Monday, April 9, 2012

Madrid

I woke up after only a couple of hours sleep, although for once not in need of a piss. I had Jon lying in the bed beside me, fuck knows when he'd called it a morning, seemingly talking in tongues in his sleep. Not only that, he was waving his arms about wildly, like Bonzo does when he's dreaming he's chasing a rabbit. I try nudging the bastard but it has little effect. To make matters all the worse, my throat was fucking killing me. It seems I've opened up the doors to Drette's cold. Six thirty am...I lie in bed wondering what I can use to clip Jon's ball bag off with...

I finally drift off back to sleep and wake up again a couple of hours later when my alarm clock proclaimed it was time to get up. Considering the lack of sleep, I really didn't feel that bad. The throat was of a greater concern though.. There were literally bodies all over the flat. Jamie had slept in a fucking closet, Neil was lying in the hall way. Elijah hadn't even slept, he just sat up and partied with the Spaniards drinking Jagermeister all night. The fucker still looks full of life.

Eric tells me that he'd gone to bed around five am in one of the bedrooms in the back only to be woken a short while later by Jon who was standing in the room just staring into nothingness, cusping a shot glass of Jagermeister to his chest. Explains why he looks such a wreck this morning.

We take rapid showers and get out of there, thanking our hosts for their hospitality. Johan and Claes had had the misfortune to sleep in the room next to the party, where they'd been playing grindcore on the stereo all night. So much for the need for silence in the flat! Felt bad for them since they were on driving duty today..

We get going around ten am, just pile into the van and hit the road. Jon hasn't said a word yet, his blank eyes telling their own story. We stop at the first available garage for breakfast. Jon asks if me if he can lend a tenner. He buys himself two packs of cigarettes for breakfast while the rest of us opt for coffee and sandwiches. I guess I'm more tired than I realised... I buy a double espresso from the café that looks so inviting that I take a huge gulp of it without even considering the fact that it's boiling fucking hot. My mouth rejects it in a fit of panic just as the lady behind the counter is handing me my change. I feel like a right turd. Claes had spotted it and is pissing himself laughing.

I take the co-pilot seat in the van whilst Claes drives us on route to Madrid. My eyes are heavy, weighed down by the glaring sun and I'm soon fast asleep, only stirring occasionally to adjust the position of my aching legs.. I sleep for a couple of hours I guess and then I wake up with about three hours of the journey left. We arrive in Madrid around five pm, Black Breath have just finished loading in the backline..

I don't know what area of Madrid we're in, I've only been here once before and that time was much like this, streets lined by apartments and cafés, not much on offer in the way of sightseeing. We load in the gear from our van and the first thing that hits you is fuck, this place is huge! In reality it's probably no larger than Debaser back home, I'm told the official capacity here is five hundred.. It's just that it's extremely high in the roof and the stage wouldn't look out of place at Wembley Stadium! Ok, that's a little exaggerated but it's a monster stage but it must be about six foot high.

The promoter guy is friendly enough and as is usually the case with these places, the hospitality is top quality. Eric asks him how many tickets he's sold for tonight. Thirty five. Wonderful. Not that surprising I guess being that they fucking cost sixteen Euros, or twenty on the door.

Touring at this level, the level Black Breath are at right now is a tricky balancing act. I've been there with Speedhorn. Their booker in Europe has a lot of bigger bands on his roster and sometimes you get promoters in places like this who will take on a gig like ours just so they get a shot at something bigger in the future. It's worth the hit they take. That's just the game. For us it works both ways. Places like this, way too big for our gig, pay a guaranteed fee no matter what the turn out, but then ticket prices get hiked and the show is a blow out. The other side of the coin of course is night's like Bordeaux when you play a packed show in a basement to a load of punks at five Euros a pop and come out with ninety fucking Euros in payment when you've driven over a thousand kilometres to get there. Still, it seems quite logical to me that a show like tonight would have more chance of being a success for everyone if they kept the ticket prices lower, ultimately making more money for everyone and certainly making for more of a fun show.

I was thinking just today that we haven't had a disaster gig on this tour yet, there is usually at least one per tour, but this could be the night I guess. Still, it could be worse, the food they provide us with is out of this world and the shower looks awesome.

Once we've sorted our gear, Johan, Andy and I take advantage of the little bit of free time we have and go for a much needed walk in the sun. We walk around the surrounding blocks. There isn't that much to see. A half decent fountain in the middle of a roundabout and a dusty park where there are some kids skateboarding. I really would like to come to Madrid and have a proper look sometime. At least the show in Barcelona tomorrow is bang in the middle of the city. As we're walking about I see a homeless guy that has made a sun shade for himself in a doorway with some rags. I suddenly don't feel so bad about playing a show to thirty five people in a big silly venue where we'll be fed and watered and even paid for our efforts...

We get back just before doors are opening and grab some dinner. Like said, it's absolutely superb. I'm feeling a bit low due to the pain in my throat which is now slowly making it's way to my sinuses, but the cold bottle of Corona goes down a fucking treat anyway. I'm not normally a fan but this Coronita hits the mark perfectly.

I regret it literally the second I drink the last swig though, a new wave of illness hitting me like a cricket bat to the head. I head out in to the venue which is now open and waiting for Tormented to take it's stage by storm. I sit with Neil, chatting for a while about similar experiences we've had with such gigs in the past. I look around the venue, there are about five people inside. The bartender looks bored. I reason with myself in the most liberal of fashions that if seventy people turn up and spread themselves out a bit it then it won't look so bad.

The stage has a huge curtain drawn across it, waiting for the signal from the stage to open. I take a position behind the merch table, as the curtain opens there are about fifteen people in the place. Tormented belt it out just as they do every night though and it has to be said, the sound is fucking huge!

One guy had came in just before Tormented started and was cautiously checking the merch out. By the time Tormented leave the intro riff from the first song behind them and into the hammering verse of Rotting Death the guy is back pointing at a Tormented t-shirt and shouting “Medium! Medium!” Top fucking work boys! I don't have any change to give him, but he doesn't care, he says he can take a Victims t-shirt too, not really seeming to give a piss which one, so as to solve the change issue...and then he runs back to his position on the dance floor to check out the rest of the Tormented set.

By about half way through the Tormented set there must be about seventy/eighty people in the place, and it actually doesn't look so bad. It could certainly have looked a lot worse. The bartender still looks bored though but then at eight Euros a beer he's going to... As I'm looking about the venue I spot a young couple of metallers who are furiously making out with each other, oblivious to the entertainment on stage they've paid for. Young love.. I guess they're here to see Black Breath..

It's soon time for our turn up on that big stage. I'm really feeling pretty rough and I know this gig is going to be a hard slog. I try to fend off the shit feeling inside me with a couple of shots of rum from the backstage room. I know it's not going to help in the long run but all I care about right now is the next thirty minutes and I'm hoping this rum will postpone things for a while.

We're up on stage getting monitor sounds sorted, hidden away from the eyes of the crowd behind that large curtain. The monitor guy asks us when we want the curtain opened. Johan tells him when we start making noise he can pull the curtains. I take this to mean that we'll make some feedback, the curtains will open and then we'll go into Theft. I'm not prepared the chaotic swirl of noise that hits the stage once we all start playing in tandem and as the rest of the guys go into the intro I'm still hitting my guitar making noise with my back to the crowd. It's only when I notice Johan looking at me, wondering what the fuck is going on that I notice the rest of the guys are well into the song and the curtains have opened. For the second time today I feel like a right turd...

The set is indeed a hard slog. I get the feeling that it sounds good out front but on stage it's a bit of a mess. I can only really hear myself mixed in with a swirl of white noise and somewhere amongst it a flapping bass drum. When I'm over by Andy it sounds ok, but as soon as I leave that area of the stage it's close to unworkable. To be honest though, I'm just concentrating on getting through the show, the effects of the rum now long gone.

Despite the sound, the show goes pretty well. Jon actually thinks it's the best show of the tour, he had a really good sound apparently. He was all over the stage tonight, I could see he was loving it. I felt happy for him since I've had a couple of those shows myself recently. Hopefully tomorrow I'll be back on track.

The guy promoting the show tonight is also taking care of Barcelona tomorrow and he said there they've done seventy five tickets and the venue is a lot smaller. I have some friends coming tomorrow and I love Barcelona as a city so it should be a lot of fun.

It's too bad really, I was supposed to meet up with my friend Kelly today, but due to a lack of internet over the last couple of days we haven't been able to figure it out. How the fuck did we survive without the internet really? Kelly has been living in Madrid for a year or so now. She's together with one of my best friends, Lee, who used to drive Speedhorn, and I've been good friends with Kelly since the moment I met her. Lee had actually been here visiting her this last week and unbelievably enough was travelling back home today. I was hoping he was bullshitting me and was going to turn up at the gig tonight as a surprise but it wasn't to be. He's already been here a week and had work to get back to. I hope I'll see them both again soon..

I enjoy the shower after the gig to the fullest and I'm feeling a little better by the time I'm done. I watch the Black breath set from the merch stall, pausing now and again to take in the cool night air out on the street. There is some girl there who I think is together with the bouncer, who has a beautiful American Bulldog with her whom I soon learn is called Otto. He must still be a pup considering his clumsy, playful demeanour, and I spend a while playing with him. He's a real beauty. When I say goodbye to Otto and his owner I'm left again with a longing to be home with Jenny and our dog, Bonzo.

The show wraps up around eleven thirty and we pack down as quickly as possible. We have a real hotel tonight, something we're all looking forward to after last night's lack of sleep, but it's sixty kilometres away, though thankfully in the direction of Barcelona, and we want to get moving. When we're packed out and ready to go we're confronted by the promoter who tells us that we need to give the venue and the staff who worked the night some merchandise. Apparently that's the deal here. He's being friendly enough about it which kind of makes it all the more awkward. After some painful conversation with the guy on the matter we end up donating a shirt to him. I'd already given the sound guy a shirt earlier and thought that was me being cool then, so to get this bollocks now is a bit of a ping in the balls. But what can you do? We're packed and waiting to go and this conversation is fucking boring, he gets his shirts, thanks us all again for a great show and we fuck off.

It's only one am when we check in to the hotel. We're leaving at ten in the morning. Me and Johan lie in bed watching Family Guy for a while before sleep takes us. Luxury...

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