Saturday, July 30, 2011

Fluff Fest

We recieved some nice footage of our set from last weekend's Fluff Fest.  I just love black and white...

And actually, the crowd response looks better than I remember it being at the time...

Friday, July 29, 2011


Oh for a good night's sleep. And a shower. And a hearty breakfast. About as good as morning on tour can get. I feel a million times better than I did this time yesterday.

We have a longish drive to the Fluff Fest in Rokycany, Czech Republic. We need to leave around eleven am. to make sure we're there in good time for our 7pm. stage slot. This is the show I've been looking forward to all summer. The last time we played there was two years ago and apart from an appalling stage sound, the show was immense! There were about a thousand people in the crowd and about another sixty circled around us on stage, with a constant wave of stage divers flying from the stage into the crowd below. It was one of those “special shows”. If today is half as good, I'll be happy.

Before we load out the van and leave, we sit down to breakfast with the guys from Nothing in the kitchen at the venue. They're a really nice group of guys, and we chat about touring and the likes. It turns out we have a friend in common, a great guy named Zoli from Budapest. Speedhorn had toured together with Zoli's band, Bridge To Solace, in Europe a few years back. It was a lot of fun. Zoli himself promotes shows in Budapest and had organised a show there on our tour, and it turned out to be the best show of that tour. The guys in Nothing were there just last week. We chat through breakfast, which just as last night's dinner, is superb. The woman running the venue has put on a great spread of various dishes such as scrambled eggs and a mozzarella, tomato and basil salad dressed in balsamic vinegar. Washed down with some strong, black coffee, it's a fine start to the day.

We've only been on the road a few minutes when the news starts filtering through...

Jenny sends me a text commenting on how terrible the events in Norway are. At first I assume she means the bombing in the city of Oslo, but she soon texts me back with the news that over eighty kids have been shot to death at a youth camp on an island just outside of Oslo. It appears to be the same person who was responsible for the bombing, just an a couple of hours earlier. News is that the gunman, a Christian Fundamentalist with extreme right wing leanings, travelled to the island on a passenger boat, dressed as a policeman, armed with an assortment of guns. They say that he gathered a large group of children together and then started executing them.

It's hard to get to grips with something like that. The news puts an obvious downer on the atmosphere in the van, and I spend the best part of the next six hour journey to Rokycany silently thinking about the horror that exists in life. Playing a show at a hardcore festival suddenly feels completely irrelevant.

The journey today is another long one. We stop just over the Czech border to purchase a road tax ticket for the rest of the journey. We all get out at the service station, taking advantage of the chance to stretch our legs. The sun is at least shining today, which should make for a good atmosphere at the festival. On the way into the service station I notice a scruffy looking bastard, drinking beer and talking loudly with himself. When we're done buying the usual pile of junk food and we head back out to the van, the crazy guy is still standing there, being loud. We walk past him back to our van, and of course, he stops Jon for a talk. We turn around and begin to laugh at the spectacle. I only hear Jon telling the guy a couple of times that he's Swedish, and then the guy asks him if he has any hash or weed. Jon just shakes his head and walks away. I'm cracking up when Jon gets back to the rest of us, waiting at the van. Jon tells me he's sure the guy was an undercover cop. I hadn't even considered that option. Maybe Jon is paranoid. Maybe he's a lot wiser to the world than I am...but the more I think about it the more I think Jon could well have been right.

We finally get to the Fluff Festival at five twenty pm. On the rider details we received from Tomas the promoter, it said we were playing at seven. It now says on the schedule in the backstage that we're actually playing at six. Fuck. It's lucky we weren't any later, although it doesn't leave us with the best preparation to get up and play a show. Fuck knows what happened with the communication breakdown.

The first person we see when we start unloading the van is our friend Goran, who plays drums in the straight-edge band Stay Hungry. Goran played drums in Jon's old hardcore band, Outlast, who played a reunion show at Fluff Fest last time we were here. They were playing the day before us and I'd flown down with the Outlast guys to hang out for the whole weekend. We had a great time then, and it's good to see Goran again. It also helps us with another thing that's been on my mind today, the spare guitar situation. The guys from Stay Hungry do indeed come to the rescue.

Another thing that was announced on the original schedule I'd seen was that Joe Lally, the Fugazi bass player, was playing right before our slot. I had been completely psyched about this, since I'm a huge Fugazi fan, and this would probably be the closest I'd ever get to playing with them... It turns out that Joe is on right after us instead, which is absolutely fine with me. The funny thing is, his tour manager approaches us and asks if Joe can borrow Johan's bass as a back-up, and if his guitarist can borrow my head. Johan, another Fugazi fan, is as happy as I am to help out. In fact, we're chuffed.

To add to the list of surprises today, I find out that Swing Kids, or at least, Swing Kids minus the deceased guitarist, with two other guitarists in his place, are headlining the main stage tonight. I absolutely loved Swing Kids on record. So, sharing a stage with both Joe and Swing Kids in one day puts a bit of a brightener on things. Again, in the light of yesterday's events it pales into insignificance, but...

The band before us are a hardcore straight-edge band from San Francisco, called Punch. They have a young female vocalist, who screams her lungs out for the entire set. They're pretty good and it's fun watching them. There are a few people up around the side of the stage and plenty of people jumping up and off of it. The only thing that is troubling me is that the stage times are running a half hour late on the main stage, and I can hear music blasting out from the tented stage suggesting that the usual streamlined alternating stage times are of cue.

We set up on the big open stage and there is hardly anyone lingering around in the audience. I guess most are over by the tent. By the time we're ready to start though the main stage area has filled out, although Johan still has to call them to come forward a little. The sun is beaming through the scattered clouds in the otherwise blue sky, the setting is perfect. But something with the atmosphere seems amiss. There are only a couple of people hanging around on the sides of the stage. Before we kicked off last time around there were people literally hanging off the back of my amp. Something feels different this time around. The stage feels wide open and lonely. Not what I'd expected.

Just as we're about to start some Italian guy holding what seems to be a note in his hand, comes on to the middle of the stage and takes a hold of the mic. He then starts reading from his note, informing the crowd that three militant animal rights activists, fellow Italians, have been sentenced to three years imprisonment for conspiring to blow up a conceived target of theirs, in the name of their struggle in the fight against vivisection. He pledges his support to his comrades and it almost feels like we're stood there in support. He gets a rippled applause from the crowd. Now of course I'm against all forms of cruelty to animals, but I'm also against using violence as a means to and end. Violence breeds violence. I don't understand how blowing up a building, with the possibility of inflicting death, can solve anything. It's a weird start to our set.

We kick into the first block and already half way through V5 I've both dropped a pick and Andy and I have lost Johan and Jon on the far side of the stage. We look at each other confused and struggle to find our way back into the song. There isn't a whole lot of movement from the crowd either. Shit start.

It gets better from the second block onwards though. By the time we're half way through the set the crowd stretches all the way to the back of the main stage area, with what must be at least one thousand people. The reaction between songs gets louder with every break, but the crowd still aren't moving as much as they normally do at this festival. It's not until This Is The End that things really start kicking off and people start stage diving.

We play a solid enough set and I feel myself getting more and more into it as is goes on. There are still only a few people around the side of the stage though and try as I might, the atmosphere just isn't the same this time around. I can't seem to keep a solid hold of my pick either, and my index finger of my right hand is streaming a steady flow of blood on to my new strings and the bridge pick up below them. Fucking typical that I only restrung my guitar yesterday. Right at the end of the last song I collide with some stray stage diver, just as I'm about to swing around towards my amp. His leg catches me right in the back of my left calf with an almighty thud and the two of us hit the surface of the stage like a sack of fucking spuds. I manage to save my guitar from hitting the deck but as I roll up onto my feet, like a twat, I angrily sling the guitar down at the base of my speaker cabinet anyway. It lands ok though and manages to stay stood upright. Just. The red mist of anger soon disperses and I start packing down. The crowd screaming for one more song from us. When the PA music comes on the crowd boos us. My leg is faintly throbbing. Some American guy stood on-stage comments, “That was a hell of way to end the set!” I shrug my shoulders and make some comment about that being the way it goes sometimes.

After cooling off back stage and loading the gear, minus the stuff we've lent to Lally, into the back of the van, I go off in search of the wonderful tofu burgers they sell here. And after I'm done with that I want a beer and I want to watch Joe Lally. We get fed and then with beer in hand, Johan and I check out Joe's set. There are probably no more than a couple of hundred people watching him in the early evening sun. This really isn't the festival for him to be playing. He just kinds jams his way through his relaxed set. It sounds exactly as one would imagine it to. There isn't much action but I enjoy watching him play. The guy is an amazing bass player and it's a lesson in musicianship just watching him. I'm starting to feel truly good for the first time today.

After Joe is done and I've put my amp away in the van with the rest of the gear, we hang out for a while at the merchandise area with Nico. It seems things are going well. The show might not have had quite the same magic as last time, but we've already sold more merch than we did a couple of years ago.

I go for a walk around the distro area of the festival, although I'm not really in the mood for buying records. I do pick up and album by a band called Captain, You Ship Is Sinking though. The sticker on the record says they sound like a cross between Aussitot Mort and Envy. If that's true then it's worth taking a chance on. I pick that up and then wander over to a distro called Goodwill Records, that are based in Berlin. I get talking to the guy at the stall whose name is Adam, and of course, he knows Andy. I'm fucking chuffed to find a copy of Peruvian Vacation by The Stupids and we stand there chatting for a while. He's a really nice guy and later on I send Andy over to say hello. It's a small punk rock world..

The news has filtered through that Amy Winehouse has died today. Someone has written a note on a piece of paper and stuck it above the entrance to the festival site. Another one added to the twenty seven club. A friend of ours from the States, Megan, texts Jon telling him she heard it was due to natural causes... This has Jon brings Jon close to tears of laughter.

By the time Swing Kids are about to play, I've meandered down to the front of the crowd on my todd, beer in hand, to watch what was once a great band. There are quite a lot of people in the crowd, although not as many as I expected. Justin Pearson stands around posing for the best part of fifteen minutes whilst they get the sound sorted on stage.

It's a great surprise to get to see them play, but if I'm honest, apart from Pearson, it feels a bit stiff. A bit like the whole festival in general really. I watch the entire set but as much as it's great getting to see classics like El Camino Car Crash live, after a while Pearson’s unashamed posing starts getting on my tits. He doesn't say a word between songs, he just kinds stands there doing his utmost to look like an arrogant cunt. Maybe he is, or maybe I'm just not in the mood. The sound isn't particularly great either, which doesn't help. Although Swing Kids set is still better than most of the stuff you see at shows these days, it isn't quite as good as I'd hoped for and I'm a little disappointed. I guess I'm getting snobby in my old age.

We meet back at the merch stall afterwards and Jon is absolutely lyrical about the Swing Kids set. I make a remark about Pearson being a posing cunt, to which Jon replies, “Yeah yeah, but he's so fucking handsome I almost had a wank in the crowd!”. What can I say to that? Nothing. Whereas Johan and I are the Fugazi fans in the band, it's Jon who shares my love of Swing Kids records...

The festival is closing down for the evening now and we follow suit and start to pack away the merch. This being the third time Victims have played Fluff in the last five years, it's probably time for us to take a break from the place for a while. Too bad that our boys in Black Breath are playing tomorrow night, it would have been great to hang out with them, but we're flying home from Bremen at seven pm, which means leaving the hostel at nine am. for a long days drive.

We pack down the merch and head over to the van. Johan goes off in search of the key for the hostel and is told that the keys are with the festival's band driver who is on his way back from Prague. It's going to be at least half an hour. We decide that the only thing to do is get some beer in. Jon and Andy go off to the beer tent and bring back Gambrinus in abundance. We hang out in by the side of the van behind the stage in the what is by now, dark, chilly night. Stachel is moping around, saying he doesn't like this emo screamo festival...or something to that effect. Come to think of it, I've hardly seen that sod all day.

By the time the driver turns up in his car with the keys, I'm have that slightly warm, slightly cosy feeling that a few beers can give you. We follow the crazy driver guy, I remember him from last time, good guy, always laughing, in our van back to the hostel. I remember the place we slept last time around looking like Resident Evil, this place tonight doesn't look so bad though. Still, we decide to spend as little time as possible in it. We throw our bags on the beds in the dormitory the four of us in the band are sharing and me and Johan look at each other. Johan asks me, “Are you thinking about going for a beer?”. There had been some vague talk of it in the van trip back to the hostel...and I did noticed we had passed a bar just around the corner. I look at the time. Midnight. We're not getting up until eight and all we have to do is sit in the van all day tomorrow...but then I could do with a good night's sleep... “Well, if everyone else told me that they were going for a beer then I would probably follow”, I reply. “Yeah, that's probably what I would say...if everyone else was going for a beer I mean..” Johan retorts, a slight grin spreading across his face.

"Come on let's go"...

The four of us decide to head off in search of that bar we'd passed in the van. I can tell by the look in Andy's expression that he's starting to get drunk. That and the fact he's saying something about having to finish what has been started. Stachel is tapping out for the night, but Nico mentions about tagging along. We wait around outside the hostel for all of twenty seconds and then leave, deciding to call Nico with directions when we get to the bar. Just as we get back to the main road, the driver guy pulls up and tells us to hop in, offering us a lift. Perfect.

The sign above the door says “Sports Bar”. It's a dark, quiet street and there isn't a sound coming from the bar. The light is on though, we step inside.

It's a small, basic room with a little bar in the corner. Behind the bar stands a rather haggard looking middle aged woman, staring into thin air. She hardly acknowledges our presence. The only other patrons in the establishment are a group of three old men, sat together at a table on one side of the room, each with a beer in hand, barely uttering a word to each other. There are a couple of tv's dotted around the room showing a dubbed version of the film Hannibal. We take a table opposite the bar and Johan sorts out a round of beer. The beer is the Czech Republic is some of the finest you will find, and it's ridiculously cheap for us Swedes. At the festival we were selling t-shirts for three hundred Czech kronors, which is the equivalent of the one hundred Swedish kronors, or ten English pounds we usually sell them for. A pint of Gambrinus at this bar costs just ten Czech kronors! “Four beers please”.

We sit around in the bar for a couple of rounds. The old boys and the bartender hardly uttering a word the whole time we're there. We're happy as pigs in shit though! We guzzle down a couple of beers, chatting about this and that. Every now and again somebody comes into the bar, usually an older man, with an empty, plastic one litre bottle and hands it over to the bartender for re-filling, then leaves again after paying. Things certainly work differently here than they do in old Sverige.

After a couple of rounds, with the time approaching one am, the lady behind the bar tells us with the use of sign language that the bar is closing. We drink up and make to leave for the hostel. Andy engages her in some sort of conversation as we're heading out the door. The lady points to the ceiling and says something about another bar being open upstairs. We're all getting a bit drunk by now and we probably should go back to hostel and get some sleep. We don't, of course...

The bar upstairs is a larger, brighter room. Other than that, it's the same deal. The bartender is a younger, happier looking girl who's broad smile greets us as we walk to the bar and park our arses on the four vacant bar stools. There is a group of slightly younger but just as haggard looking men gathered round a table in the middle of the room, albeit far from sitting quietly drinking their beers they're in full song. I like this bar.

During the hour or so we're there we drink three beers each and we share a couple of surprisingly delicious cheese pizzas. The lot of that comes to less than two hundred Czech kronors... At one point Andy goes off to the bog and upon his return tells us he's found a roulette table in another room. Now I'm not the slightest bit interested in gambling, apart from the odd flutter on the pools, but Johan is up for it.

It's one of those digital roulette tables. It's the same size as a normal table, just that it's electrically powered as opposed to having someone work it. We stand around it like a haggle of lost sheep, staring at the contraption. Johan feeds a one hundred kronor note into the slot. Nothing happens. Cue four guys scratching their heads, looking confused... Johan surmises that we probably put too little into the machine and this time tries a five hundred note. Still nothing..

Jon attempts to converse with the bartender, hoping his German will help breach the barrier gap. I can't really understand how, but he manages to get across the message. The girl brings out a complaint form for Johan to fill out. It's written in Czech of course. Johan and Jon actually attempt to start filling it out but quickly give up. The scene is quite ridiculous. We've just pissed away about two hundred Swedish kronors of the bands money, or about sixty pints of Gambrinus! Fuck it, we've had a good day at the merch stall...

After another pint each we decide it really is time to head back. Time and sleep is ticking away. I really feel now that I could stay here until the sun comes up drinking, and if we were playing another show tomorrow instead of flying home, then I probably would. I'm not eighteen years old any more and at some point, some morsel of sense must prevail...

Monday, July 25, 2011


Something is fucking strange this morning... Jon is by far and away the freshest looking of the lot of us. I wake up to the sound of the Hårda Tider guys leaving for the Fluff Fest in the Czech Republic today. I have that classic hangover feeling, the one where you feel pretty good for the first thirty or so minutes, almost chipper, and then the wave of nausea hits you.

After saying goodbye to the HT guys I shower and then struggle through breakfast. I manage a single slice of bread with peanut butter, my stomach not being able to handle the buffet of assorted pickled vegetables laid out on front of me. The coffee goes down a treat though. Andy and Johan are also looking pretty rough this morning. I was after all, the first to go to bed last night. Jon was up with the HT guys having breakfast though and is looking fresh as a fucking daisy. I don't get it.

We hang out around the breakfast table with Loffi and the guys from Black Fleck for a while, before packing the van and heading into town, via way of Cyness's rehearsal space, which is also where Loffi lives, to drop off the loaned backline we used last night. We drop the stuff off and then head upstairs to Loffi's flat for more coffee. I'm guessing the coffee machine he has is some kind of new toy since Loffi manically sets about making a chain of double espresso's. He just keeps lining them up on the table. I have two. It's great coffee but I know the second cup is going to come back to haunt me later on.

After we're done at Loffi's place, we head into town in search of a music store. We need some supplies today, namely some new leads for Jon amongst other things. Potsdam, or at least the area of town we're in this morning, is really quite a pretty place. The area we're in reminds me of the Södermalm area of Stockholm. After the music shop, the caffeine starts to wreak havoc on my stomach and I'm suddenly in dire need of food. I have a craving for an English style bag of chips, but knowing that's not happening, settle for a veggie hot dog. It doesn't sit well. It's some sort of weird yellow soya hot dog, and for some reason I choose the chilli cheese option. Loffi tells us this is the best hot dog kiosk in Potsdam, and I'm sure on better days I would have enjoyed it, but the pile of sloppy chilli and cheese sauce on the weird yellow hot dog stays with me, playing on my mind and on my frail stomach for the entire journey to Frankfurt. For some reason, the entire pack of Haribo Happy Cherry gums don't help much either...

It's late by the time we leave Potsdam, around two pm. Stachel, also hungover today, is in optimistic mood and seems to think the journey will only take four hours, getting us to the venue in plenty of time. But no, the journey takes the best part of six hours thanks to the perpetual Schtau!!! signs littering the autobahn. It's grey and raining and all in all a fucking miserable journey. Everyone is quiet, everyone, except Jon, feels shoddy. I try to get my head and sleep off the sickly feeling in my stomach. It doesn't work. I drop off at one point and when I wake I'm sure at first that I've been sleeping for a good couple of hours, but upon checking the time realise it was actually only twenty minutes. Six pm, a road sign reads Frankfurt a M, 289 km... We were supposed to be at the venue for seven pm. That's not happening.

With about an hour to go, we pull over into a roadside toilet and rest area. It's grey as fuck and cold. We all take the chance to get out and stretch our legs. Andy is by the side of the road, in the bushes, stuffing his fingers down his throat and subsequently throwing up. He puts it down to car sickness.. What a miserable journey this is turning into.

By the time the Frankfurt skyline appears on the horizon, around eight thirty, the sick feeling in my stomach is finally starting to subside. Nico is now sat in the back beside me, Andy having moved up front and Stachel at the wheel. I've only ever been to Frankfurt once before, with Speedhorn years ago, and the thing I remember about the place is that the downtown area is very un-European. It looks more like Manhattan. I know that Frankfurt is the finance centre of Germany, but Nico tells me it's also the crime capital. Funnily enough, Nico's home town, Hannover, is second on that particular list. What's funny about that is that the reason Hannover has the second highest crime rate in Germany is due to the fact that nobody pays for the tram when they ride it there, and if you are caught three times without a ticket on the tram then you get taken to court. And there is such an epidemic of train ticket dodgers in Hannover that it has pushed them statistically into second place in the crime city table. Best watch your back when you're in Hannover...

As we reach the city limits, news of an altogether more serious, sinister kind, starts to filter through to us via Johan's telephone. Apparently there has been a huge bomb explosion in Oslo, with at least two people dead. There is also something about a shooting on an island just outside of Oslo, and that maybe the incidents are linked. There is something about the possibility that kids have been shot but the news seems hazy right now. It sounds fucked up whatever it is that's happened.

We finally pull up outside the venue just before nine pm, after what seems like an incredibly long day. We load out our gear, which thankfully isn't all that much, just merch and guitars and amps. I remember as soon as we load out though that I have to string my guitar today. That's another kick in the balls right there! There is surely nothing worse on tour than re-stringing a guitar..

After I'm done with that, we go to the kitchen in the venue to sit down to an absolutely superb dinner. Veggies burritos and salad, with some nacho chips and a fantastic home made cilantro. It's a wonderful feeling to have some real food in my stomach and I feel so much better for it afterwards. A couple of girls who are friends of Stachel's are here and they sit down to dinner with us. One of the girls has previously lived in Sweden and can speak really good Swedish. We sit around after dinner, talking for a while. I'm feeling close to normal for the first time today.

The venue is yet another really cool squat venue. The room with the stage in is a good sized room, which can comfortably hold around one hundred and fifty. It reminds me a little of our very own Kafe 44. The stage is quite high and has plenty of room on it. Outside there is a really nice beer garden which is where the main bar is and where all the punks are hanging out. It's also where Nico is set up with the merch. We hang out there after dinner enjoying the cool night air and yes, a cold bottle of beer...

I'm taking it fucking easy tonight though. I have the one beer as I watch the support band, who are a band from Berlin called Nothing. There are quite a few people in when they play and I enjoy watching the most part of their set. They play a straight up, Poison Idea inspired hardcore. They're good at it too. At one point they even throw in a Poison Idea cover. The rest of the guys seem to think this is sacrilege though. I don't know, I've never been a massive Poison Idea fan, owning only a couple of their classic records.

The guys from Nothing are a really nice bunch of chaps though and they kindly lend us their guitars as back up. I'm hoping tonight we won't need them though. Fuck knows what we'll do tomorrow at Fluff Fest for back up guitars, or even strings in general, if we snap any tonight. Both me and Jon used up the last of our strings today. We should have bought some at the store in Potsdam but my hangover was at the forefront of my thoughts then...

The sound on stage tonight is really good, for me at least. Andy had been a bit concerned with the drum kit we were using tonight, since it's not set up as he normally plays. It must be hard playing on a kit that is set up differently to how you normally play. It would be like me turning up on tour and being given a seven string guitar, or a banjo. Andy seems to get through the gig without any problems though.

The room is full by the time we go on-stage. On any other night on tour, tonight's show would rate as a really good show, but after last night in Potsdam, it feels just ok. It's tight and the audience response is good, but I can feel that we're all hungover and the energy isn't quite there tonight. It's fine whilst we're actually blasting through the songs, but you can sense us all plodding around on stage between them, huffing and puffing. Apart from Johan losing his way in the first verse of Nowhere in Time and Jon going into the solo of Theft a verse early, cutting the length of the song in half, the show is a success. After playing Circles and Scars as extra songs, we applaud and thank the crowd and exit the stage.

I get to the back stage room and once again feel really sick. After taking my sweat soaked t-shirt off, unbuttoning the top of my jeans, and throwing a bottle of water spiced up with one of Andy's Resorb tablets, I start to feel better. After packing down the gear I head back to the backstage room and the four of us and Stachel hang out for a while, just chilling out. At the very moment I'm considering heading to the beer garden outside, a punk girl comes into the backstage room carrying a suspicious looking bottle of booze with her. She introduces herself to us and explains that she wishes us to have a shot of her homeland's, Belarus apparently, finest vodka. Fuck no! That is the last thing my stomach requires! She is quite determined though. Andy tells her straight up that there is no way he can possibly drink it, due to the beating he took yesterday. The girl has all sorts of reasoning though, such as that your body feels better for drinking a little bit of alcohol than none at all. This seems to be a general theory of hers, not just relating to today. Andy tries to explain to her about yesterday and the hangover we've had today, but she tells him she doesn't care about yesterday. She's simply not taking no for an answer. She passes the shots around, one by one, and then she takes one herself. Johan goes first, and he says it's actually pretty good. Then Andy, Jon and then myself. It isn't half bad. The girl then takes her shot and we thank her. We tell her we're going for a beer and that she should join us. She tells us that she doesn’t drink beer, that she always feels really bad after drinking beer. Go fucking figure!

We sit around at the merch table outside with Nico for a while, and I enjoy a cold bottle. It's only the one though. It's nice just hanging out and having a laugh for a while. Afterwards we load the boxes of merch into the van and then head for the band flat above the venue. The bedroom area is really nice and the beds even have pillows! Heaven! I brush my teeth and hop into the sleeping bag on my bed. I lay in bed reading my book for a half hour before the old eye lids start to weigh down on me. I drift into a comfortable, sound sleep.


It's been a few weeks since the last lot of shows. I haven't written anything in that time. I haven't really had the energy to, although there is plenty that I want to write about. It's been a hot summer so far and the heat in the bar has been really exhausting, so the eleven shifts have been taking it out of me more than usual, leaving little energy for sitting indoors writing on my days off. I've been entrenched in Ian Glasper's superb book, Trapped in a Scene, UK Hardcore 1985-1989. Well worth a read I can assure you! I'm now nearing the end, and have started to feel a little more inspired to start writing again. And with this weekend, plus a tour of the States coming up in August, there are plenty of tour diaries on the way..

Not much has happened since we played the Leipzig show, although we played a show in Stockholm with Terror, which was organised by the people at Stockholm Straight-edge. There wasn't really much to write about that... I sat at home, played Pro Evo Football on the Playstation, walked the dog, played a pretty cool show and went home.

There have been a couple of things of note, footnotes if you will, since the last time of writing though:

After Leipzig we flew home from Bremen. It rained most of the journey and I slept for most of the time in the van. We flew with Ryanair, which is the first time I've flown with them in a while. At Bremen airport Ryanair has it's own “terminal”. It's a grey, steel hanger, with barely any lighting and a welcome mat by the door that was covered in dog shit! After checking in we walked through to the main terminal where we were almost blinded by the glow of light bulbs in the ceiling. We attempted to buy some food from a restaurant, which was ran by a middle eastern looking man with a face like a smacked arse. I don't know why but he seemed to hate us. Andy and I ordered pasta with cheese sauce, and when we got it there was pork all over the plate. We returned the food and were greeted by a mere grunt. We tried to explain we didn't want meat, but were left standing around as he completely ignored us. We left for the darkness of the Ryanair terminal and flew home.

The show we played with Terror was pretty good. The show took place at a nondescript square room with a small PA, the sound wasn't great but there were plenty of people there and although it wasn't our crowd, we had a good show. Strange playing a show without even one beer in the system. At one point during the show Jon made a quip about the fact that he was normally drunk by this point of the night (he's actually not, he's actually good about restraining himself, but I enjoyed his taking the piss out of the crowd), and then asked if he could get a cup of coffee on stage, adding he's like it with “real milk”. Johan, Andy and I seemed to be the only people in the room who found that funny. After our set we packed down and packed out into Johan's car, before going to the local bar for a quick drink with a bunch of friends that were there. I was surprised to meet a couple of the guys from Terror there., sat at the bar drinking alcohol free beer and alcohol free wine. They sat there complaining about the fact they weren't allowed to drink at the venue, that you weren't even allowed in the venue if you had been drinking. I spent about five minutes talking to them as I was waiting to be served, trying to work out if they were joking or not. I thought they were straight edge...

And finally, the people from the Crowbar in Groningen have been in touch and said they found Johan's jeans, or at least, they've found out who has them and it is indeed the person they had suspected...they are currently trying to work out the best way of re-obtaining them! Fucking weird! I'm guessing there is some local hard-nut punk who is known for stealing clothes from shows...

So the first show of this weekend is Potsdam. Our good friend Loffie was the promoter and his band Cyness were supporting us. It's always great to see Loffie, another of the many legends of this great scene we're involved with. It's actually my first ever time in Potsdam. I've been around Germany fuck knows how many times but for some reason never made it to this town. Strange really considering it's one of the bastions of the scene. There are a load of punks in Potsdam as well as some great squat venues. Tonight, we're playing a place called Black Fleck, which is a tiny little squat. It's going to be another packed and sweaty show by all accounts. Victims have played Potsdam a few times and it's always been really good shows for them. I'm looking forward to my first Potsdam experience.

Another bonus tonight is that our friends Hårda Tider are also playing with us tonight. They too, like us, are playing Fluff Fest this weekend, although they're playing tomorrow and not Saturday. There was talk the last time we were out about them playing the show, and thankfully it worked out.

We flew in to Berlin quite late today, so when we land, it's in the van and straight to the venue. Stachel has already been to the venue and loaded in our gear though, which makes things a hell of a lot easier for us. We get to the venue around seven pm. and the only thing we need to do is set up merch.

I'm in the mood for a couple of beers tonight. There is a good feeling about the small venue, what with Loffie and our fellow Swedish friends here. I have a couple before we play whilst we watch Cyness and Hårda Tider play their sets. The crowd is packed in by the time Tider play and they're already kicking off. It's going to be a good night. The best thing about playing these squat venues is that they almost always have sleeping quarters for the bands, as is the case tonight, which means, no packing the van, just play the set, cool off, after-party and then go to bed when ever you need to.

When I opened up my guitar case upon arrival tonight, the first thing I noticed was that my strings are crusty as fuck, completely doused in the sweat of the Zoro in Leipzig. We don't have any backup guitars with us on these fly in/fly out shows. I don't have time to change the strings tonight, so we'll have to talk with Peter from HT and see if we can borrow his guitar as a spare for the show. There is not a chance in hell I'm going to make it through the set intact. Peter, being the nice guy he is, happily lends us his guitar though. I just hope Jon isn't going to break a string, because that's going to put a serious delay to proceedings.

By the time we get on stage to set up, the sweat is already dripping from my brow. There are over a hundred in the venue tonight, which has the place pretty fucking packed! It's a low stage, that just about fits me and Jon either side of Andy's drum kit, but Johan is on the floor. And it's into V5 we go. We blast through the first block and the place goes berserk. Johan is going to well to avoid eating his mic tonight.

It is extremely hot on this small stage tonight. I have next to no room to move, which is probably just as well since my normal monkey having an epileptic fit routine would most likely have me puking up about half way through the set.

We experience small technical difficulties during the early part of the set. Jon seems to be having problems with one his leads and I of course break a string during the first song of the second block. Peter's guitar does indeed come to the rescue. It works out well for me though, he's got a lovely SG, which is exactly the same as the one I have just purchased for the States tour, so tonight is almost like a test drive. It plays beautifully...

Despite a stop/start start to the show, the set goes down really well. From the third block onwards it flows, and such is the atmosphere in here a couple of technical difficulties is not going to bring the energy down. Since my movement is a little confined, I actually manage to catch some glimpses of the crowd tonight. I feel a surge of euphoria rush through me when we play Lies, Lies, Lies and I see what feels like the entire crowd on top of Johan, singing along into his mic. He can hardly get near his mic to sing at times, with members of the crowd taking over instead.

We get to the end of the set, but there really is no point trying to escape from the stage and out through the crowd, since they want to hear more and they most likely won't let us leave. We pick our guitars up for one last song and blast through Scars. And then we're done. Great show, job done.

It takes a while to cool off after the show, the sweat is simply pissing from every pore. I take a cold beer from the bar and head out for the street, where most of the crowd have adjourned to. I hang out for a while, stood on my own, enjoying my beer and the fresh air in the company of about one hundred of Potsdam's finest citizens.

Once cooled down, I pack my gear down from the stage and leave it in the back room, ready for pick up tomorrow morning. I head to the bar with the rest of the boys, where we hang out with Stachel and Nico, who is driving us this time around in Micha's place. Nico works for Micha at Punk Distro too, so once again those boxes of records are with us, my wallet as usual itching in my pocket.

I don't know why, but I'm in the mood for some shots tonight. I feel like getting a bit drunk and partying. I know, I know I will regret it in the morning because I am a weak, weak man, but that has never stopped me in the past. Johan starts buying the shots in at the bar, they cost a mere Euro each (the beer we get for free), and by the time the third Jagermeister has gone down, I'm starting to feel a little tipsy...

At some point Johan has gotten hold of a permanent black marker pen, and since the venue is called Black Fleck, meaning Black Stain, Johan thinks it's funny to draw black marks on everyone's face. He gets me in the nose, the annoying fucker. At the time I don't realise that it's permanent marker, or at least, I'm too drunk to really compute the fact, so I think a simple rub of the nose will suffice in removing the stain. Not so it turns out.

We hang out for an hour or so with Loffie and his crew before moving upstairs to the band flat. I'm in a very happy, giggly mood and I have that loving feeling. We hang out with the guys from HT in the big living room area of the band flat, drinking beer and laughing over a few old stories. They are a great bunch of guys. I think I head to bed around three am, still in a sound enough state of mind to brush my teeth before doing so, although that is about the last thing I remember, that and frantically scrubbing my nose with a nail brush trying to get ridden of that fucking stain!

I only have a hazy memory of climbing a somewhat shaky wooden ladder up to the row of punk made bunks, that are built into the ceiling of the bedroom. I'm fucked if I wake up in the middle of the night needing a piss.

Head down, no pillow, just Stachel's sleeping bag and a dirty mattress.