Today is another short drive. I could get used to this. I think anything up to five hours in the van is pretty much a breeze, it's when you start getting past that that it becomes a chore. Sometimes in the States you're doing ten hour drives a day, if you have the wrong people booking your shows. I'm glad we have Stachel taking care of all our European stuff this summer. Today's drive is little more than two hours...
I wake up around ten-thirty am. and spend the first forty minutes or so sitting up in bed checking emails and Liverpool stuff. Kenny Dalglish got the manager's job on a permanent basis yesterday, news that had Johan and I in good spirits. I'm looking forward to next season already. I'm already forgetting this one since it looks like the Scum are going to take the title today and with it and our record for most wins. Only the news of King Kenny signing on permanently could lift the gloom off that fucker.
Just as we're starting to think about making a move and packing the van, we're joined at the table by a few punk kids who are drinking beer and making way too much noise for my liking. They must have stayed here last night and I'm guessing they're friends of Daniel and Ellen, although it's kind of hard to make the connection. They're not quite pulling off the old beer for breakfast cliché. I've seen it a hundred times and it doesn't impress me, but I guess we've got a few years on them and they'll grow out of it at some point. One of the guys offer Johan a swig from his beer, to which Johan firmly says, “Nej tack”, although Jon happily takes a gulp. It's kind of annoying though when they abruptly put an end to the pleasant conversation we were having. We do our best to ignore them in the politest possible manner, but when one of them jumps on something Johan says about Facebook, making a big noise about it being a corporate networking community or something along those lines, I'm already beyond bored and head back into the venue to start getting the stuff packed into the van.
After saying our goodbyes and once Stachel is done with wrestling Andy, we get into the van and head towards Bremen. It's only a two hour drive but there is a lot of traffic expected on the roads around Dortmund today since it's the last game of the season and Borussia have taken home the title. It doesn't work out that way though and Micha gets us to the venue in Bremen just before five pm.
The place we are playing tonight is fucking awesome! The stage is in a small room on the first floor of an apartment building, which is home to a punk communal. The room the stage is in would feel tight with fifty people in it. Exactly my kind of show. And to top it off, Stachel is actually the promoter tonight so I know it's going to be good.
With the venue only having a vocal PA there is no need to sound-check tonight. Instead we just load in, set our gear up on the small stage which can be no more than a few inches high, and then head off in to town to chill out for a while. Johan will most likely have to play on the floor tonight since there is no room for him in front of Andy's drums. I can't even imagine it's going to be later on with a room packed full of punks. I can hardly wait.
Once loaded in and set up, we have a couple of hours to kill before the venue opens, so we take the van down to the river near Werder Bremen's football stadium. Checking out football grounds all over the world is another favourite past-times of mine. Bremen's looks like a big upside down cake tin.
After a relaxing walk around the river area we head back into town and sit down to some pizza. I opt for a topping of feta cheese, spinach and onion. It's nothing special but the restaurants home made hot sauce is awesome and makes the meal thoroughly enjoyable, as does the bottle of Moretti that washes it down.
By the time we're done it's seven pm. and we decide to head back to the venue. It's one of those lazy days today. When we get back to the venue, we head upstairs to the living room on the top floor and sit around watching episode upon episode of the American version of The Office. Jon and Andy are glued to the sofa pretty much right up to show time. When I hear the the support band, Zodiac, have started playing I rise from my slumber on the sofa and head downstairs to check them out. When I get downstairs I make my way down the hallway to the stage room. There are people milling around all over the place. Outside in the street, in the room to the side of the stage room where Micha has set up his distro and our merch. There is a nice buzz about this show tonight. After chatting quickly with Micha and buying another couple of lp's, I go to check Zodiac out. I can't even get through the door! I stand in the doorway for a while, which is to the right behind the low stage but it's no use, I can't really see anything.
I head back to Stachel who is sat at the door taking money and he tells me there are one hundred and twenty people in tonight. The room where the stage is is roughly the combined area of my living room and kitchen. This is going to be one beautiful gig.
When Zodiac are done I make my way to the stage and help the guys with their gear. The guitarist on my side of the stage looks like he's had a shower. His t-shirt is soaked through and glued to his chest. You can almost see the steam in the room...
By the time we're set up, tuned up and ready to go, we are pinned in and surrounded by the crowd. I have people in front of me, people to the side of me and behind me. It's absolutely packed. I fear that with my normal flapping guitar style, I'm going to plant my guitar in someone's coupon! I'll have to try and restrain myself.
Before we even start I almost belt Stachel's lovely flat-mate, Mica. I give her a hug and tell her I'm sorry. As she does so often though, she just laughs and then tells me she can't wait for the show.
I have a space of roughly one square foot to play in, and already the small space on the stage I have, which almost puts me on top of Andy's kit, is as slick as ice. Johan is on the floor in front of the stage, in the crowd. I'll be amazed if he doesn't get to eat his microphone at least once tonight. We blast in to the first block of V5, Rewind and Forward and then Who The Fuck Are We? By the time we're done with that block, about two and a half minutes later, I'm soaked in sweat. By the time we get through another couple of blocks I'm already nearing my limit.
At the start of the set I'd been full of energy and I noticed the people in the crowd in front me having to duck my swinging guitar a couple of times. By the time get to the start of Lies about half way through the set, I notice Stachel right in front of me and decide to take advantage of his strong little legs and use them as a seat during the brief moments of Jon's guitar intro.
I look over at Jon during the gig and his space is as limited as mine. Johan is rocking out hard on the floor in the crowd, he seems like he's having a great show. As much as the heat is punishing, I'm absolutely loving this show, as is the crowd. I'm very glad that I remembered to take a bottle of water with me to the stage tonight. As I swigging from it between songs near the end of the set, Andy warns me that I keep getting really close to stamping on my pedals when I'm playing. I hadn't noticed. I had noticed that Andy's cymbals have come pretty close to my head a couple of times.
By the time we get to the last two songs, Broken Bones and Your Life Is Red, I'm not even sure I'm going to make it through. I feel physically sick and dizzy. By the time the songs are over, I put my guitar down and almost run to the cool air of the hallway beside the stage, out to where Micha's merch is. I wonder if the guys are going to follow. I'm hoping they do. They don't. I guess if we're going to play a couple of extra songs it's hardly worth their while fighting their way over to my side of the crowd. A couple of minutes go by and I hear Johan talking to the crowd. I guess we're going back on. The couple of minutes of cooler air have helped me though and I no longer feel that dizzy. When I get back on stage I shout over to the guys, joking, “You fucking cunts!”. Andy looks at me exhausted, “I know!” I love playing in this band.
We get through Circles and then Scars with a renewed vigour and then it really is time to clear out. This time I head straight for the street outside and park my ass on the pavement up against the wall of the house. It's pretty cold outside now. Sweet relief. I sit there for a good ten minutes before heading back in.
Nobody is in a particular rush to pack down tonight. We pack up the stuff and then leave it on stage so we can drink a beer ad chill out before we load the van. I get talking to a couple of interesting people. There is one nice gentleman who tells me he really liked my blog about the songs on the album. I thank him. We chat for a while and he asks if we're going for a drink anywhere after the show. I tell him that Johan and I are most likely going back to 1st. Class Suicide since our friend Daniel is working in the bar tonight. I tell the guy we'll see him there.
We pack up the van and head back to Stachel's to sort ourselves out. Andy and Jon are opting for a night in front of Stachel's tv. Jon wants to continue watching The Office. It's around two am. when Johan, Stachel and I head back out in to town where we meet up with Stachel's friend who has done the posters for this tour and who also does a lot of the graphic stuff for Stachel's label. A really nice girl called Kurzi. We're all starving. We head back to Torno's and I once again enjoy their superb falafel. And then we head to our friend Daniel for some drinks.
The guy I had met at the venue and mentioned this place to, is indeed here. Although he's sat on a chair with his head between his legs, his long hair hanging down to the ground, an undisturbed Bloody Mary on the table in front of him.
When we walk back to Stachel's place, the sun is beginning to rise and the birds are beginning to sing. This doesn't please the little man who is lagging behind us further down the road. He's shouting at me and Johan ahead about how much he hates it when the birds come out in the early hours and sing. “I hate the birds! They fucking suck!” We crack up and keep on walking. A little while later we hear him whining, “Gery (as he always calls me), my shoes are open...” Johan and I just laugh at him and keep walking.
By the time we get back to Stachel's pad, Andy and Jon are of course fast asleep. I don't feel so drunk although it's late and already I'm starting to feel that Andy made a wise choice in getting some sleep tonight. We have to get up around eleven. But then I think, fuck it. When I'm home I work and study and take it pretty easy, right now I'm out with the boys playing shows and having a good time. I can get a full nights sleep tomorrow night instead.