Sunday, July 18, 2010

Gdynia

The first morning began exactly as predicted. Hungover to fucking piss. Head banging like a rusty steel drum...

We'd taken the ferry from Nynäshamn yesterday at six in the evening. We dumped our bags in the cabins, which were as small and compact as they could possibly be, resembling more a drunk cell than a bedroom, and then we headed for the bar up on the outside deck.

The weather has been nothing short of glorious these last few weeks and yesterday was no exception. The first cold beer up on deck, whilst gazing out at the calm Baltic Sea, was a small taste of heaven. With a fifteen hour journey ahead of us, I had the distinct feeling that there would be more beers to follow, before we reached Gdansk on the other side of the water.

The last time I'd taken this same ferry was with Rowdy Ramblers a few years ago. That night had ended with my arse out on the dance floor, and Olle's arse with an angry Polish boot planted up it! I was hoping that with Victims it wouldn't go that far, but you never know what is going to happen with Jon around. And besides, what else is there to do on a boat for fifteen hours? When the beer tastes good and is very cheap? It was also Andy's birthday a couple of days ago, so there was an excuse to celebrate.

We sat up on the highest deck with a beer in hand, eating some great broccoli and blue cheese pie that Jen had made the night before, and watched the sun setting on the eerily calm Baltic. It's moments like this that remind me that I love playing in a hardcore band.

When the sun disappeared and the night air cooled, we headed down in to the bar. There was that dance floor again..oh the foggy memories. We sat down with some more beers. We'd been drinking steadily since we left. It must be ten or eleven in the evening by this point. We're sat around a table chatting away and the first signs of drunkenness are appearing. We're all starting to get a bit sentimental, talking about the band. You know a group of guys have had a few drinks when they start telling each other they love one another...

As we're all happily drinking away, we're amusingly interrupted by a drunk old Polish boy. He's spotted Andy's tattooed arms and has taken him them in his hands, whilst asking Andy in broken English if they are “original?”. We all crack up laughing. The old boy is soon joined by his other friends who have now all taken a keen interest in Andy's arms. We all laugh along with each other. We take some photo's with the guys and before long one of them has came back with a tray of beer for us. What a nice bunch of old boys. We're extremely grateful for their kind gesture. We sit there drinking with them, whilst being taught some Polish words, such as cheers and thank you.

The old boys head off after a while and we head to the dance floor At least, Jen, Jon and myself do. By this time, we've bought some drinks for Andy and sung the Swedish birthday song, and now we're on the floor dancing to Tupac. There is considerably more action on the dance floor this time around...and I'm well in the mood for a boogie. Jon and Jen are dancing away together, but I've found some new Polish buddies. The DJ puts some sort of Polish dancing music on and I'm dosey- do-ing with some guy who looks like a thug but is actually quite a happy bloke. He's probably as pissed as I am...

And that's about the last I remember...

I wake up in the prison cell cabin. It's completely dark and I'm desperate for a piss, and my head is banging. And it's fucking hot! I'm stuck to the plastic mattress, wearing nothing but my kecks. Mouth is as dry as a desert and not for the first time in my life, I'm asking the question, “Why?”.

A while later the guys knock on the door and ask if I'm coming for breakfast. No fucking thank you. Too busy dying...I eventually get up around eleven-thirty. At least there is now only an hour and a half left of the journey, and the sea is still as calm as a placid lake. I'm grateful for that...

If the first official day of the tour starts as expected, it certainly takes an unusual and pleasant turn. We arrive in Gdansk with the whole afternoon to kill. The venue in Gdynia is only a half hour away and we don't have to be there until six. We drive to the beach.

I have never, ever started a tour with an afternoon at the sea-side. From this day on I demand that it be standard on every tour. We should demand the beach on our rider. The sea and the beach in Sopot are both really beautiful. So much so, even Jon is down to his kecks and heading for a dip. The salty water must be easily over twenty degrees. I fall into it, beneath the surface of the rippling waves, and feel my hangover slowly washing away.

We hang out there for a couple of hours, all of us pretty fucking chuffed with the situation. After some lunch at a beach side restaurant, we head off to the venue in Gdynia. The promoter of the show tonight is an old friend of the band. He's a really nice guy named Filip, who has been involved in the punk scene for years, releasing records, putting on shows and driving bands on tour. He now runs a bed and breakfast lakeside resort as his full time job. We have the pleasure of staying there after the show. Johan promises me happy times ahead.

Getting back to the show. The venue is a really great little bar. The stage is just big enough, and the room is just small enough, as Jon puts it. The one thing he omits from his summary of the venue though, is the fact that it is incredibly hot! Just sitting down, re-stringing my guitar, I'm dripping sweat from every pore. The gig tonight is going to be a hard shift.

The support band tonight, Drip of Lies, from Warsaw, were really good. I always find that to be a welcome bonus. I enjoy watching their set and they really get me in the mood to play. I watch the most of their show before I'm forced outside by the stifling heat. I need some air before I'm getting up on that stage.

The gig is of course as sweaty as expected. I'm out of breath by the half way point, counting how many songs are left. There is a good crowd in the small venue though, and they are really into it. This Is The End goes down a storm, as it usually does. Lies, Lies, Lies seems to be becoming a crowd favourite too, since we released it on 7” through Deathwish. We play two new songs tonight, which are going to be on the album we're recording in the autumn. They go down really well too. I break one of those new strings during the second of the new songs. Why do I fucking bother? Always a waste of time..I change to Jen's guitar, which I've just bought some new strap locks for. The strap of course flies off during the last song. I'm worried the screw has come out and tore a hole in Jen's beautiful, old white SG, but luckily for me it hasn't. I'm forced to play the whole of Your Life Is Red on my knees though. It actually works out well, it's the last song and I'm fucking dying.

After the show, I get out of the building and onto the street as fast as I can get through the crowd. The breeze in the Gdynia air outside the venue breaths new life into my lungs. I sit on the curb beside the van and let it wash over me. The beer I've had with me on stage tastes like warm piss, I throw it and take a gulp of Andy's water instead. Beer actually isn't what I need on this occasion. I don't know why I even bother taking a beer on stage with me since it does nothing for you during the show. Just sits there getting warm and flat, and if you take a gulp it just lies heavy in your stomach. Funny how after thirteen years of touring, free beer still hasn't lost it's charm...

Anyway, we hang out with the Drip of Lies guys for a while and talk about a possible future show in Warsaw next year. They are making the five hour drive back to Warsaw tonight, since their drummer is working early in the morning. I'm very happy that we're staying at Filip's place tonight.

After loading the van and then sharing the final beer ticket, we follow Filip back to his hotel. It takes about half an hour, although it seems much longer on the dark, narrow, winding roads. It's worth the journey though. Filip's place is beautiful. He has this really nice bar with an outdoor veranda. We have a double bed to sleep in. Chuffed. The contrasting extremes of where you sleep whilst touring...one night in a tiny, airless boat cabin, the next night in a five star resort in the Polish countryside. You take the good with the bad I guess.

Filip's wife, Magda, has made a big pot of vegan soup for us. It's more than welcome. We sit on the candle-lit veranda, filling our bellies with it. The beer from Filip's bar is a local beer and it tastes great. We sit around chatting, talking with Filip about arranging some shows in eastern Europe next year. I'm really looking forward to getting the new album recorded so we can get back out on tour for real again.

We peel off to our respective bedrooms one by one. After my second beer, I too retire, leaving just Jon and Filip, who is, much too Jon's ignorance, fretting about getting to bed. He has to get up early in the morning for the breakfast service to his paying guests. Jon pretends not to hear him. I thank Filip for his hospitality and say goodnight to them both. Jon, stood at the beer tap, filling his glass, simply replies, “Poof.”

I smile and head up the stairs to the double bed, looking forward to five hours solid sleep.

1 comment:

  1. What's the name of the Hotel/b&b?

    ReplyDelete