Monday, December 28, 2009

Punk Rock Stories: Somewhere in Germany...

I'm gonna recount some old stories from the last 11 years of playing in bands. Most of them, I imagine, are a little hard to believe. I even find myself looking back after all these years, wondering if I have the details right. These tales have been told and re-told by myself and others involved, on many occasions, over many a pint throughout the years though, so I'm pretty sure most of it actually happened.

Somewhere in Germany... We were out on tour with Speedhorn a hell of a lot in the early days. I think we played something like 200 odd shows in our first year as a touring band. In the early autumn of 2000 we embarked on our first European tour. We were going out for seven weeks supporting Biohazard. I didn't really think at the time that that was such a long tour, I just looked at all the cities on the tour schedule we would be going to. It was all over Europe and we were excited as hell! We'd been playing shows solely in the UK for about a year and a half. Every toilet in the UK you've ever heard of, and many you probably haven't, I can almost guarantee you I've played there with Speedhorn.

Going out to the mainland to tour was my biggest ambition at that time, looking at all those cities and knowing I was going to them to play music, was a dream about to be fulfilled. The icing on the cake was that we were also going out on a tour bus for the first time. I couldn't wait to get on that boat at Dover and fuck off for a couple of months! As it turned out, we would end up going straight on another European tour for four weeks, supporting Amen, right after we finished with Biohazard, and after that to Ireland, to play some more shows of our own. I left for the Biohazard tour at the start of September. I finally came home to Corby three days before Christmas, somewhat a changed man...

A lot of strange and funny things happened in those three months.

This particular occasion we were travelling through the night, somewhere in Germany. I can't remember exactly where we had played that night or where we going to, but we were following Biohazards tour bus in convoy, to our next destination. We were a few weeks into the tour. We'd been up, pretty much every night, getting drunk after shows and partying on that bus. Our tour bus was pretty old and knackered but we all had a bed, there were a couple of lounges to hang out in, a stereo and a tv. For us it was heaven. Being that it wasn't the fanciest looking thing, we felt we had a little bit of license to do what we wanted to it. In addition, the driver was this guy called Bob, who was this grumpy old boy that looked like he could have be our drummer Gordon's dad. Although he obviously thought we a bunch of tits, he seemed to like us. Luckily for us he put up with a lot of nonsense. We loved him.

So we're driving through the night, everyone in very high spirits. The music is blasting and we're dancing down the autobahn. After a while I feel the bus pulling over into a service station, most likely to fill up the tank. When we pull up we all hop off and head into the shop. The Biohazard guys are in there too. It must have been around 3am. The only staff at work is this one little lady stood behind the counter. We all stumble in. A pack of about 20 guys, half Brit, half NYC, all very drunk, very hungry, very dirty. Probably very loud. The old lady must have been terrified! A bunch of us head straight over to the porn mag section of course, some others to the toilet and the others to see what food they can steal. Shoplifting at service stations in the middle of the night had become the norm, especially for the likes of our singer Frank. I don't know why this felt like it was ok at the time, it just did. When you're young and drunk and on tour, you allow yourself the impression that you're above the law. And the serivce stations were always faceless chain companies. Although we were travelling around on a tour bus and we were getting a meal at each show, we didn't have much money of our own. The record label and tour support was paying for the bus, but we didn't have any money in our pockets. Any spare money we did manage to get our hands on was normally spent on booze.

Anyway, we're in this service station just milling around. Although Frank is checking out the food section whilst everyone else is flicking through magazines, he hasn't actually put anything in his pockets. I think maybe he'd noticed the old lady on her own behind the counter and got an attack of bad conscience.

I'd probably been in the shop no longer than a minute before the night took a very weird turn.

The old lady, completely out of nowhere, starts shouting and screaming at us. To my knowledge, none of our guys had done anything in particular to cause her to get so upset. We didn't look too great and we were as said, in high spirts, but even Frank had seemingly changed his mind about causing any mischief. I'm not sure that the Biohazard guys, who had enetered a few minutes before us, had done anything wrong either, they were just relieving themselves in the toilets. This woman is screaming at us in German and obviously we're a bit confused by it. I guess she wants us to get out and I can't be bothered with the drama so I go to leave and head back to the bus. Wrong. When I get to the sliding glass doors I find that they won't open. The woman is still shouting and screaming and I think she's going on about the police. I try the doors again but it's obvious by now that she has triggered something behind the counter that has locked the doors. We're all now trapped inside. And nobody has actually done anything wrong. I try to communicate with her and find out what she is doing. It's not easy. I'm pretty fucking drunk, she's very German and by now, completely hysterical!

Just as I'm thinking about how weird the whole situation is, Billy, the Biohazard singer/guitarist, comes out from the toilet. He asks what the fuck is going on and is told that the crazy old lady behind the counter has locked us in and is most likely calling the police. Without any hesitation, he walks up to the sliding doors and pulls out this huge fucking Rambo knife! What. The. Fuck? I stand there in shock and before I can even ask him what the fuck he is up to, he jams the knife between the doors and starts forcing them open. He manages to get them open a slither and then jam himself in between. He motions to everyone to go climb through the gap. We all squeeze through whilst Billy is laughing his his ass off. The lady is still screaming. By the time the last of us get out we're all laughing at the madness of the situation. We run back to the bus and start shouting to Bob that we should probably leave pretty rapidly!

We head off back down the autobahn somewhat in a state of shock. The music is off and nobody is in the mood for dancing anymore. Where the fuck did Billy pull that knife from? What turned the lady in the shop that crazy? We're about ten minutes down the autobahn, discussing the events, when I decide to look out of the back window just to check that there aren't actually any police cars following us. Hmm. There actually is a police car behind the bus. It's not flashing its lights or sounding its siren but it is behind us. "Ha ha Gaz" is the general reaction when I tell the rest of the guys. I tell them I'm serious and for them to check themselves if they don't believe me. Someone else looks and after staring through the window for a few seconds, sits back down pale faced. There isn't one police car following the bus, there are around TEN! I look again and fuck me! There is indeed a whole fucking squadron of police cars now following the bus. And now they ARE flashing their lights and sirens! I instinctivley look at our tour manager and he looks like he's seen a ghost...

I hear Bob at the front cursing and shouting back down the bus at us, asking us what the fuck we've been up to now?! He tells us he's gonna have to pull over and tells our tour manager to get ready to do some talking. Without saying a word, our tour manager gets down on his knees and starts rooting around in his rucksack. He pulls out a couple of suspicious looking plastic bags. You can't be serious?.. He then starts emptying a rather large amount of cocaine on to the lounge table. "If any of you lot does this stuff, has done it in the past, or has thought about doing it in the future, get down here with me and start fucking snorting!" I sit there in a state of shock. I don't really know much about coke, in fact I've always generally hated the idea of it. It's been offered to me a few times, but I've never been interested.  It seems to me that most people who are into coke are wankers! Anyway, as I looked at the scene before me I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. It was pretty comical to be fair. I feel Bob slowing the bus down. He shouts to us that he's pulling over along with Biohazards bus in front of us.

Our tour manager is on his knees throwing white powder on to the glass table on the back lounge of the tour bus. A few of the guys in the band have come to his aid and our on their knees too, circling the round table, scrambling for money notes or any other pieces of paper they can roll into a tube to hoover up the mess. They all start snorting like hungry, terrified vultures. It's pretty chaotic! The people who aren't snorting, myself included, are cheering them on as if we're watching some kind of sport. At one point our tour manager takes a huge snort. So big in fact, that when he lifts his head up, still holding the 10 Euro note to his nose,  coke just spills out the other end and back onto the table! I actually think this is hillarious. It looks fucking ridiculous! There is no way they are getting rid of it all, even though they give it a good go. The bus comes to a standstill. Our tour manager gathers himself, tells us to give him our passports and shut up. He heads down the stairs to the back door of the bus and we sit there in silence.

Around twenty minutes pass...

I hear the door downstairs open and I prepare for the worst. The police are gonna come upstairs, see this mess and throw us in jail.

To my amazement it's our tour manager. "We can go". We're all stunned. What? We drive off. Our tour manager, who looks like he's about to be sick, tells us that he simply handed over our passports, explained the situation to the cops, that we on tour, explained what had happened at the service station, how the lady had locked us in, and that was that. The Biohazard TM backed up the story. He said the police sounded very interested when he explained how she had locked us in...

We all sit up for around another hour, in stunned silence, small piles of coke still on the table. I'm too stunned to even think about how idiotic it is to travel on the bus with stupid shit like that in your bag. I check the back window another couple of times, and when I'm convinced that there really are no cop cars behind us in the dark, go to my bed. Stone cold sober.

At the venue the next day John, our other singer, finds me somewhere, and tells me whilst laughing like fuck, that he's just spoken to the Biohazard tour manager. Apparently the police had phoned him that day. They called to let him know that after they had talked to us the night before and listened to our version of events, they had headed back to the service station and arrested the old lady on a charge of unlawful imprisonment! Apparently it's against the law to lock people into a building and hold them against their will.  I found the rest of the guys in both bands rolling around laughing at the old lady's expense, I just felt really sorry for her and thought about what a bunch of cunts we all are.

I also thought about how much I loved being in that band.

1 comment:

  1. Hilarious! Nice twist with the TM breaking out the drugs. Looking forward to more stories!