Thursday, May 20, 2010


My friend Kalle Blom was in the bar the other day. He works at Electric Tattoo Studio, which is two doors down from us, and on occasion he comes by for an after work bottle of Corona. I got to know Kalle when his old band, Outlast, reformed for a show at the Fluff Fest in Czech Republic last year. Jon from Victims also played in that band and being that Victims were also playing the same festival the day after, I travelled down with those guys for a night of partying in Rokycany, Czech Rep. I got to know the Outlast guys and we had a great time together. I've gotten on well with Kalle ever since.

Anyway, Kalle came in to the bar with another tattoo artist who was guesting at the studio, I can't honestly remember his name but he was a friendly foreigner on his travels. We got to talking and Kalle asked me how long I'd lived in Sweden.

I had to think for a minute since it has been a while now. I've been together with Jen for more than nine years and I started coming to Stockholm regularly in 2001. Then in the November of that year I blew off a flight back to England and decided to stay and see what happened. By the beginning of 2002 we'd decided Jen's twenty seven square meters of apartment just wasn't big enough for the two of us, and if I was planning on sticking around we'd best look for a bigger place in which to live. In July 2002 we moved into our first flat and I started moving my records across the water.

So after much deliberation, I told Kalle that I moved my record collection to Sweden in 2002, so that would make it eight years that I'd been a resident of this fine country. Kalle laughed and agreed that that was indeed a proper way to measure it.

I've been collecting records since I was about fourteen years old. I'd been given a few cd's as Christmas presents in the year or two before then, mainly collections of greatest hits by bands like the Stranglers and Black Sabbath. But on the whole, I hadn't really thought about buying any records of my own since my dad had so many in the house that I loved listening to. It hadn't occurred to me until I was thirteen or fourteen years old that one day I'd be moving away from my parents house and then I would need my own records.

I'd gotten into the usual stuff everybody else did in those days, but at that point hadn't really considered the ten or twenty cd's I owned as any sort of collection. It was when I discovered Metallica and Iron Maiden that I started collecting records for real. I'd gotten into the albums And Justice For All... and Seventh Son of a Seventh Son in a big way through my mate Heg, and when I discovered that these bands had a load of other records too, I just had to buy them all. So that's where it started.

By the time I was nineteen years old I had around one hundred and fifty cd albums. But then something happened. I discovered Sonic Youth. And Sebadoh, Pavement, Jesus Lizard, Big Black and Black Flag and a load of other bands who sounded nothing like the Megadeth, Anthrax and Napalm Death records I owned. Being a stupid teenager, my collection suffered an enormous cull. How would it possibly look to other viewers of my collection if I had Suffer the Children living amongst albums like Thirteen by Teenage Fanclub. The metal records had to go. This would be the one and only time in my life that I would have a clear out of my record collection. These days I refuse to throw anything out for the sole reason that the only purpose the record now serves is a nostalgic one. In fact, sometimes those records, cheesy as they are, bring you the most joy.

It was actually when I first started visiting Stockholm for longer periods of time that I started re-buying these albums again, and that eventually turned into a mission to find the main bulk of the records that I so nonchalantly sold two or three at a time some years before. And this time Scream Bloody Gore would happily sit in the same pile of records as Daydream Nation. The only difference this time around would be the format. I had now become obsessed with vinyl.

Until that point, for some reason the only records I bought on vinyl were albums that were released before the cd had even existed. It didn't seem right to buy records that were released in this day and age on vinyl format. I had quite a bunch of vinyls but they were mostly 70's rock stuff like ZZ Top and Cactus. The idea of buying a Helmet album on vinyl seemed like a weird idea. Oh how that attitude has changed!

I've probably only bought two or three records on cd in the last three years. These days if a record isn't released on vinyl at the same time as the cd, I'll just wait until it is. I do happen to be given cd's now and again and in that case I will of course happily accept them, but if I buy a record these days it has to be a proper fucking lp. This I'm sure will continue to be the case for the rest of my life. As it is, the cd is becoming a dead format. I'm sure it will be completely defunct within five years. Vinyl will live on though. Last year, vinyl sales had risen and sold more in one year than any other since 1991. People download music these days, but if they do want to buy a record, if they collect albums, then normally they want it on the unbeatable format that is the vinyl lp. It's been said a million times, but there is nothing like holding a 12” lp in your hand and looking at the cover artwork in all it's glory, as it was meant to be.

I moved my collection to Sweden over the course of around three months in the spring of 2002. I moved it using a series of Ryanair flights, as I happened to be flying back to England a few times a month for Speedhorn stuff. I would fly back to the UK with a an empty suitcase, save for a toothbrush and a stick of deodorant, fill the case with about two hundred cd's, fill a shoulder bag with about thirty lp's as hand luggage and return to Sweden with it.

I must have repeated this arduous procedure about ten or eleven times. I eventually bought a load of books and videos too, even a cd player and a VHS machine. Even these days, there will always be something that I spot at my parents that I need to bring back with me. By the time we moved into our flat though, I had moved just about the whole record collection.

I had to be convinced that one day I'd marry Jen to have made such a bold move. Luckily for me Jen also collected records and she had a great bunch of vinyl’s and cd's that I didn't have. Some may suggest that combining the two collections into one is an even bolder move than marriage but I was more than happy to do it. Jen had records like Blues For the Red Sun and Love it To Death on lp, of course I wanted to put our collections together!

It's funny, one of my best friends told me a while ago that even though he and his girlfriend live together with their baby and are very much in love with each other, they still considered uniting their record collections as too big a commitment. I laughed my ass off at the fact he considered that a bigger step than having a kid together. Of course he was joking, but at the same time, their records do occupy different shelves...

So yeah, 2002, the year my records left their storage space in my old bedroom in Corby, England and headed via various methods to Stockholm, Sweden. The year I moved out of the UK.

I'm headed home as I write, having had a weekend in the UK visiting family and friends in Corby, hanging out with my good friends from Regimes in London and getting tattooed by their guitarist Mucky Marcus at Kids Love Ink, the shop he and Alec own together in good old Deptford. And although I had hand luggage and only and a limited space in my bag, I still found time to go by Rough Trade on Brick Lane this morning and make at least one purchase. I picked up the new Shitty Limits lp.

I've heard mixed reviews but it was only eight quid so it's worth the gamble...

Monday, May 17, 2010


I normally dislike flying during the “hours of darkness”, as the Ryanair cabin crew always refer to night-time flying.

For one thing it's pretty fucking boring, sitting cooped up like a caged chicken on a Ryanair plane for a couple of hours, not being able to see much outside, on a night like tonight when all there is to see is the faint outline of the clouds below. But it's not just the boredom, I feel uncomfortable being thirty-eight thousand feet up in the air, inside a steel box, engulfed in darkness. I wouldn't say I'm a nervous flyer but daylight does bring that extra fathom of comfort. I like to be able see what's going on around me if the plane starts bumping around...

I must have flown with Ryanair over a hundred times in the last eight years, since I packed my bags and moved them to Sweden. I wonder exactly what number flight this is? I wonder how many times I've promised myself never to fly with them ever again, to pay the extra money and save myself the circus that comes with flying with these cowboys? It's somewhere around the hundred mark I imagine...

This is the first flight I've been on in a while though, the first this year actually. That must be, without doubt, the longest stretch on the ground I've experienced since I started Raging Speedhorn. There was a period, when I hadn't officially moved to Sweden, yet was constantly flying back and forth from England, where I recognised almost all of the Ryanair cabin crew staff. I recognised each of the pilots voices even. I knew that I had to prepare myself for a particularly rough landing if a certain female pilot was at the controls. I'd sigh if she came on the intercom before we took off, since she always seemed to just throw the fucking plane at the runway when we'd land on the other side. Funnily enough, I heard rumours a while ago that Ryanair had suffered numerous fines throughout the years for speeding upon landing! You certainly know you've arrived when you land with the worlds on-time airline! I swear there have been times when I thought the plane has been up on one wheel, careering towards certain doom, such is the bang and bump when they land the fucking plane.

You do get used to it after a while though, if you fly with them as much as I have. There is almost always someone on board the flight who is not expecting the thump though, and when I hear the shocked gasp followed immediately by the cheesy trumpet accompanying the recorded voice of the proud Irish guy bellowing from the intercom, announcing that I have arrived on yet another on time flight, all this while the plane is struggling to brake to a stop, well I have to giggle.

During the years I've got to learn quite a lot about the general swindle and bullshit this airline pulls on it's customers. I'm on a flight with them right now as I write this, checking off the list of things that piss me off about the Ryanair experience.

It actually starts with booking the flight. They lie to your face from the start, claiming themselves to be the worlds cheapest airline. The only way you get your flight for anywhere near the initial advertised price, is if you take absolutely nothing extra. That unfortunately includes baggage, paying with any kind of credit/debit card (really no getting around that), using the toilet on the plane...and then you can get yourself stung in the ass if you don't happen to notice the small box on the website for insurance and “priority boarding”. And then of course there's the airport and fuel taxes, no getting around them either. All this is normal stuff you pay for with other flights, granted, it's just the sleazy way Ryanair go about advertising themselves and their low prices that piss you off.

Then there's the claim they make about being Europe's most punctual airline. This is a huge fucking swindle. This probably pisses me off more than anything else about them. They tell you that a flight schedule for “Stockholm” Skavsta to “London” Stansted is two hours and twenty-five minutes. In all my years of flying with them, I can recall maybe nine or ten occasions when it's actually taken over two hours. One time, just one time, I've been on a flight that has taken two and a quarter hours! It's normally somewhere between one and three quarters to two hours per flight. So they're giving themselves a huge margin with their hugely exaggerated flight schedules. It never ceases to make me laugh, when the plane lands five minutes before schedule, yet at the scheduled take off time I was still standing in the cue at the airport waiting to board the fucking plane! Amazing..

They even go as far as to list in their in-flight magazine, all the other European airlines and how they proudly sit top of the punctuality table. Cheeky fuckers! You have to almost admire their balls.

On top of all this you have a tiny, tiny seat to sit in. And if that's not enough, you have to deal with the endless amount of turds who travel with them. I never, ever pay for priority boarding, yet somehow I almost always manage to get my seat anyway. That's fourth row from the back, window seat, left side of the plane, in case you're wondering... When I'm stood in the cue at the gate, the one for the low priority boarders, nothing thrills me more than to see some goon wonder along the priority aisle, trying their best to look confused, knowing fine well they don't have an applicable boarding pass for that line, getting told when they get to the desk that they don't have the right boarding pass. I find it hard not to laugh out loud at these people. It's even better if they then try to casually slide over to the head of my cue, as if that’s ok, only to be sent to the back. It's wonderful! I want to applaud loudly at them as they do the shame shuffle, past me to the back of my line. These people really are filth!

Despite all this complaining though, here I am, as usual, fourth row from the back, window seat, left side of the plane. Even if the flight didn't actually cost the 49 kronor as advertised, 500 kronor is still too cheap to allow myself to look elsewhere. The 1500 kronor extra it would cost to fly with a normal airline is just too big a difference. And then there's the fact that I usually take pleasure in being annoyed by nonsense.

It's pitch black outside now. Take off was actually pretty cool this evening. Coming through the clouds during the very last moments of daylight was like a scene from Neverendingstory. The outline of the clouds as they succumbed to night had an ethereal presence about them. I sat by my window, looking out transfixed by the sight of the patchy clouds and the sound of the engines pulling the plane higher and higher. Therefore I fucking hate it when the tool beside me has to ruin that moment by turning on his reading light when he's not even reading! Why exactly?

And now this same guy, about an hour into this flight, has started making out with his girlfriend in the aisle seat in a pretty big way. Fuck sakes, they're almost humping on my fucking leg. Go to the fucking toilet at least! I know it costs a quid but have some fucking respect for your fellow passenger! The only good thing about this right now is the fact that I'm sitting here writing about them whilst they're ignorantly getting it on with each other beside me. For fuck sakes! Get the fuck off my leg! I think they're Italian. I know these people are known for the passion and I embrace that, I truly do, but there's a time and a place, and it's not on this cramped flight...

I'm stuck looking at this sign on the seat in front of me, there's nowhere else for me to avert my gaze. Stupid sign as well. I love how calm the guy appears to be as he's apparently hurtling towards the ground...and then he's just up and out of the emergency door, cool as you like. Someone once told me that the only reason they drop the oxygen masks down in the instance of a plane going down, is to make you relaxed to the point of stoned, it actually being some potent, hardcore oxygen mixed with some other shit that makes you languid and carefree about your impending death. It sounds far fetched I know but I hope it's true.

A while has passed now. The clouds have cleared and the pilot has just told me that the city lights I just happened to be looking at below, is Amsterdam. Shouldn't be too long left of this flight now, and of course we're bang on schedule.

I'm going home for a few days. I've been working a lot of long shifts recently...I need a little break before the madness of summer at work kicks in. It's nice to go home and see my parents and old friends for a few days, without doing band stuff for once. I'm going be in Corby at my parents for the weekend. Pint of beer or three with dad and one of my best mates Beany tomorrow, and then a night out with some of the old Speedhorn guys on Saturday. Will probably get a bit messy. Mum's roast dinner on Sunday, followed by a night crashed out on my parents wonderfully comfortable couch. And then I'm taking the train down to London on Monday to hang out with Kev and the Regimes guys, getting tattooed by Marcus during the day, getting drunk with the others at night. Staying at Kev's Monday night and then having a day to myself in London on the Tuesday before flying home at night.

Just felt my stomach drop and my ears pop, the plane gradually tipping itself forwards towards the ground below. The Humpers beside me are now sleeping. Soon they'll tell me to turn off my computer. I can now see the lights along the English coastline...

And now that I no longer live in Her Majesty's Kingdom, those lights are a comforting sight.

Saturday, May 1, 2010