Thursday, September 30, 2010

No. 5 - Leipzig

Something Speedhorn was always quiet inept at, was learning important lessons.

Every now and again, something major would happen that would stun us all into admitting that we have to change a certain aspect of our behaviour, but more often that not that lesson learned would soon be forgotten again. We had a hard time keeping the influence of booze at bay. Looking back at those times as a grown adult, I'm glad that, relieved that, nobody in the band suffered any lasting damage. I guess most people, upon maturing, can look back at their younger years and see the narrow escapes. I remember talking with Kev about this once. We came to the conclusion that everybody does stupid stuff when they're young. Some come through it unscathed, as a better person, some don't. I'm glad that we all did. There are kids I went to school with who didn't.

Speedhorn was never a band that was heavily into drugs. There were people who liked to smoke weed, people who liked to smoke a lot of weed, but there was never anybody who was into hard drugs. Our problem was that we drank too much. Being skint kids from Corby, the novelty of free booze never, ever got old. And almost the entire time we were presented with it, we drank it like it was the last booze we'd ever get our hands on.

Only a couple of months after our infamous show at the Hultsfred festival in Sweden, we were flying out to Germany, to Leipzig, to play the Full Force Festival, for a slot on the main stage in front of a crowd estimated to be around twenty thousand people. We flew out to the show the night before our slot, and checked into the hotel the festival had booked out for all the bands, around the time the sun was sinking into the horizon.

The hotel is in the middle of nowhere. I look out at the view from our room. It's desolate. There is a large empty field and somewhere in the distance the faint lights of factories are flickering, reminding me that there are still people out there who actually work for a living. Friday night in Leipzig looks like the hotel bar then...

We head down and find the guys from the band The Darkness sat chatting to the bartender. We join them for a few drinks. We met these guys at the Metal Hammer awards a few months ago, they were up for some “Best Newcomer Award” or something. We were there because our friend Dave was organising the event and he'd promised us free booze. We shared our bottle of Jagermeister with The Darkness guys that night and they dedicated the award they ended up winning to Speedhorn.

So it's good to see them and hang out. It's funny, but these guys go on to be huge! I'd seen them a couple of times when they were unknown and they were a lot of fun, unfortunately the joke wore thin very quick and the whole thing got really boring. I guess you know the story of the Darkness though...anyway, this was “back in the day”, before all the hype.

So we're hanging out in this hotel bar in the middle of this dark field on the outskirts of Leipzig, the night before the slot on the main stage. The drinks are flowing by the time it's eleven pm. For some reason though, I'm not really in the mood and decide to call it an early night. Frank and John seem to be having a great time as I bid them bon soir. The drinks are flying down. I don't know what it is, but I possess a slight ill-feeling towards the Darkness guys. They seem to be putting out a real rock star vibe, and Frank and John appear to be lapping it up, which for some reason irks me. I don't know why, but I don't want to be a part of it. Sometimes, I get myself in that mood. I guess it's like that when for some reason you find yourself unable to get drunk, and everyone you are with that has accomplished this feat suddenly starts getting on your nerves. Totally my own thing, and not anything anyone else is doing wrong. I just remember sitting there getting annoyed by the fact that Frank and John are sitting around with these wannabe rock star guys ordering a bottle of Jack Daniels.

It's probably more to do with the Jack Daniels than anything else. I fucking hate that drink and everything it stands for. I hate how idiots think they're “rock n' roll” if they walk around with a bottle of it in their hand.  Carrying it like around like some sort of statement.  I actually hate the idea of “rock n' roll”, Sex and drugs and rock and roll.  Motely Crue and all that pants. Fuck. Off. I was never in to songs about snorting coke and fucking women.  It's boring.

Anyhoo....

I leave the scene and head up to the room I'm sharing with Tony. I get showered before tucking into bed and turning on CNN. There is something really cosy about watching CNN in a foreign hotel room. I'm looking forward to the show tomorrow. With Full Force Festival. A classic on the festival scene. I've been wanting to play here for a long time.

We meet down in the lobby the next day for breakfast. Gordon tells me that the night before was a lot of fun. A load of other people in bands hung out and everybody went to bed really late, really drunk. I notice Frank and John haven't joined us for breaky. Gordon tells me they were pretty fucked up last night, as was Darren.

We sit down to breakfast with a good strong cup of coffee and Gordon fills me in on the night before. Although it sounded like a lot of fun and I'm kinda regretting missing out, I still feel good about the fact I'm feeling healthy this morning. Frank and John eventually come down and join us for breakfast, although they're looking pretty pale. Especially Frank. I laugh when I see his face and he just shakes his head.

A while later a festival shuttle bus comes and picks us up and we make our way to the site. It's about a twenty minute drive. I realise during the bus journey that we're actually way outside of Leipzig. It's a city I would have liked to have checked out. I had briefly entertained thoughts of making my way into the historical city last night, to check out what the place looked like, but that never came to be. Too bad. I'm really into the history of the old eastern block and World War II and it would have been fun to see the place. As is often the case though, the name of the city on the tour itinerary has little bearing on the location of the venue you're playing. You think you're playing this really cool city and then you turn up at a venue in an industrial estate somewhere..

As I'm thinking about this on the bumpy road to the festival site, I notice John is very quiet. He looks fucking ghostly. John hasn't always been the biggest drinker in the band. He usually likes a smoke, and that would be his preference if the choice has to be made. That said, when he's in the mood, he can put a shit load of booze away. He's a big boy and it takes a lot to knock him down. The flip-side to that is, if he's down, he's fucking staying down. If he's hungover then he's HUNGOVER! Big time. I once bore witness to John drinking his way through almost two bottles of Jagermeister after a show on his birthday. He crashed to the pavement outside of the hostel we were sleeping at. Obviously, we couldn't pick him up. He was sick everywhere. We had to entice him into the hostel, leading the way with a bucket as he crawled on his knees into the dormitory. It was hilarious. And the day after he was a mess. But I mean, he drank almost TWO bottles of Jagermeister. When he goes for it, he fucking goes for it.

I guess he went for it last night because he doesn't look good.

We pull into the backstage area at the festival site, but for some reason we don't get out. The driver guy is waiting for someone from the festival to come over. We're sat there in the van, it's pretty humid and John tells us he feels sick. He's got his forehead pressed up against the window, looking like he's in the void. We seem to wait in the van for ages, I don't really understand why we can't get out. John then spots some plastic festival toilets and without saying a word, opens the van doors and legs it over to them. We all laugh our tits off as John pukes his guts up in the bogs. Of course, Regan is being cocky as fuck, commenting on how people who can't handle their drink shouldn't do so.

The outlook for the show looks positive.

We go on stage and the crowd is big. It must be around fifteen thousand at least. We have a good slot on the main stage in the late afternoon. The sound on stage is good and the atmosphere from the crowd is great. I have to give credit to Frank and John..considering that they both looked like shite this morning and John was puking in the bog about an hour before the show, they're both giving it a lot of energy on stage. I look over at them and I'm quietly impressed with the pair of them. We're playing through the set, banging out the songs with maximum energy and it seems like the show is going to be a success.

To make things better, we have our new backdrop hanging proud and high behind Gordon. It looks fucking ace. It's this huge piece of material, with the artwork from the cover of the Dead Tomorrow album. We'd never really been a back drop band but our record label had decided they would shell out for one, stating that we needed one for these huge festival stages, now that we were at the level where we were performing on them. Whatever, it's their money.  Except, that it's not...you learn things the hard way.  Anyway, our first backdrop had been a rather pathetic effort. It was the image of the Speedhorn bull horns, white on black. The image itself was pretty cool, I liked the fact that it didn't have the band name, just this strong image. The trouble was that it was really small. Sure, it looked big on Roddy's living room floor, but as Roddy himself so gleefully pointed out, up on a huge festival stage it looked like a postage stamp. Roddy loved it when things went wrong. I think today though, even he, stood side stage, now guitar teching for us, would have been begrudgingly impressed with this backdrop.

So we're pulling this show off and I'm really psyched. Gordon is smashing the shit out of his kit, the sound on stage is booming, we're all going mad, the crowd is kicking the shit out of each other and then PUKE! Fuck. Me. John has just puked off the front of the stage. I can't quite work out if what that actually just happened. John kind of staggers back for a second, looking a bit stunned, before sort of shaking his head, wiping his gob with the back side of his arm and then continuing with the song. I steal glances at the rest of the band and realise that they're all grinning like Cheshire cats. Tony and Gordon looked particularly chuffed. Tony, being John's brother, loves seeing his sibling suffer. Gordon, being John's oldest friend, is exactly the same. We get to the end of the song and we're all cracking up. John comes over to my side of the stage...”Whoopsie daisy” he offers, in his usual joke Jock accent. I pat him on the back and we get on with the show.

Besides the obvious blip, the show is a success and a great credit to our two singers, who are ridiculously hungover, for putting on a strong show in the August heat. If it hadn't been for John sick dripping off the front of the stage, the crowd would have been none the wiser. We ring out the last song with a whirlwind of noise and exit the stage, pleased with the show. I walk across to the other side, past Tony's amp, offering applause and thanks to the crowd as I leave.

I'm greeted with a wonderful sight on  my way back to the dressing room/cabin.  Blocking my way to the ramp off the back of the stage, on his hands and knees, beside Tony's amp, is Frank. And he is puking. He looks piss poor. His eyes are streaming salty tears, his face is a shade of dark purple, and he's coughing, spluttering and puking. Upon seeing him I almost scream with joy. It's one of the funniest things I've ever seen. You know, when you're laughing so hard that you're just kind of pointing and screaming?  It was like that. Frank continues to throw up. I don't think I have ever seen anyone produce this much vomit. It just keeps coming, flowing out of him. There is a huge yellow puddle of puke on the stage, kind of edging it's way back towards Tony's amp. We're all stood around, laughing our tits off and pointing at Frank. Nobody offers him help. What a great bunch of mates we really are. He must be there for a good five minutes. He looks like he's been hit by a bus. It must have hit him very suddenly, because he hasn't even had the sense to crawl out of view from the crowd. I notice people in the audience who have obviously spotted him and they're pissing themselves laughing too. Indeed, the only people who don't seem to find it funny are the local stage crew.

When Frank is eventually able to get back to his feet, he stumbles back to the dressing room. Not a single thought about clearing it up himself. To be fair, he's probably feeling so shit that thinking straight is completely out of the question. Doug tells me later that he had to row it out with the promoter for our money afterwards, who is claiming damages from us. Doug, thankfully for us, in his usual subtle way, persuades the guy to give us our fee.

As he's making his way back from the production office, back behind the stage area to our dressing room, he sees the local crew guys moping up Frank's puke with our backdrop and then throwing it off the ramp at the back of the stage into the mud below.  Even Doug thinks that's fair enough.

The last time I ever see that back drop is when we get back in the shuttle bus at the end of the night to head back to the hotel. It's just lying there in the mud, covered in Frank's puke. Nobody even suggests the idea of taking it with us.

I guess we're back to using the old postage stamp...

6 comments:

  1. ha ha, I remember we didn't learn the free booze lesson a few years later when we played Full Force again hitting the Vodka Redbull tent a bit hard. Followed by one of the worst drives home in our lives. Also John's birthday (Essen I think?) fuckin brilliant!

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  2. Fucking hell! That was without doubt, THE worst drive of my entire life! 20 hours of sheer misery...I thought it would never end.. John's birthday show was Hannover I think...I remember the SPV guys coming down to the show... It was brilliant anyway!!

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  3. mmm yeah I remember another time the label guys turned up and we had got a little carried away in the Hofbräuhaus in Munich.

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  4. Yeah, we got carried away quite a lot...

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  5. I remember Darren telling me about that drive home from WFF. Stopping every so often for Gordon to purge? I sometimes fail to understand how I got into New Zealand two years ago, I was drunk when I left Australia, spent the entire journey with my head on my little fold down table. Worst four hours ever. Slept for 14 or 15 hours after that. Best blog ever (this year).

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  6. Great story... but can it be pooped on?

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