Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A New Year...

I haven't written in a while since it's been Christmas and I've been too fat and lazy to write anything. Besides, I'm not writing on any sort of schedule.

I've had a cold since the start of December, about the time we went into the studio with Victims, that refuses to go away. I guess neither the bitterly cold winter we're having, or the fact that I work eleven hour nights in the bar, are hardly helping matters. Having a head that constantly feels like it's on the verge of imploding hardly puts me in the mood to write. Now, some six weeks later, it finally feels like the cold bug is starting to disperse, and I find myself back at the kitchen table with my laptop in front of me.

I was back in England over the Christmas period, where I spent a few days with my family and friends in Corby. I was working full on in the bar right up until I left, so it was nice getting away. Over New Year's, Jen and I spent a couple of days in the woods with the rest of the “Dog Mafia”, as Erik from Battle of Santiago calls us. Namely, Olle and Patrik from the band, their girlfriends Gabriella and Hanna, and their dogs Betsy and Bobby. A very cosy gang. We'd hired a house out in the countryside, where we spent the days doing very little except walking the dogs, taking saunas and eating the unbelievably good food that Olle cooked up for us. And of course, we had some drinks. I also passed the final initiation test in becoming a Swede, which entails leaving the sauna naked and rolling around in the snow. Quite and experience I can promise you...

So, it's the year 2011 all of a sudden. If my good friend Jon is right in his belief that the Mayan Doomsday Prophecy is right, then the planets downfall is little less than a couple of years away. So I guess this particular New Year's resolutions should be worthwhile.

Well things this year have started pretty well anyway. Kenny Dalglish is back as the manager of Liverpool Football Club. I was honestly close to tears this Sunday, whilst watching his first pre-game interview. The last couple of years as a fanatical Liverpool supporter have not been easy, as anyone interested in football will tell you. Now that King Kenny is back, there is a feeling of hope again. When he left his job the last time, I was thirteen years old, and my heart was broken. So seeing him back where he belongs fills me with overwhelming joy. It's too bad then that his first match as manager this time around was against the Scum in their own back yard, with a bent referee determined to see them through to the next round of the F.A. Cup. But that's life. I was in a stinking mood all evening at work on Sunday though.

The Scum, by the way, are Manchester United. As anyone interested in football will tell you...

Other than King Kenny's return, another thing I've been extremely happy about, is the Christmas present my sister bought me. It's literally one of the best things that has ever happened to me. It's called a Wake Cup. It's an alarm clock that makes you a cup of tea, or coffee, in the morning. My wife is loving the fact, that at least for now, I'm almost dancing up out of bed in the morning to the sound of my alarm clock. I'm not usually a “morning person”. I don't normally rejoice in getting out of bed, but this little thing of beauty has changed that for the time being. If things carry on in this form, 2011 is going to be a good year.

So, what are my resolutions this year?

I'm not normally one for “resolutions”, or at least, not normally one for seeing them through anyway. But this year, I feel determined to put my goals into action. For a start, I really want to go back to studying this year. Apart from the period when I learnt Swedish, I haven't studied since I left school in Corby at eighteen years old. Since we came back from holiday in California in September, around the time darkness started descending over Sweden, my brain has felt like it's smothered in cotton wool. “Seg” the Swedes call it. My friend Johan Risberg assures me that this is a quite normal state of mind during the winter-time in Sweden. Nonetheless, it's not a state of mind I enjoy. It has inspired me into getting my brain back in to gear though. So a major thing for me this year is to get back into the classroom and start using my brain again. It's never too late to study, and I'm grateful to live in a country where education is still free. Thank fuck I don't live in the UK any more!

Another resolution this year, which is something that simply must happen, is that I have to pass my driving test. Me learning to drive has by now, become an absolute joke! I took my first driving lesson at the age of nineteen, in Corby, with a very nice man called Jim Scales. My sister was taking lessons with him at the same time, and she has been driving now for almost eleven years. Due to a string of reasons, I never got around to taking my test. Touring constantly seemed to get in the way. The problem is now though, that whereas educating yourself in maths, or history or whatever other academic subject, is still free in this land, educating yourself to drive most certainly is not. In fact, it must be, I imagine, the most expensive country in the world to learn to drive in. An hour driving lesson here costs around £80. That's a monolithic amount of money! It's not easy, but somehow, this year, I'm going to pass my fucking driving test! Me and the wife are planning a road trip to England this summer, and Jen isn't planning to do all the driving herself, so I'm going to have to get my shit together. I had a driving lesson this morning, and although the price of it pained me to the point of feeling nauseous, I still felt positive afterwards. A couple more this week and next, a then a little bit of driving Jenny's car with Olle, and I'm applying for my test.

Apart from education in one form or another, this year is also going to be musically productive. This isn't a resolution, this is just what's happening this year.

The new Victims album, which is titled, “A Dissident” will finally be mixed by the end of this week. This has been a long process, interrupted by the holiday period and the fact that everyone works full time jobs, but this week it will be completed and hopefully by the end of next week it will be mastered. I'm going to Johan's tonight to meet up with the guys and listen through what should be the final mix. We have to have everything completed by the end of January since we've set a release date with the various labels involved, at April 12th. My friend Richey should be sending me a mock up of the cover artwork tonight. Exciting to see how that is coming along too.

Speaking of Richey, Battle of Santiago will be releasing a split 7” with his band, A Thousand Arrows, through the label Seven Inch Records. I'm really looking forward to getting my hands on this. We should be flying over to the UK to play some shows with them at some point in March, around the time the record comes out. One of my best friends ever, Gordon, who played drums in Raging Speedhorn, also plays in ATA, so those shows are going to be a blast.

Battle of Santiago will also be releasing an EP with the poet and dramatist, Stig Larsson. That record is done and ready to go, and should be coming out as a collaboration with our friends label Svedjebruk and the wonderful antique book publishers, Rönells. We played a show with Stig at Rönells book store in Stockholm in November, which was an amazing night, and Rönells were so happy with it, they want to release the EP on vinyl. We're talking with Stig about playing some more shows together as we release this record.

I'm also in the long, slow process of recording an album with my friend Stuart Ness. We have a project together called Justadels, which is primarily studio based. And when I say studio, I mean Stuart's bedroom... We're very pleased with how it is coming along though and we're hoping to release it at some point this year. It's a million miles away from anything I've ever recorded before and I'm very excited about it.

Other than all of that, I'll be keeping on, keeping on with the blog. I'm thinking about starting a series called The Bar, which will be based on the long nights at work and some of the, quite frankly, mental people I have to put up with from time to time. I'm also going to be doing some more Archive stuff as well as the tour diaries when I'm out on the road of course, which was really the main idea behind the blog in the first place. At some point in time I intend to start interviewing friends and associates that are involved in the hardcore and D.I.Y. music scene and share some of their stories from the road and beyond. The amount of tales I've heard from other musicians over the years are vast, and a lot of them need to be shared.

So, as January rolls on, and the earth nears it's final judgement day, I humbly bid you a Happy New Year!

Gareth x


  1. The Bar sounds like it could be a bunch of epic posts, looking forward to that.

    Keep up the good work och ha det fint!

  2. Ah that's the name of Gordon's band, bumped into him at the RATM gig in Hyde Park this summer and don't think he told me the name. Will pick up the split an hopefully see one of the UK shows.