Wednesday, March 31, 2010

News

I've been busy with life recently and haven't had much time to write.  So here's a wee summary of what's been going on recently...

Apart from writing the new Victims album, which is beginning to shape up nicely, I've also been sorting my adult life out and getting on with the long, expensive process of obtaining a Swedish driving license.  Today I cleared the Halkbana stage, which is a practical course about driving on ice and snow, something quite improtant here in Sweden.  So hopefully I'll be driving about on the roads of Stockholm on my own, in the very near future.  At the moment I can only drive the car when Olle, the Santiago bass player, is beside me in the passenger seat.  All I need to do now is go on a course about the negative effects of alcohol and drugs when at the wheel, which costs a mere 800 kronors (around 70 quid), and then get on with the theory and practical tests.  Learning to drive in Sweden is very expensive...but I'm almost there.

So yeah, we're deep under ground in Victims HQ every week right now, writing the new record.  At present we're up to about twelve songs. We have dropped a couple along the way so I'm pretty confident that the shit filter is firmly in place and I'm happy with where we're at.  It's my first record with Victims and so far I've contributed a couple of songs.  I'm starting to find my way in the writing process the guys have and it's feeling good.  Anyway, the aim is to get up to around the twenty song mark and record in the autumn, around October time.

We're playing a couple of shows in the summer too.  First off, the wonderful Punk Illegal Festival in Göteborg, which is going to be amazing, mainly due to the fact that From Ashes Rise are playing a very one off European show!  I'm very excited about seeing them...  Then we're playing the Obscene Extreme Festival in the Czech Republic in July.  We're in the process of booking a week of shows in Poland and Germany to go along with the festival.  Got some fun news to announce on that soon...

Unfortunately, with the new album needing to be finished and recorded, we simply can't say yes to everything.  We had to turn down a very kind offer from our friend Tony from Municipal Waste, which was a slot on his Best Friends Day Festival in Richmond, Virginia this summer.  The initial thought was to go play a week of shows on the east coast around the festival, but we simply don't want to push the album back any later so we're gonna leave it for this year.  Tony has given us an open invitation for any other year though, so maybe we'll show up there in 2011...

At the end of April, we'll finally be mixing the Battle of Santiago album.  We're heading back in to the countryside in Värmland at the legendary Silence Studios with our good friend Zquaty.  Looking forward to getting it out and playing some shows later in the year!  We're already writing new songs, so album number two will probably be hot on the heels of the first one...

Otherwise,  I've been at home, enjoying working and earning money and enjoying spending it even more.  Karl from Regimes was here last weekend and we had a top night out on Saturday.  Was fun hanging out with him as always.  He came along to a birthday party I was attending and we all ended going to Peppar  afterwards.  Top, top night.

This weekend one of my best friends, Lee, and his girlfriend Kelly are coming over from Glasgow to stay for a few days.  Since Speedhorn split, we don't get to hang out anywhere near enough, so I'm stoked they're coming over!

And finally...I'll be writing the next blog in my Archives series very soon, so look out for that in the very near future!

Happy Easter!  Whatever the fuck that means...

Gareth x

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Morphine - It started with Morphine...

I was thirteen years old when I got my first guitar.  My dad bought me a cheap copy of a Gibson Les Paul for Chrístmas.  It was a period in my life when things were rapidly changing...

Up until then my life had been consumed in it's entirety, by football.  I played for the school team, I was even captain of the team at junior level.  I played football at every school break during the day and then as soon as dinner was eaten in the evening, I was straight out on to the field behind my parents house to play footy with my friends.  And if my friends weren't around then I'd be just as happy on my own, kicking the ball against the wall in the street.

The first sign things were changing, just ever so slightly, was when I was ten years old.  Suddenly the music my dad constantly had on at home, in the car, in the bathroom when he was taking a bath, in the garden when he was cutting the hedges, started making me feel something.  In particular, his Roling Stones records.  There was something about that band...I hadn't paid particularly much attention to any music since I was four years old and Shakin' Stevens had ruled my world.  But now the Stones were finding a way inside my head.  I was soon making my own Best of Stones compilation tapes, that were actually volumed 1 to 10.

Before too long I'd discovered there were some other people at my school who were into this music thing as well.  Kids I knew from the playground but had never really hung out with.  There was this one kid, Heg (don't know why everyone always called him that, but twenty years on that's what we all still call him) who let me hear some tapes he had.  These weren't his own made Stones comiplations, they were Appetite For Destruction and Lies by Guns N' Roses.  They blew me away completely!  This was guitar music, real music, just like the Stones, except it was new.  It wasn't 2 Unlimited or Snap or any of that synth pop crap, but real music.  I hadn't realised until then that there were still bands around who were playing guitars.  I wanted to hear more.  It was then that Heg played me Master of Puppets and Peace Sells...But Who's Buying? I was completely sold.

Football would always remain a big part of my life but music was going to be the thing that ruled it.  My hair started to grow, my friends started to change and girls started to become interesting to me.  I remember turning up for football training one time.  A friend of mine from the team asked me, "Gaz, why are you hanging out with those long haired guys? You're not like them."  They were starting to lose me.  I was going to the other side...

Another major event in my life was about to happen, that would change everything.  My dad took me and Heg to see Metallica at the NEC in Birmingham.  Heg had told me about it and I'd begged my dad for tickets.  My dad is an amazing guy.  Although he didn't really get Metallica completely, he was delighted that I was so into music and of course he bought us tickets and took us to the show.   I remember the whole week before the concert, me and Heg counting down the days on the bus home from school.  It was to say the least, a fucking awesome show.  To this day, the loudest thing I have EVER heard.  Although my dad didn't quite understand why it had to be THAT loud, he was still pretty into it.  He was after all, a big fan of Zeppelin, Sabbath and Floyd and all those other great bands.  I loved that stuff too, I knew all the lyrics to Zeppelin IV off by heart, but this metal stuff was my music.  After that concert, I knew I had to start a band.

I'm not really sure why me and Heg didn't start that band together, we just never did.  It was with some other mates from the gang we had, that we'd form our first band.  Morphine.

We'd decided on the band name and even who would play which instrument before any of us even owned any gear.  I was the guitar player in Morphine before I'd even ever picked up a guitar.  I'm not sure how, but it just didn't seem to be a problem at the time.  We'd learn together and get a set of songs ready.  Our one and only aim seemed to be securing a gig supporting Megadeth.  That was the only thing we ever talked about.

The other guys in the band were James Chalmers, James Finlay and Lee Kennedy, or Beany as he was known to everyone.  Chalmers was this computer kid who was really clever at school and had these kind of eccentric parents.  They were really nice to us though, they let us practice in their living room on Sundays when they were out visiting family. 

At this point, we didn't have any drums, so Beany just used to slap his knees in rythym to the rest of us.  Finlay had this cheap mic that he taped to the wall since we didn't have a stand and he used to sing into that whilst playing away on his little bass.  He was a little guy so he needed a really small bass.  It was black and looked metal enough though.  Chalmers was the main driving force in the band.  He applied the same dilligency to learning the guitar as he applied to school work and his Amstrad computer.  He seemed to pick things up really fast and taught the rest of us.  He was a hell of a charachter.  I sometimes wonder if we destroyed his life by introducing him to metal and essentially to booze.  He went for it big time and school was soon put on the back burner.  Later on in life, long after Morphine, he ended up making it to university but drank so much and did pretty much zero work, that he got kicked out at the end of the first term.  I wonder if his nice parents connect that back to us really?..  

Anyway, before long we had a bunch of songs...

Cruel Existence -

This was our athem song. An epic, or so we thought. Chalmers wrote the lyrics and the music. Very, very bedroom metal. We thought this song was going to be the song that made us big, get us that slot with Megadeth. I remember the first line...”Perpetual unreality twists your shattered mind.” I can't really imagine what was so fucked up with Chalmers life that inspired those lyrics, but still.

We'd by now cunningly changed the spelling of our name to Morphene, since we'd heard there was a jazz/punk fusion band called Morphine and we thought it best to change the spelling of our name as to avoid any unnecessary confusion further down the line.

Psycho House -

This song I remember thinking had a really complicated riff. In reality it wasn't. It probably felt complicated since it had more than a couple of notes, that weren't just power chords, but actually a sinlge note riff.  Can't really remember the lyrics but I'm sure they were embarrasing..

Under The Mask -

Wow. What can I say about this song?  This was the first song I ever wrote... I was talking to my wife about it the other day and I laughed thinking about it. The riff, to say the least, was pathetic. Even for a fourteen year old, new beginner... I thought at the time that it ruled though. They were also the first lyrics I ever wrote. They were supposed to be these really political, anti-racist lyrics. It was about the KKK, and my confusion as to why they wore masks and covered their identity if they were so proud to be white and racist. I really thought I was asking some important questions there... Fuck knows who I assumed would be actually listening.

What's classic wth this particular song though, is the whole stage idea we had for it...

Sticking with the whole racism theme, we had this whole plan that we would start the set with the song. We'd come on stage to some dramatic theme music, donned in, oh yes, KKK uniforms. Not only that, Finlay would be carrying a burning cross!  When the intro music stopped suddenly, we would all simultaneously rip off our masks, and Finlay would shout ”Fuck you, you racist bastards!”  I'm not kidding, we were convinced this would be amazing!

Can you imagine what Mustaine would have done with us, had we ever gotten that holy grail, the Megadeth support?  He would have ruined all of our lives.  We all now know of course, that Mustaine is a cunt of the highest order, but we were innocent then. Chirst, thank fuck we never did get that slot!  My life would have been ruined and I would probably have given up on playing music there and then...

I Asked For Peace (You Gave Me War) -

Now we'd stepped into political territory there was no stopping us! This song came about through a collboration with a friend of ours, Leon. Still one of my best friends today. Leon and Chalmers had started a mock/ironic Nazi skinhead punk band. They didn't actually perform, but the released a bunch of songs on a cassette tape. When I say released, everyone in our gang got one. That band was called Amputate the Fulcrom Argonauts. The album was called Buggergook. Absolutely ridiculous.

It was a complete piss take out of the idiotic Brit skinhead neo-nazi punk scene. The title song had the classic lyrics, penned by Chalmers, ” Buggergook, buggergook, 1, 2, 3. Don't like you coz you're not like me. Buggergook, buggergook, 2, 3, 4, piss of you, bloody foreignor...”   The whole thing sang in over the top, English country bumpkin dialect. It's still the most amazing thing to come out of that musical period.

Anyway, I digress. There were two somewhat serious songs that came out of that band. We all decided they were too serious, and whats more, too good, to remain Amputate songs. So it was decided, after long debate, that we'd take I Asked For Peace and Leon's band, Sect, would take the other song, which was called Habitual.

I Asked For Peace, in retrospect, was a complete and utter rip off of Metallica's ”One”. The whole structure. It started off as a ballad and then had this big heavy bit at the end...it was in essence the exact same concept. We thought it ruled though...

Addicted to Death -

This was the first song Beany penned lyrics for. By this time we'd actually statred practising in a real practice room.  Beany had even bought a drum kit. Both myself and Finlay had these small combo amps, whilst Chalmers had a full Marshall stack. A JCM 900 top and four speaker cab. Divisions in the band started to appear. I was jealous as fuck of that stack. I thought Chalmers was a spoiled brat since his parents had dished out the bunce for that amp. Whats worse, he would never let me play on it and he sure as fuck wouldn't turn it down low enough for me to hear my own piddly little amp at practice. The only weapon I had to combat that JCM 900 was my Dodd Thrash Master pedal, but it never really cut the mustard. The pedal just used to blow up every amp it went through, since I had no idea how to use it. Still don't.

Beany wrote these lyrics. They were very ”personal” to him, so we couldn't have any say over them, even though they were crap. A cousin of Bean's had been a drug addict and had recently killed himself. Of course, it was a bit tough for him. Nobody had the heart to say anything about his lyrics, so we just let them go. The first line was ”Sitting on the window sill, both wrists slit. Can't take it anymore, this is fucking it!”. They didn't get any better as the song progressed...the music we wrote to it wasn't much to brag about either...

Trauma -

Even at the time, I thought this song was pretty naff. Weak compared to the rest of the songs. Finlay and Leon had gotten into Nirvana in a big way, like most of the other kids in school, and this song that he had written felt like it was going a bit too grunge. It was chords and strummy, and then with a heavier, louder chorus, ala every song on Nevermind... I had liked Nirvana when they first exploded but then I noticed that all the other, non music kids at school were also into them. It made me sick! These guys I played football with in the school team, who had been previously on my case about the weird music I listened to with the weird new friends I was hanging out with, all of sudden these cunts were jumping up and down headbanging to Lithium at the school disco. It felt like Nirvana had sold us out to these wankers, pissed away what had until then, soley been our music. To these jocks!  Of course, it soon become aparent that these dickheads actually only listened to Nirvana. They still thought every other guitar band around was for the freaks at school like us. I mean, how can you think Nirvana is the best band in the world but think Mudhoney is weird music for the ”grungers” as they called us. How I fucking hated being called a grunger when I was fourteen! Thank you Cobain, thank you very fucking much!

In all fairness, I got over it after a while and got back into Nirvana a couple of years later when they released In Utero. Both James Finlay and Leon had found so much other music through Nirvana that they later got me into. I first heard the Born Annoying 7” by Helmet through Finlay, and Leon was the first person to ever play me Damaged by Black Flag. Those two records alone would shape my life in a big way. And of course, the football pricks at school were soon done with Nirvana and were listening to rave music. Until of course Oasis came along...now there's a band I still fucking despise to this day...

Red -

Looking back on it, this is the only song we wrote with Morphene that might have been somewhat on the right track. That was half mature and not just pure nonsense. I remember thinking at the time that it was a bit arty, a bit out there. It was mainy instrumental and had a riff that was by far, the best thing we ever wrote. It was more akin to the Quicksand song, Baphomet, than a shit version of One.. I remember thinking when we wrote it, that it was this direction the band should explore.  Unfortunately, before we progressed any further, the band would split up.

We still hadn't come any closer to a gig in Corby, nevermind supporting Mustaine at the Astoria! Things with Chalmers were getting weird and we were all starting to find new music. And then Leon knocked on my door one day and asked if I wanted to start playing with Sect. I said yeah and he told me they had a gig booked in two weeks time. I almost shit myself with fear!  Chalmers thought Leon was mad!  Sect barely had any songs and here they were booking gigs.  In retrospect, Leon was a pretty fucking cool kid!

That gig, at Channel 2 in Corby, changed my life for good. If I hadn't played that show I probably never would have had the balls to get up on stage...

So Morphene fizzled out soon after my first show with Sect.  But it was Morphene that was my first love, my first relationship if you will. Beany has remained a close friend to this day. We had found Napalm Death together and he was also a massive Liverpool fan, we would of course always be close. Finlay and Chalmers, I gradually lost touch with.  Bumping into them fleetingly back in Corby now and again, whenever we happened to be there at the same time.  A town like Corby is always going to split friends up since most people move away at the end of school, and head of for pastures new and the lure of university.

I recenlty rekindled things with Finlay somewhat though. He'd came to a couple of Speedhorn shows in Notthingham over the years. He now plays in a band with his girlfriend, Angie, called Fists. They are doing pretty well it seems. Recently, he came to a Victims show in Nottingham. We caught up loads that night.  It was really fun hanging out with him again.

I'm not really sure what Chalmers is up to now. It's been years now since we saw each other. Seems like the only stories I ever hear of him these days, involve him being steaming drunk.  Although I think a lot of it gets exagerrated.  I hope at least, there's more going on in his life than that.  He was a pretty talented guy.  If Page Hamilton and Meantime taught me how to play guitar, Chalmers was certainly the one who got me started.

I wonder if he still has that Marshall stack set up in his bedroom?...

Monday, March 15, 2010

Badminton

I know it's not exactly punk rock, but every Friday I play badminton with Frippe, one of the cooks from work. 

We started playing each other towards the end of last year.  I hadn't played in a long time. Not that that bears much significance.  I'm not exactly the best player around.  I just enjoy throwing myself around the court, diving about on the floor.  What I lack in skill I make up in enthusiasm and energy.  As my dad would say, "Hamming it up..:"

Frippe on the other hand, takes it pretty fucking seriously.  For me this is a source of great amusement.  I've never seen anyone lose their rag as much as Frippe does when he's getting beat, which funnily enough has been the case the last few weeks.

A few consecutive lost points is usually aggrevation enough for Frippe to throw his racket at the floor, or kick the nearest wall.  "Fucking shit sport! What a fucking stupid game!  We should play table tennis instead, a real sport.  The lights in this place are putting me off.  This racket is a cheap piece of shit, it's not tight enough.  How much did you spend on your racket really?". 

Just a few examples of the nonsense that he spews out every week.

I of course, stand on the otherside of the net biting my lip, trying not to piss myself laughing.  Also good for a laugh is the safety excuses he comes up with before we start every week.  Literally as we're about to kick off, he'll stand there and make the most over the top, gaping yawn you've ever seen. He'll then spend a couple of minutes explaining to me that he was up until five in the morning and has hardly slept at all.  Otherwise he'll start performing all these stretching excersises, stating that he's done something odd with his back.  Or he has a cold.  Or a hangover.  It's got so far now that he's even started relaying these excuses on to other people at work, the day before we play.  The man is literally David Brent!

It's almost worse when he's winning, since he's even worse in victory.  His new tactic seems to be that he'll call a couple of dodgy "outs" at the back of the court, cheating me out of the odd point.  I'll then get wound up, call him a cheating cunt, and then start losing my concentration.  Once he's in the driving seat he'll then start taking the piss, dancing and shit before he serves.  "Something up with your racket?  How come you missed that?  I'm actually well under my game today, you really should be beating me, taking advantage.  That was a great serve wasn't it?  Have you ever seen anyone make a serve like that?"

I hate to say it, but my competetive streak kicks in and I take the bait every fucking week and lower myself to his level... I will almost always eventually lose my head, and lose a bunch of points with it.

There was though, a sweet, sweet moment a couple of weeks ago.  Frippe was leading a set something like 16 to 10.  He was in unbelievably cocky mood, racing towards the 21 points he needed to win the set and the match.  I finally took a point from him to make it 16-11.  And then another. And another. I could sense the momentum turning and Frippe's cockiness deflating.  By the time I got back to 16 each, he was completely silent.  "Oj oj oj Frippe, what's happened?"  Nothing...  I then pull off a ridiculously lucky point and Frippe finally explodes.  "Fuck!!!!" smashing his racket off the floor and kicking a rubbish bin in one motion.  I turned my back whilst wiping away a tiny tear of joy.

Of course, when it's all over, we're back to being friends again.  After showering away the sweat, we head to work.  He's a really great cook and by the time I munching down whatever delicious dish he's made for the two of us, the nonsense of the court is well and truly forgotten.  For another week anyway.

As I go about setting up the bar, Frippe takes care of prepping the kitchen.  I'll be doing a stock take, Frippe making a batch of meatballs.  And then he'll ask, "What's the time?" 

"Five" I say. 

"Five exaclty?"

"Er...like, three minutes past..."

"Three minutes past...that's eighteen minutes it's taken me to make fifty meatballs.  Have you ever seen anyone make that many meatballs in eighteen minutes?"...

Friday, March 12, 2010

Farewell

This last week has been a tough one.  That doesn't even come close to describing it actually.  Somebody very close to me passed away last Sunday.

Tommy.  Jen's dad, my father in law.

It wasn't a shock in the very end, we had a couple of days to prepare for the painful eventuality, but as the cliché goes, there really is nothing you can do to prepare for the death of a loved one.  It's been hard.  It is hard.  All I can do is try to be there for my wife and my mother in law Annmari. 

I had though about writing an in depth blog about Tommy, my friend, and what we are going through right now, but it's too personal.  Maybe sometime in the future I'll share some of the great memories I have of the man, how he made me laugh, how he got me drunk and made me sing Swedish drinking songs, how he adopted Liverpool FC as his English team due to his son in law being a fanatic. For now though, those memories are the only comfort I have and they will stay with me and our family.

I know it's the natural order for a parent to go before their children, and it's something most of us will have to go through, but Tommy's sixty four years still feels like short change.

Life will go on but things won't quite be the same without him around.

Tommy, I hope you're now in a place where the snapps is once again flowing, Creedence are on the stereo and Djurgården IF are playing a dreamlike style of football on the box...

Nu tar vi den!  Skål!   

Friday, March 5, 2010

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Irony (Hypocrisy)

I've been home for a couple of weeks since the tour finished. Right after the tour I went down to Hamburg with Jen to meet up with my family and celebrate my dad's 60th. birthday. My dad is like myself, a music fanatic and being a teenager of the sixties he is of course, a huge Beatles fan. The history between the Beatles and Hamburg is known to most people and it is the source of my dad's interest in the place. When he heard that a new Beatles museum had opened up there, it was decision made, we're going to Hamburg for his birthday.

We had a really good time. It was perhaps not the best timing being that it was right after the tour had finished and I had been drinking every day for three weeks. To say I was tired would be understating things a bit...anyway, we went there, along with my mum and sister and her boyfriend Nick. We had a great time and of course, the first night we all got pretty pissed, except mum. I went to bed that first night, in a bit of a state, having seen in my dad's birthday with him at the Molotov Bar, drinking shots and singing Happy Birthday to him. My dad was pretty choked up. It was great being there with him. Although the beer flowed for most of the following couple of days the drunkeness thankfully didn't again reach the height of that first night there.

The Beatles museum was pretty cool too.

So, after a very pleasant but pretty wet weekend in Hamburg, I came home. Since then I've been working back in the bar and spending my free days in the flat, hiding from the wretched cold of Swedish winter.

Probably time to take things a little easy for a while. The trouble with that is that I'm in a bit of a thirsty period, where a beer after work each night feels good. Well earned. It is after all, the way in which I've grown up in England. You work, you have pint afterwards and talk shit with your mates, you go home. No getting drunk, just a beer or two before you head home. I'm liking that right now.

Ironically, as a bartender, it is my responsibilty to look after the guests and see to it that they don't become intoxicated in my bar, on my watch if you like. There is a great level of seriousness about this in Stockholm. The authorities crack down hard on bars here. There have been horror stories of bartenders being fined and even thrown in the can for over-serving their guests. Extreme cases obviously, but it has happened.

It's a stark contrast to how things are back home in Corby. At the Rock, my dad's beloved local, I've seen old men passed out asleep at their table, nobody even botehering to check on them. In fact, I've seen the landlord off his tits on a regular basis. If the cops came in there and had a go at them, they'd get laughed out of the place.

Maybe it's like that in other small towns in Sweden too? It most probably is.  In Stockholm though, when you're working in a bar you carry that responsibilty on your shoulders. It was worse at Debaser, a bigger club with younger punters looking to get fucked up a lot of the time. There was a always a tension about over-serving people there. It's not as bad at Snotty's where the punters are for the most part, older regulars, who are there to hang out and talk about music.

There are times, now and again, when you have to tell someone they've had enough and it's time to go home. Normally it's not an issue, they'll just take the hint and go. Some will look a bit put out by it but normally they're sensible enough to listen to you.

It is in fact, grossly ironic, that I, someone who has just been on tour getting drunk each night for three weeks, find myself standing in the bar telling some pissed punter that they've had enough and it's time to go. In my thirty one years, I have been beyond fucked on more than a few occasions. Maybe there should have been someone doing my job and stopping me before I got there, although I would have most probably found a way to drink myself stupid despite all efforts to stop me.

There was a young guy in the bar last week, who came in with some works party around midnight. He necked something like four shots in the space of ten minutes. He wasn't that drunk but he was oviously looking too be. I told him that I wasn't serving him any more, that I wasn't going to be a part of his mission to get fucked. He looked completely insulted. I had to stand there and listen to him babble on for about fifteen minutes, him explaining to me exaclty how he wasn't drunk and why I should serve him until he was. There's me, telling him that I ain't gonna serve him into the darkness and he's asking me sarcastically, if I've ever been drunk. If only he knew...

Weird situation.

It's funny to stand on the sober side of the bar and watch the booze work it's black magic. If somebody comes in and spends the night, you get to see their entire journey. It's weird standing there sober, watching a punters' drunkeness develop. You start the night having a perfectly civil conversation with them and then by the time you close the bar they're drunk and talking shit at you. You would think it would be evidence enough to make you quit drinking...

There was a girl in the bar last week. She was sat the bar drinking, seemingly on her own at first. She's been in a couple of times in the past, I remembered that she speaks English. I think she might be Irish..anyway, she's sitting there having a couple of beers and chatting to various people. All very composed. After a while she get's hooked up with these other guys who come to the bar quite regularly. Linus seems to know them and thinks they're ok, although I think they are a bit of a pain in the ass.

She's chatting away with these guys and the drinks start flowing a little quicker. After a while I notice that she's starting to look at me in that way. It gets to the point where I'm trying not to make eye contact with her. I don't always feel too comfortable with that kind of attention. After another beer or so, she calls me over and asks my name. I engage in a short conversation with her. She tells me her name is Heidi and she's from Finland and that she likes my tattoos. Cool. Then she starts telling me that she works for MTV as a translator and that she's lived all over the place. She loves England. She asks me what I'm doing living in Sweden and I tell her that my wife is from here. The conversation sort of fizzles out after that.

She carries on drinking with these guys and she starts to get louder. By the time we turn the lights up and start emptying the bar she's pretty fucking drunk.

”Gabriel! Gabriel!” She's shouting.  I think she means me...”Linus! Linus!”...

Linus goes about cleaning the bar whilst I cash up the register. It takes a while to clear the bar out but most people finally slunk off. Heidi however, is in no mood to go. Before long she's actually walked in behind the bar and is trying to talk to me whilst I'm counting the cash. I can't be arsed with this. I try to guide her out of the bar and she's hugging on to me, trying to whisper in my ear. I guide her out of the bar and she turns to walk into the kitchen.

”Other way Heidi, left, not right” I tell her.

”What was that?” she says. ”What were you going to say?”.

”I wasn't going to say anything. I was telling you not to go into the kitchen. That it's time to go”.

She then comes back to me and puts her arm around my waist. She's drunk and frighteningly strong. I pull her away and tell her it's time to go.

”Don't you fucking forget who I work for!”

What. The. Fuck? What a ridiculous thing to say. As if I care who she works for. She's heard that both Linus and I play in bands and I guess she thinks that an MTV translator is probably a contact we should be grateful for. If I'd had more energy I would have explained to her that she could not be more wrong if she thought my band was the slightest bit interested in M fucking TV! But as it is, I reply ”Very good” and tell her to get out.

All this in the space of an hour. Booze is indeed an evil bastard sometimes. She went from being a perfectly pleasant person to being an absolute twat in the space of an hour. I guess her head was hurting the day after.

That I look down on her and this behaviour and shake my head patronisingly is of course, an absolute joke. I've been there and far worse so many times since I was a teenager. I've even sat around after work at Debaser in the past, drinking myself into oblivion after a long hard shift, having told people along the way that they'd ”had enough”.

Fuck, just this Monday gone, my close friend Patrik, who plays guitar in my band Battle of Santiago, was at the bar drinking. He'd had a meal there with and old friend of his and they'd sat around drinking for a while afterwards. When his friend left, Patrik stayed on at the bar. I was playing a Rapeman record at the time and he was in the mood to stay and listen to some good music. He ended up pretty pissed and I had to tell him not to drink anymore. We've been fucking boats together on more than one occasion! He just laughed at me.

As a barman in Sweden you are supposed to prevent people from getting to the point where they are drunk. This is of course impossible, unless you limit everybody to two drinks per night each. You can tell someone they've had enough and cut them off when they are at that point, but how the fuck are you supposed to gage when to say stop to someone, before they're drunk? I once heard a cop say to a bouncer at Debaser that a certain drunken individual there that night, should have been cut off about eight pints before. Eight pints? Are you joking mate? If I drink eight pints I'm fucked so if that's the measuring stick then I should not drink at all! It's just not logical.

Anyway...

It's good being back home and at work for a while, with no immediate plans. It's cold. It's still snowing and the temeperature is still well below zero. It's nice to be home with the family, have a bit of routine back, working, earning money and looking forward to the summer. Badminton with Frippe on Fridays, weekends free. There is a pile of lps sitting around at home that still need to be listened to before they are placed on the shelves in their correct alphabetical order. Life as I like it. I'm also enjoying the odd sip of whiskey here, a glass of wine there. Not getting drunk, just enjoying the odd drink now and then.

On a healthier note, I've been introduced to this great jasmine tea that Frippe drinks. It's marvellous. I've been drinking it at work recently. It might be my new thing. I'm trying not to drink so much coffee in the evenings right now. It seems to me that if you start getting headaches due to a lack of caffiene in your system then it's probably time to cut back, although the chances of me quitting coffee completely are about as likely as me quitting booze.  Slim at best.

As my friend James Finlay once said, ”We're from Corby, it's in our genes.”

I think he is most probably right.