Monday, January 25, 2010


It just wouldn't feel like a real tour without a little bit of van trouble.

We get up, all of us pretty groggy from the lack of sleep. We're heading to Geissen today to play a show with Burial, since the Municipal guys are having a day off on their tour. The drive ahead of us is at least eleven hours so we've got time for a quick breakfast and then we have to get going.

Reproach also have a gig of their own in Frankfurt, which is roughly the same distance we have to travel. We had arranged to meet them at 7am so they could help us get our van started. We don't really know what the problem is but every time the engine is turned off it needs to be jump started by another cars engine. It seems to be taking longer with each attempt and soon enough the van is just gonna refuse to start all together. If we stall the engine in traffic or worse, on the autobahn, we're really fucked. It's a worrying thought considering the lentgh of the journey today.

So after some more help from our Belgian touring mates, we get going. It takes us a while to find out which road we're supposed to be on since even our GPS system seems to have a problem with Italy. We finally find the road towards the Alps and we settle in for the long journey. Me and Ronnie are up front, armed with cans of energy drinks. I really have to fight hard to stay awake but I don't want to leave Ronnie up here on his own. We do our best to keep each other awake by recounting old tour stories.

When we get to the Alps, once again the weather lifts and the sun comes out and lightens the mood. I sit in awe at the surrounding mountains and the amazing scenery around them. There are small churches dotted around here and there, seemingly carved out on a ledge in the rock. As I'm wondering about who actually to goes to church service around here and how the hell they get there, Jon stirs behind me, telling us to let him know when we reach the Austian border. I wake him a short while later as we drive past the sign announcing we are now enetering Austria and leaving Italy behind us. He says ”Skål!” as he opens his bottle of Fernet and takes a swig.

We soon get to the point where we need to fill up on gas, which obviously means turning off the engine and then finding some kind soul to help us start it again. Jon elects himself to find help. He tells me that he wants to help out when he can, instead of just sitting in the back. Jon actually does more than his share for this band. He's a great song writer and without him I can't imagine Victims existing. It's a sweet gesture of him anyway.

We fill up the tank and Jon says he has found someone to help. Some grumpy old guy starts coming towards the car parked beside us as Jon stands there expectantly, holding the jump leads in his hands. Jon only manages a few words before the old bastard shouts something at him, waving him away before getting into his car and speeding off. Leaving us standing there like a bunch of wankers. We burst out laughing. Johan reflects that maybe we haven't sent the most suitable candidate to find help. Soon enough though, we do get help in the form of two young guys who are more understanding of our situation. And once again we're away.

We repeat this procedure later on in the day when we're again forced to stop to fill up, but not before another run-in with our favourite public service. Not long after we cross the border to Germany we get pulled by the cops. They pull us off the autobahn and we follow them to the nearest police station. We have to tell them that we can't turn off our engine unless they help us start it again. They let us keep it running whilst they go through all the usual routine bollocks. After another half hour wasted they let us get on with our day. We do eventually get to Geissen.

The venue we're playing today is a punk/hardcore collective ran by really good people. It's a converted apartment building by the look of it. It's plump in the middle of a housing estate on the outskirts of the town centre. The set up is great. It looks pretty similar to Kafe 44 back home. They have hot food waiting for us when we arrive. It turns out to be without doubt, the best vegan food I've ever eaten. We get loaded in and chill out for a while, chating with the Burial guys and the people from the venue.

Our old friend Stachel from La Familia Records is here tonight. He's travelling with us to Hamburg tomorrow and he's been busy making calls today to help us with our van situation. He really is a great guy and a true legend in DIY punk circles. He is also hillarious. When he's drunk, which he is tonight, he get's really mischeivous and brutally takes the piss out of anyone in his vacinity. You can't help but the love the guy though, due to the constant smile on his face. He's a rather small chap, so it's easy enough to retort to his abuse. At one point Andy chases him, threating to pick him up and shake him upside-down, although he can't catch him. The pair of them giggle their way throughout the process.

Stachel is constantly on my case. Not only am I the ”new guy”, he also seems to love the fact that I'm English, he takes delight in mocking my land and does everything in his power to get a rise out of me. I hear it all from him...emo boy, gaylord, pretty boy. I think secretly he has a crush on me haha!. He takes delight in mocking me about my blog too, saying I'm doing it because I want people to love me...Hmm? I personally don't see the difference between writing a blog and getting up on stage and playing a show, or putting a record out. There is absolutely no point in trying to get this point across to him, so I just hug him and tell him that I love him. The little bastard at one point comes running into the room and throws a snowball at me, whilst we're sat around talking. It hits me in the chest and he's laughing like a cheeky adolescent. Just exactly as he's joking with me that it's yellow snow, I throw a pile of it back at him and it flies straight into his mouth, leaving him choking and the rest of us pissing ourselves.

We play the show on the floor tonight and it's a lot of fun, although the sound is interesting at best. Burial play. They are fucking awesome but the sound at one point just turns into mush since it's so loud. The room is pure concrete and the sound is bouncing all over it. Nobody seems to mind though and everyone has a great time. I love playing floor shows in tiny places. There are around 60 people here tonight and it's pretty packed. It's a great feeling playing and having the crowd in your face, literally.

It's pretty obvious the sound is not working though. We get to the end of the second song and when we stop, the vocal PA is just screaming feedback. The sound guy either doesn't notice or doesn't care because he does absolutely fuck all about it. We play the next block of songs and the feedback is actually taking over the sound of us playing. I happen to break a string so when I'm changing guitars between songs, Johan disappears into the crowd and takes charge of the sound desk. He scrambles back through the crowd, back to his bass and we carry on. It is a lot fun.

After the show we take our bags to the appartment up stairs where the people who run the place live. We sort our sleeping areas out and then I grab a quick shower, which feels wonderful, before joining the rest of the guys in the kitchen for a beer. We hang out with the incredibly nice people who run the venue and chat into the early hours. It's very relaxed and just what I need. One of the guys who runs the place, Hannes, turns out to have a good friend in common with us. Zach, the guitarist from Black Breath, who we toured the States with last summer, is together with the singer in Hanne's band, Glasses. It's a small, punk rock world we live in.

The rest of the guys go to bed around 3.30 whilst myself and Andy stay up a while longer, chatting away with one of the guys from the house. I eventually climb into my sleeping bag and onto the matress I'm sharing with Johan just after 4am. Tomorrow we're gonna have to work out this problem with the van. At least it's Monday tomorrow, so garages are open again and hopefully something can be worked out.

It's good we have our little German friend, Stachel with us.

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