Friday, March 30, 2012


Even though I slept almost eight hours in a more than adequate bed, I felt knackered when I woke up this morning. I guess that fourteen hour journey yesterday took more out of me than I thought it had. Sitting in a van doing nothing for hours on end is actually pretty tiring.

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...

Thursday, March 29, 2012

On The Road Again...

Five am. I hate five am.

Even though spring has officially arrived in Stockholm and the days are starting to pull out, when the alarm on my phone went off this morning it was still pitch black outside. Five am..

I had at least managed to sleep for around five hours. And with today's journey ahead, there would be ample time to catch a few more winks. I left home with my unreasonabally heavy bag, I've never mastered the art of travelling light on tour, and headed down to the station at Sundbyberg. I'd planned to meet Jon at the back end of the train. We're meeting Andy and Johan with the van at Årstaberg.

I've been looking forward to this tour for a while. Work has been pretty stressful recently and all I've been thinking about is getting away and relishing not having to answer my phone for a while, just getting away with the guys and playing a bunch of shows, drinking some beer and hooking up with a load of friends. Although, this morning, that feeling, at least for a short while, had completely distinguished. Jenny has just came back from the States, and now I'm leaving. Bad timing.

As soon as I sat in the van though, things started to feel better again. Back on tour... Fourteen years of doing this and it's still a great feeling.

Today would prove to be pretty uneventful, which is exactly what we required since all we had on the agenda was a long journey... The first show is tomorrow night in Rotterdam. For once we're getting the longest journey of the tour over with at the very beginning. We've printed our merchandise at a company in Hamburg and we've had it shipped to our friend Micha's record distro in Hannover, where we also have some gear that we left at the end of the last European tour. The journey down to Hannover took about fourteen hours, with a few stops along the way, the compulsory lunch at Max in Jönköping, the bridge from Malmö to Copenhagen and the boat from Rödby to Puttgarden in northern Germany.

First stop was Finspång though, where we picked up our friends Tormented, who are the opening band on the tour and who are also sharing the van with us. We arrived at Rockbageriet, the music venue and studio where the guys rehearse, around eight am. After readjusting the pack of the van, making room for Tormented's gear and merch, we sat down with a cup of coffee for a few minutes.

I met Claes for the first time a few weeks ago, at the release party show we had at Kafé 44, and I met Drette, the singer, a long, long time ago, when I first moved here, although he didn't really recognise me. The other two guys, Robban and Jocke, I'd never met before but they seem like good guys. I took an instant shine to Jocke, the Tormented drummer. As we were sat drinking coffee and having a chat, Jocke sat engrossed in a game on his iPhone. Robban asked him what he was playing. “Snake” Jocke said without breaking his gaze. We all cracked up laughing.

The journey down to Hannover, as said, was uneventful, apart from some pretty rough wind just the other side of Jönköping, and even though in total it took fourteen hours, it didn't feel that long. The guys in Tormented are a funny lot, and there was plenty of laughter during the hours on the road. I have the feeling this is going to be a fun tour. I'm looking forward to seeing the Black Breath guys tomorrow too, haven't seen Eric since he came in to the studio and played some guitar on our last record.

We decided we'd book into a cheap Formule 1 hotel for the night. We had been speaking to Micha about the possibility of staying with him, but since we'd have to split ourselves up between his place and Nico, another friend who works at Punk Distro, we decided it would be less hassle just to pay for the cheap hotel. After a long day it would be nice just to park the van up and get into a bed. The rooms only cost twenty nine Euros a night, and we can easily sneak a couple of us in and share some beds, making it even less costly. I felt a little guilty though when we mailed Micha after we'd booked the rooms online, and he got back to us saying he'd sorted out beds and some food for us upon arrival...

We made a final stop a couple of hours outside of Hannover, in the vain hope of looking for some sort of real dinner and if nothing else, the chance to take a piss. After already eating a Max veggie burger for lunch, a packet of crisps and a yoghurt for tea, I was hoping for something else than McDonalds. We decided to just leave it, even though they actually did have a veggie burger on the menu. The Tormented guys were straight in there though. We stood around outside and waited for then, enjoying the fresh air and the chance to stretch our legs. Eight pm, and the sun was only just going down and it was still pretty warm out. Considering we've been on the road since six am, I felt pretty awake.

We got back in the van for the final leg, Johan taking the wheel back from Claes (the two pappa's in the band have assumed main driving duties on this tour, an arrangement I'm more than happy with). It was soon dark and I felt asleep to the hypnotic mangle of Mayhem's De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas album. It's funny, I must have only slept for about twenty minutes but awoke feeling as groggy as if I'd slept the whole night. As I stirred and gathered my bearings, Jon shunts a small bottle of Jagermesiter my way. No thanks mate, I'm good. Jocke, sat behind me, happily takes a sip though. I put Neurosis' Enemy of the Sun and close my eyes again, the smell of Jagermesiter and snus humming from Jon in the seat beside me..

It was just before ten pm when we arrived at the hotel. I was hoping we'd be able to find something representing an actual meal, but it was not to be. These cheap hotel's are always on the outskirts of the city and this place was no different, being located in some industrial estate beside a dual carriageway. The only options were Burger King and a petrol station. Johan and I resignedly walked into Burger King and placed an order, only to be told the card machines weren't working and they could only accept cash, and cash we didn't have. I was almost relieved.

We walked back over the road to the petrol station where the rest of the guys were and picked up a sandwich and a couple of cans of beer. The picture of the sandwich on the menu on the wall behind the counter promised Camembert and lingonberry, in reality it was fart-warm Brie and jam. The two cans of Budvar were exactly as advertised though, cold and smooth on the taste buds. Exactly what the doctor ordered.

We finished the night off with the beers and some packets of crisps, hanging out in the room Claes and Drette were sleeping in. A perfectly relaxing way of ending a long day on the road. Tomorrow we're picking up the remaining gear at Punk Distro before making the rest of the journey to the first show in Rotterdam. Only about four hours. No problem. I really need to get a proper meal in me at some point soon though, hope we can find somewhere decent for breakfast tomorrow.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Through The Past Darkly - Part II

Jan 30/03 – Belfast

We didn't sink anyway! I slept through pretty much although I did wake up briefly and it seemed a bit rough. Belfast? I never know what to make of it. First thing I did was get breakfast, which was ok, nothing special. Then I went and bought the new Isis album since Olly went on about it so much. It's great!

We got the same old shit we always get over here. The promoter is lame. Fucking us around. He's doing the next 3 shows. Things better improve with that cunt! Our fucking agent too! Arsehole! All these people are arseholes. They come from a different planet than me. I ain't hanging around these wankers my whole life..

The gig was pretty cool anyway. We played good, and the crowd was good. Couldn't find anywhere to eat after the gig. Capital city of Northern Ireland and you can't eat after 11. It's like a ghost town. Belfast is a strange place.

Just as we were leaving, 5 kids, out of their minds on glue, started shit. Useless situation. You need a bat for that situation. We all got off the bus and told them to fuck off and then we left with them trying to smash the windows. Good riddance to this place. Dublin tomorrow, we'll see what that holds? Can't wait to get back to Swansea personally, at least I can get a bath at Ben's house. 12 days until I meet Jenny. Can't wait!

Jan 31/03 – Dublin

More bullshit today! We turn up at the venue, an old converted church, and we're dirty and hungry. We get a shower, well a few of us, and then some twat starts going crazy at Daz because apparently he wasn't informed we're in there. Bullshit is the word. The promoter is nowhere in sight..again! He really is a fucking wanker!

The venue is absolute huge and there are no posters anywhere around town. Some kid came up to Frank earlier for an autograph and he didn't even know we were playing tonight! The guy who runs the venue is being a right twat. Can't wait to get the fuck out of Ireland!

I heard Olly and the J.T. Boys just got home, they first broke down and then got stuck in a 14 hr. traffic jam because it's snowing in England. What a joke! A bit of snow and the country freaks out and comes to a standstill. Take me back to Sweden where it's normal! Please!!!

Feb 1/03 – Waterford

The gig last night was really good apparently. I say apparently because everyone else was buzzing about it. I felt really shitty. I've got this cold and it's hard to get into it when you feel like shit. There were a lot of people there though. I feel wore today! I got myself some Lemsip so I hope that works.

There isn't much to Waterford. It's a nice enough little Irish town but there isn't much here. It took me about 15 mins to walk around the whole place! The venue is massive as well. I didn't know we were that big in Waterford!

Watched Live at Pompeii by Pink Floyd last night on the bus, gave me some inspiration for the band I'm getting together with Olly and Paul. Been listening to the Isis album again, amazing record. Just waiting for a shower now, apparently you have to let it warm up for 10 mins between every shower taken. I'm behind Frank in line. I'll get back to the Vivian Stanshall biography while I wait.. Jen might call soon, always cheers me up when I hear her voice.

Feb 2/03 – Limerick

One more Irish gig to go. Last night was okay, another huge venue which was about half full. I really don't know why we were playing there. I guess there aren't any other venues around there. The kids that were there were really great anyway, really enthusiastic. I think they're pretty starved of entertainment around these parts. After the show last night we went to a real local pub, I don't think we went down to well in there. I only the one then went to bed. Still full of a cold.

Today's been pretty boring. Got a shower at last though. Feels good to be clean again, if only for a short time. Jen told me she’s spending the day at home, lying on the sofa watching tv. I'm so jealous!! I'd do anything to be there right now. Got to plough on with this shit for now, don't know how much longer though. I'm really not sure if I'm gonna be in this band this time next year. I've really got to the point where just looking at certain people pisses me off. I can't imagine doing this for another 4 or 5 years.

I just had a bit of a stand off with one of the guys for acting like a real prick to some kid who was trying to give away a cd of his band. I hate it when people act lie that. Fuck this! When I'm out of here I'm cutting off all correspondence with these cunts.

I feel like I've been a right moaning bastard recently. I knew I'd feel like this in Ireland though. I can't explain it really. The gigs are usually good and the kids are pretty great but the place just depresses me a bit. Feeling ill doesn't help. I'm looking forward to getting back to the UK tomorrow. Get a proper bath at Ben's house and check out his record collection. Erik's getting in tomorrow. Should be a fun week. He's become one of my closest friends since I moved to Stockholm. From tomorrow things will be cool.

Jen will be with me a week on Tuesday. Can't wait! I hate moaning but I seem to do it a lot these days. I miss home a lot more than I used to, guess that's got something to do with home now being Stockholm and not Corby. No offence mum and dad. Gotta go on stage soon. Shake yourself boy. Swansea tomorrow...

Fen 4/03 – Sunderland

Hungover! Erik turned up last night and we partied hard. Paying for it today! It was cool to finally play Swansea last night. We've got loads of friends there. I got a couple of 7”'s from Ben. The gig was ok. Gordon fucked up something in his arm so he struggled a bit, but he'll be ok.

Limerick gig was great. There were loads of kids stage-diving, which is illegal there. The promoter got on stage and onto the mic, telling the kids to stop diving off the stage. After that they just started diving off the bar and the balcony instead! The promoter was going fucking crazy, it was great! He kept getting on stage and making threats to pull the show, which really wound Gordon up. Gordon got into it with him, “Fuck off you twat, it's supposed to be a fucking hardcore gig!” I fucking loved it! The kids in Ireland are crazy.

Today's been a bit boring. Pretty cold here in Sunderland. Still loads of snow in England. Jen said it's really heavy back home. Hope she still makes it to Germany next week, don't even want to entertain the idea of not seeing her next week. I miss her more than words can say.

Tuesday April 29/03

I'm on the plane home. Just been reading through what I've been writing on the last tour. I really do fucking moan a lot! I have to stop doing that so much. I'm going to LA in a couple of weeks and I was moaning about it because it's over my birthday. That pissed my dad off a bit and that made me feel guilty. I'm living his dreams and doing nothing but moan about it. It's hard being away from home but I should try enjoying it a bit more. I won't be doing this forever and then I'll wake up every day in my own bed.

I didn't end up writing any more on the tour because I was hanging out with Erik and then Jen for the next 2½ weeks and then there was only a week left.

There were ups and downs but we had some great gigs in Germany, Denmark and Holland. Italy was horrible! It was fucking nice to get home at the end of it all though! Right now? I've just been writing with the boys in Northampton for five days. We've got 6 new songs towards the next album. I'm pretty happy with them. I still get pissed off with some people in the band but I can handle that for now. We'll see what happens in LA?

Right now...I'm just looking forward to a couple of weeks at home.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Through The Past Darkly - Part I

I was rooting around the house when I happened upon on an old tattered, black notebook containing some snippets of a Speedhorn tour diary I wrote back in 2003. I hadn't seen this book for years and I barely remembered writing the diaries as I sat there on my living room floor and started to read through them...

For the most part I laughed aloud, mainly at myself and how much I bitched and moaned through the power of the pen onto paper, all from the secluded den that was my bunk on the tour bus. It's really very cringe-worthy stuff, but as embarrassing as it is for me, it offers an interesting view through a window into the past. It's one thing recounting old stories through blurred memories, but this is an eyewitness account from then and there.

It's embarrassing in that I really do come across as the immature twenty-three year old that I thought I never was. At this point I'm about a year and half into my relationship with Jen, who I'm happy to say is now my wife. I'm completely lovesick and at the same time homesick for my then new home in Sweden. On top of that it's written during the period that we're touring the second album and tensions within the band were high, indeed the first line up of the band would start to fall apart a short while later. So there is a lot of bitching about other members in the band, most of which is down to nothing more than tour fatigue and cabin fever.

That first line-up of the band really was an emotionally defunct little family. The entire time Frank and John were in the band together was strained through fist fight after fist fight. Those two equally head-strong characters just couldn't work out how to get along on tour together. Even the rest of us, as close friends as we were, had the odd dust-up now and then. Gordon is to this day, one of my best friends, yet he's the person that I had the most vicious fights and arguments with, rare as they were. In hindsight I realise that it's probably because we were such good friends that we felt we were able to say exactly what we wanted to each other.

The moaning and complaints about various members of the band in these pages are by no way representative of how I feel today, or even, I imagine, how I really felt back then. Constant touring can do funny things to your mind and humour, even somebody as levelled out as my good self...

The things written in these diaries were of course in the heat of the moment and nothing more. If anyone is offended then I apologise in advance. I'm sure I pissed off other members of the band just as much as they did me.

The following pages were scribbled down during the UK leg of a six week European tour. Our good friends Johnny Truant and One Pity were supporting us, although unfortunately they couldn't follow for the mainland section of the tour. This might well have been the final tour we did with the original line up of the band, although I'm not entirely sure.

Also, please excuse the terrible writing...  

Jan 21/03 – Bridgewater

We're in Bridgewater, wherever the hell that is. Funny atmosphere in the club, we got the same PA guys from last night and they reckon we owe them £150 coz Frank put his knee on the monitor last night. Twats. Last night was Plymouth. That was a pretty cool gig.

The guys from Johnny Truant are fast becoming friends. Great band too which is a bonus. We pissed off some girl with pink dreads last night. A few of us took exception to the shit music in the club and pulled a table on to the middle of the dancefloor and sat there drinking. Me, Frank, Daz, Olly and Paul (J.T.). This girl didn't like it too much! Someone left a note on our cases at the end, “Raging Speedhorn ruinined a kool gig by being arogant twats”. Nice. Can't even fucking spell! I'll give that to my dad for his scrap book.

Newport was cool. Hooked up with Ben, he bought me some discs and a top. Good guy. Fuck knows what tonight will be like! We've done 200 tickets so we'll see. That's okay for somewhere we've never been. I got Gorilla by the Bonzo's and an Alex Harvey Band record, the album with Faith Healer on it. Been looking for them.

Jan 22/03 – Cambridge

Just hanging out in the dressing room, been doing nothing but hanging all day except for doing a few photos with some French people a bit earlier. Rock Sound Mag had some competition that some guy gets to come hang out in our dressing room. We're all hungover! I don't know what you're supposed to do with these people, can't do much except stare at the walls. At least the lucky winner gets to taste the reality of touring.

Last night was Bridgewater. It was a cool show. Frank was in the mood for being a cunt, he smashed some kids phone that had made it's way to the stage. Some guy from RCA came down to see us “perform”, he didn't stay around to say hello afterwards. Fuck him! I really couldn't give a shit anyway. That shit scares me. Big contracts...Big Dicks!

Had a good night after the gig. Some kid who was into the band told us we could go back to his dad's pub for a lock-in. Worked out pretty good, we all got pissed as farts. Olly nearly died. We came out of the pub at 3 am. and he walked straight into the path of a truck. I saved his ass. He owes me!

Later: In bed now, missing Jen pretty bad. Tonight was fucked up. First off, the gig was pretty shit, the crowd sucked. Although, right at the end Frank got in the crowd and moshed to My War (at the request of some guy in the crowd), and John sang it on his own. Frank got the fuck kicked in!  I had to respect him for doing it though..  After the gig John got jumped by 3 guys, guys from town looking for trouble. They were hitting everyone, they hit two girls, dislocated one of their jaws. Olly got a bad hit too, shook him bad. It was fucking horrible. I can't imagine how I'd feel if that happened to Jen. I feel like crying just thinking about it. I miss her a lot right now. What a shitty day!

John's giving a statement to the cops right now, it's 2.50 am. I'm gonna read some more of my Vivian Stanshall book, cheer my ass up a bit.

I just remembered that last night, at some point, Paul (J.T.) was crouched in the middle of the road outside the club, taking a shit! Last night was great. Today was shit. I'm lonely right now. Hope tomorrow in Hull is better...

Jan 26/03 – Edinburgh

I was fucking blasted last night, Snitch was there...Last night was Leeds. I'm a bit pissed off with myself actually, shouldn't have been like that. Some of the guys fucked me off with their snidy comments, considering that some of the cunts can't even play their instruments when they're sober! Pricks. It was a good gig last night though, from what I can remember. The crowd were really cool. One of the best so far.

Hull was really cool, even though the venue sucked. They gave us plenty of food to eat. Everyone got involved in some Jackass style nonsense afterwards, like taking a solid steel tray over the head. Frank took a lot in a stand off with Daz. We left the place pretty trashed!!! Liverpool was okay. Love were playing next door, would have been great to see them. My old man is going (to see Love) tomorrow. After the Liverpool gig, some kid got messed up in our dressing room. Totally fucked. Some of the guys were pouring vodka down his throat. Twats. He was no older than 16, he couldn't even stand. Some of the people in this band can be real wankers at times.

Last night One Pity's van got broke into. They had a couple of basses and a guitar stolen. That's pretty shit but you have to learn from stuff like that. They were just sitting in the front seat waiting to be stolen. You don't do that in Leeds. Wonder what tonight will be like? Sober! I'm pretty bored and I miss Jenny loads. I got the new Entombed album earlier, the covers record. It's ok.

Jan 27/03 – Somewhere near Dundee

Just sitting on the bus, waiting. Sometimes the boredom really gets you. I just had a very welcome shower though, feel better for that.

Last night was cool. Really good gig, good crowd. Usually is in Scotland for us guys. It was our old mate Big Al's last ever gig promoting last night, fitting that it was us playing. He's going back to tour managing. We went to this rock bar afterwards, this place we played about 3 years ago. It's totally changed now, it's pretty posh! There were loads of old friends there. I spent three hrs. chatting away to old faces. The guys from Ninth Circle were there, the first band we ever toured with.

I was talking to Olly and Paul from J.T. and we're gonna organise them coming to Stockholm to jam out some Slint style stuff. Hope that works out, would be really cool. I could see myself being really good friends with those guys...

Daz got pretty wasted on whiskey and puked on himself in the bar. That cunt will never change! We're moving again now. Watching the Blues Brothers. The scenery outside is beautiful. Wish Jenny was here to see it with me.

Later: It totally pisses me off being in this band sometimes. I can't even fucking brush my teeth because there's too many stupid girls on the bus. Sometimes I have no respect for these guys. I miss Jen. Good gig tonight!

Later still: I absolutely fucking hate these guys! I don't know how much longer I can stick being in this band with these people. Someone is crying in their bunk again, although I'm not sure who it is...

Jan 29/03 – In the Bunk

We just left Johnny Truant in Whitehaven. We're going to Ireland, they're going home. It was pretty tough saying goodbye to them, it's been great having them on the road, we've got some new brothers in these guys.

The last couple of days have been ok. Dundee and Aberdeen were both good gigs. We found this really cool record shop in Aberdeen. I got the first Saints lp there. The guy who owned the place was great. Spoke about great music with him for ages.

Tonight was a weird one. Whitehaven? Fuck knows! It was a really big hall with not that many people in it. John and Frank got really fucked off because some guy threw beer at them. They didn't want to go back on stage and play a couple of extra songs. Then I had an argument with them, telling them that these kids out there had paid good money to see us and were shouting for more. They went back on in the end. It makes me laugh when they moan about getting a bit of beer thrown at them.

On our way to get the ferry to Ireland now. These roads are bumpy. Doug reckons he had a premonition about the boat sinking tomorrow so he's getting off the bus and up to the deck. Fuck that! It's too early, I'm staying here! Fucking Doug!

13 days until I see Jenny...can't fucking wait! I miss her so bad!

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Bar

It was a crisp, spring afternoon and the sun was shining proudly over a cobalt blue sky. With the last traces of a long, arduous winter now behind us and summer in the post, that magical buzz was back in the city. Tables and chairs were beginning to appear on the pavements outside of cafés and bars, heavy winter coats were now making way for the lighter, spring variety and people were smiling again. In Sweden the winters can be long and gruelling, sometimes greedily hogging up to six of the year's twelve months. Up here in the north we savour spring time...

Considering it was Friday and I was working this evening, I was in a surprisingly up-beat mood. Amazing what a bit of sunshine can do for your spirit. I'd been working all week, eleven hour shifts, but after tonight I was free for the weekend. Jen works “regular” office hours so a lot of the time we're like two ships passing in the night, or in our case, in the morning, with me taking her place in our bed as she gets up for work. This routine is always most taxing come Friday night. Jen comes home to an empty house whilst I'm dealing with drunks at work. Working in the bar on a Friday, serving nothing but merry nine-to-fivers can really fill you with bitter envy, if you let it... But today I'm just concentrating on that sun in the sky and my weekend which will start in roughly eight hours time.

There are positives to working the Friday shift though. The atmosphere in the bar is brimming and with their being lots to do, the hours fly by. And today I was working the “b-shift”, which starts a little later. There is a resounding, psychological difference between working an eight hour shift and an eleven hour shift. After spending the day at home relaxing, hanging out with my dog and listening to records, my buoyant mood was such that I almost bounced down to the train station in Sundbyberg. One short Friday shift and I'm free for the weekend. I rang Sara, who was opening the bar, on the way to the train, just to check how things were. “It's cool”, she says, “No stress in getting here”. Good. I parked my arse on the train and settled into the latest copy of Maximumrocknroll for the fifteen minute ride into Söder.

I must have sat there reading for about five minutes before I realised the train was still sat still at Sundbyberg, such was the enthralling content of my MRR. Hmm.. Five more minutes passed without so much as an explanation from the train driver. Fucking SL, truly cunts of the highest order. Just as I'm thinking about getting up and heading over to the tube station, the train begrudgingly shunts into life. Ok, back to my MRR...

The train advances all of fifty feet before it stops again. For. Fuck. Sakes! How many times do you have to go through this nonsense? It's not like a monthly travel card is cheap either! For eight hundred kronor you're as well taking yourself down to SL's head office, dropping your pants and bending over once a month.

The train stands still for another few minutes. Amazingly, when it does start to move again, it's in reverse. The train backs up a few feet back to the platform and upon arrival the conductor announces the train is fucked. Un-fucking-believable! I make a run for it to the tube station at Sundbyberg, along with about four hundred other people, all of whom squeeze themselves on to the next arriving train in a state of frenzy. Packed in like a fucking sardine in a tin, I'm at last making my way to town. I wonder how Sara is doing...

I hastily make my way from Skanstull station along Skånegatan. The sun is still blazing in the sky, seemingly refusing to call it a day, despite it now being six thirty pm. I arrive at work and it's as I feared, only worse. The place is packed. I squeeze my way through the crowd towards the bar and look to Sara to see how she's doing. She just shakes her head. Balls. By the time I get myself behind the bar I see that chaos has ensued. Sara tells me the cash register has froze. She's doing her best to keep a float. She has a list that she's written by hand with the sales she's made since the till has been out of action. Sat along the bar is the usual gang of regulars and friends, all of whom seem to be in high spirits and completely oblivious to the sea of shite Sara has been wading through for the last twenty minutes. Nice start to the day. I get on the phone to Cashpoint's support service whilst Sara holds the fort, serving people and keeping track of the sales on her list. “Welcome to Cashpoint support service, you are currently in a cue. Your number is...thank you for waiting!”. Brilliant...

It's no secret that drinking alcohol blurs the senses. I know this, everyone knows this. But even with that knowledge firmly in mind, I'm still astounded by the fact that the telephone I currently have glued to my ear appears to be invisible to the line of regulars sat along the bar. I'm stood there, talking to Cashpoint's support service, frantically tapping away at the cash register and yet still, our friends, the regulars, try to engage me in conversation. I shoot them a few half arsed smiles but they don't seem to get the hint. The trouble is, there is always one thing or another going tits up in this bar and this is obviously comical to them. I know they mean no harm though and I reign in my temper...unlike Sara and I, they're just happy it's Friday...

Amidst this chaos, with Cashpoint in one ear, the regulars in another and Sara running around like a blue arsed fly, one guy's voice stands out amongst all others, his annoying little face a clear, sharp picture against what is now the blur of the humdrum around him. It's like everything else suddenly tunes out and fades away to nothingness.

I don't know who he is but something looks familiar about him. He's also sat at the bar, just to the left of the gang of regulars. He looks a bit like the actor Simon Pegg, but with silly aviator sunglasses that are tinted yellow. He's obviously one of those people who takes up a lot of whatever room he enters, his voice fighting to be heard over all others. An annoying cunt basically. From the moment I walked into the bar and got on the phone, he's been trying to catch my ear, now and then reaching his hand out in the hope of shaking mine. I can't tell if he's drunk, high or just a bit slow. My gut feeling tells me it's most likely a mixture of all three...

“How are you doing man?”, Pegg inquires, whilst winking in my direction. I try batting him off with the cursory smile that the regulars received. This isn't enough for Pegg though. For the next fifteen or so minutes he continues to attempt contact with me, everything from “Good to see you again,” to “You're a good guy, thanks for being here.” Utter, random shite, but for a while Pegg almost has me wondering if I know the cunt. With Cashpoint's somewhat inadequate support service finally fixing the problem with our till, I'm left to the mercy of Pegg's babbling. He's talking to me like he knows me and rather stupidly I'm going along with it. When I free myself from his verbal clutch, Sara and I agree that he won't be having any more to drink..

A while later, whilst I'm busy serving someone else, Pegg asks Sara for his bill. It's now that all hell breaks loose...

Pegg is dismayed by the total his bill amounts to. As I'm dealing with someone else, I hear him, as does every other patron of the bar, shouting and cursing at Sara. Apparently he's upset about the price of the beer he's been drinking. His disclaimer is that he's been ordering his beer by the gallopan... Ah, the fucking gallopan!

Technically a gallopan is 12.5 cl of beer, which were it originates, in France, is just shy of a wine glass. The problem is, the whole thing gets lost in translation here in Sweden. When people here order a gallopan, and it's usually pretentious wankers like Pegg, what they want is a beer in a wine glass. And to muddy the waters still, the wine glasses we have at Snotty are of the large kind, larger in fact than our normal beer glasses. Now Pegg sure as fuck didn't want 12.5 cl of beer every time he ordered, he wanted beer in a wine glass. And he was charged by Sara accordingly. But now Pegg is screaming bloody murder, claiming that when he orders a gallopan he means that he wants a beer for the sum of twenty five kronor. I can't help but indulge myself and engage this twat in debate.

“I actually work in this business!”... If there is one thing that brings me close to physically shitting myself with laughter, it is when a customer, who has drank long beyond the limit of alcohol they can handle, hits you with that one! “I actually work in the business...” Pegg, unashamedly repeats himself..

“Everyone knows that a gallopan means twenty five kronor!” Seriously, the absurdity of this argument is astounding. I ask him if when he ordered his beer, did he actually want it in a small glass, to the measure of 12.5 cl. Negative. No, he wanted his beer in a wine glass.. I point out to him that, regardless of what poncey fucking title you give it, we charge beer by the volume, and that is what his bill reflects. Simply having you're beer in a wine glass does not make it cheaper, especially when said wine glass is forty nine fucking centilitres! The argument to's and fro's for a while. Sara tries to talk to him, since it's her that's served him the whole time, but he rudely refuses to talk to her, saying he will only talk to the man in the bar, pointing at me. Sara has to walk out back before she throws something at him.

Whom I assume is Pegg's girlfriend is stood behind him the whole time, gently trying to coax him away from the embarrassing scene he's making, reasoning that she can pay the bill. It seems to be a matter of principle for Pegg though and he's not giving.

He actually starts to get threatening for a second and it seems that only then do the other regulars, our friends, understand what's going on. And then in the blink of an eye, Pegg's expression changes. He now has an expression of complete and utter shame hung over him like a dark cloud. He begins to apologise profusely, saying he doesn’t know what's come over him. This is getting weird now. He starts to fumble around with his wallet and empties it's rather meagre contents. He's only got about one hundred and fifty kronor. Even if we'd gave into the prick and changed the price of each of his beers to twenty five a piece, he wouldn't have been able to cover it...

He's now shaming himself further by sheepishly asking his girlfriend to loan him the money. She happily covers it with her debit card whilst he continues to apologise, repeating that he doesn't know what came over him. He then leaves an eighty kronor tip. And then he fucks off. I want to tell him he can shove his eighty kronor tip up his arse, but I don't, it goes straight in the tip glass. Eighty kronor is eighty kronor at the end of the day and I've got no problem with taking this sap's money...

What a fucking start to the evening! I make myself a stiff, black coffee and with Pegg now gone, and with the till now working, give Sara a hug and we get back on with work.

But it's just one of those nights where everything seems to go wrong. Glasses are smashed on the floor by drunk retards who can't even move out of the way when you're trying to sweep up the broken glass they're standing in, some lady smashes a champagne glass on the bar and wants a new one for free, the card machine runs out of receipt paper and when we attempt to refill it, the new paper rolls the owner has bought are too big and we can't close the fucking machine, the top on the antiseptic spray is loose and when I go to pick it up I'm left with just the top in my hand whilst the bottle drops to the floor and empties it's contents all over the place, all three beer kegs run out simultaneously on one occasion, some fucker blocks the toilet with a gigantic turd that I have to fight away with a plunger whilst oblivious, pissed up punters bang on the door wanting's Friday night and for a while it's mayhem basically. Around midnight, with about a hour to go, Sara and I look at each other and burst out laughing! What else can you do? It is shit, but it could be worse. It's not exactly working in a sweat shop in China...

We close the bar at one am. When we turn on the main lights and usher everyone out, we're left with what looks like a bomb site. After an hour or so's cleaning we sit down and pour ourselves a well earned drink and simply enjoy the silence for a while. It's not so strange that a lot of people I know who work in the bar business entertain healthy drinking habits. After a night like tonight, sitting down to a cold beer tastes indefinably good. Sara and I snack on some food and laugh about the night's events. We sit for almost an hour, just chatting and winding down before heading our separate ways. And then it's time to go home.

Taking the tube home at three am. on a Friday night is an absolute fucking nightmare. If you're I am.. I walk to Medborgarplatsen tube station hoping to cash in some karma from SL. Not a fucking chance. Next train, eighteen minutes. I must have just missed the last one. I put in my headphones and spectate the carnage that is Pissed Stockholm Three AM, willing away those eighteen minutes.

My attention is caught almost immediately by two young girls about ten feet away, who are absolutely steamboats and literally shovelling McDonald’s into their mouths. One of them, a rather large girl dressed in the miniest of mini-skirts is rocking back and forth dangerously close to the platform's edge, hopelessly trying to kick some garbage onto the tracks below. I stand there watching her for about five minutes, as does her friend. Although determined, she just doesn't seem to have the required eye to foot co-ordination for this particular task in her present state. She finally gives up. As she turns around and walks back to the platform's centre, she drops her box of chicken nuggets, or whatever the fuck they are, at her feet and they spill out onto the minging floor. Before I can even manage a snigger it's stiffled by an expression of shock, as she bends over, baring her arse to all and with what turns out to be an gigantic effort, picks up each one of her nuggets and clumsily stuffs them into her mouth, not even bothering to stand up straight whilst doing so. I can barely believe what I'm seeing...what a weird end to a shitty night.

The train finally arrives and I take it to Central Station, praying to a God I don't believe in that I'll make my connecting train to Sundbyberg and not have to wait another half hour. Thankfully it's only a short wait.

Finally on my way home now. Looking forward to my free weekend. I check the weather forecast for tomorrow on my phone. Apparently it's going to rain. Go figure.