Thursday, August 12, 2010

Home and Away. And Home Again...

I can barely believe that it's already the middle of August. They say time flies when you're having fun. Well I guess that's true.

It's been three weeks since we came home from that short spate of shows we played in July.

After sleeping on the van floor at Puttgarden ferry port for the night, we got back to Stockholm without any notable incident. The drive was long, but painless. After a quick shop on the booze boat at Puttgarden, we drove almost non-stop and were home for nine in the evening. A cup of tea in hand, I settled on the sofa in front of the football, my mind jogging through the previous days...

Wasn't the World Cup fucking shit by the way? It's not sour grapes over the whole England thing, I'm truly not that avid an England follower, how can I be when the team is made up by a majority of players who play for clubs I fucking hate? It's just...the World Cup was generally pretty crap.


Due to either travel sickness, booze sickness or just plain tiredness, I realised that there were a couple of incidents I'd forgotten to mention whilst writing the tour diary from the back seat of the van. Nothing particularly major, but just stuff I forgot at the time. A tour diary is just that, a diary written from the road, and not always with the benefit of time for reflection. So it's not unusual that small details are missed now and again.

First off, when we were driving on the narrow, winding roads through northern Poland, on the journey between Filip's B&B and Berlin, we saw an old drunk guy come close to getting mowed down by a car. Jen was driving the van and Johan was reading a map with a short-cut Filip had drawn up for us on it, which would eventually lead to the main motorway between Gdansk and the German border. The short-cut seemed to go on forever though. The roads were slim and full of sharp bends, making it almost impossible to overtake the various tractors and other slow moving farm vehicles that occasionally blocked the way. Of course, we were foreigners and not prone to taking chances on the unfamiliar lanes, so we'd hang back, cursing the time the short cut was taking.

Your everyday Polish driver is an impatient type though. We were constantly gasping at the other cars on the road, seemingly chancing death at every bend, whizzing past us, zigzagging in and out of the lanes, not giving a fuck what was coming their way on the other side of the road. It is quite a sight to behold. And it's almost weird that we didn't witness a major accident.

The closest we actually came to seeing an accident was not to the fault of any motorist though, but that of an old drunken fart, wondering about in the middle of the road.

I was looking out at the fields we were passing, the sun shining on them, bringing them alive with colour. I was thinking about the misconception some people seem to have about Poland being an ugly land. Nothing could be further from the truth. Anyway, as I was looking out at the beautiful Polish countryside I noticed an old boy up ahead, staggering about by the side of the road. He was dressed in a grey suit, looking like he'd just come from the party. Just as we were getting close to him, he sauntered out from the grass bank on the road side, a good two foot into the lane, his back to the oncoming traffic. Ten in the morning, fucking boats! We all kind of looked on in silence as a car in the other lane lazily swung around him, barely missing him, beeping at him whilst doing so. The old boy just gives the driver the fingers, looking totally nonchalant about the whole thing. Whilst we're in the van shouting a collective “Fuck!”, the drunk old cunt and the driver that almost hit him barely broke the stride of their morning. Just normal activity on the roads of Poland.

There were also a couple of things I forgot to mention from the night of the hotel bar in Trutnov.

The scene was actually kind of weird. Whilst I had been sat with Johan, Andy, Stachel and the Misery Index drummer Adam, Jon had perched himself on a bar-stool and had kept company with Jen, the two of them knocking back a few beers and having a laugh. My wife gets on with Jon really well...

By the time Jen went up to bed and Jonny came over to join me, the company by then consisted of the two of us, Adam and a roadie guy from D.R.I. I'd missed the D.R.I. set earlier at the festival due to the fact I couldn't be arsed getting pissed on by the heavens. Andy had watched a little and told me they were actually pretty good, or at least, it was fun to see them play Violent Pacification and a couple of other classics. I guess that would have been cool, but hanging out in the warmer, drier merchandise tent had kept me away from the main stage.

Anyway, we're sitting there, drinking fabulous beer in this hotel lobby. It's getting late. Adam is getting a taxi to the airport at 5.30am, so he's decided to stay up and drink. I'm feeling guilty with every passing minute for denying myself a proper night's sleep in a proper bed. Jon is speaking at a pace of about three words per twenty seconds and the D.R.I. guy is coming out with some weird shit.

Me and Adam are both pretty straight, but Jon is going through an intense time of things and is in an equally intense state of drunkenness. When he's holding the conversation, it's almost painful hanging onto his words in silence, such is the space between them. It's like a David Lynch dialogue. I'm used to it, but Adam and D.R.I. obviously aren't. They try to be polite. I try not to laugh.

The D.R.I. guy turns out to be their long serving roadie, who has been with them for years. In tragic circumstances, he actually had to get up on stage and play the set with them tonight. The D.R.I. guitarist, Spike Cassidy, has colon cancer and although he had intended on playing the show, hadn't made it through airport security in the States due to him having a colostomy bag. Obviously, fucking tragic stuff.

The roadie guy is a close friend of Spike's and is understandably upset by the whole thing. So, we're sat there listening to him telling us about that and to Jon, who is intensely conversing with him. The pair of them pretty wasted. One is barking in a high velocity New York gnarl, the other in broken, drunken English, taking it about as slow as you can take it without it just...stopping.

Despite the shitty circumstances, the D.R.I. guy seems to be buzzing from the show. Rightly so, of course. He says he never imagined that he'd play a show to that many people. He seems really made up by it. After some time listening to him though, I start feeling a bit sorry for him. He's going on about being a “nobody”, who no one cares about. He starts talking about how the other guys in the band were signing loads of autographs after the show, whilst he signed just a couple, and that nobody gives a fuck about who he is. He asks Jon if he's ever signed any autographs. I'm starting to think that this drunk conversation is getting too much for me. He seems really down on himself and he seems to be looking to Jon as the person to pull him up out of the dumps.

“I signed fucking loads of autographs” is Jon's reply. I can barely watch by this point. It's painful. I have to produce a fake laugh just to help D.R.I. understand Jon is fucking with him. “Really?”, the D.R.I. guy replies, although it carries about as much weight as a wet, silent fart. “Wow.”...

He mumbles on about how he never signed an autograph in his life before tonight, and that tonight was only to a couple of people. He tells us how, most of the time he just stood there like a plum whilst the other guys in the band signed pieces of paper for the fans. “Nobody gives a shit about who I am man...” Jon eventually tells him that he's only joking, he hasn't signed that many autographs..that seems to cheer him up a little.

Funnily enough, Jon spent his whole day talking to people he knew, or people who recognised him at the festival. He'd played there a bunch of times with various grind-core bands. He was a fucking legend at the Obscene Extreme Fest!

Anyway, I leave for bed, not being able to take any more. In the lift up to the hotel room, I look in the mirror. “That was weird”, I inform my tired reflection.

Like I said, just a couple of memories that came back to me whilst sat on the sofa, staring at the nondescript World Cup match playing out on the box in anticlimactic fashion.

As it is, those shows will more than likely turn out to be the last Victims play in 2010. We're trying our best to say no to any further offers until the new album is recorded. We're hoping that is going to be November, but it depends on whether we can get ourselves gathered in one place, namely our rehearsal space, on a consistent basis.

The summer is a difficult time to keep everybody together. We're all off in different directions, doing our own thing. Since we got back from the shows, we'd only met each other the one time, and that was the was the first night home when Converge and Kylesa played at Debaser. Since then, I've been to Glasgow and we've had my parents over visiting. Otherwise I've been working and when I haven't, me and Jen have been out in the woods at the log cabin we rent. The other guys have been doing their own thing too.

The summer has flown by, mainly due to the fact that the weather has been amazing and I've enjoyed every minute of my free time. I've actually enjoyed working for the most part too, as it so happens. The atmosphere at work has been really good and I've met a lot people and had some interesting conversations.

We practised yesterday, for the first time since we got back from the shows. It was good to be back in the rehearsal space, playing through the batch of new songs we have written for the record. It is shaping up now. We're up to thirteen songs. Four or five more and then we'll spend a month rehearsing intensely, getting them ready to take into the studio. Although we're hoping it's going to be November, we're not putting any pressure on ourselves. I'm really looking forward to recording my first album with Victims and going out and touring it next year.

We're going to have a lot of fun in 2011.

Right now though, there is still a few weeks of summer to make the most of. And I'll be doing just that. Tompa, from Battle of Santiago, is getting married on Öland in a couple of weeks. That's going to be an absolute blast, and myself and the rest of the Santiago boys will be drinking wildly in his honour. The weekend after that, my sister and her boyfriend are coming to visit. I'll be showing them what a traditional Swedish crayfish party is all about. And then, a few days after that, Jen and I are going to California on holiday for just over two weeks. We have a bunch of friends and a list of record shops to visit, and we'll be drinking the odd Margarita in the process.

What do you mean you're going on holiday? Your whole life is a bloody holiday!” - My dad.

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