Sunday, August 28, 2011


I wake up on the sofa in the living room, drenched in sweat. It must be around ten, ten thirty. Johan is on the other side of the sofa, Andy and Jon are on the floor, they're all fast asleep. The room fucking stinks, someone's feet are humming. I can almost hear it. Just as I'm stirring myself from slumber, a girl in pyjamas walks into the room, apologising for disturbing us. It's the girl from the toilet last night. I just sort of mumble incoherently, something, nothing really.

As soon as my head clears, my thoughts return to Jenny. She's due to land at one pm. We have some big decisions to make today.

We all eventually stir and take turns in the shower and then hang out for a while on the side porch of the house with a couple of the guys from the house and the girl, Sarah, who lives here too. They're all really friendly people. They have a couple of absolutely beautiful pitbulls too and we spend a while playing with them. The people at the Masakari house are all huge dog lovers, and the dogs they have all come from rescue centres. The youngest one, who is still a puppy and a little wild in her playfulness, was due to be put down the day after the guys had found her. Looking into her eyes makes me wonder how anybody could even consider closing them forever. As usual when I'm around dogs, it makes me think of Bonzo and of home and I start to long to be back there.

We have a short drive today, only two hours. We leave the house around midday and search for a Panera Bread, something we have had no luck in finding so far on this tour, which sucks, since everyone in the band loves the place. We have no luck today either and instead end up at a roadside diner, which is actually pretty good. As we're sat around drinking coffee, as is always the case, the phones come out and everyone goes silent. On this occasion though, everybody is checking the same thing...

We have to start making a serious plan. We start off by calling the airline to find out what's going on with Johan and Andy's flights. There is a long wait on the phones but we're eventually told that as of now, the flight is still on time and that they'll have to be at the airport to make sure they get their flight! Fucking unbelievable. We have three options:

One: Play Pittsburgh tonight and then head straight to New York City and try and get there before the city closes.

Two: Play both tonight and the show in Syracuse tomorrow and wait it out there, and then try and make it into New York somehow, sometime during Sunday or Monday.

Three: Call and end to the tour now and make our way to New York.

Cancelling shows is the last thing we ever want to do, but as it turns out, the decision is made for us shortly after we get back in the van. First off we get a call from our friend Bill, who owns the club in New York, confirming the show there on Sunday is cancelled. And then we get some news through telling us that even as of now, it's almost impossible to get into the city. So that's that. We'll play these next two shows and wait things out in Syracuse. Now my next mission is to get Jenny on a train from New York to Syracuse.

We're just pulling into the outer limits of Pittsburgh when Jen texts me saying she's landed at JFK. The news concerning Hurricane Irene just seems to be getting worse, I have to get in touch with her and tell her to get out of there is she can. One agonising hour goes by before I get to speak to her. I'm surprised to hear she's in calm and positive mood. She's got to the hotel and she's going out for a couple of hours to do some shopping! That's my girl..

After a bit of a strained conversation, where I'll be honest, I got pretty stressed out, we decide to try and get a train booked. Of course, when Jen had checked into the hotel, the people working there in reception were very calm about everything and she obviously hadn't had a chance to see the news yet, so it's not surprising that she was calm. Of course, I'd rather that than have her really scared on the other end of the phone. She tells me she's going to go out for a while and get some food and then she's going to book the train for Syracuse that leaves at 1pm. tomorrow. I feel a little relived but won't feel completely happy until she has that ticket confirmed.

We arrive at our friend's, Ben and Aubrey’s house up in the Polish Hills in Pittsburgh. I've never been to this city before and therefore had no idea that the city was situated in a huge valley. It kind of reminds me of Stuttgart, and indeed there are a lot of German settlers here and that has greatly influenced the architecture. It's a very characteristic and to my eye, beautiful place.

We hang out with Ben and Aubrey for a while. It's there wedding anniversary today so I feel a little bad about crashing here tonight, but they're only too happy to have us. We meet so many kind, accommodating people on our travels that it genuinely humbles you. We're staying here tonight, but with tonight being a late show, we're going to a barbecue with a gang of their friends, before heading to the venue. Jimmy Annihilation Time, whose girlfriend Christina is putting on the show tonight, is meeting up with us there too.

Ben and Aubrey’s kid, Axel. is four years old and quite mental. He's also extremely cute. The whole time we're there, he doesn't stop talking. Showing us demonstrations with his shoes, his sleeping bag (he's staying at a friends tonight on a sleepover), his magic penny that turns green in vinegar, explaining for us every step of what he's doing. We end up hanging on the street for a few minutes, whilst Ben and Aubrey get ready to follow us. Axel continues his running shoes demonstration by running back and forth and showing us how suddenly he can stop in his super sneekers. He also seems to be very fond of the word “penis”, and keeps saying it over and over in his cute little accent. Great kid.

We drive over to the house where the barbecue is at and hang out there for an hour, sitting around in the back yard with some of the Pittsburgh punk scenes finest. Ben has made some superb vegan bean burgers, and the beer is readily available. The back yard we're in is full of characters, including the likes of Jimmy and his friend, Sam Wicks, who is a character completely in his own right. He turns up in a suit, since he's been at a seminar about, from what I can gather, sliding screen doors? When he turns up in his attire, the other punks all piss themselves laughing. He takes it all in his stride though. Really mellow guy, he would fit right into a Kevin Smith movie. He seems to love Swedish punk rock too and latches on to Jon, firing a barrage of questions at him. The camaraderie between these people is a great thing to witness and I sit there, with a can of beer, slowly warming in my hand, wishing I could enjoy the experience. But I still haven't heard back from my wife yet.

We drive over to the venue around seven pm. and hang outside the venue, chilling out before we have to load in. Tonight is going to be another wild show by all accounts. There is this old guy hanging out on the steps outside the venue, which is a function room above a pub called Kopec's, who is absolutely off his fucking tits! He comes over and looks into the van and starts mumbling something, but only Matt can understand enough of what he's saying to be able to form any sort of reply. He's apparently telling us that we can load in whenever we want, and where to do it. Matt tells him the score, that we're in no rush and we're waiting for Jimmy to turn up, but the guys continues to babble on. I have to admit, I like the guy.

As he stoats off, Matt tells us that he is what they call a Yinzer. They're local to the city of Pittsburgh apparently. No sooner has the old boy stumbled off than is back at the van again, and the nonsense continues. And it continues, for the next thirty minutes, until we give up and decide to load in.

The load in is a bit of a bastard, since it's up a narrow flight of carpeted stairs. And it's already hot inside the room we're playing. The room itself looks great though. There is a small wooden dance floor in the middle of the room, which is no larger than sixty square meters. The rest of the room is carpeted floors, and there's no stage. Everything is set up in front of the wooden area of the floor. There is a small bar at the back of the room and beside that, a door leading out to a small balcony area, where we'll spend most of the night until it's our turn to go on. There are seven bands total tonight, so we're playing late.

After load in is done, I finally hear back from Jen. She hasn't been able to book a train ticket since all the trains are full. My heart almost stops for a second. I call her and do the only thing I can, which is to try and comfort her. She's in good spirits though, she's mainly upset about the fact that as it stands, we don't know when we're going to able to see each other again. My wife is an incredibly strong person, she amazes me really. I feel like a weak, panic stricken child compared to her.

It seems like the only to do now, is for Jen to get supplies and stay in her hotel room when the storm hits. I would do anything to be there with her now, or even swap our positions. I'll be making my way there as soon as the access into the city has opened again, whether we travel in the van or I take a train. We talk for a long while on the phone and there are times where I feel myself close to tears. The positive thing is that the storm does seem to be weakening a little, it's went from a category three to a two, and the signs are that it will continue to weaken. I just hope it weakens enough.

When we get to the end of the call, Jen tells me that she wishes I was there with her, but that I should have a good night and enjoy the show. I hope she knows how much I love her. We tell each other we'll stay in touch as much as possible and I'll call in the morning. The storm is due to hit New York City tomorrow night. They've told her that it is highly unlikely they'll evacuate the area the hotel is in, but they'll keep them up to date with everything. I know she'll be safe, I just hope the damage to the city isn't so bad that it hinders me getting to her at some point on Monday. Despite the shite situation we're in, I feel better having spoken to her. I always do.

The seven band event seems to go on for an eternity. There are a lot of punk kids turning up though, and it should be a good show for us. I spend most of the time hanging out on the balcony drinking beer, or in the van sharing sips of Johan's whisky. Pentagram are playing in the city tonight and Jimmy has been at the show to check them out. He gets back to the venue as we're sat outside in the van and he tells us that all the punks who were at the show know we're playing at midnight and they're coming down. We hang out in the street with Jimmy for a while. Jon's girlfriend, Ana, has been on tour with Annihilation Time in the past and Jon and Jimmy know each other through that. They're quite a pair, they really get on with each other. Jon ended up going on that tour with them for five days and claims that he shaved off five years of his life in that time. I guess there was a lot of drinking involved...

The show tonight is basically two tours combined, since there are four grind core bands who are out travelling together. The funny thing is they're all in the same van since three of the four bands are two-pieces, the other has three members. So there's those bands and then a couple of locals, one of which, Killer of Sheep, are awesome. They played rough, old New York hardcore style, punk rock, with the guitarist pulling out the odd Greg Ginn style guitar hooks. It was fun watching them. The crowd was getting pretty wild and to adding a little surrealism to things, there were even a couple of drunk crack-head ladies in the middle of it all. They were brilliant, just stood there going crazy shaking their tits to the music in their mini skirts and tight, leopard print tops. They turn up to a lot of the shows, according to Jimmy. Apparently when they really get into it, one of them in particular is known to latch on to the singer and start dry humping their leg. I'm not going anywhere near a fucking microphone tonight.

As is par for the course, there is no door on the cubicle of the shitter. I'd spotted it earlier and had been relieved that I hadn't needed a shit. I cracked up therefore on one occasion when I walk into the bog for a piss and find Johan sitting there doing a shit and Matt stood beside him taking a leak in the urinal. What the fuck can you do really? The attitude towards shitting in this country seems to be far more liberal than back home...

We end up playing a little before midnight. The place is pretty packed, and it kicks off the second we blast into V5. I notice that Matt is crouched down over by Jon, waiting to pounce if the crowd starts piling into the space in which we're playing. As I'm tuning up after the first block, I hear Matt on the mic, telling the crowd that if they keep smashing the mic into Johan's face, he's not going to be able to sing. They heed Matt's warning and manage to withhold themselves from doing Johan any damage, but sure enough, at one point during the show Matt receives a flailing boot in the jaw, sending his spinning. I honestly don't know any other driver who would put themselves in that position for the band hiring his van. He really is a legend, and luckily for us, he loves driving Victims on tour.

Tonight was probably the best show of the tour, as far as how fun and how crazy it was, and as I sit on the floor in front of my amp, gasping for breath, reflecting over everything, Jimmy comes up to me and plants a big, sloppy kiss on my forehead. Everyone is happy tonight. I just wish Jen was here with me.

After we've cooled off, we pack out, back down the narrow stairs and head back to Ben and Aubrey’s house, the two of them having long since disappeared into the night. We drop off our bags and head out to a local bar, where all the guys from the show are hanging out. It's a great little place, and we catch up with everyone over a couple of beers. Jimmy, Corey from Aus Rotten, Sam Wicks and all the others are there. It's a very relaxed end to the night.

We head back to Ben and Aubrey’s around two am. to get some sleep. When we get there, Ben greets us at the door in nothing but his kecks, looking pretty fucked. We go down to the basement where there is a bed and floor space for us. I have one last check on Hurricane Irene before I call it a night. She's now down to a category one. It's still weakening. All I can do is hope everything is going to be ok.


In the van, driving towards Cleveland now. We have about an hour to go. The load in tonight is late, around eight thirty, so we've got plenty of time to kill. Surprsingly enough, the guys want to go shopping.  

Woke up this morning and lay in bed watching the news for an hour or so. Hurricane Irene is looking like she's going to be a big fucking storm. I'm really starting to worry about Jen. She's flying in on Friday night. For a start I'm worried about her flight being cancelled and then if she does get in, she's going to be on her own at the hotel in Manhattan when the storm hits on Saturday night. I'm sure she'll be ok but the thought of her being there on her own if it gets bad scares the shit out of me.

Matt's been taking calls this afternoon from different people involved with the show on Sunday. As it looks right now, the show is very much in danger of being cancelled. There's not much you can do about a fucking hurricane! If it doesn't get cancelled then I guess we're going to be driving into the city on Sunday afternoon in some pretty interesting weather...There really doesn't seem to be a good way around this right now. All we can do is stay in touch with the people in New York and keep our eyes on the news.

We just pulled out of a service station, have about an hour to Cleveland. Jon is chuffed, he just saw a poster advertising some sort of burger that had the slogan, “Nobody high fives after eating tofu!” Jon thinks it's the best thing he's seen all tour.


Sitting by the merch table, second band of the night are about to go on. The mood is somewhat sombre as we try to figure out exactly what we're going to do this weekend, everyone just constantly keeping checks on the news about Hurricane Irene. As of now, Jen's flight is still secheduled with her landing in New York tomorrow at two pm. All I know is that however things work out, whether we travel straight to New York before they close the city down, or whether we travel up to Syracuse, I want to be with my wife. It all depends on what happens tomorrow when the storm hits the east coast, and what's going to happen with Johan and Andy's flights on Monday. If they have to be at the airport to await a new flight then we don't have much choice but to travel to New York after the Pittsburgh show tomorrow. Hell of a way for this tour to end.

There are a lot of people at the venue tonight anyway, and Masakari are playing next. Going to get myself a beer and try and enjoy tonight at least. Decision time for us us tomorrow, not a lot we can do about it right now.

Later still:

Strange night. The show itself was really good, but throughout the entire set I found myself thinking about this weekend, about Jenny coming in on her flight, about how we're going to sort out this mess once she gets here. It's looking like a real shitstorm is about to unleash on New York City.

The toilet situation at this venue was not ideal either. First off, the men's toilet had no door on the cubicle (what the fuck is that about really?), and then the toilet was broken anyway. I really needed to shit and decided to chance the women's. I walk in and I'm faced with two cubicles, both with doors, but neither of them has a lock or indeed a door handle. I choose the cubicle furthest in and sit down. The fucking door swings open so I have to go about my business using one hand to hold on to the door, which for good measure is only about three foot high. Just as I drop my load, someone else comes into the room and sits down in the cubicle beside me. Fuck. My shit stinks too. This is akward. I wait it out for a while but the girl in the cubicle beside me seems to be going nowhere. I have to get out of here. I pull up my kecks, whilst trying to keep the door from swinging open, and then go to leave. As I do the girl in the cubicle beside me is doing the exact same thing. Fucking embarrasing! The girl kind startles and I go, “Whoa, sorry!” like a complete fucking geek. I rush to leave but then decide to wait around and apologise for scaring her. She's actually really cool about it. I just sort of shoot off and hide somewhere after that. Is the concept of a funcitoning toilet door completely beyond comprehension in this fucking country?

I've heard a lot about how the Cleveland punk and hardcore scene is special. Jon told me about the time they played here on a previous tour with 9 Shocks Terror, about the crowd being brutal. When we loaded in earlier the girl working the sound asked us if we wanted to set up on the floor. The room itself was pretty cool, with a high stage at the one end and a big skateboard ramp at the other. Matt had warned us to take the stage, so we did, although I was thinking that it could have been fun to brave the floor.

After watching Masakari though, I understood why Matt told us to play on the stage. Three songs in, and the place just erupts. I'm stood by the side wall on a long bench, watching the show and a surge of about twenty people hurtle towards me and then hit the ground hard. They get picked up, but from there it just escalates. The singer from Masakari, Tony, is right in the middle of it all. Next thing I see, there is a large, plastic rubbish bin being thrown around aimlessly. Just I'm starting to think that somebody could really get hurt, Tony puts the bin over his head and shoulders and charges at the crowd, getting the shit beat out of him as he does so. The rest of their show carries on in the same fashion and how the band escape without any injury is totally beyond me.

Our show must have seemed pretty tame in comparison, although it was a lot of fun all the same. The lights up on the stage were shining brightly into my eyes, so I couldn't really see much of what the crowd was doing, but I could sense it. There were a load of people hanging off the front of the stage, at times they were up on stage with us. Within the first couple of blocks the stage had been drenched in beer, making it almost impossible to keep a footing. I found myself with my feet rigidly keeping a grip on the floor, whilst still trying to play as I normally would . It wasn't easy. Between each block of songs there was a lot noise, people shouting for old songs, people shouting at us that they'd been waiting a long time to see us.

In different circumstances I would have been really buzzing with this show...

After we played and packed down, we hung out with a lot of people at the merch table. The Masakari guys offered us their place to stay, which we were happy to take, but with Paul, the owner of the bar handing out the extra drink tickets, we hung out for a couple of hours, drinking pints of Cleveland's finest ale. I felt like I really needed it.

We got back to the Masakari house around two am. and sat on the front porch with Joe, their guitarist, for another couple of hours, drinking beer and shooting the breeze. At one point I get up to go to the toilet and find Jon in there, looking lost. I ask him what's up and he tells me he's having trouble with flushing the toilet. I tell him to move out of the way and let me fix it. For a long time at work we had problems with the toilet in the bar and after months of dealing with it, I now consider myself quite the expert with a plunger. I lift the toilet seat and reel back in horror at the sight of a bowl of brown, sludgy shit that is on the verge of overflowing. Jon stands there with a guilty little smirk on his face. The two of us go about ridding the house of this filfth for the next five minutes or so.

Quite literally a shitty way to end a strange day.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Today we had the longest drive of the tour. We left the motel just outside of Nashville, via a quick stop at Waffle House just after nine thirty am. and arrived outside the venue in Chicago just before six thirty pm. We've done far worse in the past but nine hours in the van is a long stretch whichever way you look at it.

It was good then that we started the day off with a solid breakfast at Waffle House. You can't argue with three eggs, hash browns and coffee for six dollars. One thing I really love about the south is how friendly the people who work in the service industry are. I know they're working for tips but still, the friendly middle aged waitress calling you “baby”, or “honey” every time you speak to them really makes you feel warm inside. Maybe I'm missing my wife, I don't know but I'm a sensitive guy and need some love every now and again.

So this is what a nine hour drive in a van, cutting north through four states on a barren highway looks like this:

Matt at the wheel, full on driving machine mode, earphones in, listening to either Iron Maiden, early Metallica or some hair metal band, focused on the road. “Sometimes listening to crappy heavy metal is very fulfilling” according to the man himself.

Andy sat behind me on the back seat, inflatable neck cushion supporting his head as it yo-yo's up and down, earphones in, some form of punk or hardcore playing to oblivious ears, the rest of us taking the odd photo of him now and again, purely for our own entertainment.

Jon sat behind the driver's seat, either reading a book about Russian prisons or something about the secret destiny of America or sleeping with his swollen, bare foot resting on the cooler box between the driver seat at the passenger seat. Jon actually sleeps more than any other person I know, in transit at least. He must have slept for at least seven of the nine hours we were in the van today.

Johan in the passenger seat, either the Jamie Carragher autobiography (a great book I might add) or playing Angry Birds on his Iphone.

And then there's me, sat behind Johan, either writing my diary, reading my Hank Williams book or looking over Johan's shoulder, hoping for a shot on his Angry Birds game. Today we actually passed an hour or so, playing a game of chess on Johan's Iphone. I won, I might add...

All things taken into account, the journey did not seem so bad today, we somehow even managed to avoid city traffic as drove over the Chicago Skyway and down into the city streets. We'd all been bitterly disappointed with yesterday's frankly awful Chinese buffet dinner and today we had our hearts set on some quality Mexican food, that is usually always really good in Chicago. So we were delighted when we pulled up to the venue and saw that the show was actually taking place at a Mexican restaurant. Or so we thought. It was actually a Cuban restaurant, but there was a Mexican restaurant on the next block, so we loaded in and went straight there. And it was good. Very good. The outlook for today was already positive.

The promoter for the show tonight was a young, friendly faced guy called Vito. The venue was actually a rectangle room connected via a hallway to the Cuban restaurant beside, with a long bar down the left wall and a low stage against the back wall. The place looked it had potential.

After we ate, we just kind of hung around outside the venue for a while, with not a whole lot to do. As is usually the case, it would have been fun to take a trip into the city and check it out for a while, but there just wasn't time. I've been to Chicago four or five times now, and have been lucky enough on one of those occasions to have a close to a whole day in the city, the other times have all been like today. It's definitely a place I would like to come back to on holiday sometime though. Anyway, being so full of Mexican food I thought I might puke, I decided to tag along with Andy and go for a walk. Johan stayed behind to set the merch table up, Jon still can't really walk far on that foot of his and Matt followed us as far as on block until he found a liquor store and decided to stock up the cooler in the van. Andy and I didn't get all that farther. We walked a couple of blocks, found a record and book store, checked that out, walked another couple of blocks and decided the area we were in was getting decidedly shady and turned back towards the venue. Still, killed a half hour or so.

When we got back to the venue an old friend of Johan and Andy's, from their home town of Nyköping, has turned up. Jonas is married with kids here in the States and has been living in Chicago for ten years. It's been close to fourteen years since the guys saw each other. It was really nice to meet him. We stood outside the venue, chatting away for a good while, before the three of them went off to the bar beside the venue. I headed into the venue and sat by the merch stall, watching the other bands and drank a couple of beers wit Jon.

The venue filled up steadily throughout the night. It was an early show tonight, we were playing at ten fifteen. By the time the third band went on the place was pretty full. It's good to be back in Chicago. I had a good time sitting by the merch table. We were selling pretty well and I got to meet a bunch of good people. At one point this girl came up to me and was telling me how much she loved the band. We got talking for a while and then she wanted to buy a shirt. I bent down under the table to pick out a shirt from the box underneath and knocked my can of beer all over the floor. Felt like a right tit. The girl insisted on buying me a new beer, which was very kind of her. And then she bought a t-shirt and refused to take any change from me. Another guy did exactly the same thing. Friendly town.

The old guy who owned the bar, Pancho, was another real character, in much the same way as Brad from Nashville was a character. Pancho was working the bar, and by working it, I really mean working it. He had an entertainment show all of his own going on. Very happy. Very vocal. A constant big cheese spread across his face, he stood and joked with the patrons of his bar the entire night. When the third and final support band were on stage, he pulled up a large percussion jug and a drumstick and starting jamming along with them. And then it was maracas. And the next thing you know, he's got a saxophone in his hands and he's jamming along with the band from behind the bar. He's fucking ace too! He can really play that thing. Before the show is over he's made his way on stage with the sax, cheesy grin spread wide across his face between blows, and he's jamming along with the noise core band, loving it. I stood there pissing myself. Great old guy.

By the time we go on stage, the place is filled out all the way to the back of the room and the it's buzzing. It's a great show, although I personally don't play that well. Just before we went on stage, the PA blew up, leaving only enough capacity for vocals to go through it. This being the case we have the amps cranked full and the feedback is pretty hard to control. There is a lot of energy on stage, and the room full of punks are giving a lot back, but I hear myself numerous times missing notes. It's probably only myself that notices it, but it still bugs me a lot. By the time we get to Nowhere in Time, about half way through the set, I've sorted it out. I feel a little disappointed in so much as what is turning out to be a great gig otherwise is being a little tainted personally by my sloppy playing. We're forced into an encore by the chanting crowd anyway, and we blast out the Avail cover again, which is quickly becoming a fixture in the set.

Afterwards, we hang out for a while at the bar, having packed down immediately after the show. I get talking to this friendly guy called Lee, who has just moved here from Philly. The girl from earlier, who's name is Britney, also comes over to chat. The three of us enjoy conversation until old Pancho starts closing down the bar, telling us that if we load out within the next ten minutes he'll shout us all a shot. We're done in around seven..

Unbelievably, the van has been given two fucking parking tickets, despite the fact we're parked in the loading area that the club itself pays for. Apparently Matt and the lady from the restaurant had gotten into an argument with the traffic police as it was happening, but the cop didn't want to know and stuck the ticket on the window anyway. The cunt comes back fifteen minutes later and bangs another one on, just for good measure. Matt couldn't really give much of a fuck to be honest, he doesn't have any intention of paying it. As it is, Pancho is annoyed by the incident and tells us he'll sort it out. He then ushers us back into the bar and dishes out the shots of Patron, which is beautiful and in all honesty, knocking it back in one is a waste of good tequila. But out of courtesy, I knock it back all the same. We sit there, chatting for a while, although Pancho is a little hard to understand, he seems like a really good guy though. Jonas is still hanging out as well. He was really impressed with the show, and we have a laugh talking about old times and old bands. Jonas played bass in a few of bands back in the day with such brilliant names as Metal Suicide, Concrete Heads and the curiously christened Mr. Hang Pike and Adam's Leave. Apparently Andy's first band shared a rehearsal space with Metal Suicide. Apparently Jonas was a really tight bass player, but the bands weren't so hot.

We say goodbye to Jonas, Vito and Pancho and then it's time to leave. After that shot I could easily be persuaded to go to a bar somewhere for a few drinks, take in Chicago for a while, but it's not to be. We don't really have anywhere to stay tonight, so we have no choice but to take in a roadside motel again. Which means that Matt has to drive again unfortunately and understandably wants to get it over with, after so many hours already clocked up on the road today. We're expecting a good party tomorrow in Cleveland anyway, since we're staying around and the drive to Pittsburgh the day after is only two hours. Chicago is definitely on the list of places to visit without the band in tow though, although it's been on that list for years now..

As we drive out of the city Matt spots a large casino off in the distance to the left. We discuss the idea of staying there tonight, since the rooms are always really cheap at casino's, being that they want you to spend all your money on gambling instead. We decide to go for it. Maybe tonight we will have a party tonight anyway.

As we approach the casino, we're all in the back of the van, gearing ourselves up for a night of booze and gambling, Matt threatening to take all of our money from us. He's quite the poker player. Of course, we pull up to the parking house, looking in vain for a place to park the van, there seems to be height restrictions on all the parking lots, and the guy tells us there is no hotel at the casino. Fuck. That's that idea fucked then. We head back out to the highway, stopping at a run down petrol station to buy crisps and other shite and then go back to looking for a Red Roof Inn.

Losing a hour through the time zone, we find one just before four am. Matt does the usual and sorts one room out for the four of us, meaning we have to sneak in through the side door. Matt even charms the lady behind the desk into giving us an extra hour in the morning to check out since we arrived so late.

I've been sitting in my sodden wet t-shirt since we came off stage. I desperately need to shower.


On the road again. Today we're crossing into the central time zone, making our way to Nashville. The scenery is beautiful, crossing the Blue Ridge Mountains.

We met up with Jason for breakfast in the city today before we left. He took us to this great vegetarian café. Really cool place. The food was superb although the coffee was shite, but we drink so much coffee on tour that one bad mug here and there has to be expected. After we ate and said goodbye to Jason, we took a quick trip to the local record store, Static Age, which is a great little shop. I picked up a few lp's and we sold a few Victims records in return. Nice, relaxing start to the day, despite the nagging ache in my head from last nights ale...

Matt just told us that there is a hurricane heading towards the east coast this weekend. We're playing New York on Sunday, which is when it's supposed to hit. Thankfully Jen is flying in on the Friday, so her flight should be fine. It's going to be a right kick in the balls if our few days together in New York at the end of this tour are fucked by a hurricane, but as long as she gets here I don't care.

Only a few minutes after we got the call about the hurricane Matt's phone rings again. Johan turns the music on the stereo off when we hear the tone in Matt's voice, “What?!”. When he hangs up he tells us there has been a pretty big earthquake in Richmond. It takes him a while to get through to anyone, and Sarah's phone doesn't seem to be working. Eventually he gets through to Mike, one of the guys from Direct Control who lives at his house, and then Chris, who works with Sarah and it seems everybody is ok. Apparently it was pretty fucking hairy though. Mike had been sitting by his drum kit in the basement when all of a sudden the whole house started shaking. We heard later that there have been quakes in New York and Colorado to. Weird. Matt says it first, although Jon is right behind him in his thoughts, 2012 is fucking coming. Matt says he's ready for it. Jon agrees. Jon just bought a knife at a gas station this morning, maybe he feels more comfortable now that he's got something to put in his concealed weapons pockets in that leather vest of his...

We're only an hour away from Nashville now. Making good time.


Today has been the epitome of life on the road. It's a late show in Nashville tonight and even though we got here for load in time around six pm, the club closed again until eight thirty. All we've done is wait around. Before we started out on tour I was really looking forward to coming to Nashville. For a start, my friend Mary, who I tour managed for a few shows a while back, lives here. I was hoping to meet up with her and get some coffee, hang out, see the Grand Ole Opry amongst other things. In actual fact all we've seen is a plate of shite Chinese food at a strip mall somewhere and the inside of a bar across the road. All these cities you travel to and you get to see fuck all. At one point we retreated back to the van and waited for the club to re-open. We just sat there in silence with that air conditioning on. I get how it must look to people back home when they see the places you're travelling to, but if they understood what it was really like they might not be so jealous. Not that I'm complaining, I'm just saying that it's not exactly like going on holiday. At least I've got a decent book to read in the new Hank Williams biography.

We did have the pleasure of meeting the in-house sound engineer when we arrived here earlier. I thought he said his name was Rat at first, but it turns out it was Brad. Brad is a big old boy and quite a character. The whole time we loaded in, he sat in his sound booth cracking bad jokes, such as when Andy carried in the fan he has behind him on stage in an attempt to keep him from passing out, “What's this? You brought your biggest fan with you?”. I like him a lot.

Now I'm sat in a room at the side of the stage, charging my computer and checking up the latest on the hurricane hitting this weekend. If the reports are correct then it will hit New York City around eight pm. on Sunday night, right about the time the final show of this tour should be starting. At least Jen's flight shouldn't be affected. It's still over thirty degrees outside, and inside this club it must be even hotter. Tonight's show should be good by all accounts anyway, although a little late, which kind of sucks since we have an eight hour drive to Chicago tomorrow. I think we're taking a roadside motel tonight. This dressing absolutely stinks of body odour, I have to get out of here.

The first band just finished. They only played for around fifteen minutes. Brad, shocked by the length of their set just shouted down the monitor mic, “Is that it?!” to which one of the guys in the band replied, “Yeah that's it, what more do you need?”. “Fuck!” was all Brad had to say in reply to that.

Later still:

At the motel now.  Luckily for us Matt gets a good discount on roadside motels through his van insurance.  The Road Warrior always comes up trumps!  Even though it's boring for us sitting in a van all day, at least we have Matt driving.  He's like a machine.  Hopefully when we tour the west coast next year, he'll fly out and do the tour with us. 

Nice to lie in a bed as always, even if it's a bed I have to share with Johan. The kids at the show tonight were hounding Matt about us staying in town to party at someone's house, they were actually on his case about it. It might have been fun but with an eight hour drive to Chicago tomorrow nobody was really in the mood. We must be getting old.

The show tonight was fun, although there was only about fifty people there, including other bands, and we didn't really get paid all that much. It really is hard for us to make good money out here, but then I guess it's the same for American bands touring Europe. All the same, I enjoyed the show. The venue was a really good spot with a decent stage and the people that were there were really into the show. A lot of them hung out afterwards to chat and buy merch.

The second band of the night tonight were really great. A young band called Dawn who played a discordant, noise mixed now again with some d-beat stuff. We got a couple of their vinyl after the show that I'll gladly take home with me. I think I'm up to around forty records on this tour now, with over a week to go that number will most likely increase. I'll have to book another item of luggage on the flight back to bring them all home.

It's two thirty am. Some funny Will Ferrel movie is on the tv, Matt has gone to sleep in his van outside. Nashville wasn't all I hoped it would be, but tomorrow is another day. I'm looking forward to Chicago tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


After a nine hour sleep at Matt's place I felt as good as new. I felt almost sad saying goodbye to Matt's house and his family. Hanging out with his two dogs made me feel a little homesick. It kind of fucks you up a little when you're in the middle of a tour and you camp at a base for a few days. You get used to a certain kind of home life again. Matt was saying that three nights in his own bed has sent him completely off kilter, since he's so used to sleeping in his van with the edge of the bench seat in his back.

The six hour drive in the van didn't feel too bad to be honest. We have longer drives ahead over the next few days, so we may as well get used to it anyhow. Asheville is set pretty high in the Blue Ridge Mountains and the climb up to the city along the highway offered some beautiful scenery. We arrived at Jason, the promoter's house around six thirty pm. We hung out there for a while on his front porch, drinking PBR and watching the sun go down. Jason, a really good guy that the rest of the band have met on previous tours, made us all an incredible pot of vegan curry. As usual, the hospitality of friends on the road blew me away. There were another couple of guys there, friends of Jason's, who were practising downstairs in the basement. Seems like most people we meet out here have bands practising in their basements. At Matt's place, as well as his band Parasytic rehearsing there, both Vulture and Direct Control used the space too. That simply would not be able to happen in Stockholm..

We drove down to the venue around nine, Asheville being a late town apparently. When we arrived the first thing we saw was a marquee with Victims Tonight on it. It's not every day on tour you see that. We stood in front whilst Matt took band photos, of course. When we'd jumped out of the van in front of the club, we got to small talking with a lady who was stood there with her young infant daughter for a couple of minutes. Before they left the cute little girl gave Jon a hug around the waist. It really touched Jon. He had tears welling up in his eyes for a moment there.

The venue itself was a great little bar with a floor space and a low stage off to the corner. There was a small beer garden out back, where Jon and I retreated to with a pint. I had a good feeling about the night ahead as we sat there in the warm night air, watching a steady stream of people paying in to the club.

We'd been sitting there a while when a scruffy looking guy in a top hot approaches the guy working the door, who is sat at a small table with an old lamp on it in front of the entrance. I hear Top Hat asking something about getting hooked up with some power for a couple of spot lamps, whilst also mentioning something about a side show... As I'm wondering who the fuck this guy is, Jon spots an old school bus parked over in the lot. Jon wants to go check it, so I follow with him.

Top Hat is there along with another guy, who is your more typical crust punker. We ask if we can have a look around there bus, which they're more than happy to oblige. Top Hat introduces himself to us as Mux, his friend as Chris. They tell us they're a travelling side show, that live in this bus of theirs that they bought for three hundred bucks. They've been out on the road, living in this thing for over three months now. Apparently they've arranged to perform out in the beer garden between each of the bands tonight, doing all sorts of nonsense like hammering nails into their nostrils, all for nothing but tips. The night just took an interesting and unexpected turn, I thought to myself. Mux and Chris turned out to be really nice guys and it was really cool of them to let us see their travelling home.

The guys were really interested in Victims and were asking us a lot of questions about what it's like touring overseas. They told us that they'd never even been out to the west coast of the States, nevermind abroad. It makes you realised how privileged we are to be doing what we're doing, even when the going is tough at times, we're still out here at the end of the day, thousands of miles from home, playing our music to punk kids. I know people who would give anything to do what we do. I'm grateful to be here.

Jason's band, Otark, were first up tonight and by the time they went on there was a good crowd in the place. They've only been playing for five months and haven’t' recorded yet, but they sounded great. They played a real epic, dark style of hardcore, kind of mixing up the sounds of bands like Fall of Efrafa and Tragedy. I stood down front with Matt and enjoyed every minute of it. Great to have such a good crowd in on a Monday night too. Matt had insured us that Jason always put on great shows and it seemed like tonight would be no exception.

Right on cue, Mux starts his side show out in the garden. I had to check it out. Sure enough, he's there hammering a nail into his nostril with a bean can. There has to be easier fucking ways of making a living! There were a good load of people gathered round, watching him as he entertained the punks with this madness. Earlier on, Mux had mentioned something about having a pig's head in a jar for his final act of the night. That was something I could happily skip looking at, thanks all the same Mux.

The second band of the night were called Just Die. Really nice guys it seemed. At one point during their set they mentioned that they had a record for sale at their merch table, but then urged the crowd to buy our merch ahead of anyone else's. “If you're going to buy anything tonight, buy Victims merch. Do you know where those guys come from? Sweden! Can you drive here from there? No you fucking can't!”. I thought this was a superb gesture. It is a lot harder for us to make money from shows here in the States, compared to how it is in Europe, we come to the States mainly because it's fun and it's a privilege that we're lucky enough to have. It's amazing to get that sort of support from local bands here, just as the other night with the Furnace guys. In Europe, you make good money from shows, but the downside there is that the local bands are notorious for playing way over their allotted stage time, often playing encore after encore. Local heroes I call them. To be honest, it's not so common in the hardcore scene, but I've witnessed some bullshit whilst out on tour with other bands.

There was another local band, called Megahurz, who shared a guitarist with Just Die, that were going to play after us tonight. It made sense for us, since they're a renowned local party metal band and a lot of people where in all probability in attendance to see them as well as us. So we went on ahead of them to a packed room. It turned out that we had a big support from the crowd anyway, the show was an absolute blast!

We belted through the set and the crowd kicked off from the get go. Even old Mux was down front, seemingly having a great time! I belted a guy in the elbow with the head of my guitar, but thankfully both guitar and elbow were fine. The crowd constantly surged back and forth, now and again spilling onto the stage, so it was hard to avoid keeping people out of the firing line. At one point near the middle of the set, the girl working behind the bar appeared on stage with shots of whiskey for us. It was a real party atmosphere. The barmaid and another friend then stood side stage, over on Jon's side, chanting something about Sweden. Before the set was over, she came once again with another round, as well as another at the end of the set, although by then she was just filling the whole glass straight from the bottle. In that heat it actually tasted pretty foul and I had to put it aside, I was gasping for water not bourbon. Appreciated it all the same though. We played the Avail cover again, since it had been requested (news travels fast on the net it seems) and when we were done there were long shouts for more. The barmaid and her friend, both of who were by then pretty boats, were chanting “Take us with you to Sweden!”. At one point during the set, such was the party atmosphere, Jon asked the crowd if this was really Monday night. Needless to say, we were all buzzing from the show as we cooled off in the car park outside before loading the van.

Megahurz were indeed a party!. And something I totally had not got, until they went on stage, was that the pissed up barmaid was actually their bass player. They brought a real fun end to a great show. Afterwards we hung out by the merch, refilling pitcher after pitcher of complimentary beer from the bar. It was really good ale too. What more could you ask for? At one point I spilled Andy's whiskey all over the merch table since he was a fool enough to leave it there. Only minutes after clearing it up pissed barmaid girl comes over with another pitcher. She's pretty grabby by now and looking for hugs. She plonks the pitcher on our merch table, goes to hug Johan and in doing so knocks the pitcher over our merch table again, this time Johan's trucker cap taking most of the hit. Johan looked pretty gutted but I thought it was hilarious! I guess I was feeling pretty tipsy myself by that point...

Before we left Matt proved to us that he actually does like pickled eggs. I don't know how we got to talking about them the other day but it turns out Matt is the only person I know who likes them. And of course, they had them in a glass jar behind the bar. We all stood around and watched him eat one, as if he himself was performing in a touring side show. If only Mux knew it was this easy! Jon was the only one of us who dared try one of the disgusting little bastards, but after one solitary chew, he walked calmly to the toilet, albeit with a look of horror on his face, and spat the thing out. Credit to him for trying it, all for the cause of our amusement.

We ended up getting back to Jason's place around two am. There was more beer on offer on the porch and we had some Sam Adams in the cooler in the van, but I could barely manage one before I had to go to bed. One of the last things I remember before hitting the hay was Jon coming out of the shower and the rest of us looking at each other in amazement. It's not something he does that often on tour...

Jason had a few dogs around the house, all of which were really cute, and I remember trying to get one to lie on the mattress with me where Johan was going to sleep later, but the little pooch was having none of it. He lay there for a while but when Johan came stumbling towards the back bedroom where I'd crashed a little while before, he hopped up and left. So as usual, it was Johan and I sharing a bed. Seems to be a common occurrence on this trip.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


We just left Richmond. We've been staying there for the last couple of days. I was a little sad to leave the place. We have a lot of friends there and it's almost felt like home this weekend. We had breakfast with Dave Witte and China this morning before leaving, which was a nice way to end our short hiatus in Richmond. We're now on the road to Asheville in North Carolina, which is about a six hour drive. The last couple of days have been a lot of fun...

We had the day off on Saturday. We woke up at Matt's place, where there are a bunch of other friends staying, people like Mark and Christina who made the trip down from Boston, amongst others. Matt's wife, Sarah, made us all breakfast in the morning and we sat on the sofa in front of the tv, eating scrambled eggs, drinking coffee and watching Liverpool beat Arsenal. Superb start to the day.

We headed over to the Best Friends Day Fest in the van around two pm. What can I say about this event? Simply put, it's absolutely insane! The festival is staged over four days at different venues around the city of Richmond. On Saturday, the event was held at a water park, a very basic water park I must add, with a stage set up next to the pool. We arrived at around two-thirty pm, by which time most people there were steamboats. It's basically like spring break for punks. The pool was were most of the action was at. Hundreds of pissed punk guys and girls, half naked, some completely naked, diving off boards, jumping off rope swings, drinking all sorts of booze. It was pretty chaotic and probably slightly dangerous. They'd actually dyed the colour of the water in the pool a deep blue, the rumours being the reason for that was to hide all the hard-ons, but in reality the more likely reason being an overdose of chlorine. I can only imagine how much drunken piss was in that pool. When the bands were playing there were girls stage diving wearing nothing but bikinis, some wearing less than that. It was quite a sight. And it was hot. Very fucking hot.

It must have been around thirty five degrees Celsius. At times it was unbearable, standing around in the heat. I drank a couple of beers when we arrived, but it just made me feel weird so I switched to water. Jon, being Jon, spent the entire day wearing his leather waistcoat vest over a hooded top, bandanna and sunglasses, hood pulled up over his head. How the fuck he could stand it I'll never know!

It was great seeing everyone. There are so many people who we know here. It reminds me of Stockholm in the sense that it's a small musical community where everyone plays in bands. We hung out with Witte and the Municipal guys, Tony Waste being one of the main guys behind the festival, the Baroness people as well as our old friend Erik Larson and his wife Chris. Best Friends Day really is the perfect name for this festival since that's exactly what it is.

There were some great shows during the day, 7 Seconds were great as well as Against Me, although Baroness completely stole the show. What an amazing group of musicians they are. I spotted Jon from the side of the stage, stood in the crowd in the blazing hot sunshine, hood still pulled up over his head, leather vest still on, fist passionately clenched, punching the air. He'd been looking forward to this show for ages. He told me later that he “only” cried three times during their set...

When we'd arrived in the van, we'd been forced into leaving our cooler box with the security people, since there was no glass allowed into the water park. We had a lengthy discussion about it, but the security people weren't budging. Fair enough, rules are rules, but we were pretty pissed off when we collected our cooler box at the end of the day, only to find that the cunts had drunk a load of our beer.

Another weird thing I saw when we arrived was a group of hobo punks, hanging around outside the festival entrance. I don't get these fucking guys. We're waiting to drive into the festival whilst discussing the cooler box problem with the security, when one of these dirty punk guys walks up to Matt's open window and says, “Give me some money”. Matt curtly informs him that he's not giving him shit. The cunt just stands there staring at him like he's been wronged in some way. Matt politely tells him to fuck off. These guys apparently are quite a common sight in the US. And they're always trouble, starting fights and robbing people and the like. Matt tells us you just have to be firm with them and they'll piss off. Only a few minutes later, whilst we're still trying to resolve the cooler issue, one comes around to my side where the door is open and starts demanding something from us. He asks me what band we're in, to which I tell him we're in no band. He stands there calling us liars for a few seconds before mooching off to where he came from. Seriously, what the fuck is the deal with these people?

The day was over by about eight pm, right after the Against Me show was finished. We were about to leave in the van when a big scuffle kicked off on the road right outside the main gate. Within seconds there were a load or police cars and ambulances and everything was dispersed. Apparently what had happened was that an old guy had come driving along the road in his jeep and had been confronted by a herd of punk kids, refusing to get out of his way. Eventually the old boy just puts his foot on the gas and runs over some girls foot. I don't think the old boy really meant to hurt anyone, I think he was most likely just scared. Anyway, as soon as this happens everyone goes crazy and starts attacking the poor old guy in his car. Real angry mob stuff. The police soon broke it all up, but the old guy was really shaken. I felt bad for him. The police then had to divert us and everybody else towards the other exit. Weird end to the day. Tony told me the day after that they'd actually found a body in the river, right next to the festival site, although the police thought it had nothing to do with the festival. As nice a place as Richmond is, it is still America at the end of the day, and in that, such a very different place to where we come from.

I know horrible stuff happens back home now and again, but here a body in the river is just an everyday occurrence. For instance, when we drive back to Matt's place, we stop at at a garage to pick up some beer and snacks. There is an armed sheriff guy guarding the place. Matt tells us that only a few weeks ago, he'd came in here in the middle of the day and walked right into an ongoing armed robbery. They put a gun to his head, robbed him of the seventeen dollars he had in his wallet, and told him to leave. Since then they've had the sheriff guarding the place. If that happened to me I'd most likely be scarred for fucking life, to Matt, it's just life. I don't get it. I don't really want to get it.

Anyway, we ended the night sat on Matt's porch drinking beer. A fine way to end the night. John and the Baroness guys as well as the No Tomorrow people were hanging out too. Jon had John showing him Baroness guitar riffs at one point. I've never seen Jon so happy. Apparently he also got to hear a couple of demos from the new Baroness record, which John played for him upstairs in secret. They had played a couple of new songs during their set and they sounded great. Really looking forward to hearing the new album.

One by one, everybody flaked off, leaving Johan, Andy, Matt and myself left on the porch. It was one of those nights where every beer we opened was the “last beer”. I love the whole porch thing. I wish we had that back home. By the time it really was the “last beer” we were all pretty drunk. Andy was at the point where he was slurring his words, his English getting less and less decipherable and he kept stumbling down the steps to the yard. We've all been taking it relatively easy on this tour though, except Jon, so we were due a late night and a few drinks.

The next day, yesterday, it was our turn to play.

If Saturday was the party day, then Sunday was definitely the hangover day. That was the overall feeling submerging the entire day. I didn't feel to sharp myself, although one look at Andy in the morning made me feel a lot better.

The venue for our show was at a biker's lot, or in English, a row of garages in an industrial estate on the south side of Richmond. All of our friends were there again, the likes of Witte and Erik, as well as the Waste guys. Tony had a bit of a go at us when we arrived since we were a bit late. We had to load in through the already building crowd at the front gates. It's not so usual to see Tony stressed out. The same security guards, the fuckers who drunk our beer, were there again. Matt had a go at them later on in the day, they didn't deny an charges thrown at them either.

We set up our merch alongside the Jesuit and COC guys, underneath a small tent near the entrance. It was nice to good Nate again, he's such a chilled out, humble guy and always fun to be around. It was the last ever Jesuit show yesterday, so it was fun to be a part of that. They, by all accounts, didn't enjoy the best of shows though. The sound out front was pretty bad, as it was for every band. It's hard to get a decent sound from an outdoor stage though, you just have to make the most of it.

We hung out for the afternoon with the Jesuit guys, sharing beers and having a laugh. Their bass player is a real character. He's a big, strong looking fucker who constantly takes the piss out of everybody around him. I didn't know what the fuck to make of him at first but within a short while realised that I really liked the guy.

I thought Saturday was hot, but yesterday was something else. It was all you could do to find a slither of shade somewhere in that parking lot. At one point during the afternoon, Woody from COC was standing next to our merch and we were indulging in a bit of small talk, when this geeky looking metaller walks up to Woody with a notepad and pen and asks him he minds answering a few questions. Sure enough, he starts firing all these real train spotter type questions at him, going into minute detail about certain solos from COC records and so on. I've truly never heard anything like it. The guy goes on for a good fifteen minutes, the whole time, Woody, in an admirable show of patience and understanding, doing his best to answer the guy. Respect to you for that Woody.

One of the highlights of the day was undoubtedly the second band of the day, Little Ozzy. Yes, they were exactly what it sounds like. A band of rocker guys with a dwarf/midget/little person (I'm not sure what the term is), dressed as Ozzy singing Ozzy songs. Fucking brilliant! Matt thought it was the best thing he'd ever seen. He loved every second of it. I had to go down the front to check it out, it's not every day you see something like that. I passed Jon who was stood near the back of the lot, with his jaw hanging in amazement. I asked him if he was coming down the front to check it out properly, to which he replied, “I'm not taking one fucking step closer!”. I forgot he's scared of dwarves/midgets/little people...

As Jesuit took to the stage the sky was turning a menacing shade of black. Tony was starting to worry since there wasn't even a marquee covering the stage. There was rumour that if it started pissing down they'd have to move the show to a club in town but in actual fact there was no such Plan B, such is the relaxed atmosphere of this event. Indeed, as Jesuit finished their set and Iron Lung were setting up to go on, the heavens opened up and it started to piss down! Jon and I were at the merch stand, the tent covering it not being rain proof in the slightest, packing up the gear as quickly as possible and hiding it under the table. Johan and Matt were on stage with a few others, doing their best to cover the stage with a tarpaulin, Andy covering up our gear that was out in the open backstage. A thunder and lighting storm broke out right above us and everyone at the show ran for the cover of their cars, the place emptying out in minutes. Jon and I stood at the merch stand, soaked to the fucking bone. Jon was panicking about his leather vest being damaged due to it being wet.

Luckily the storm soon passed, although not before a couple of huge thunder claps. I got quite nervous when the Jesuit guitarist noted that we were in fact stood under what was principally a lightning rod. If anyone was really in danger though, it was Matt, who was stood on the middle of the stage, holding a metal bar which the tarpaulin was hanging from, doing his best to save the stage and it's gear. He laughed about it later, wondering what the fuck he was doing. Surely, your dedication to the cause has to have some sort of limit.

When the rain stopped, the place was bone dry again within fifteen minutes such was the heat. Iron Lung got up and played and they were fucking great! For a two piece, they are a hell of a grind band. The singer has a bit of Paul Bearer about him, taking the piss out of certain members of the crowd. It was great fun watching them.

And then it was our turn. I could sense the guys were a little nervous. We'd been planning to play an Avail cover in Erik Larson's honour. Of course, Avail were a classic Richmond band and it was a little nerve racking playing one of their songs on their home turf. There had been rumours that Avail would perform a special one off reunion for this show, but it wasn't to be, so instead we'd represent on their behalf.

The sound on stage was surprisingly good, but I knew fine well the sound out front, at least anything past the first ten meters, would be dogshit. Something Matt was sad to confirm after the show. I think we played really well though. I really enjoyed the set and the crowd were very receptive. The only thing that pissed me off was this one big, stupid twat who was throwing beer cans at the stage for the entirety of the set. I'd noticed him earlier in the day, hard not to really since he'd been loudly making his presence known to everyone around him, just shouting his mouth off all the time. A boring twat basically.

Apart from him, the show went down a storm though. We had some friends side stage who seemed to be really enjoying the show, which as always, makes me play all the harder. It was a fun time up there. And the Avail song went better than we could have hoped for. Jon gave a really nice speech beforehand, explaining what an influence Avail had been on Victims, and dedicated the song to Erik. It was a hell of a buzz playing that song as the crowd went nuts. I caught a glimpse of Erik who looked quite moved, according to Jon,his wife Chris was down the front taking photos with a tear in her eye. I'm glad it came off so well.

After we played we had to wait around until COC were finished up with their set before we could load out. I felt bad in a sense because Jen is a huge COC fan and she was really disappointed that she couldn't make it out here for these shows. I felt obliged to watch them in her honour. I'd heard the rumours that they weren't that great live any more and I'm afraid those rumours proved to be true. Not even when they played Kiss of Death did it arise much of a stir within me. It was cool to see that classic, original line-up playing together again, and it was nice to see how happy Reed Mullin looked when I told him Blind is one of my wife's favourite records, but the live show just seemed to drag on and on. It was like the party was over but they were refusing to accept it. By the time they were done I was dying to get out of there. I have a huge amount of respect for COC and their records, but if they'd played a half hour instead of their marathon set I probably would have enjoyed it a little more. Quite sad really. They really were a good bunch of guys too.

We loaded out in super quick time and made our way into the city, to stop by one of the clubs still with shows going on, the last bastion of Best Friends Day weekend. Matt had friends he wanted to say hello to so we made a quick stop and had a pint, the first real beer of the day, a great pint of a local IPA. We bumped into Witte again. It's always great to hang out with him, one of the nicest guys you could meet. He was hoping to make it up to New York next week for our final show of the tour but he now has some other music commitments. Not surprising really, the guy is constantly doing something with his drums. It was good to see him this morning for breakfast anyhow. I think I'll come over here for a holiday with Jen sometime in the future and spend some real time with our friends here. On tour, time is always fleeting.

On the way back to Matt's we'd got the news that a Swedish hard line right wing organisation has used the Victims skull logo on their website. This is fucked up! I don't know what the fuck they think they're doing, they've just taken our logo direct from our website for their own use. WE had a look at their web page and sure enough, there was the logo, slap bang in the middle. Sickening. Andy mailed them immediately, letting them know that we wished the logo to be removed immediately and that we don't wish to be associated with their organisation. In fairness, they mailed back this morning and apologised, telling us that they would remove the logo and didn't realise that it belonged to us. Weird.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Been on the road for a little while now. Been listening to the last Roky Erickson and Coliseums records. We're in no rush today. Not really much to do in Baltimore before we load in. Not sure how tonight's show is going to be. We're back in a major city but Best Friend's Day starts tonight, just down the road in Richmond. We knew it could be tricky planning shows around and so close to a big festival. We'll see. I know one thing, and that's that I wish Pg. 99 were playing their reunion show tomorrow when we're there on our day off, and not tonight.

We had a really good breakfast with Meghan this morning at this cool corner café we'd been to the last time we were over. They do all ecological bagels and baguettes and a great mug of coffee. We hung out there for a while, enjoying a perfectly relaxed start to the day. As we were planning the day ahead with Matt, Meghan mentioned there was a pretty cool used record store a few blocks away...

I bought seven lp's for fifty five dollars, including a vinyl copy of a Jesus Lizard album I've been looking for for a while. I also picked up Crucial Section and Direct Control albums amongst others. Very productive start to the day.

We're now about a half hour from Baltimore. We're going to pull of the highway and take a visit to Guitar Centre. We don't have to be at the venue for another few hours. Jon's foot is still pretty swollen. I think Matt is going to take him to the hospital tomorrow since we have the day free. Liverpool – Arsenal tomorrow. We're heading back to Matt's tonight and we're taping the game and watching it when we get up in the morning. Looking forward to our day off tomorrow.


Sitting outside the venue in the van. The place is an oblong room with a stage at the back wall. And that's about it. Fifty kids here will be enough to make it a good night. We got here a few hours ago and have been killing time doing pretty much nothing. Johan, Andy and I took a walk a few blocks and got some coffee at a Barned & Noble book store, took care of about an hour. I took advantage of the pristine toilets they had there since Jon had blocked the bog at the venue earlier. He actually had to go and ask the promoter kid help him flush his turd away!

Earlier when we arrived I witnessed Matt reverse park the van into the tightest space I've ever seen. We're talking millimetres here, although there was the odd little nudge here and there. “That's why they call it a bumper!”, Matt says, looking pretty chuffed with himself.

I'm now in the van with Jon and Matt, Jon is resting up his foot which is still pretty swollen, sipping a bottle of whiskey from a brown paper bag. I had a couple of sips, although purely for medicinal purposes of course. We just watched a “The Wire” style drug deal go down, just a few yards ahead of us. I can't honestly say I saw that much, but Jon is completely convinced. Baltimore really is a rough city though. Matt told us earlier to keep ourselves within a three block radius of the venue since it gets pretty bad around here. The third band of five are about to go on. The band Full of Hell are on right before us. I seen those guys in Stockholm a while ago at Kafe 44. Nice guys and a good band.

Later still:

Sitting in the dark in the back of the van, listening to Baroness' The Red Album, getting geared up for our day off tomorrow. I've never seen Baroness play live before. Looking forward to that. It's been a pretty hectic week that started in Belgium seven days ago.

The show tonight felt like hard work. There weren't that many kids in, maybe around twenty at most, with members of the other four bands making up the numbers. It looked ok in the room but for the bright lights been on throughout the show. There was a good response to the set though. It was the playing itself that was hard going. Theft almost fell apart at one point when Andy dropped a stick and pulled up a wrapped pair together instead of a stand alone stick. He almost came to a stand still as he stood there looking at his double stick all confused.

It didn't make things easier for us either that Jon's foot is now the size of a balloon and I had a face full of snot again. It was hard to breathe at some points, especially with the place being as hot as a boiler room, the industrial size fan at the back of the stage blowing nothing but a warm fart around the stage. By the time we reached the end of the set, finishing with Broken Bones and skipping Scars, I was more than done.

We packed up super quick after the show and got on the road to Richmond, back to Matt's house. Jon's foot looks pretty bad and he's saying he wants to be dropped off at the emergency room when we get to Richmond but it's hard to know how much of what he's saying is coming from him and how much is coming from the bottle of bourbon he's been supping on all night. We'll have to see how it looks in the morning.

Even later:

We just got back to Matt's new house. The place is amazing! It's one of those classic southern houses that is over one hundred years old, with the wrap around porch and the big yard out back. I slept most of the way between Baltimore and Richmond but got a second wind from somewhere when we got here, but after one beer I'm done and now going to bed in one of the many rooms in this huge house.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


We've had a pretty easy today. The drive was only a couple of hours. Felt good sleeping in a real bed last night, even if me and Johan were pretty much ass to ass.

The weather is starting to resemble the summer as you'd expect it. Blue skies, hot in the shade. We picked up some breakfast from a local diner in Milford this morning. Two eggs, sunny side up please. The lady who served us was a pretty sweet woman. It's always embarrassing going through the motions when they clock you're a band, not that hard I guess, and then they start asking you what kind of music you play and what the name is and all that crap. It's the same expression on the face every time when you tell them...vacant.

We've been listening to some good stuff in the van these last few days. Tom Petty, Maiden, Roky Erickson, The Police...who the fuck needs to listen to hardcore in the van all day when it's all you here all night? Not me. Funny though, for the most part Andy sits in the back with his headphones on.

We've only got a couple of hours drive today, so of course, we're going to an outlet centre. Johan and Andy really like to shop! After that we'll head on over to the venue for around six pm. We're right on the coast tonight and there is talk of crashing at one of Matt's friends places near here tonight and then spending a few hours at the beach of the Jersey Shore tomorrow. I'm hoping this is going to happen.

Matt has just let it slip that he has to take his shirt off when he takes a shit, no matter where he is. I almost just coughed up a lung when he let that one go! Upon obvious further enquiries he told us that the reason for this strange behaviour is that when he was a kid growing up with his sisters, he used to wear their long night-shirts around the house a lot since he didn't have much of his own stuff. Once when he went to do a shit the night-shirt he was wearing dropped down into the toilet and he shat all over it, although he didn't realise this until he'd walked out of the bog. Since then he's had a mental barrier when it comes to dropping his guts that means he has to take his shirt off. Superb.


We went to the outlet store. We were there for a few hours shopping. No, let me correct that. Johan and Andy were. I picked up a pair of Vans within ten minutes, looked at a pair of jeans, decided I would save my money on tour for records and leave the shopping until Jenny comes over at the end of this tour when we have a few days in New York, got some fish and chips from a cheesy food court, took a couple of turns on a rather brutal massage chair, and then headed back to the van with Matt, Jon and Meghan forty minutes later. We sat around on the tarmac by the van in the half empty parking lot for an hour or so. It was actually really relaxing. I restrung my guitar and then we lay around, using bags as pillows, chatting away about everything and nothing.

We've just turned up at the venue. Strange place. The sign at the side of the country highway the venue is just off of says The Loyal Order of the Moose. It is decorated with numerous American flags and there are two old bearded guys loitering around on the porch, looking over at the van. Fuck knows what this gig is going to be like.. Never played a veterans lodge before. It's not that uncommon though, according to Matt. Matt knows the promoter tonight and tells us he always puts on good shows. That is definitely reassuring! If we didn't know anything about the promoter tonight I'd be worried.

Since we're a bit early, Johan has suggested we go do some shopping at the Target that we passed just down the road. There actually is fuck all to do so we may as well. I think I saw a liquor store somewhere too...


This show was how last night's show could have been, should have been maybe. The promoter, Mark was a really funny guy, looked like he could have been in Annihilation Time. He must be one of the few people on this planet that has a moustache that Matt actually trusts. There were a few other people involved in the setting up the show who were all really enthusiastic, doing their best to give the kids here some shows to go to. It's so good to see young people involved in keeping the scene going in these remote parts of the world.

The show was set up in the back room of the bar in the lodge, just a square room with bare walls, kinda looked like an empty classroom. There was probably around forty to fifty kids at the show, which was more than enough to make fill the room out nicely. Not bad for Brick, New Jersey. Anyone here tonight would have had to have got here by car since it's in the middle of nowhere.

Out the back of the venue was a parking lot and some beer garden type area. We spent most of the night either hanging out by the van, drinking a some pre-show beer or in the bar playing what I can only describe as table-top curling. Above it was a huge mounted moose head which was a bit strange. The game was good fun, although the bar was a bit shady. The bartender was a large, jock looking guy who barely registered my presence when I ordered a couple of Yeungling's for me and Johan. Ignorant cunt. Do you still really have to tip for that in this country? Even when the service is that piss poor? I left him a couple of dollars tip and immediately hated myself for doing so when he just snatched them up from the bar and threw them in his jar, not a thank you in sight. This guy either hates us punk kids or maybe he doesn't like foreigners. Mark the promoter told me that the people at the lodge are always really cool with them putting shows on here but this bartender guy isn't convincing me.

There was another weird jock guy who was stoating about the room all night bothering people. He was either pissed drunk or a couple of sarnies short of a lunch box but either way he was getting on my tits. He obviously wasn't here for the show, I think he belonged to the lodge... He'd helped put up a tarpaulin over the veranda out back since the constant lightning flashing in the sky out over the ocean was threatening to bring a shit load of rain our way. Apparently whilst he was doing this he'd split his shorts right up the crack. He spent the entire night explaining this to anyone who would listen, and then when he was done he would ask for a safety pin. He was shocked that not one person there had a safety pin to loan him, since we were all punks and all. He must have asked me for a safety pin on at least six different occasions during the evening...

I only really saw the first band tonight, who were called Teen Wolves. They were pretty cool too. They had this girl screaming down the mic over some really fast, japcore/scando style punk rock. Good times. The other bands I heard from the parking lot out back. The third band did a lot of covers, one of which being a pretty good version of Police Story. Jon started giving me his usual bullshit about having no respect for Black Flag. Of course I bit. Of course he continued to bait until it got as far as him saying he actually hates Black Flag. He is so full of shit sometimes you just have to laugh at him.

Our show was a lot of fun. I love floor shows. We had all the kids crowded close in around us in a semi-circle and we blasted through the set. Before we started the set though, we had to wait for Jon who was posing for a picture Meghan was taking of him, licking his pick and doing his best metal pose. I look over at Andy who is just sat there shaking his head, “Fucking circus...” he grumbles. It was pretty fucking hot in there and my cold is still holding firm, meaning I had a steady mix of sweat and snot streaming from me the entire set. Didn't really bother me that much at the time though.

At one point during the set, I almost hit some young kid in the face with my guitar by accident. I just caught him out of the corner of my eye backing off mouthing, “Whoooaa!” I felt bad and whilst playing grabbed his hand to let him know it was an accident and I was sorry. He just held onto my hand, pulled his camera out with other and took a photo of us, both rocking out. It was a nice moment.

A couple of times during the show I noticed Andy kind of pointing one of his drum sticks in the air mid beat, almost like he was dancing whilst playing. Fucking hell, I thought to myself, he's having a good time! It was only when I belted the headstock of my guitar on the low ceiling of the room that I understood he was actually trying to warn me. My stomach balls jumped into my throat for a split second, but luckily the guitar was unscathed. That would have been a shitter!

After the show we chilled out for a while on the back porch/veranda area. It had just started to rain as we were thinking about loading the van. Big fucking balls of rain too. We decided to wait a while and instead hung out with Mark and some of the other kids at the show. I got chatting to a guy called Wes for a while who was really friendly. We hung out for a good twenty minutes talking about music and the scene. He was really interested in Europe, which I tend to find a lot of the people I meet on these tours are.

When the rain shower had subsided we decided to pack the and head back to Meghan's place in Philly. She needs to get home anyway and Philly is pretty much exactly half way to tomorrow's show in Baltimore, so it makes sense. We had toyed with the idea of staying around here and going to the beach tomorrow, which would have been nice but we'll have a day of in Richmond on Saturday and there will be plenty of opportunity to go swimming then since we'll be hanging out at the Best Friends Day Fest which on Saturday is at the lake.

As we were packing the van, the young kid who'd I'd almost hit with my guitar came up and asked for another photo. He introduced himself to me as Nishad. He told me he thought I was a really good guitar player, to which Matt and I laughed out loud. We got some more photos and stood around chatting for a while. Nishad was a funny kid, he just stood there firing questions at us as we packed the van. At one point Jon comes over, dressed in his new leather vest complete with side-laces that he purchased a couple of days ago, and Nishad just breaks off from whatever he was asking me at the time and tells Jon, “You look just like my dad, but skinnier and with better hair!” Matt and I almost fall over laughing.

As if just to piss on our onions, the miserable bartender comes over to us wearing a face like a smacked arse and moans at us, “Seriously guys, are you just leaving your garbage behind you?” referring to the two empty merch boxes still in the room. Matt curtly informs him that we're not done packing yet and that he should chill out. He just walks off, just as miserable as when he came. Andy walks into the venue, picks up the two empty merch boxes that are on the floor about one foot away from the rubbish bin and places them in said bin. As if that miserable bartender cunt couldn't have just done that himself! He'd rather take an extra two minutes out of his night just to come and complain. Some people have miserable lives.

Later still:

We just got back to Philly. Greg had been playing records at a bar tonight and we picked him up on the way home. If it had been earlier I would have been up for going in for a drink, but as it was I'd been sleeping on the back seat of the van and felt pretty groggy when we'd arrived. Nice to be in a bed again tonight. We got back to the house and a friend of the Greghans, a big guy called Chubbs, had turned up. Quite a fellow. Pretty fucking steamboats! Nice guy but my tired, groggy head couldn't handle it. I sipped on a glass of red wine that I really didn't need before sneaking off to bed. The air conditioning is in full effect tonight and it's wonderfully cold in this room. Three thirty am. Alarm set for ten. Looking forward to a good nights sleep.

Friday, August 19, 2011


In the van driving towards Wallingford via New Haven to pick up our friend Meghan, who is going to hang out for another couple of days. Jon is currently proclaiming that he's never heard Ride The Lightning that is blasting out of the stereo. He's full of shit!

I woke up this morning with my head adjacent to Johan's and Andy's feet in my face and the sun shining through the window. It was only seven thirty am. Four hours sleep. That sofa was so comfortable though that I didn't even mind. I just lay there for the next hour and a half needing a piss but not having the want or will to get up to relieve myself. Funny how sleep is way less significant in the scheme of what my body needs when it's on tour. A mere four hours of sleep at home would leave me fucked but today I feel fine. Feel bad for Matt sleeping out in his van, when I finally do give in and get up for a piss I happen to notice the van out in the driveway, the sun blasting in on Matt's face. Looks hot in there. He's been sleeping in that van of his for so many years now though that it's second nature to him.

We all slowly grumbled into life and sat around watching classic American tv comedy shows like Cheers and Frasier. Andy and Johan were in that mood this morning where they thought it was really fun to annoy me. Poking and prodding me just to get a reaction. And I react every time as well they know it.  Twats! I was therefore totally chuffed that I was the only one out of the lot of us this morning to figure out how to get hot water from the shower. Andy had taken an ice cold shower before me, Johan had washed himself down by the sink, again with cold water and I spent a relaxing fifteen minutes enjoying my steaming hot shower. As I said, chuffed!

We sat around in the kitchen for a while drinking coffee with Christina before getting in the Mattmobile for another day of touring the US of A. The sun is shining brightly in a bright blue sky. My throat is still sore but I'll try and get some pills for that today.

Matt is currently on a cheeky mission, taking calls from Erik Larsson on how to continue to annoy Milosz over his haircut... It really is like listening to two mischievous kids in the school yard. I love it.


At the club now. Last time we were here we played with Kylesa. It was a good show although there weren't that many people. Always fun watching Kylesa though. The venue is an old train station that is now a punk venue. It's pretty small and it's carpeted throughout making the place incredibly hot. Andy is also starting to feel pretty bad with the cold now, so that's two of us and counting. I'm sure it's coming to us all. Tried to beat if off with both hot Mexican food and a couple of games of bowling but it hasn't really worked...Jon was happy with his new ball though. He was pretty happy with his blur margarita too! I am absolutely terrible at bowling! Pool was always my thing when I was a kid. Jon looks like he should terrible, he has a fascinating style of throwing that fucking ball of his, he's actually pretty good though. Andy is a fascinating one though, he claims he doesn't like sport yet he's really fucking good at it! Annoys me.

Earlier on we took a trip to New Haven to pick up Meghan from the train station. We were there a little early so we took a look at Yale University and went to a record shop, as well as all the old haunts that Matt and his friends used to go to punk shows when they were kids growing up here. It's a very picturesque place, although there is a definite whiff of snobbery in the air. Not so strange I suppose since the city is based around a university that costs two hundred and fifty thousand dollars a year to attend!

I felt like a right are earlier. We were walking around the record shop and I found a copy of the Steve Miller and lo I've been looking for. Upon reaching the counter where the old lady who ran the store was stood it occurred to me that I was wearing the Furnace t-shirt I acquired yesterday. It's a quite a snazzy blue t-shirt, just my colour, but it has a line drawing of a dude with his cock out, taking a piss, the piss spelling Furnace. I became very conscious of this in front of this old woman, mainly since she was looking at me like a was a piece of filth, and not too subtly folded my arms across my chest, trying to cover up what I could of the image.

This show tonight is going to be a tough one. Do not feel good at all. Even load in, which isn't very much, was a struggle. The first band has a synth guitar keyboard thing that is pretty wacky. Should be interesting...

Interesting fact: Wallingford is the official home of the Ku Klux Klan in the state of Connecticut.

Later still:

What a difference twenty four hours makes. Last night we played to around one hundred and fifty people, tonight we had twenty paying customers and some members of the other bands that played before us. It was always one of the more doubtful dates on this tour though, even when we played here supporting Kylesa there were only around forty through the door. Most of the people here tonight were actually friends, Meghan, the guys from Oil Tanker, Jim who runs Vex Records with Matt and our old friend Grizzly. The room was small enough though, and it was a fun show all the same.

Grizzly turned up just as we were about to play, which brought a big smile to my face. We met the last time we were here. Grizzly used to live next door to Matt in Waterbury, and at the start of the last tour we stayed there for a few days. After the Kylesa show, we had a Victims/Kylesa party at Matt's place and me and Grizzly had “the night”. You know, the one where if you're a guy and a girl you stay up talking all night and fall in love. Well, my wife was sleeping in the spare room, and me and the Griz didn't get it on, but we sat up until six am, long after everyone else had gone to bed, drinking whisky and talking about life, love and loss, putting the world to rights. We've stayed in touch ever since. I gave him a big wet kiss on the forehead and then we blasted into the start of the set.

We played pretty well, and despite the germs dripping out of every orifice, I managed to gain some energy from somewhere. It wasn't the tightest show we've ever played but it was ok. I broke a string right at the end, just as we were playing the encore of Scars that we would not have bothered with in all honesty, had it not been for Grizzly shouting about the fact that he'd rushed here from work thirty minutes in his car to see us. It would have been preposterous to stand there changing a string for a minute though, so I just ploughed through without. It sounded shite to be fair, but neither Grizzly or any of the other twenty audience members seemed to care as they were bashing into one another.

We sat around after the show, drinking a couple of good beers and chilling out, the sweat and grime pissing out of me for a while. Jon's foot seems to be in a bad way, it's swollen up like a fucking tennis ball. Bowling ball maybe? He said it's not causing him pain which is weird. It doesn't look good. The only possible explanation for it can be the fall that he and China took the other night in Philly during the From Ashes show. Still crack up thinking about that! Well have to get Jon some medicine for that tomorrow though.

The band that played right before us tonight, Northless from Wisconsin, were really great. Really heavy, slow discordant stuff. I stood there watching them without about fifteen other people and they fucking tore the place up. I love seeing bands play that well to small crowds. I love being part of that crowd too. They were a terrific bunch of lads too, I hope the rest of their tour goes well for them.

When we turned up tonight, a young kid in the first band came up to us as we were loading in and told us he was really “pumped” to be playing with us tonight. Poor bastard was my first thought. He was a really friendly looking young kid. I just wanted to give him a hug. We must have looked like a right bunch of rock star cunts to them, because when they played their show at seven thirty, the first of five bands, most of us where sat out in the beer garden drinking cold, draught Anchor Steam, (amazing how just one beer can take the fight to the cold bug raging through the system), and didn't even they were playing their set. Andy told me later than when they started playing their set, Johan was spread out with his feet up on the sofa at the back of the small room where our merch was, and that Andy himself was the only person watching their set. The problem is Andy thought they were just sound checking and walked out after a couple of songs, leaving the room empty. Sorry guys.

We were actually sat around in the beer garden making our own entertainment at the time. As we were sat at one of the wooden tables out in the yard, Matt noticed some weird stick insect thing, creeping across the table. I asked Matt what it was. He thought it was a cricket but decided to take a closer inspection. He's bent over the table looking at this fucking thing and it starts creeping across the table towards him. Literally a split second after Matt says, “Whatever it is, it likes me”, the insect jumps into flight and straight into the hole in the crotch of his tight jeans, right in Biffins Bridge! He jumps up, shitting himself as we all piss ourselves laughing. I almost spit my beer out as Matt struggles to get this thing out of his kecks, “Whoa, there's my balls...”

Even though there were only twenty paying through the door tonight, we still sold an ok amount of merchandise. Johan had been concerned before the show that we were going to beat our friends Nine's record. Apparently they'd played a show once with Disfear and Entombed, somewhere in northern Spain, where they lugged all of their merchandise into the venue, only to sell a solitary pin badge the entire night and lug it all back out again. In Johan's words, “Fucking humiliating! I'd rather sell nothing at all than just one single pin!”

We decided to check ourselves into a roadside motel tonight. We had offers from our friends in Oil Tanker and also Big Jim, but with most of starting to come down with the cold, we decided we could afford it and the rest would be worth it. Matt of course, slept in his van, but not before he'd snuck the six of us into the one twin room. We took it in turns to head up to the room with our bags, all very hush hush in the middle of the night. Thanks Road Warrior!

Now in bed with Johan's snoring ass beside me.  Heaven...