Monday, April 23, 2012

Lund

It's been the theme of this tour it seems. Had the perfect chance to get a good night's sleep, blew it and ended up with less than five hours. Fuck it right? I'll be home in a couple of days time and then I'll be back in the world of normality.. Except, I feel like shite! I wonder if we were doing the whole tour, the whole five weeks, instead of just three, would I have looked after myself a little better? I remember talking to Barney a few weeks ago in Belgium, was it really three weeks ago? It feels a lot longer..we've travelled so many miles since then...Anyway, I remember Barney telling me that he really looks after himself on tour these days, that he has to, but then I guess Napalm still tour in a full-time capacity..Anyway, would I have looked after myself a little better if we'd been on the whole tour? Would I have paced myself a little more? The answer is probably not.

It's not like I've been partying hard the whole time, I've been drunk on maybe two or three occasions at most, but the lack of sleep has really fucked me up. I'm not one of those people who professes to be ancient at the age of thirty-four, far from it, I appreciate the fact that I'm still what many people would consider a young man, and I've got no issues with getting older either, but the simple fact is I can't handle the average of five hours sleep a night and the daily intake of beer and booze as well as I did when I started touring fifteen years ago.. We're getting to the end of this tour now, only two days left, and I feel absolutely exhausted, I'm more than ready to go home, although the thought of going back to work makes me feel sick, but another fact of this life we choose to lead is that in a month's time I'll be ready to do it all over again...

I pulled myself out of bed around nine, having once again denied the chance to relieve my bladder of the piss bursting it's seems for the hour previous. We have an early start today since we have the drive to Lund and it's an early show. On top of that the guys want to make the routine stop at the Booze Boat in Puttgården. We decided we'd grab a quick breakfast at the club at ten am and then we'd get going. At least we'd had insight to pack the gear down last night, which was quite surprising considering the shots were flowing.

We're on the road by ten-thirty. As soon as I take my place at the back of the van my eyelids start to fold over, weighted down by sleep. I feel absolutely exhausted.. It's hot in the back of the van and my throat hurts from the cold that has been threatening to take over my body for the last few days. It seems to be finally breaking through the barriers. Some of the guys are watching a film, I don't recall which particular one, I only catch glimpses of it between foggy bouts of sleep. One thing that is quite clear in my head though is the progress we're making, or the lack of it. The get in for the show at Lund is supposed to be three pm since doors are at six and the curfew is ten pm. The venue tonight is a youth club and the show is all-ages. At the rate we're going we're going to struggle to arrive before doors. It's one-thirty when we arrive at the Booze Boat...we still have the forty-five minute ferry to Denmark and then from there another two and half hours on the road. We'd better make the stop a quick one.

The Booze Boat: a four storey ferry, stacked floor to ceiling with bottles of booze and packs of cigarettes, all sold with an extremely friendly, tax free discount...

I curse myself for not taking advantage of the cheap prices on the boat at the start of the tour, when we were on the way down to Germany. I thought then that it would be a pain in the arse having a bottle of booze rolling around in the back of the van or weighing down my bag, but now today I'm so tired and have been drinking every day for the past three weeks, I can't even get my head around purchasing a bottle of whisky, no matter how cheap, and so after walking around the boat in a daze for the best part of thirty minutes, I shuffle back out to the van where most of the other guys are already waiting. I reason with myself that my single malt collection at home is still at a healthy fifteen bottles anyway.. We're still waiting on a couple of the Black Breath guys, who are presumably still walking around the boat in awe. Peter wants us to wait for him since he's never taken the ferry before. Fifteen minutes later and we're still waiting for Elijah. He eventually turns up, grin spread from one cheek to the other, carrying what appears to be a solitary bottle of beer...

Of course, we missed the two-thirty ferry to Rödby by minutes. Next one, forty-five minutes. We're going to be late...

We eventually arrive at the venue in Lund around five-thirty, so with doors in thirty minutes we'd better get on with getting on. Black Breath aren't even here yet though and they're carrying the bulk of the backline in the trailer. The youth club we're playing tonight is a very quaint little, wooden building that is painted white and looks like something you'd see in a souvenir calender of Sweden. It hardly looks like a place you'd associate with hardcore shows but looks are deceiving...they've been putting on shows at Hemgården for years. We load in and then help ourselves to coffee and cookies. It's that kind of place... The kids running the venue are all very friendly and are happy to help us get the stage set up in double quick time when the Black Breath van arrives. The room the stage is in is very small. It looks like a tiny little school assembly hall. The stage is minute and set up in a very weird way. The front of the stage, which stands about two feet high, where I presume those of us playing guitars will be standing, is very narrow. Once the amps are stacked up there will be no more than a foot or so left to stand in and play, meaning we'll be wearing the amps like fucking back-packs. The area where we'll have to place the drum kit is a small alcove, set behind the amps, which is going to make for interesting listening for Andy., and by interesting I mean he'll hear fuck all. I consider for a minute suggesting that we set up on the floor, but realise that we'd end up taking up half the room if we did so. And the rumours are the show tonight is sold out.

When we're done setting up we sit down to some dinner. Jon appears, having been missing for the last hour or so. Drette told me he found him sitting in the van reading his book. Apparently the place was giving him bad vibes...too Christian according to him. I can't say I've really picked up on that but then Jon is more sensitive to such things.

Even though we were late getting here we still managed to get everything set up and good to go by the time doors were supposed to open. There really wasn't much need for a soundcheck but Tormented gave the PA a quick run through anyway. Amazingly, with such a strict curfew in place at ten pm and three touring bands on the bill, the promoter, whoever that is, found it necessary to add a forth band to open the show, an all girl punk band from Malmö called Beyond Pink. Even more amazingly, the promoter has also told us that Beyond Pink will have to play later on the bill since they're not going to be able to make it here in time to play first...apparently one of the members has work. This seems completely fucked up to me. We tell the people at the venue that if they can't make it for the start of the show then they either have to play last or forget it all together. Nothing against the band, it's just a ridiculous situation. I mean, we travelled from fucking Hamburg to get here...

Beyond Pink turn up at the venue about ten minutes before Tormented are due to go on. Andy knows a couple of the girls in the band, of course, he knows people involved in punk rock in just about every town on the planet. They tell him that they'd rather go on first and that going on last doesn't really work for them. Well, Tormented are set up and there really isn't much to tell them, except that maybe one of them should have booked the afternoon off work. They don't look too happy with the situation and the air all of a sudden seems a little chilly. It's an unwritten rule of touring though, you don't break the package up. Again, I just don't fucking understand the logic of putting an extra band on a three band bill at a venue that has a strict ten pm curfew...

Tonight is Claes' last show on the tour. After tonight, we're travelling back to Finspång and Claes is going home to his family and our friend Rikard takes over for the rest of the tour, which for us is one more show but for Black Breath and Tormented it's almost another two weeks. Weird way of doing things really. But three weeks is a long time to be away from your children and I guess it must be hard for Andy too. This being Claes' last show, I'm really hoping that they have a great one to sign him off with but unfortunately it's not to be. They play well as they always do, but the sound is fucking terrible. It seems they've put everything through the PA, which in a room like this is completely unnecessary, a bass drum, snare and vocal mic combo would more than suffice. Instead the whole backline is miked up but rather than it amplifying the overall sound of the band it is hacking and glitching as if the microphones are faulty. Although there are plenty of people in the small room that seem to be enjoying their set, it looks like the boys themselves are having a hard time of it.

Things don't bode well for our set and it hardly gets off to a flying start. Pressed by the knowledge that we're on a tight schedule, we've already decided to cut Nowhere in Time from the set. Unfortunately things are stuttering from the very beginning. As soon as Tormented are done we're up on stage getting our gear in order. Johan has ran off for his usual nerve induced pre-show turd but the rest of us are on stage ready to line check. The problem is as soon as Jon turns on his amp and gives a blast of his guitar to make sure he's got sound, the in-house sound engineer cuts the record that's playing through the PA and the room immediately fills up with people who stand there in silence expecting us to start the show. Johan is nowhere in sight. “Er, hello” I awkwardly mumble. Johan turns up a couple of minutes later to find the three of us in the middle of a Grateful Dead type noise jam. He looks pissed off with us. I can only offer a shrug of the shoulders...

Johan soon gets his bass sound up but then when he goes to check his mic it gives him a sharp, electric nip. And then another one. He asks the engineer to replace the lead which takes another couple of minutes and does nothing to improve the situation. Then the mic is replaced but still the fucker is zapping him every time he puts his lips to it. We're getting way behind schedule by this point and in the end we just have to get on with it. Jon finally says into his mic, “We're a sweaty little band from Stockholm and we're gonna play you some songs..”

The gig sucks, quite frankly. At least for us on stage. It's hard to move anywhere for fear of falling off the front of the needlessly high stage. My ass is practically rubbing up against my amp and all I can hear is myself. If I move a step to the right towards the rest of the band then all I hear is Johan. Andy is making it quite clear he can't hear any of us and by the way he's playing I believe him. Johan is constantly getting shocks to his lips and is looking increasingly fucked off. Jon on the other hand, seems to be loving it.

The crowd seem to enjoy the show at least, but I can tell the out front sound is pretty cack. It's a real slog for the whole set and I'm more than happy when we get to the end. There are a couple of guys who have been in front of me throughout the whole show though who really loved it and they continuously thank me afterwards. I guess if they're happy then that's the main thing..

Claes tells me afterwards that the sound was abysmal. No surprises there. He also tells me that the Beyond Pink singer has been complaining to the venue staff about how far behind schedule everything is...It's gone nine when Black Breath finally take the stage and I wonder if they've even remembered there is another band playing after them. They normally play for fifty minutes so I can't really see how they're going to fit another band into the night, but to their credit they fly through their set, the crowd loving it, and cut a couple of songs in order to make time for Beyond Pink. As soon as they're done we all help get their stuff cleared, leaving our backline on stage for Beyond Pink to use. It's nine-forty five by the time they're ready to go and they're sarcastically making jokes about the time, checking their watches, making sure the crowd, what's left of it, takes note.

I can't honestly tell if I like them or not since the sound coming from the PA is so shite. It sounds like the drum mic's are literally resting on the kit. Turns out to be the case too. The bass player tells the crowd that the mic's keep falling down and are just bouncing around on the actual drum skins. I'm sure I hear the singer make a complaint about other bands on the bill running over time but I can't be sure, by this time I'm in the other room checking out a record distro.

They play for about twenty minutes before calling it a night. We all load out as quick as we can and as far as I know we don't even get a thanks for lending out backline. Weird gig. Shit last gig for Claes. We don't really care, we're driving five hours back to Finspång and we just want to get going. Eric tells us that oddly enough the promoter was just short of break even so there is no percentage break for the bands and we're given just the minimum guarantee. How can that possibly work? Again, we don't care, we just want to get on the road.

I sit up front with Johan at first, and then Robban takes over the driver's wheel around one am. The guys are in the back sleeping even though the film they had put on is still blaring out of the speakers. For some reason I'm fully awake and Robban and I chat the whole way back to Finspång. I almost don't want the journey to end such am I enjoying the conversation, talking to Robban about all the death metal bands he's been playing in since 1989.. It reminds me of when I was a kid and now and then, when it wasn't a school night, I'd travel with my dad in his Royal Mail lorry on his late night drives down to Luton Airport... If you're awake, there is something very cosy about driving through the late hours of night engaged in conversation.

We drop Jocke and Drette off before heading back to Robban's to sleep. Claes has travelled in Black Breath's van who are staying at his place tonight. We're going round in the morning for a farewell breakfast.. We get to Robban's around four am and although I'm still stinking of the sweat that pissed out of me on stage, I decide I'll shower in the morning. Or, in a few hours time at least...

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