nowhere to stand or move and the air is filled with smoke.  We play tight enough, but it really does feel like a struggle tonight.  It’s hard to find the energy to play when there’s no space to play in.  And it sucks, because this is a great show from a crowd point of view, they seem really into it but I don’t enjoy it as much as I should.  I see Loffi over next to Luc, he keeps hitting him in the back all the time.  Loffi gets excited at these punk gig things.  Luc seems to get annoyed with it after a while and gives him and elbow to the gut.  I don’t know, weird gig.  Both really cool and hard at the same time.  A friend of mine, Kurzi was here watching, this really great girl who is friends with Stachel, it was cool to see her.

Afterwards when we’re hanging outside in the garden we notice that there are still loads of people paying in through the gate, although the people coming in now look a little different.  Instead of punks it’s now middle aged men that look like bankers out on the piss with the firm.  A gang of five walk in, this one slick haired cunt looking about and grinning at the punks in the garden.  He turns to Luc and goes to fist shake him, or whatever you call that move where two people clench their fists and put them together.  Whatever, he looks a right cunt anyway.  And there are plenty more with him.  Some other twat comes walking past with a couple of drinks in his hand, starts asking Luc something in German, when Luc asks him if he speaks English he grunts, “Toilets?” at him and then when Luc opens the door for him he just turns his nose up and walks through.  I don’t like where this night is going.

I can’t even be bothered trying to fight through the crowd to see Pyramido tonight.  I make it in for the last couple of songs, just hanging out by the back by the bar, listening.  Stix had been watching them for a while but had some drunk girl waving a fag in his face the whole time despite asking her several times to watch it, so in the end he fucked off.  I can sense that the guys are having a hard time with the show too, it’s all a little too cosy and a lot of people seem fucked up.  All I can think of now is that bed.  I’m doing the early drive in the morning and I’m really tired now, it’s already one am.  Thing is, there is an after party happening in the shed with a couple of DJ’s playing Eighties tunes.  Trouble is, there are way more people here than Loffi had banked on and they need us to move the gear out.  It’s all very confusing for a minute and it’s starting to get a little tense, we don’t know how the fuck we’re going to get the gear out of here through all the punks and wankers in the garden.  As it turns out, there is a back door and Loffi and the guys from the house help us load out and we decide to just load the van straight away.  I notice there aren’t that many punks left in the place by the time we’re done.

I’m contemplating having one beer before bed, I’ve only drank one all night, but first off some wasted party guy falls into Luc a couple of times and gets a bit agro when he tries to talk to him, and then some punk guy nearly lights up when a the bonfire spits out burning debris on his shoes.  He runs of screaming but it seems he’s alright.  Fuck this though, I’m off to bed.  I go upstairs to sort the money out with Loffi and take a quick shower whilst he’s sorting it.  There’s plenty of money to go around anyway.  And Loffi feels bad about the whole fucking around with the gear thing, although in all honesty it was just as well, saves us time in the morning.

I head to the bedroom, making sure I close the door soundly so that no party wankers stumble in here looking for the toilet.  Despite the party going on out back it’s surprisingly quiet in here.  Stix had been on about having a party with Will tonight but he heads back to Berlin with friends which Stix is grateful for, seems he’s pretty tired too.  I really hope I don’t need to get up for a piss in the night, this party is going to go on until the early hours of the morning and I’m in no mood to go queue up amongst pissed up bankers in my pajama bottoms.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Wroclaw

It’s weird that the more sleep you get the more tired you feel.  I could have lain in that bed all day today, despite the cold in the room.  There is a shower in the toilets but I can’t be arsed with it, it looks like it only spouts cold water.  The taps in the sink produce the coldest water I’ve ever experienced, Kev says his joints stopped working after he washed his hands.

We have to get out of here early today.  The GPS says we have a five and a half hour drive but if we know Polish roads then that will be closer to eight hours.  We head down to the floor below where the smell of breakfast is wafting out the door, the scent of warm food is heavenly.  There are a couple of girls from the house fixing grub for everyone and the coffee is flowing.  We sit around the dining table and tuck in, the English and German guys joining us a little while later, seems like they slept down here.  Ronnie heads off to pick up the van and make our way down into the dark crypt to gather the gear.

We make our way through Vienna which provides the chance to do some sightseeing since we end up driving through the centre.  I can’t help feeling that we should have hopped on the tram yesterday and went for a walk around this spectacular city centre, filled with spectacular architecture and parks, castles and opera houses.  This isn’t the Vienna we were hanging out in yesterday that’s for sure.  As we drive through the city I have my eyes fixed on the scenery that passes by and think that I should come back here with the girls on holiday sometime.  I’ve been in this city maybe five or six times and this is the closest I’ve got to sightseeing, from the back of a van.  The life that is touring…

The drive to Wroclaw isn’t as bad as expected.  Ronnie takes the first three hours or so and I take the rest of the way.  We have no problems at the Austro/Czech border, there was barely a border, but then we’ve taken a lot smaller road.  We pass this mad little complex in the middle of the Czech countryside, which has a casino and loads of plastic sculptures of dinosaurs and the sort, totally in the middle of nowhere.  We pass the odd truck stop where there are old, downtrodden prostitutes hanging out looking for work, truly fucking tragic.  The road though is amazingly easy going.  They’ve obviously built a new motorway in Poland which takes hours of time and kilos of anxiety off the journey.  It’s private of course and you have to pay a toll but it’s cheap.  The Polish drivers, as to be expected, are still fucking mental and even when you’re doing 130 they’re right up your arse, bullying you out of the way and gesticulating at you in their mirrors once they’ve smoked past you on the inside.  Fucking crazy bastards.  This is not the country for losing your rag though, you’re likely to get knifed.

We get to Wroclaw around five thirty and at first it seems like we’re going to be playing in a housing estate way outside the city.  Wouldn’t surprise me at all if we were playing in a barn or something tonight.  As it turns out we’ve had the wrong address in the GPS.  We get in touch with the promoter, who goes by the name Dr. Doom, and he points us back in the right direction.  I’m glad to hear it is indeed in the city centre.
Unfortunately we’re in a pretty rough part of town.  And a pretty rough part of town in Poland is nowhere to be sightseeing.  We catch glimpses of the city on the way in, although the Pyramido guys are too scared to look at any of it, they’re just sat there praying we don’t prang anyone.  The city looks as you would expect a former communist country that was decimated by the Nazi’s before them, there is a lot of cool architecture in a run down, hard edged sort of way.  We drive to where the GPS leads us but we can’t find the place and end up at the end of a narrow street wondering which way to turn.  It looks pretty fucking rough around here.  A car beeps from behind and Dan Arne cries out from the back, “For fuck sakes we don’t want Polacks beeping at us, drive!”

We call Dr. Doom again and he tells us we’ve driven past the place and missed it.  We do a loop around the block and when we come back we see a friendly looking girl and a guy I guess is Doom, waving us in through a narrow tunnel in a house that leads into an enclosed grove of houses.  Even the glorious sunshine can’t put too much of a shine on this place.  The Culture Centre/house we’re playing is itself barricaded in with a gate.  The guys putting the show in, Dr. Doom and his girlfriend Sandra seem really nice, very helpful and seem very concerned that we will have a nice time at their show.  They help us load in through the gate and over the inner courtyard to the a building that has a gig room with a deep stage about three foot high at the end of a long narrow room painted half red/half white, reminds me of the hotel in The Shining for some reason.  We drop the gear off and then they lead us up two flights of stairs to a cosy little band apartment at the top of the building with a kitchen/dining area and a bedroom with bunks at the back.  Just like being on holiday.

Dinner is served about twenty minutes after we arrive which is sesame-coated lentil fillets with rice and onion sauce.  Spot on.  We’ve arranged with the guys to have a birthday cake for Lucas, and we bought a couple of two euro bottles of bubbly yesterday we thought we’d surprise Luc with later and celebrate his birthday. We head down to soundcheck and discuss the idea with the sound guy, this one armed bloke, about the possibility of putting the show on the floor, the idea of making what will most likely be a pretty sparse show a little more intimate.  The sound guy isn’t so sure about the idea though and after a lot of umming and ahhing we decide to go with his suggestion of putting the drums and the amps at the front of the stage and have the rest of the band on the floor.  They have a curtain to pull across the room to make it smaller too, which helps a lot.  Last time Pyramido played in Wroclaw they had four paying or something..

Soundcheck takes a while, I can’t be bothered with it though so I head back upstairs to write for a while.  I’d really been hoping there would be an internet connection here today, I’ve been missing my girls and it would have been nice to Skype home and see Polly’s face.  I was a bit gutted when I asked Sandra if there was any internet and she just kind of laughed and said that no, she didn’t think so.  This is the first time the guys have put a show on here though so they weren’t totally sure, but their instinct had been right.  I sit up in the flat writing for a bit when this big friendly Golden Labrador comes in a snuggles up to my leg looking for a fuss.  She cheers me up no end.

The guys come up a while later, not totally convinced with soundcheck.  Fuck it, we’ll see how it goes.  It’s time to surprise Luc with his cake anyway.  Sandra has been off to fetch it.  Really nice of them to help us out.  Luc is really chuffed, not sure he’d seen it coming.  The cake is ace too, a chocolate cake with a marzipan pentagram as topping.  Luc cracks open the bottle of rose bubbly from Lidl, Kev warning him to keep the noise down since anything resembling a gunshot around here could have us in trouble.  Luc pops the cork and gets a shock when the wine fountains all over him, soaking his jeans.  Happy birthday buddy. We pass the bottle round and tuck in to the cake.  Wendel is chuffed, tucks right in.  Sticky tells us about the time he had his graduation party and Wendel turned up, ate loads of cake, puked up and went home. Not a drop of alcohol involved.

We head downstairs to grab a beer from the bar on the other side of the courtyard before the first band start.  We have a couple of beer tickets but they only cost about a quid anyway so it’s no big deal.  I’m not in the mood for much beer anyway.  Dr. Doom asks us if we wanted to take a trip into the city earlier, explaining that around here wasn’t the best area but the city centre was really beautiful.  “Around here it isn’t the best place to hang out, or to live, or to be…” I quite like the thought of checking out the finer parts of the city in the company of our friend here but I don’t like the idea of heading back here on our own afterwards and not being able to get back into the barracks for some reason.

We grab a quick beer from the cool little bar they have, this place reminds me a lot of Lecky’s place in Leeds, and then Dr. Doom pops his head in and says the first band are starting.  We head over and check them out.  There are around thirty people in attendance, a few of which seem to be girlfriends and friends of the local band.  They’re okay though, a lot better than what we deal with last night.  Kind of driving alternative noise rock with a big guy on vocals who doesn’t add much to the whole picture.  It’s a good sound though in the room anyway, really solid.

I have no idea how our show is going to be tonight.  I really do feel pretty knackered, Kev is feeling the same he says.  Tired, slight headache, just generally feeling a bit run down.  And then it feels like we might be playing in front of thirty people who don’t really give a piss about us.  Although I’ve spotted a couple of punks in the room so who knows?  Turns out, as usual thankfully, that the gig is a lot of fun.  It sounds ace, and somehow the energy comes to us.  Stix doesn’t look too daft being sat up on the stage either.  We blast through the set, it’s really sounding tight now, seems a shame that there won’t be that many more gigs to use of it.  I’m really going for it though, it’s almost like the best way to fight off the tiredness is just to go for it even more.  At one point I go running into the wall and end up playing with my face up to it, kinda took a wrong turn.  Sticky finds this great he tells me afterwards.  When we finish the last song I immediately open my guitar case and go to pack away my guitar when one of those punks comes up to me, looks chuffed and a bit boats, and says “No no no!” whilst trying to close my case again.  His lady friend joins him, both laughing and saying “No no no”.  Old Doomey seemed to really like it too, buying a seven inch and asking us not to tell Sandra since they’re short on money.

Pyramido get going not long after we’re done, and as usual they’re great.  Great seeing them play with such a great sound.  I can tell I’m getting a little homesick though, every time I watch them I find myself rocking back and forth almost hypnotized and then thoughts of Polly come into my head, back to when I used to rock her to sleep to the Saga album.  The guys dedicate their second song to Lucas, the birthday boy, the song he’s been singing the riff to for the last week.  Ronnie, despite having a sore throat and sounding pretty husky during the daytime still manages to reach those tortured screams to stunning effect.  Fuck knows how he does it.  Once again, it’s an absolute pleasure watching them perform.

After the show we sell a couple of bits of merch but nothing too much, a seven and a shirt to one guy, another seven to another.  Sandra is buying a shirt from Pyramido and Kev is saying to us to give her a DB pin but she heads off, satisfied with her purchase for the night.  Kev looks down all sad and says, “She doesn’t like us”.  Me and Stix piss ourselves laughing at that.  Doom asks if we had wanted to go into the city, they’re really great hosts I have to say, but I tell him we’ll just stick around here.  We have a little bar, we have a cosy flat upstairs and we have cake and another bottle of bubbly.  Doom tells me it’s probably a good choice to stick around in the house since it is easy to lose your teeth in the estate.  Fuck that.

We get a couple of beers in from the bar and hang out for a bit.  I end up stood out in the courtyard with Sticky, again it’s warmer out here than it is inside, and we get into a nice conversation about life, playing, records and family and stuff.  Really enjoy chatting.  They close the bar pretty early though and we head upstairs to the flat, thanking Dr. Doom and Sandra for their great work and efforts and once again for the cake as we turn in for the night.  We chill out around the table, share another bottle of cheap bubbly, a bit more cake, a few stories, Stix telling us about the time he and Modde were jailed in the States when on tour with Nitad, and then we call it a night.  Another easy one.  My eye is fucking stinging though, must have some shite in it I’ve picked up from one of the sleeping places on tour. Fuck  knows.  Hope it’s better in the morning.  I hope I don’t wake up needing a piss in the night, it’s back down in the venue, two floors down. Can not be arsed with that.

Vienna

I’m woken at around six thirty with the usual fire in my bladder.  As always, I try to sleep it off, the thought of having to put my shoes on to walk across the dirty floor pains me.  I can’t get back to sleep though, Sideshow Bob and the Rost guys are sat on the other side of the curtain gabbing away loudly, I guess they haven’t been to sleep yet.  I lie there irritated for a while by the sound of his voice until Ronnie lets out a loud, annoyed shushing sound.  Thing is, Sideshow’s whispered voice is more annoying than his squawking voice if anything.  First Luc gets up for a piss, on the way back I hear them asking him if he wants some beer or something, he just says no and goes back to his bunk.  I get up after him, just ignoring the cunts and on the way back pull the curtain closed again.  I think they get the message.

I manage to get another couple of hours of sleep which are most welcome.  When we arise the first thing I look for is Kev’s face.  It doesn’t disappoint, he’s sat there with his head in hands, hair everywhere.  I ask him how he got so pissed last night, just seemed to come out of nowhere.  “From beer.  I had to drink a load to get through these boring cunts set” he says, a thumb pointing in Sticky’s direction.  I wonder if the fucker is still pissed.

Sticky tells us that he had to help Kev to the bog in the middle of the night.  He’d heard Kev shuffling around out of bed and then he trips over a bag on the floor, after which he shouts out in anger “Luc!”  Luc doesn’t even stir though.  Sticky gets up and guides him to the toilet, Kev grumbling as he does so.  Sticky goes back to bed for a bit but can’t get back to sleep.  He’s heard Kev come back out of the toilet but he hasn’t come back to the sleeping area yet.  Sticky gets up to look for him and finds him lost in the stairway outside, “Where the fuck am I?” he asks, totally scoobied.  Sticky helps him back to bed, receiving a hug and a wet kiss on the lips as thanks.

Kev can’t remember any of it of course.  The Rost guys are now passed out, the girl and Sideshow cuddling on a mattress on the floor, the other two on the sofas.  The couple pull the quilt above their heads as we talk around them, I actually feel a bit sorry for them.  Smiley told me last night when he was steaming that he’d be here around twelve to make breakfast, but we’re looking to get going before then.  Dan has been out and bought some bread rolls and there is some cheese and other spreads in the fridge.  We all get stuck in. Ronnie puts some coffee on but it tastes pretty rank, still, better than fuck all.

Smiley turns up just after twelve and opens up downstairs, we load out the van with the help of the girl from Rost, who is actually really sweet, we have a chat for a while with everyone, and then we get going.  The drive to Vienna is a short one, the shortest of the tour I think, just a couple of hundred kilometers.  It’s not without incident though.  We’ve not long been on the motorway when we hear a loud bang ahead and Ronnie is forced to slam on the breaks, for a minute I think we’re going to plough into the car in front but we stop in time.  Ronnie insists there was still margin for more breaking.  We look ahead and see a cloud dust and rubber in the air, a lorry has had a tire blowout.  A few other cars have pulled over, their drivers looking a bit shocked but thankfully nobody seems to be hurt.

We arrive in Vienna around four pm, a couple of hours before load-in.  The Pyramido guys have played here a couple of times before, it’s this huge squat on the outskirts of the city centre.  There is nowhere to park the van and we can’t load in right now so we take it around the corner and park by Lidl and then take a walk down the road in search of food.  Dan says he thought he saw a café on the corner, that maybe we could go there and eat some fried cheese.  Sounds like a fantastic idea to me.  The place he’d spotted looks a bit rough though so we continue down to a larger pedestrian street where there seems to be a bit more going on. We end up in a noodle shop, all nine of us ordering the same fired tofu dish.  The portion is huge and it tastes great.  Afterwards we head to a café for some coffee and cake, totally stuffed by the end of proceedings. We sit there gabbing for a while, I notice this old woman sat at the table beside looking totally fascinated by us.

When we get back it’s time to load in. There are two other touring bands on the bill tonight, a couple of screamo bands, one from the UK, one German.  They seem friendly enough, they’re all there to help with the load in.  I get talking to one guy who’s the drummer in the UK band, Cassus, seems a nice guy although a little lost.  I ask him where they’ve been but he says he’s useless with names.  This is his first time in Europe.  I ask him where they played last night but even that has him stumped.  They’ve only been out a week.
We load in downstairs to the basement where there is a smallish concrete room with a small concrete stage.  Ronnie and Dan head off in search of parking, he won’t be back for a almost two hours.  Mental, the guy who booked us who is a friend of the band, ends up having to go meet up with them to try and help find something.  Nightmare.  Apparently they have these weird parking zones in the city center where all the rich twats pay for a year’s worth of parking, the EKG squat is just on the other side of the zone’s border and everyone who lives in the park zone that can’t afford to pay for parking parks here instead, making it impossible to find anything.  Last time the guys played here they had their van towed and had to pay two hundred and fifty Euros to get the cunt back.

Of course, being that we ate ourselves absolutely stuffed earlier, for once dinner is served early.  It’s pretty similar fare to that which we ate in Prague, a soy meat stew of sorts.  I’ve never seen so much soy meat though, they have a huge skillet filled to the brim, it’s just a huge stodge of soy meat with the odd bit of potato and carrot thrown in.  It’s not bad but I’m glad we ate out today.  It was cheap as fuck anyway.

After dinner Luc and I head up the dormitory where we’d put our bags earlier.  It’s up five flights of stairs, it’s pitch black about half way up and there’s another gate that needs to be opened.  Mental takes us up with the help of a torch and unlocks the gate.  This is a one secure squat.  There is a huge riot draw gate that sits in the ceiling of the stairway beyond the locked gate that would take a fucking bomb to breach.  A relic of an time gone by, the guys here actually pay rent on the place now.  We had been talking earlier though about this film that exists on the internet about one of the famous squats in Warsaw that was attacked by Nazi’s during a march, firebombed and all, the punks barricading themselves in and throwing missiles at them from the top floor, the police doing nothing to prevent the Nazi assholes from attacking, simply letting them past them.  Things are a bit different in Poland.  Hopefully we’ll be okay tomorrow though.

We hang out in the band room upstairs for a bit.  It’s cold up there, we’ll have to cuddle up in the night. Rappy and Crappy are with us.  They show us to this outer terrace they have on the floor below.  Really cool area, a wide patio that has bathtubs around the circumference, all filled with soil for growing food.  Really cool idea.  Dan says he slept out here last time under the stars since it was so warm.  It’s actually not too cold tonight, certainly warmer outside than it is inside, not quite sure that works.

We head downstairs to the bar and take a beer.  It’s going to be a very calm night tonight since we have a long drive tomorrow, and drinking the beer is almost going through the motions.  I don’t particularly want one, but there it is in my hand all the same.  We head downstairs to the gig room and have a peek about.  Adjacent to the small room we’re playing is another much larger room that used to be an old theatre which they mainly use for parties and raves these days.  There is this huge sculpture of a beetle hanging above the stage that we’re told when powered up starts flapping its wings about and spouts a one meter flame out of its mouth at the crowd below.  Looks mad.  We go back into the small room where they have a sofa in the shell of a burnt out VW Beetle which Kev and I sit in a have a chilled out chat for a while.

It feels quite obvious that there are not going to be a lot of people at the show tonight.  Mental had warned us earlier that there is another big gig on in town tonight, some neo-crust band from around here that has signed to Metal Blade Records and have a huge hype.  Bastard.  The only saving grace may be that the gig costs sixteen Euros which is seen as obscene by the punks around here.  It proves to be true though, by the time Cassus start their gig there are only the German band they’re touring with and our lot, plus a few stragglers.

Kev and I are big fans of the scream genre, especially the early San Diego scene in the early Nineties, at the same time Luc and Stix hate it, in general I would say they don’t have a fucking clue what they’re talking about but this band tonight are pretty hard to defend.  It’s painfully calculated and pretentious.  They have the lights turned off, the only light coming from these spherical paper lamps they’ve spread about the stage.  The bass player has his guitar up to his neck and spends the entire gig poncing about the stage and the floor looking like he’s in emotional agony.  Every song follows the dark/light structure and becomes incredibly boring very quickly.  During the second song, during a passage of clean guitar and tinkling cymbals the bass player screams a verse into the air, no microphone anywhere.  Luc wonders if he should take a mic up to him and point out his mistake.  They’re said they’d play for fifteen minutes but it’s actually closer to thirty, I point this out to Luc.  “Let’s not start listing the things they’re doing wrong…” he says, insinuating that we’ll be here all night.  I’m wondering what Kev is thinking, knowing fine well what Stix is thinking.. As it as Kev is at the little cocktail bar they have ordering a Mojito.  At the end of the next song all you can hear is Kev sucking the last of his cocktail and sloshing ice around his plastic cup.  Wasn’t expecting that.  “Fucking dogshit” is his simple review.  It’s a shame because they seem like nice guys.  I guess the fact their band sucks balls doesn’t make them bad people though.  They probably think we suck too.

The German band offer more of the same, although a lot less of it in time of length of set.  The guitarist/vocalist has his mic stand set at half way though, which means he has to bend down very low to sing, leading Luc to more piss taking of the obvious variety, very much appreciated by me nonetheless.
We’re up next and there are not a whole load of people in this dark little concrete basement.  The Pyramido guys are stood around giving their usual support but there are only a couple of others.  It’s one of those gigs where it feels like it might be hard to find the inspiration, one of those where it’s easy to wonder what you’re doing here instead of being home with your little girl.  But as it turns out I have a good crack during the gig anyway.  I spend pretty much the entire set on the floor with Kev, Luc remaining on the small stage with Stix. It sounds ridiculously loud and I can tell Luc and Stix are struggling with it.  It sounds a lot better on the floor than it does up by the amps.  A few more people come down to watch during the gig, maybe twenty or so. We play pretty tight, even if it all sounds a bit chaotic.  The last song goes a bit bananas though, Kev so far ahead of the rest of us during I’m Still Drowning that he’s as good as thanking the crowd for the gig whilst we’re still on the last chorus.  I think it’s going to completely break down at one point but we manage to real it in.  The Pyramido guys seemed to love the show at least, they seem well chuffed.

Pyramido start line checking and straight away I can tell it’s going to be a night for ear plugs.  They’re waiting for the all clear from the sound engineer that doesn’t seem to be coming at any point.  Dan Arne asks through the mic, “Mr. Sound Engineer, are you ready?  Is it too loud?”

“Totally” comes an answer from somewhere in the dark.  “Good answer” laughs Dan and with that they go into their set.  I stand to the side and enjoy a beer whilst they play.  There are probably thirty or so people all in all in the place although most of them are stood at the back.  “Please come forward, I promise we won’t hit you.  We might hug you” smiles Ronnie.  Hugcore.  They only play the four songs tonight, dropping the older song from the set.  I get the feeling there will be no Discharge tonight.  They play a good show though and I enjoy it as always but when Dan Arne says afterwards, “Weird show” I can only really agree.  Still, we all sell some merch, we manage to shift a few seven’s and Mental buys a t-shirt.  He seemed to be really impressed with the show.  “I thought you guys were pretty ok on the records I heard online but live it was like…fucking hell!  You guys were awesome.”

We pack down the gear and order a couple of cocktails, the price on them is simply “Donation” written on a box.  The guys order some Mojitos following Kev’s lead, I take Tequila Sunrise, an old favourite.  It takes a fucking age to make though.  Still, it’s worth it.  I head upstairs to the bar with it and we sit at a long table together with  Mental and chill out for a while.  It’s really nice just hanging out and taking it easy.  Me and Luc start telling ghost stories which adds to the overall adventurers out camping kind of feel to it.  We head to bed, having received instructions from Mental on the best route out of Austria which avoids the cops and fines for the weight of our van.

This is the first night that everyone, even Kev, go to bed stone cold sober.  We all confer that it’s quite a strange feeling.  It’s cold in the room so me and Luc snuggle up to share some body warmth.  It takes me ages to get to sleep, my head spinning with sober thoughts.