Monday, June 20, 2011

Leipzig

With three bands sharing the band apartment there is an almighty cue for the toilet and the shower, both located in the same room. By the time we stir from our beds it's almost eleven am. and it's time for breakfast in the club. I decide I'll leave the shower until after breakfast, the need for food and a piss being more important to me at this moment in time.

After breakfast, which takes place in the gig room of the club, I finally wash away last night's sweat and grease in the shower. And then we load out the gear. Whilst we're stood around on the street loading the van we make enquiries into what happened last night. Three things in particular need to be ratified.

One: Stachel wants to know who's leg he was grappling with in the club last night and indeed what lead to the “pushing incident”.

Two: How did Micha manage to climb over Johan and out of the bunk this morning without disturbing him. Johan is truly confused by it. Micha is a pretty big guy after all...

Three: Where did Micha go?

Stachel states that some guy in denim shorts from one of the other bands kicked him in the balls. I can't remember exactly how or why this happened but it did. I'm guessing Stachel must have been attempting to wrestle. Stachel took offence to the ping in the balls and grabbed a hold of the guys leg whilst deciding what to do with it. As he stood there considering his actions Johan then intervened and pushed him away, albeit a little too excitedly, catching Stachel off guard and sending him into a crowd of people stood behind him at the bar. What Johan hadn't realised is that the leg Stachel had been holding was guilty of kicking him in the balls. Johan had wrongly assumed Stachel was just being a drunken asshole. So that worked out, and all forgiven, we still don't know who's leg it was.

As we're pondering this riddle, the guitarist from Gust comes out of the venue wearing cut off jeans. Stachel asks him if it was his leg he was holding last night. The guy looks at Stachel and asks him what he means, “My leg?” Stachel tries explaining to him the trail of events and says he had someone's leg and was close to doing it some harm. The Gust guitarist is by now really confused, “What did you do to my leg?”. By now me and Andy are pissing ourselves laughing. That particular mystery no closer to being solved, we continue with the load out whilst Stachel mumbles something about his hangover.

After a while Micha appears and quickly clears up mysteries two and three.

After Johan had crawled into the double bunk besides Micha, pissed as a fart, he started snoring as loud as a mating gorilla. Micha quickly understood he wasn't going to able to get back to sleep in such circumstances and opted for the van instead. Johan asked him how he managed to climb over him and down from the bunk without disturbing him, to which Micha replied, “I woke you up and asked you to move!”. We once again piss ourselves laughing. When Micha has gone back into the venue Johan says he actually has a vague memory of crawling into the bunk and trying to watch his new favourite tv series that he's downloaded on to his Iphone, I can't remember what it's called but it's about knights and seems to have a lot of fucking in it, and he'd propped the phone up against Micha's feet in order to get a comfortable viewing position in which to watch said knight-porn. Poor Micha, now wonder he fucked off and slept in the van!

After we're done loading out, and with last night's mysteries kind of solved, and Stachel being in a far better mood today despite his hangover, we head off into town and meet up with Daniel. There is a big flea market in the St. Pauli area of the city which only takes place once a year. There are a lot of record stalls there as well as some other cool stuff.

As we're parking the van it starts to rain. Micha is attempting to pocket park the van into quite a tight space on a main road. There is a large truck behind us. He fails at the first attempt and then again at the second. You can sense he's getting annoyed when he shouts fuck off in English at the van. At the third attempt he makes it into the space but then there's a bit of bang at the rear of the van. We all go quiet, Micha simply puts the gear stick into first, as if he hasn't heard anything and straightens the van up. We get out and inspect the lorry behind us and Micha assures us it's nothing. I guess he hasn't seen that the lorry's bumper is cracked. Either that, or he simply doesn't give a piss. I find the whole thing thoroughly amusing.

We spend an hour or so walking around the street market, the atmosphere almost carnival like. It's really nice hanging out with Daniel for a little while. He seems pleased with the show last night, as are we. I pick up a couple of lp's of course, an original Gang Green lp released on Taang! and a Violent Femmes record I've been looking for for a while.

Whilst we've been walking around checking the flea market out, Stachel has met up with some friends who have their kids with them and they've been hanging out in the playground in the park which is in the middle of the market area. It's really fun to see how much the toddlers love Stachel. He would make a great infant school teacher. The kids just can't get enough of him and they all take turns in saying goodbye to him as we make to leave.

Just as we're heading back to the van the sky turns black and in turn starts to piss down on us. We run for cover under a marquee that belongs to a bar and we stand there waiting for the rain to pass. With the rain coming on so quickly and so strongly I guess a lot of the stuff at the market has been ruined... When it finally lightens up we carry on in the direction of the van. On the way there we meet Litty and his girlfriend who are stood taking cover under some shelter outside the door of a supermarket, each drinking what looks like a Caipirinha. I then remember that the last time I'd seen Litty was across the bar at the Cobra, he was stood with a ridiculously large looking shot in his hand, pissing himself laughing...

The drive to Leipzig takes about four hours and we pull up outside the venue around six-thirty pm. The Zoro. One of the best, if not the best, squat venues that I've ever had the pleasure of spending my time in. This place is amazing, and as usual, ran by a wonderful group of people. The venue is huge, it looks like maybe it was a school previously, although they have been squatting this place for years now. There are three floors. The top floor is where the kitchen and eating area for the bands are, as well as the big sleeping dormitory. On the second floor they have a record shop where our friend Frank is working, and the bottom floor is where they have the gig room, which holds around four hundred people. Across the hallyway from the stageroom there is even a cellar which homes a cocktail bar. The bands merch as well as Micha's and some other distros will be set up on the lagre hall areas that are halfway up each stair case. The place is quite simply stunning.

There are two touring doom/sludge bands playing with us tonight. A band called Thou from Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Moloch who are from Nottingham. It's a pleasant surprise to find a guy we know called Henry, who used to play in Army of Flying Robots and who booked a Victims show in Nottingham last year, is playing drums in Moloch. He's a really good guy as seemingly are the others in the bands and with of us all hitting it off straight away I know tonight is going to be a really fun show.

We all share gear for the night so there is no messing around with change overs. The Moloch and Thou guys are sharing guitar amps and we're all using our cabinets and drum kits. Simple and very easy. Whilst the Moloch guys are sound-checking we hang around upstairs in the band flat and the record shop. I pick up a vinyl copy of Gorilla Biscuits Start Today which for some reason I've never owned.

The food that the people at Zoro make for the bands is legendary on the touring circuit and this being my first time here, I'm dying to experience it. I'm absolutely starving by the time food is served, and I'm by no means disappointed. They have prepared a quite superb vegan buffet for us. I'm so hungry I make it through two plate-fulls and even have room for vegan chocolate cake afterwards. In the space of thirty minutes I go from being famished to so full that I feel sick. Thinking about the fact we're on stage in a couple of hours time, I quickly regret my gluttonous ways...

I go down to check out Moloch when I hear their set starting down below in a storm of feedback. The place is packed. There must be at least three hundred and fifty people here. It's also hot as fuck in here, the sweat almost dripping from the stone walls and ceilings. I flit in and out of the gig room during both Moloch and Thou sets since the heat is almost too much to take, I need to save some energy for our set. I also seem to need a shit about every thirty minutes. Tour guts are a real fucking nightmare. Of what I see of Thou, I'm really impressed, especially with their bass player who is phenomenal! It's nice to have a couple of doom bands on the band to mix it up with what we do. Playing a show with a bill full of crust bands can sometimes get a bit boring...although that seems to happen less these days.

I get on stage to tune up both my guitar and the guitar I've lent from Steve from Moluch and even before I'm done with that short task the sweat is dripping off of me. The room is packed out and there is a real buzz in the air, as well as a lot of condensation. A quick line-check and into V5 we go. It feels great from the get go tonight.

We blast through the set and although I feel my energy level dipping at points I seem to keep finding another wind from somewhere. We're all bang on tonight. I have to admit it's always a bit of a buzz for me to see members from the bands we're playing with amongst the spectators, it's a good feeling to have that support. Tonight the guys from Moloch and Thou are at the side of the stage and they seem to be enjoying themselves. Steve, the guitarist from Moloch who so kindly lent me his guitar as a back up, is right down the front of the crowd and he's really getting into it, he even seems to know the songs we're playing. I'm glad that the necessity to use his guitar doesn't arise. It's never comfortable to play on someone else's guitar, especially the way I normally play. If I use someone else's guitar then I have to be far more careful with what I'm doing on stage and that takes a lot of the fun out of it. I don't actually mean to throw myself around like a bollock on stage, it's just that playing this kind of music is such an outlet.

Anyway, the set goes through without any major hiccups and the crowd really move with us the whole way. When we're done with Circles and Scars I'm soaked to the core with sweat, but the buzz from the show is enough to overcome any tiredness I feel. We head upstairs when we're done and cool off, hanging out with the guys from the other bands and once I've had enough water in me, I enjoy a cold beer from the fridge.

Janne, our friend and singer from the brilliant band, Herätys, is here hanging out. He's actually together with girl who was doing the sound for the show. He's looking pretty pissed and has that look on his face that all Finnish people seem to get when they've had a few. It's good to see him. When we've wound down from the show we go downstairs to load out the gear into the van. We're leaving around eleven am. tomorrow to get to Bremen airport for our flight home so it's better that we spare any pissing around in the morning. We all agree that tonight probably shouldn't be a late night...

Nonetheless Johan and I decide we'll head down to the cocktail bar for one drink. Another friend of ours, Helene, has travelled down from Berlin and we hang out with her for a while. Her friend lives in an apartment in the same house as the squat, which she has pretty much built herself. Helene asks us to come along and check it out since there's a bit of an after party going on there. In all honesty, I'm not in the mood but it would be rude not to at least go and have one drink with Helene since she's travelled a way to come and see us.

We all head over, along with Steve, and hang out with the Helene and her girlfriends for a while. I just have the one beer, although the girls are drinking some really good cocktail made up of fresh raspberries and white chocolate liqueur. I have a taste and I could easily be tempted to have one but I hold strong. Steve, Andy and I stand over in one corner of the living room, allowing space for the girls who have started a dance floor, to do their thing. It turns out Steve and I know a bunch of the same people from Nottingham and Boston and we stand there chatting about things back home, and what's going on in the scene right now.

When the beer bottle empties, the clock is nearing four am. Fuck, only six hours of sleep as it stands right now. I could really have done with more. Andy has been saying to me all night that he'll most likely be taking it easy tonight, but he's had a few by now anyway. The three of us head back to the band flat, leaving Johan, Jon and Stachel at the party. When we get back we bump into Andy from Thou who has just blagged a crate of Budvar beer. We start chatting in the kitchen and before I know it, it's almost five am. and we've all drank a few more beers. I'm far from drunk though, and even the the hour is so late, I'm not really that bothered since it's been really nice hanging out and chatting with the other guys tonight. And besides, I can sleep in the van for a few hours in the van later on.

The four of us head to the dormitory. I've only been lying in bed five minutes when the rest of our lot come back. Johan is kind of giggling a lot and looking mischievous so I'm guessing he's had a few drinks.

Micha, most wisely, has decided to sleep in the van tonight.

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