Sunday, November 29, 2009

Fuck the police!

I just got home after what turned out to be a pretty interesting weekend with Victims and our friends Regimes, culminating in what turned out to be a very fucked up gig last night at Utkanten in Malmö...

We started off on Thursday at Kafe 44 in Stockholm. We had a pretty good show and the turn out was ok. Regimes played a set of mostly new stuff and the new songs were really great! They've changed their sound quite a bit since we last played with them in the UK and Mad John was then on guitar. The sound is quite a bit looser with some nice d-beat parts thrown in here and there. They played hard and most of the crust crowd seemed to be into them. We had a pretty good show too, considering it was the first show in a while. A normal night at Kafe 44 with a bunch of friends in the crowd. Good start.

We played the next night at a wonderful punk rock collective space called Truckstop Alaska. We were shown amazing hospitality and we also had the pleasure of playing with We Live in Trenches. Regimes were great again and after watching Trenches I was completely buzzing and ready to play a great show. I go up onstage to sort some stuff out only to find David Sandström on stage and a bunch of other guys. I quickly figure out the rumour I heard earlier that AC4 were gonna come down after their show at Sticky Fingers and play an impromptu set had turned out to be true.

Unfortunately, they fucking sucked! It becomes quickly apparent that they are pretty fucked up, except for Dennis of course, who doesn't drink. They start off by announcing that they are Sweden's best band, which although I'm sure is meant to be tongue in cheek arrogance, only makes most of the crowd cringe. And it just gets worse with what follows. The first three songs just seem to fall apart about half way through. The guitarist is particularly drunk. Dennis and David try their best to talk/joke/dance their way around the situation. It just doesn't get any better. They painfully attempt to get through another couple of songs and eventually Dennis gets of stage. What really starts to piss me off though is that the rest of the band, instead of quickly following Dennis off, hang around on stage playing a really crap, one riff jam. Bloody Kev is, by this point, filled with rage and shouting the word "cunts" in their direction, wanting to get up on stage and kick off. The crowd seem to be thinning out and yet still they carry on. It's just pretty disrespectful and their rock star attitude doesn't go down too well at the Truckstop Alaska. Seems to me like they could have showed everyone a little more respect..I'm so grateful to our drummer Andy after the show when Sandström hugs him and tells him he thought our gig was awesome, to which Andy replies that he wished he could say the same to him, but he can't. Sandström looked a bit taken aback by that. I guess he's used to people kissing his ass because he used to play in Refused.

Anyway, thankfully the rest of AC4 eventually leave the stage and we get up there and the crowd haven't gone too far. Jon starts the show by announcing to the crowd that the venue we are playing in is the best thing that has happened to Göteborg since Union Carbide Productions and thanks everyone for having us, and the warm atmosphere that was there during the Trenches set returns.

The gig is great and the crowd gets in to it in a big way. It's pretty packed and we have a good time. Apart from Jon breaking a string in the first song, me snapping a tuning head off my guitar on my leg during the second song and one over excited guy down the front who keeps trying to play my guitar for me and then eventually looks at me and presses down on my tuning pedal, causing my guitar sound to turn off and causing me to kick him in the chest, the gig goes really well! And we have a great time after the show and stay up late into the night.

The guy who I kicked comes up to me later on and apologises, saying he thought he was only turning my distortion pedal off! What? He turns out to be a big Speedhorn fan, surprise surfuckingprise! I eventually forgive him when he tells me that he thought our last album, "Before the Sea Was Built" was by far our best album..I shouldn't have kicked him I guess, I was just a bit annoyed with my guitar being broke and he just fucked around at the wrong time. Luckily for me he didn't retaliate as he could no doubt have kicked the fuck out of me if he so wished too.

Anyway, after a great night, we wake up at the Truckstop Alaska, grab some coffee, load the van and head to Malmö to play the show at Utkanten...

Thanks to the fucking pigs we never to get to play the show.

I've seriously never seen such a pathetic and embarrassing show of of police intimidation tactics in my life! The club is a closed membership collective, ran by anti-racist, anti-sexist left wing punks. When you have a membership-only gathering, there is absolutely nothing illegal about some bands playing and people purchasing beer whilst doing it. As far I understand anyway.

That doesn't stop the police battering the door in around 30 minutes after the club opens. We are literally around 30 people inside (including band members and club helpers), drinking coffee and having a chat. Suddenly the music turns off and around 10 or so cops come barging into the building shouting and kicking. I think at first that it's a joke and some punk has dressed up in a police riot uniform. After a couple of minutes we realise it's the actual pigs! We're sitting there quietly waiting for an explanation on what's going on. More and more cops enter the building. Whilst everyone is still quiet and sitting down a gang of around 10 of these idiots come in running in, in tight formation with full riot gear, shields, batons, the lot. They're screaming really loud at what turns out to be pretty much nobody and they pull up, looking almost embarrassed.

So we're still waiting to find out exactly what is going on and there are yet more cops coming in through the doors. They seem to take positions around the building, blocking off exits and trapping us in. Not that anyone has attempted to go anywhere. Eventually, after one of them receives some sort of signal on his radio, they start taking off their helmets, although they leave there masks on.

At this point we just get back on with our conversation. Kev's telling us about the different times he has seen this sort of thing down the years and we're all and recounting old tour stories, doing our best to act completely oblivious to the cop presence. We actually have a laugh at them. I mean for fuck sake, by this point they have one of their idiots walking round the building with a video camera filming people. Another one of them is randomly taking pictures of people on a small digital camera. It's just ridiculously over the top. And not once do they offer an explanation. They eventually start interrogating everyone in the place and offering the reason that they are there on alcohol law authorities. It just doesn't quite fit. They've got sniffer dogs running round, they're taking computers out of the building, they have the fire brigade there checking regulations. It just wreaks of bullshit!

It turns out they even have an undercover cop there who keeps his mask on the whole time, long after the rest have started showing their faces, since he's obviously been hanging out at the club before. I mean that's pretty heavy stuff surely!

After telling one of the nice, friendly, older lady cops they've since brought in to interview people, what I'm doing there, the name of my band and bollocks, bollocks, bollocks, they allow me to leave. Although they can't tell me whether I'm allowed to take my equipment or other personal stuff. I just have to go outside and stand in the cold with the others who have finished being interrogated.

When I get out I see they have around 9 police riot vans outside. There are a bunch of punk kids hanging out who would have obviously been coming to the show. We're all just waiting around to find out what's going on. What's sure by this point is that there will be no gig.

I meet Andy our drummer outside and we stand there having a chat. One of the cops asks us where we're from, just trying to create some small talk it seems, only to then act suspicious of us when we tell him we're from Stockholm and in Malmö "just to play a gig". He can't seem to get his head around that. What planet are these guys from really?

The rest of the band and club members eventually come out and we get in the van and head off to meet up with Jona, the Fy Fan singer, who's place we're gonna stay at. We drop our stuff off at his place and head to Sista Sekunden Dempe's tattoo studio and have a few beers with those guys and a few others from Utkanten who have straggled down there.

We discuss the nights somewhat dramatic events and come to the logical conclusion that the main reason behind this shit has to be tied in with the planned protests for the G20 summit in Copenhagen next week.

Looking back I'm glad that the cops chose to turn up so early and not later on during the night when the club would have been full up with drunk anarcho punks. I'm sure then the cops would have gotten to put their fucking riot gear to use and would not have been as disappointed as they so obviously were, when all they were confronted with was a handful of people drinking coffee and eating cinnamon buns...

I'm not personally big on Police Hate, or any other kind of hate to be honest. I just love the music I play and have a great respect for the people that are involved in the scene, without whom places like Kafe 44, Truckstop Alaska and Utkanten wouldn't exist.

This particular night the cops may have just made a big enough effort to sway me a little more towards the active anarchist ethic. Or maybe not. But as I looked at one particular cop during the raid, who was blocking the doorway to the toilet as we sat there wondering what the fuck was going on, I happened to notice an old punk rock poster on the wall behind him. The slogan at the bottom of the poster read in big bold letters "FUCK THE POLICE".

Too fucking right!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Interesting people you meet working in a bar...

I work in a really small bar on Södermalm. It's in the "so called" Sofo area although that title really isn't working for anyone...

...anyway. It's a cosy little bar. Very music orientated, lp's on the wall, record player behind the bar, that kind of thing. I normally work during the week and the clientele on those days are pretty much our regular customers, with whom many an interesting conversation is often struck up.

A great example of this occured on Monday night just gone. There is this older guy who started coming in to the bar about a month ago. He always comes on his own, stands at the bar and reads his newspaper. As time goes by the routine becomes that he'll come in, give you a nod, order a beer and then quietly get in to his daily read. He has a friendly face and it gets to the point where, after a few weeks, you feel like you have to strike up some small talk. Especially on a quiet night like Monday just passed.

So that's what I did. And people sometimes turn out to have the most fascinating lives. Tor Björn, the guy who's name I now know to be, had recently quit his job as a consultant, working for some faceless company just outside of Stockholm. He'd grown tired of it and felt like he needed a break from it. I asked him what he wanted to do after he'd had sufficient time off and he told me he'd like to get back to doing what he did for years previously. That turned out to be that he toured with a vocal choir all over the world. I understand it that he was some kind of production guy for it as well as being part of the choir. Kinda the last thing I was expecting!

From there we got to talking about and sharing experiences of touring the States, about Russia where he did a production in Murmansk for 4 weeks one time. I'm really fascinated with Russia and I'm desperate to go there one day, either playing or travelling as a tourist. He told me all about his journey on the Trans Siberian Railway and other places he'd been too, like Africa and China..a whole load of places. My normally dull last couple of hours waiting to close on a Monday night flew by over cups of coffee and chat with Tor Björn. I just found the whole thing really interesting. I see people come and go out of the bar all the time, and the ones who normally keep to themselves I often find myself wondering about who they are and what their lives are like. I'm glad I asked Tor Björn about his..

On the flip side. Tonight two younger guys came into the bar who obviously thought they were very interesting and probably a bit arty, when in fact they were a pair of wankers!

In hindsight they seemed to be performing some sort of social experiment. They were both dressed in long trench coats, panama hats and sunglasses. My friend Linus, who was working in the bar with me, wanted them to take their shades off so he could see their eyes and judge whether they were sober. They weren't. Well one of them wasn't, the other was just plain fucked up. He had these huge goofy teeth which made us wonder if he was handicapped. We couldn't understand a word he was saying. On top of this, now and then he had drool dripping down from his mouth on to the bar. The four of us stood there staring at each other in silence whilst the rest of the customers looked on. For a moment I did think he was disabled, but there was something not quite adding up. The other guy started whispering to Goofy and cuddling him, telling him it was alright. We were in a bit of a shit situation because it was like, fuck, is this guy disabled or just really drunk or drugged up. You don't want to get into that...anyway, it all got too weird, they got asked to leave and then Serious Guy gets all threatening with Linus saying he'll be back. Whatever. We seen them later wondering about the other bars on the street and getting kicked out from each one.

Later on I looked up to see them heading back through the door and just happened to notice Goofy putting fake teeth back into his mouth.

I wonder if they were making some sort of film study...I think Serious Guy mentioned something about a camera at one point...will be interesting to see if they turn up on Youtube I guess.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

For a start...

Victims are playing three shows in Sweden next weekend with our good friends from the UK, Regimes. As well as Axe in Stockholm, We Live in Trenches in Göteborg and Pyramido in Malmö, who of course are all great!

My very good friend Bloody Kev sings in Regimes. He sang with Speedhorn for the final three years of the bands existence. Probably the best three years we had as a band, from a personal point of view...

Anyway, here is the flyer for the shows..