Tuesday, April 3, 2012
It's always great to see my parents, even if it's only for a few hours. A night in my old bed, mum pestering around me in the morning making me breakfast. They'd even gone to the trouble of buying Linda McCartney's veggie sausages. I remember when I first told them I'd became a vegetarian it was as if I was coming out of the closet. My dad confronted me about it the first time I was home after having told them..”What's this you don't like bacon any more?”. Typical dad.
I was looking forward to a long night's sleep in the old bed but ended up only managing about six hours. I didn't want to spend the morning in bed and pass up the chance to hang out with my mum who was off work today. We see each other far to seldom as it is. I could sacrifice a few hours sleep. Snitch came around in the morning, he's like a part of the family himself, always calls my mum “mother”. Had a great morning, just sat around the dining room table drinking tea and catching up with the family Dad was in and out from work as usual. He seems to spend half of his working day at home, it's been a running joke in our family for a long time. He always claims he works his balls off but then he's always got the same old smirk on his face whilst he claims this. I guess after thirty odd years though he's just got his job pretty sussed.
Snitch gave me a ride over to Kettering train station and we grabbed a coffee and sat on the platform waiting for the train to pull in to the station. It's been surprisingly sunny since we arrived in England.. I got into London around three and met up with the guys by All Ages Records in Camden. Miles was wanting to take some shirts off of us to sell in the shop and I of course wanted to buy some records. I ended up buying a handful of lp's, including a Gauze bootleg which had Fuckheads on one side and Equalizing Distort on the other. I already had Fuckheads but still..
We hung out at the shop for a while since we had some time to kill before load in at The Underworld around the corner. The guys had slept at one of the people who ran the show in Nottingham last night. Seven of them all in the one flat. They said it was comfortable enough although apparently somebody was having some loud, ass slapping sex in one of the other rooms whilst they tried to sleep.
Playing in London certainly has it's good and bad sides. I always get to catch up with a load of mates who live here and the shows are normally great but the traffic in this city can drive you fucking mad. And there is nowhere to park the van, you have to load out in twenty minutes straight out of the van with cars flying past you before rushing off with in the vain hope of finding somewhere to park the van legally. Peter decided to simply take the parking ticket and leave his van and trailer parked conveniently outside the loading doors of the Underworld.
We loaded in and set up, and after replacing last night's broken strings, I went off to meet Leon, one of my oldest friends. We played in our first real band together, played our first shows together. I always thought he was going to make a life of playing music, such was his passion for it but it turned out that he's also a great writer and ended up with a career in journalism. He's done really well for himself, interviewing film stars all over the world. He's always been really happy for me though, that I was the one that went on and did the music thing. I was happy to hear therefore that Leon has started playing in bands again, he has a two piece post-rock doom band called Tulip together with some girl from Portland. He sent me a link to some stuff a while ago and it was great. I hope they're going to get out and start playing some shows.
We went to a new bar around the corner which is a Brew Dog Brewery establishment. We were joined by Johan and Jon after having had an hour or so to catch up. I had a couple of fine tap ales and a great veggie pizza. By the time we were done though I was fucking bloated and the senses were a little blurred. No more beer until after the show for me.
We headed back to the venue to find Kev and the guys had arrived. As fun as it is playing a show on tour where a load of mates turn up, you almost feel like it's a waste of a visit since you wish you had more time just to hang out. When you're on tour there is always loads of other stuff to take care of. Still great to see everyone though. Joe and Tom from Attack Vipers came down with a goodie bag of merch for me that I traded for some Victims stuff. Chuffed with that!
Since most of the friends I meet up with on tour are other guys from bands who I've met in this very environment, it's always fun to meet up with a friend from who comes from a whole other part of my life.
I got to know Anders when he got together with our friend Annica a few years ago and we've been good friends ever since. He's from Stockholm but he's currently living in London as part of a three year project with work. I'd say about eighty percent of my circle of friends are musicians, or at least, people who play in bands. Anders on the other hand is the only friend I have who is a priest. He's a very liberal priest but a priest nonetheless. He's also one of the nicest guys you could ever wish to meet. The first time we ever hung out the two of us ended up steaming and we've been pissed up together on more than one occasion since. Still, the sight of him at the gig in his newly purchased Victims t-shirt, the one with the upside down cross in the logo, was quite the fucking picture! Kev thought it was absolutely great! He'd almost spat his pint out when I told him what Anders did for a living.
It was another great show tonight. Kind of like last night, but on a stage. The place was packed out and although I was struggling with the sound again, the atmosphere both on the stage and in the crowd nullified that problem. It's something I'm going to have to sort out though. I had some huge mohawked punk rocker guy going crazy for the whole set in front of me. I saw Kev down in front of Jon, seemingly having a good time of it too. It was again ridiculously hot on stage and I was pretty fucked by the end of the show.
For some reason it always seems to be the case that merch sales are a lot lower in the UK, a lot of bands I know say they always struggle with that particular problem on these shores, even when the shows have been great. Tonight though the records and shirts were flying out. I had a great time hanging out at the merch table with the band and our friends. For some reason I wasn't really in the mood for drinking that much but I was more than content just to hang out. Typical London though, about fifteen minutes after Black Breath were done, they started kicking us and everyone else out. Thanks for your time boys now fuck off! We hung out for a little longer in the dressing room before eventually being chased from there too. We loaded the gear out in to the van and literally as soon as the last bag was out, a bouncer came behind us and closed the doors. Good old London hospitality.
There was some talk of going out to a bar or something but I was more than happy to just head back to the hostel, still amazed that the venue had even provided one. When were then told the hostel had a bar that was decision made. Johan, who is driving the van, obviously wanted to get parked up for the night so he could have a well earned jar.
The hostel was a bit of a drive away, just south of the river over in Borough. I sat next to Jon in the back, who had purchased a two litre bottle of Strongbow that he was more than happy to pass around the van. We found the hostel easy enough but parking the van was a whole other matter. Andy ran over to the hostel to check with reception but the guy working there was about as much fucking use as chocolate tea pot! When Andy asked him if he knew anywhere we could park he just looked blankly at him. When Andy asked him what other patrons normally do he replied that other patrons don't normally turn up in cars. Fucking London! He did actually go to the hassle of googling some car parks but the only thing he could find was a place that cost eighty quid for twenty-four hour parking and was a bit away. We dropped the guys off with the bags and Johan and I drove off in search of other alternatives.
We must have driven around for half hour or so and found fuck all. The only thing we could find were places that were for residents only, between the hours of eight am and six pm. Being tired and pissed off we figured that it was worth it just to pay the fine since it worked out cheaper than a car park anyway. How fucked up is that really? Fuck it, we'd chance the fine. Certainly not getting up and leaving before eight...
Kev was telling me earlier that they've recently raised the emissions cost on old cars and vans, that don't conform to required regulations, to one hundred quid a day. That goes by the date too and not a twenty four hour limit. In other words it costs a hundred quid before midnight and another hundred after. This has been causing a lot of suffering in the punk scene since a lot of bands have old vans and the cost of playing a show in London, just to get into the fucking city, is two hundred nicker. On top of that there is some new fucking proposition the government has put in place that severely restricts venues putting on live music since it requires anyone putting bands on to apply a month in advance, citing the band names, type of music, names of band personnel and all other types of shite, meaning if one band pulls out due to whatever circumstance the whole show has to be pulled. And of course, if you're applying for a punk show that gives the cops a heads up and you can be sure as fuck they'll be sniffing around just wanting the slightest hint of anything to cause hassle. I guess this just pushes the DIY punk scene further underground which isn't necessarily a bad thing. What the fuck is this country coming to? What with shite like this and other insanities, such as the thought of the NHS disappearing and fuck knows what else with it, I'm glad I got out.
We get to the hostel where Andy is waiting with a room key for us. The place is called Bed and Bars and it is exactly that. There are some dormitories upstairs where we'll be sleeping and there is a rowdy karaoke bar full of pissed, young English trash singing shite like Oasis. Jocke had asked Neil if he was coming for a pint but he refrained, saying it reminded him of everything he hates about the USA. Funny that, I know exactly how he feels.
We head up to the room where Claes is busy with his computer looking for alternatives to a free day we have coming up. After Cardiff there is a spare day before we play Bordeaux. We were originally supposed to be playing Paris, which would have been perfect but that fell on it's arse. The label that put the Tormented record out, who are based in France, have said they've sorted a gig out in Nantes if we want it. It will be no pay but free accommodation and food, as well as the chance to sell merch. It's a long way though. We'll have to sleep on it.
We head down to the bar and into a scene of utter nonsense. Loads of chavs singing shite songs, pissed on shite beer. Jocke, Drette, Robban and Jon are hanging out at the end of the bar, observing it all with wide grins on their faces. This is England chaps.
This was about as far away from what I'd envisioned for myself tonight. I'd hoped for a quiet hostel bar, a couple of quality beers and some chat before bed. I went over to Johan at the bar who had asked the clueless looking barmaid if he could sample the IPA they had on tap. It tasted like warm dish water. It was slim pickings and I eventually opted for a pint of Amstel. Shite but it was about as good as it got.
I thought for a minute that the guys were going to get up and sing, Jon seemed to be saying something about it, although he was teetering on the edge of Lynch mode, where he talks really slow and deliberately due to the intake of booze in his system. I was praying he wasn't going to get up in front of this crowd with his bandanna and lather vest on, the cunts in here would tear him to pieces! I left before having to witness such a thing, knowing fine well I'd be powerless to dissuade him. The rest of the guys were soon back in the dormitory though, so I guess it never panned out.
I had a surprisingly enjoyable shower in one of the corridor shower rooms. I was intrigued by a room that had the sign Unisex Washroom on it, wondering if it was ever used. Seemed a bit saucy to me. I got into bed about two thirty, my bed being the bunk above Claes. Before I got truly comfortable I was climbing back down and heading off down the corridor for a piss. Before finally putting my laptop away an hour later, I'd been back been back and forth to the bog three times, on each occasion pissing like a fucking horse!
I finally drifted off sometime around four am, the possessed by a demon like sounds of snoring bellowing from one of the other bunks in the dark dormitory...