Friday, April 9, 2010

Punk Rock Stories: A Nightclub in Nurnberg

We had been on tour for about two weeks. Bob had been moving us along in his old, worn out tour bus each night, slowly but surely, along the motorways of Europe. It had been two weeks since we'd left Corby. It seemed like an age ago.

We were having the time of our lives. We'd been partying every night and day since we'd left home for the first show in Helsinki. We were living the dream. It was the first time we'd been outside the UK playing shows. The tour dates read like a wish-list of every city I'd ever dreamed about travelling to as a football obsessed kid, ten years earlier. Helsinki, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Berlin, Munich, Milan...when I'd first saw the confirmed dates, I almost shit myself...

Obviously, you put six young kids from fucking Corby on a tour bus and send them to Europe to play shows in front of eight hundred people every night for seven weeks, give them all the booze they can drink and whatever else they want to get their hands on...well things are going to happen. We couldn't believe we'd been lucky enough to fool someone into backing our band. It felt like a big joke that would end at any given time, so we just had fun and took the complete piss wherever we went. In a very humble way, we just didn't give a fuck. We were certain it would all be taken away from us as soon as somebody in a record company suit clocked on that we were just a shitty hardcore band from Corby. So we enjoyed every day on tour to the absolute maximum. At least, that was the plan...sometimes it boiled over into something else.

Although Bob insisted he liked us all, we had been trying his patience. He'd been driving each night whilst we'd be above him, blasting music, stomping around, fucked out of our minds on booze. It was mayhem on the bus almost every night. We'd already had the incident with the police and the service station...and it hadn't slowed us down in the slightest.

Every show on tour was amazing. We couldn't have asked for a better support slot. We played in the middle each night. The first band were Nucleus, who were friends of Biohazard from New York and were out teching for them. They were great guys and we got on with them like a house on fire. They played a bluesy type of stoner rock. It was fun watching them each night, and then by the time we'd hit the stage the place was always pretty packed and the crowd was buzzing. It was perfect. Every night you'd come off the stage, hyped, ready to get some booze in you and hit the night.

The longest leg of this tour was the stretch in Germany. I think out of the fourty something shows on the tour, fifteen of them were in Germany, and they were some of the best shows I have ever played.

Now we were nearing the end of the German dates. I'm not exacly sure where we were but it was somewhere down south. I think it was Nurnberg...

For the last few days, Roddy, our guitar tech, had been going on about these weapon shops he'd been noticing all over Germany. They were apparently commonplace there. You'd be walking around some city centre, looking for record shops and pubs, when a small shop with a window full of weapons would appear amongst it all. Roddy had first spotted one a few days ago and since then we'd been noticing them more and more. It seemed it was easy enough to buy a big fucking sword or a gun, a ninja star, what have you. At least the window displays in these shops suggested as much.

Roddy was really excited about the whole thing. He'd been going on about buying a can of mace since he'd spotted that first shop some days before. He'd finally plucked up the courage this day in Nurnberg and bought himself a small can of the stuff. We all though it was ridiculous. Mace is illegal in England, and we didn't understand the point of him buying it. Roddy being Roddy though, just wanted one. He thought it was cool. And if it's legal in Germany, then what the fuck?

Our manager Dave, who was out with us for the entire tour, and was Roddy's oldest friend, told him he thought he was a twat for buying it. He didn't want him travelling over borders with it. This led to a big arguement between the two of them, much to our amusement...

The last few days Bob had been driving long hours, longer than he was really supposed to. So this night we'd decided to keep the bus parked up outside the venue. We only had a short drive to Munich the next day, the bus could keep a power line to the club all night and even better, there was a night club on the other side of the car park, open late and filled with girls. We were more than happy to be staying for the night. And of course, we were concerned that Bob should get a proper nights sleep for once.

Poor Bob.. The night before we'd convinced him to let us dye his hair. He'd joked about dying his hair red like all the ”silly sods” that came to the shows we played. We egged him on, saying he wouldn't have the balls to do it. Being a proud Yorkshire man, he took us up on it and last night Gordon took on the job. Bob actually seemed pretty chuffed. Of course, Gordon fucked it up and Bob's hair ended up a kind of light pink. It was amazing. He had hair like the character Dungeon Master character from Dungeons and Dragons, bald on top, long around the back and sides. And Gordon had dyed it fucking pink! We all pissed ourselves but Bob, to his credit, laughed it off. He seemed to actually like it. It was like we were bonding with Bob.

At the start of the tour Doug, our tour manager, had overheard him on his phone, moaning to his boss about us...”I don't know, bloody Speeding Racehorse or something daft like that..” being the snippet of conversation he had happened upon. He didn't enquire further, he just walked off laughing.   Just two weeks down the road with us though, he seemed to be falling for our rogue charm.

We really were happy to let Bob keep the bus parked up outside the club all night and get some sleep. We were gonna play the show and we were gonna party, and then head on over to that nightclub. That was the plan.

The show was fucking ace too. It was a great stage, great sound and we were in the zone as the Yanks would say. The set was rolling along in auto-pilot, the crowd was going wild. It was awesome for us. We'd never been to Europe before, we hadn't even released our record out there yet, and the crowds were loving it. I came off stage absoultely buzzed.

Myself and Tony grabbed a few beers from the dressing room and stood side stage watching Biohazard play. We got on great with those guys and it was fun watching them. They put on a good show and as always, there was a party atmosphere in the air. Tony and I hung out side stage, singing along, swigging back the beers. I knew I was gonna get drunk tonight and that it was going to be fun.

When the show was over we packed up the gear from the stage and got the bus loaded as quickly as possible. When we were done, Bob went to bed and we went back inside the venue. We hung out in the Biohazard dressing room for about an hour. Their dressing room was full of people every night after the shows. There would be friends, promoters, industry people and most importantly, girls. And then there would of course be us, hanging around both the girls and Biohazards booze like flies on shit. Billy Biohazard had made the mistake of telling us to help ourselves to their booze on the first night of the tour. We'd happily been doing so ever since.

The night was rolling along into the early hours. The Biohazard bus was leaving on a 2am call. They wanted to get to Munich early and have the day there. We planned to spend the next day in bed hungover. So those guys left whilst we finished off whatever booze was left in their dressing room. It was around 2.30 when we finally left and headed off to the club.

As soon as the fresh air hit me I realised I was pretty fucking drunk. We walked across the big car park to the club on the other side and put on our best straight, sober faces for the bouncers. Either we pulled it off or the bouncers just didn't give a fuck, but they let us in without any problems. We walzed in and meandered through the packed dancefloor to the huge bar on the other side of the club.

The place was absolutely packed. Techno music blended with terrible Euro pop was blasting out of the sound system. We hung out on the edge of the dancefloor, keeping ourselves in close proximity to the bar. Looking back, I don't know how any of us expected to pull any girls. We were all steaming drunk, very young, very English and we'd been hitting it hard on tour for two weeks solid. Simply put, we must have been a horrible gang of little wankers. The kind of arseholes I would detest if I met them today. But that's the problem, we were young and we thought we could get away with whatever we wanted to. And although we never truly meant any harm, we just didn't ever think about the consequences of our actions. We would have to wait until the next tour to be taught the lesson we so badly needed. But that is another horrible, horrible story...

So there we are, fucked up, grinning like cheshire cats, enjoying ourselves splendidly in this techno/euro pop nightclub. What could go wrong?


I needed a piss.

I was very drunk and I really, really needed a piss. As it always does, it just hit me like a freight train...Panic. The club was as said, absolutely packed. We were on one side of the dancefloor and the toilets were on the other side. A dancefloor packed with about six hundred heaving, German bodies stood between me and that toilet. Now of course, I built this situation up in my drunken, young mind to a far higher state of panic than it actually needed to be. But I was convinced that there wasn't a chance in hell I was making that toilet without pissing my pants.

Stupidly, I told the other guys about my desperate situation. Why on earth I thought I'd get anything like sound advice from that bunch is beyond me. Frank's immediate thought was that I should piss in the empty pint glass I was holding in my hand. After debating this back and forth over the time it would have most likely taken me to make my way to the toilet, I finally succumbed to group pressure, wiggled my cock out and filled my pint glass with piss. Not once did I stop to think about what I would do with it when I was finished...

What followed blurred by in a surreal flurry of chaos, the whole event lasting no longer than a couple of minutes..all of it occuring in a drunken slow motion.

I stood there, in this packed night club, with a pint full of my own piss, wondering what to do. I didn't want to get caught leaving it on the bar-top. If I placed it on the floor it would have lasted all of two seconds before something kicked it over me, such was the cramped conditions of the club. No. Not an option...

I think it was Frank who first suggested it. ”Throw the fucking thing on to the dancefloor!”. Before long, everyone was in my ear. I was unsure. Even in the state I was in, I knew it was a bad idea. But the booze in my system would eventually aid the pricks in my band to convince me to do something truly stupid. I don't know to this day what the fuck I was thinking but I threw that fucking glass. The only crumb of sense that went through my head in that split second was the reasoning that the glass was made of plastic and wouldn't damage anyone.

I threw the glass. I attempted to throw it into the middle of the dancefloor but it was the most pathetic throw you would ever have seen. The glass flew straight into the back of some big German bastard, who at the time was stood no more than a couple of meters in front of me. Thud. Right into the fuckers back, all over his Ralph Lauren shirt, or whatever he was wearing. He turned around in an instant and upon seeing my shocked face, clenched his hand into a fist and aimed it right at my face. Now, obviously, I would have deserved a fucking beating for my actions. I'm happy I didn't recieve one but I would have truly deserved it if I had recieved one.

Just as this big ox of a man is about to plough his fist into my chops, Roddy, from out of nowhere, rips out his can of mace and sprays it into the poor cunt's face! He goes down screaming, hands over his eyes.  I'm standing there completely fucking shocked, not quite believing what has just happened!  I'm looking at the poor German man-beast on his knees and I don't even notice that Roddy is still spraying this can of mace. Although now he's aiming it straight up in the air. Before I understand what is going on, the music has stopped, the lights in the club have been turned on and we're all being carried out in a sea of panic. They're evacuating the club and it seems like everyone is coughing and confused.

I remember everyone in the band pissing themselves laughing as we're carried out the club in a sea of people, our feet barely touching the floor. We pour out of the club, past the by now screaming bouncers and into the car park. What the fuck is going on? We leg it to the bus, half laughing, half stunned. We get onto the bus and start shouting at Bob to get up. ”Bob, we have to fucking get out of here! Now!”. Bob is not amused. - ”What the fuck have you cunts been up to now?”.

Bob to his credit, is quick to react though. He's straight up out of his bunk, into his driver's seat and gets the bus moving in impressive time. He hastily manouvers us away from there, out of the by now crowded car park, in nothing but his white briefs. And his hair is pink...

Just as we're pulling away from the club, we see those familiar red and blue lights, flashing as they come charging into the car park behind us. We sit in the bus, stunned. Nobody speaks for a few minutes. Eventually, our manager Dave offers the question, ”Did that really just fucking happen?” The lot of us break out into nervous, stunned laughter. A safe distance from the mess now behind us.

Dave was pretty pissed with us, although I sensed a hint of a smile in his eyes. Kind of like an angry parent telling off his cheeky kids. The funny thing is, in a couple of nights time, it would be Dave's turn to hang his head in shame, although that's another tale.

As I recount this story, I am far from proud of my actions. I'm still stunned by the actual events. It feels like a lifetime ago since those early Speedhorn days. Long before we all grew up into the respectable adults we are now. It was so long ago. We were so young and pretty stupid most of the time. But we were finding where our boundries were. The truth is, the boundries for most bands in that situation are always pretty flexible. At least, that's what you believe when you're there, living it.

I can only be grateful today that we made it through those idiotic times unscathed and that we didn't kill ourselves or anyone else along the way. Not everyone gets away with as much as we did. As I said though, worse was to come and eventually we would get our comeuppance.

But that is another tale. For another time.

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