Friday, April 6, 2012
It's still dark in the room when I awake...or is it just that the curtains are drawn? It's fucking hot in this dormitory, I know that much. I'm dying for a piss again and I think I'm most likely still a little drunk. I roll out of bed and creep to the toilet. Drette is passed out, still fully clothed, with nothing but a sleeping bed for a mattress on the hard, stone floor. The rest are sleeping in various bunks. I check the clock, hoping like fuck that it's still early hours.
Shite. Ten-fifteen... The hangover has just hit me like a punch in the face.
As I'm stood there emptying my body of it's very last drops of fluid, leaving nothing behind but last night's poison, I hear the sounds of and old man, huffing and puffing at what appears to be some sort of gargantuan task. I turn to see Jon, dressed in nothing but a bandanna, tight pink t-shirt and boxer shorts, climbing faced-forward down the ladder of his bunk. It must take him about ten minutes. I stand there watching the whole episode, my eyes covered with a fuzzy, booze-laden film. I feel like shite, that's for fucking sure, but the sight of Jon makes me feel marginally better. Only the very narrowest of margins mind...
I climb back into bed, fooling myself into thinking I'll be able to enjoy the bed for another hour at least. The truth is that the alarm is set for ten-thirty and we have to drive to Cardiff this afternoon for another show tonight. There's only one thing for it and that's to get up and attempt to shower some life back into my being.
The shower actually goes a long way to helping, at least for a a little while. Everyone looks pretty peaky today, Drette in particular. The guys who live in the apartment upstairs have been kind enough to put on some breakfast for us and I sit down with Eric and Neil to a welcome pot of coffee. The rest of the guys slowly start to filter in and slowly but surely life is beginning to resume. Elijah appears, looking the worse for wear, holding a bottle of alcoholic Ginger Beer. He says he woke up with it beside him although he doesn't remember going to bed. He happily washes his breakfast down with it...
We sit around the large breakfast table, laughing and recounting the events of last night. Jamie tells us that he had managed to lock himself out of the apartment in the middle of the night. He'd awoken in need of a piss in a drunken stupor and as one does in such a state, convinced himself that it would be rude to piss in the toilet and wake the other people in the room. After humming and ha-ing he decided to get up and take a piss outside in the courtyard, not thinking to put anything on his feet as he does so. Of course, the apartment door is on a snib lock and when it closes behind him it stays closed. He hasn't taken a key with him. And there's a freezing wind and the rain is pissing down. He tells us he's out there, hopping from foot to foot, desperately trying to get back in. After about fifteen minutes a window opens from another building in the courtyard, an irritated face appearing in the window frame, “What the fuck are you doing?”. Jamie shouts back, “I'm locked out dude!”. The window closes and Jamie assumes that the guy is going to come down to his rescue. He never sees the guy again... By the time he gets to this point in the story, everyone sat around the breakfast table is literally crying with laughter! Eventually Jamie figures out that he can walk around the side of the building and bang on the window of the dormitory. It takes about another five minutes before anyone rouses from sleep as he stands there banging relentlessly in a by now state of frozen panic.
The load out today is a heavy one. We hadn't even packed down the gear last night so we're left with everything to do today. It's freezing and the wind is howling as we pack the van, carrying the heavy guitar cabs through puddles of water. Fuck this! We eventually get on the road by about twelve-thirty. I sit up front with Johan, feeling quite the fucking mess.
The drive to Cardiff takes about four hours and by the time we arrive I actually don't feel that bad any more. We'd been listening to Tom Petty's Wildflowers on the way down which had smoothed out the mood a little. We load in to the club from the narrow pedestrianised street outside the club, up two steep flights of stairs, thank you very much, and then Johan and I head off with the van to a car park a couple of streets away. I don't think there will be any partying tonight somehow.
I feel bad because my mate Jamie is travelling all the way down from fucking Scotland to come to the show tonight and he's been peppering me all day about a piss up tonight. I can't even contemplate that idea, but if I know him well enough that won't hinder him in getting boats himself. We're staying at Gordon and Katy's place tonight and we've sorted out another place for the Tormented guys to stay. I can't believe the timing but Gordon is actually away on tour himself. Not that strange I guess since driving and tour managing has been how he's made his living since we finished Speedhorn but it still sucks. One of my absolute best mates and he's not home when we're here playing. It's great to see Katy nonetheless. I'm so happy for then, they've finally decided to tie the knot after ten years or so together and Gordon has asked me to be his best man, an honour I'm proud to accept although the thought of giving a speech has me nervous already. I've got a year to work that one out...
Richey, another good friend, is here tonight. I've played shows with Richey and his band Shaped By Fate dozens of times and we hit it off the first time we met. Richey is an amazing artist and we were lucky enough to have his artwork on the cover of our last record. SBF were supposed to be on the bill tonight but had pulled out yesterday because as Richey put it, they're not very good at being a band. Since Richey's art career has taken off and Luke, the other guitarist is fully enveloped in his job as a personal trainer, they've only managed to rehearse once in the last few months and just couldn't get it together in time. Richey pulled the gig but sorted out some other friends to play in their place.
I met up with both Richey and Jamie, who had travelled down with his mate Daz, a big burly Scotsman if ever I've seen one, at the Weatherspoons pub across the road from the venue. By the time they'd arrived I'd noshed down a veggie bangers and mash along with a couple of pints of Brains bitter, which is a great fucking pint, and I was feeling almost human again. It was great catching up with them. Jamie was indeed already looking a bit sauced.
The first band on the bill were called Hunger Artist and included Lee, the bass from Gordon's band A Thousand Arrows. Lee seems to play in just about every band in Cardiff. They were pretty fucking good too, sounded like a doomier version of Baroness. The place was about a quarter full when they were on and I enjoyed watching them. I bumped into Hugh, the singer from Arrows in the crowd. Always good to see him, one of the friendliest guys you could meet. He'd brought me an Arrows t-shirt and I felt really bad since it was a little on the large side. I really wanted to have a t-shirt I'd be able to wear though and Hugh being Hugh, said he'd pop by Katy's in the morning with a small shirt instead. Lovely chap.
By the time Tormented went on stage the place was filled out nicely. Yet again I've been surprised by how good the turnouts have been on this UK leg of the tour. I was a little worried that the club tonight was a smidge on the large size, but I'm glad to say those worries were unfounded. It's fun watching the Tormented set, Claes seems to be fully back on track now. They get a good reaction although Drette tells me afterwards that it was pretty heavy going with today's hangover.
We're set up and ready to go and considering how the day has been, I feel pretty good. There are a lot of people in the place although they're all packed in and huddled together a good ten foot back from the stage. Before we start both Johan and I motion them towards us and they all duly shuffle forward, close up to the stage. Strange phenomena that..
The show goes well and although it's a little harder work getting through it tonight, the energy on stage and again in the crowd is good. They're not moving so much but between songs there is a lot of positive noise. My fucking guitars let me down tonight though. I break a string on the Tele early on, which is never a good thing. I take it a little easier on the SG but then with only a couple of songs left, lulled into a false sense of security, I snap a string on that twat too, leaving me pretty scoobied. I tell the guys just to go ahead and play We're Fucked without me. Jon then dedicates the song to me. I end up just pulling the broken string away and join in with the song at start of the second verse anyway. Fuck it.
I need that fucking string for the last two songs though. Claes comes to my rescue, his Gibson Explorer aloft, and after a bit of tuning, we blast through Circles and Scars. By the end I think I'm losing a bit if tuning but I don't care by that point. I liked the Explorer too, felt like fucking Hetfield up there!
It's pretty chilled after the show, I enjoy a couple of pints of the good stuff with Jamie and Richey, Jamie by now pretty fucked, he's got a that big silly grin spread across his coupon. I really can't believe he's come all this way for the show! Mad bastard. Great to see him though. Again, a nicer guy you'd be hard pushed to find.
I watch Black Breath's set from back at the merch stall. There are plenty of people popping by and thanking us for the show. As in last night, it's another first for Victims. I was really happy Richey finally got to see us play live, he seemed to love it. We shift a fair bit of merch again after the show. They want us out of the place pretty much as soon as the lights come on though. They have another club on here tonight and we're not able to leave our gear here. Maybe just as well that we pack out tonight though, we're taking the van over to Katy's to sleep anyway and it would just be a pain in the ass to have to come back into town tomorrow before heading off.
As we're getting ready to pack out, the lights now ablaze, Jamie has convinced himself that Neil looks the spitting image of Alec, the guitarist in his old band. He's boats by now and he keeps stroking Neil's admittedly impressive beard. There is a lot of hair in the Black Breath troupe... Neil takes it all in his stride though, he probably can't make out much of the ramblings of the drunk Scot dialect. I struggle myself...
The load out is not any easier than it was on the way in. Elevator anyone? Apparently a band that played here last week had a guitar and a bag of merch stolen whilst loading out so we're extra diligent whilst packing the van. It's fucking freezing as well. For a while we think we've actually been robbed of a box of t-shirts, but after double checking the van we locate it buried under a cardboard box. We were panicking for a while there though..
We've sorted out the Tormented guys at a friend of Richey's, a friendly chap called Lewis. The Black Breath guys are staying with the promoter's rep who has been looking after the show tonight, a young Swedish girl actually. She seems pretty cool too and happy enough to provide our American friends with some floor space.
By the time we get back to Katy's, after dropping off Tormented with Lewis, telling them we'll miss them, we're all pretty hungry. We order some take out pizza. It's really nice chatting to Katy for a while and watching some tv, just what I needed after last night's shenanigans. Katy is up early for work in the morning, but she manages to stay up until two o'clock. I have to practically order her to bed by the end, such is the extent of her fussing over us, making sure we have everything we need.
I finally drift off into a deep, heavy sleep, curled up next to Andy on the sofa bed, an episode of Scrubs on the tv in the background somewhere...Will be nice to wake up tomorrow and not be hungover..