Once showered and dressed, I was back on track though. Once in the van we discussed our breakfast options. We'd noticed a supermarket not far from the hotel last night and decided on buying some bread and cheese from there. A Burger King breakfast is not something I'm feeling this morning. Unfortunately the supermarket turned out to be a food warehouse, the kind you need to have a business card for, something the old lady at the entrance counter gladly explained to us. I understand only a little German, but I could she was chuffed.
We decided to just get going and look for breakfast on the road somewhere. We still had to go by Punk Distro and pick up our merch for the tour. It was good to see Micha and Nico who were as happy as ever. I'd forgotten what a wonderful laugh Nico has. Just hearing it shook off the last cobwebs of sleep and put me in the mood for the day ahead. What we hadn't really counted on though was how many boxes of merch would be waiting for us. By the time we were done repacking the van, for the third time in two days, the back of the van was crammed, with barely a slither of air to spare. Tomorrow we'll split the gear up between this van and Black Breath's though, since all three bands are using the same gear. Things will be a lot easier then.
As always when at Punk Distro, I was forced to have a peek at the vinyl shelves. I picked up a pile of lp's that landed at seventy Euros. Expensive first day. I found the re-press of the Hellbastard classic Rippercrust though so I was more than chuffed.
The drive to Rotterdam from Hannover took around five hours, and was for the most part uneventful. We spent most of the ride, once again, laughing at the Tormented banter. They're an entertaining bunch of chaps. Makes things so much easier considering we're crammed in this van with them for the next three weeks. I can't imagine how painful sharing a van with another band that you had no click with. Thankfully that's not the case here. The only real incident during the trip was when we nearly slammed into the back of a car in front that braked suddenly. We'd just overtaken a lorry and as Johan hit the breaks, the weight in the back of the van was too much for the momentum. Luckily it was Johan at the wheel. He realised that we weren't going to stop in time and after a lightning quick glance in the mirror, swerved us back into right lane, clear of the lorry we'd just overtaken. Barely anyone else in the van noticed, only myself and Claes. My balls were ever so briefly in my throat though.
We pulled up outside the venue about an hour after the informed load in time, but the promoter seemed cool with us. He understood that we'd had a long journey. It was great to see the Black Breath guys again. They haven't changed a bit, still the same happy, easy going guys. It's been too long. They do have a new guitarist though, since my old friend Zack has quit the band and went back to law school. The new guy, Mark, seems to be cool though. He used to play in the band Go It Alone with Eric and has been friends with the other guys for years.
The club was a pretty standard, square shaped block beside a main road a little way out of down town. Good size stage and the place probably holds around two hundred. When Black Breath sound check the volume out of the PA almost pins me against the back wall!
The show tonight goes pretty well. I watched most of the Tormented set and they sounded really good. Towards the end of their show I go take over from Johan at our merch table. We have got a serious amount of merch on this tour! Whilst I'm stood there in the adjoining room where the merch is set up, I completely miss the fact that Claes has walked off the stage before their set is finished. I hear Drette laughing and telling the crowd that they'll play their last two songs as a three piece. Jon comes in a short while later and says Claes is in a pretty bad way.
When I go backstage to sort my stuff out before we line check, Claes is sat in nothing but his kecks, with a towel draped over him, shaking like a leaf. He looks like shit, pale as a ghost! I feel bad for him. He's pretty confused and doesn't really understand what's going on. I guess it's a mix of tiredness, stress of playing the first show, been only given five minutes after their line check to get on stage and play, and maybe a touch of hydration. I hope he feels better soon.
Our show goes ok. For a first show. The stage is pretty wide and I don't hear anything but myself for pretty much the entire set, which makes it pretty hard going, but I get through it. It's hot on stage and it's not the tightest set we've ever played, but as far as “first shows” goes it ok. Jon tells me afterwards that he puked during Svart År.. I must have missed that.
It's great seeing Black Breath play again. They really are a tight as fuck live band. Eric is an incredible guitar player. Me and Jon stand on his side of the stage and watch him and are getting pretty psyched as we stand there with a couple of beers. At one point Eric is in the middle of this ripping solo, making it look ridiculously easy, me and Jon just look at each other with our beers, acknowledging the fact that we'll never be that good, despite the fact Eric is quite a few years our younger, and Jon flips him off.
The Black Breath set rips, and by the time they're done, I'm getting a little tipsy, even though I've only drunk four small cans of lager. We hang out at the venue in the bar room where the merch is, for an hour or so after the show. We decide to move on to some of the real beers they have behind the bar. Johan tries a weissbeer which clocks in at ten percent, and by the time he's done with it he's looking pretty saucy. Johan, Claes, who is now looking a bit perkier, myself and Jon try out a few different beers and steadily get cosily pissed up. The hostel we're staying at is about a ten minute drive away, but we can leave all the gear in the club and the lot of us can bum a lift in the Black Breath van, who have a driver with them, so it's all good.
It seems to be a usual deal in this part of Europe, but they don't accept cash in the bar. Instead they have these change machines on the wall where you put your money in a get plastic beer tokens out. Jocke, not really understand this concept, and at one point, whilst kindly helping out at our merch table, finds himself stuck for change. A confused punter gives him a twenty Euro note and Jocke, not having any change to give him, goes to the change machine beside the table and puts the twenty in it, telling the punter he'll be back with his change in a minute. The look of confusion on as his face as twenty Euros worth of red, plastic beer tokens shoot out is absolutely priceless. The punter is not impressed.
By the time we have to vacate the club, we're all pretty pissed. We pack into Black Breath's van, four or five of us on the floor in the back, and take the “ten minute” twenty minute drive to the hostel. Peter, Black Breath's driver has been given the address and we follow the GPS. We pull out of the van and find ourselves in the down town area of Rotterdam. We're parked up beside a picturesque little harbour with some old wooden boats moored up along the quay. We stand there admiring it for a few minutes before we realise we have no idea where the hostel is. We walk around pissed, everyone off in different directions looking for this place, until finally someone shouts that they've found it. We all slump off in the direction of the voice. It's now one thirty am.
The hostel is this really weirdly shaped building that looks like something from a David Lynch dream or something. We walk in to the reception area and into a weird scene. We're stood there for ages with no sign of anyone who works at the hotel. There are though about fifty young, drunk kids running around the place shouting. We do not know what the fuck is going on. Some older guy appears at some point and tells us that there is a night manager around, but he doesn't know where. We decide to explore the place ourselves. There is an unattended bar opposite the reception desk so we help ourselves to a couple of beers. After about twenty minutes the night manager finally appears, carrying a bottle of Bailey's. We all crack up but he hurriedly assures us he has indeed confiscated it from one of the kids upstairs. I guess it's some kind of school trip or something.
The night manager is actually a good crack and he informs us where we can smoke weed without drawing attention of the neighbours, should we so wish to do so. Elijah, the Black Breath bass player, is delighted by this. We finally sort our room keys and head upstairs to dump our bags. The corridors are crawling with teenage school kids who are shouting and screaming, completely fucked up on booze. Weird scene. It seems the word has spread that there is a band staying and some of the young girls seem to have taken an interest and try engaging us in drunk conversation. We smile politely and carry on walking, but then an older, very pissed off looking lady, obviously a supervisor, appears and pulls them away.
When we find our room, the door beside ours opens and we're faced with yet more drunk teenagers, this time boys. “Hey dude!” one of them says to a very drunk, confused Andy. “Are you in Red Hot Chili Peppers?”.
We dump the bags and head back down to the bar, which the night manager guy has now happily opened up for us. We sit around chatting over a couple of beers with the mayhem of the screaming kids droning in the background somewhere. Weird scene. The night manager clocks the beer Elijah has stolen from the bar, but seems to think that Elijah has brought it with him. Night Manager seems chuffed that Elijah has discovered the great local beer and commends him at length on his choice of beverage. When he leaves Elijah feels really guilty and leaves to go offer the guy a drag on his joint, in an attempt to even out his karma.
Elijah is soon back with us and soon he and Robban are fully engaged in a conversation about pinball. Elijah is some sort of pinball wizard guy, and unknown to us, Robban is also an enthusiast. The rest of us sit around in awe of the deep level of conversation they're taking this subject too. I mean, they're not just talking games. They're talking tactics, manufactures, pro-players and rankings. Every now and again Jocke, who is sat beside me, asks me what the fucking is going on here. After about a half hour of this, just as the conversation is reaching a climax, Elijah in a moment of excitement lifts his palm in the air in the hope of a high five from Robban. To our amazement, Robban holds back with a look of doubt on his face and then pulls away. “No man, don't know ya!” We all piss ourselves laughing. I thought they were about to get into bed together, but apparently a high five is too far a step for Robban at this early stage of their relationship! Elijah, sits there shaking his head, “Nah man, he's right..” looking really gutted. This just adds to the madness of the situation.
After a while we head out to the veranda where Neil and Jamie from Black Breath, along with Claes and Drette are enjoying a bottle of Jim Beam. We join them enjoying some fresh air and a few sips from the bottle. I'm feeling more tired than drunk now and I'm starting to think about bed. As I'm making to leave a middle aged man turns up, another one of these supervisor people.
He's here under the guise of smoking a cigarette, but it's soon pretty clear why he's out here. He starts talking to Elijah. “Ha, you look like Jesus!” whilst feeling his hair. Elijah has a lot of hair... He then starts explaining the situation with the kids. We're not even really interested to be fair but the guy keeps on. He tells Elijah that he gets the whole thing with us being in a band on tour and all, but we have to keep our hands off of the young, drunk girls under their supervision. The fact they're all steam boats suggests to me that we should be questioning them really, but never mind. Elijah is a little taken aback by this. “No dude, that's not even on the agenda. I mean, we're talking about children here.” “I know I know, but I'm telling you” Supervisor continues, “But I'm telling you, don't touch them.” Elijah is completely thrown by this, and I'm starting to feel pissed off. To our utter, utter amazement, Supervisor then says, “Listen, tonight we're looking after these kids, so we can't let you mess around with them. But tomorrow we're off and they're nothing to do with us then, so tomorrow you can do what you want.” What the fuck is this?! He then slinks off back in the to hotel. Fucking stunning turn of events to this day.
It's almost four am by the time I make my way to bed. Johan follows my lead. Jon disappeared a while ago, but the Black Breath guys, Drette and Claes are all still enjoying the Jim Beam and the fresh morning air on the veranda...