Wednesday, April 4, 2012
I did not get a lot of sleep last night. Woke up sometime around seven absolutely dying for a piss but with no energy to climb down from the warm bunk and trek down the corridor to the bog. I don't know how many times I've been through this ridiculous routine. I lie there aching in the bladder but due to the tired stupor I'm in, pointlessly try to convince myself I'll be able to sleep it off. It never happens. And then about a half hour later I'll finally give up and rouse myself from bed, robbing myself of much needed sleep.
For the first time since we left home, I felt really tired this morning. Johan looked tired too. He's done pretty much all the driving so far. Johan and Claes had decided to share the driving on this tour, but obviously with the shit situation Claes has landed in, having to take medication that doesn’t allow him to drive, it's been pretty much been on Johan. Claes feels bad about it but the most important thing for him and for us is that he's ok. Don't want to see Claes in the state he was in in Kortrijk again...
Breakfast was fucking shite this morning. They had it set up in the bar that hosted the karaoke last night, a bountiful selection of sliced white bread, butter and jam along with a choice of Corn Flakes or Rice Crispies. The coffee was cack too. Still, a free breakfast is a free breakfast.
The journey to Manchester took around five hours, about half of which was just getting out of London. As much as I like to visit the place and hang out with my friends for a few days there, I could never live in London. It suffocates you if you stay too long. I guess Kev and the boys have it pretty good down in Deptford but if I had to spend more than a couple of days in Camden I'd fucking implode!
We pull up to the venue around three-thirty, about a half hour ahead of schedule. We're in the Salford area of Manchester, just the other side of the canal from the city centre. Obviously with my footballing allegiances being with Liverpool, I've always had a built in prejudice against Manchester as a place, but in all honesty it's a nice enough city, better than most in the England in fact. We played here a lot back in the day with Speedhorn and it was always a good show. This part of Salford though really is desolate looking. Johan looks pretty fucking knackered and opts to stay in the van and wait for load-in, as does Jon, but the rest of us go for a wander around the estate.
It looks like a set from This is England. There are a lot of high rise buildings with boarded up windows, an old theatre in ruins, and old factory missing a roof. It's as if after the German's blitzed the city nobody bothered to rebuild this area. There is a young, scruffy looking kid kicking a ball against a wall on his own, a pit bull terrier walking around unleashed, no apparent owner in sight, a young teenage girl pushing a pram around and the sky is turning a menacing shade of grey. We head back to the venue, satisfied that we've stretched our legs.
The venue itself, which is situated right in the middle of all this, is a really cool place. A vibrant arts centre with painting studios and graphic design offices it's a buzz with artistic energy. The building is in stark contrast to it's surroundings. The people here are all very friendly too, very talkative and happy to help out with whatever we need. The gig room is pretty cool too. Low ceiling, brick walls, sofas dotted around the space a little off the sides and the stage is low. The only thing that slightly spoils it are these two supporting pillars in the middle of the stage. I'll have to be careful not to smash my guitar into them.
After last night's fucking around I was hoping for a hassle free night tonight and was therefore delighted to hear that we'd be sleeping in an apartment that was housed within the venue's complex. Perfect. It's not very often you get that in the UK, it's more of a mainland thing. It's a nice feeling to just park the van up, load out and know that you don't have to move anything until the morning. I think Johan is looking forward to a well earned piss up tonight. It feels like there is a party in the air tonight, everyone safe in the knowledge that they can just go crash whenever they want to.
After load in, we hung out in another building on the other side of the courtyard from the venue, just relaxing and eating dinner. My sister and soon-to-be-brother-in-law live around here and they turned up to the show around seven thirty. It was great to see them. As close as we are we see each other far too seldom. When I was at my parents the other day my mum had put on an old home video from some barbecue party when we were kids, think I was eleven and Carly was nine or something. I was being a right little arsehole with the camera, not letting Carly have a go and she got upset. She was so cute when she was a kid and she looked really sad because I was being the selfish older brother. I've been wanting to apologise and give her a hug since I saw the tape..
We hung out over in the dinner building, chatting and drinking a couple of beers for the best part of two hours. Carly and Nick are getting married in six weeks time. Seems crazy that my little sister is getting hitched. Seems crazy that my little sister turns thirty two this year...It really was great to see them both. I felt the usual pangs of homesickness that I always do whenever I meet my family. It was the same the other day at my parents house. Looking forward to coming over for the wedding, it's going to be an epic day if I know my sister.
It was another great show tonight. The three UK shows have all gone beyond expectations so far. The place was pretty crowded and there was a good buzz during the set. I managed to successfully avoid the pillars and my guitar remained in tact, although as usual I broke another string. Didn't kill the energy on stage though. It was a little weird playing a stage that was brightly lit for the entirety of the show, it really felt like we were playing a community centre. The crowd seemed to be in to the gig though. Strangely this was Victims first ever gig in Manchester. Great first show...
My sister and Nick had to leave shortly after our set since they both had work in the morning, so after saying goodbye to them and giving them both a sweat drenched hug I went out to get some fresh air before heading in to have a beer and watch the Black Breath set. It was real Manchester weather outside. The weather has been kind to us in the UK up until this point but tonight it was really pissy. It was fucking freezing standing in the dark night air of the courtyard and I soon retreated back into the venue.
Jon and I stood for almost the entire Black Breath set off to the side of the stage, drinking bottles of Budvar. It was a lot of fun watching Jamie and the boys blast it out, they are a ridiculously talented band of musicians. The crowd went apeshit for their set and we had a great time watching them, enjoying the cold beer in our hands as we did so. In typical Manchester fashion though there was plenty of piss taking and heckling between songs. Doesn't matter if they really like you, they still like to take the piss. “How many Entombed songs can you actually play?”, someone shouts, referring to Black Breath's proud Scandinavian influences, Jamie was quick to retort though. “How many teeth do you have?”. I fucking pissed myself at that! Nice one Jamie boy.
After the show, the crowd filtered out past the merch stall pretty quickly. A little too quickly since we didn't sell as much tonight. Maybe that's more in keeping with what's to be expected though and not the heady heights we enjoyed in London last night. Just the way it is sometimes here, great shows and responsive crowds don't always equal high merch sales. There is a recession on after all.
Andy pulled a fucking classic on me. He's heading off to the bar and asks me if I want a beer. Nice one Andy! He duly comes back with two bottles of Budvar and puts both on the table. I'm just finishing the dregs of the bottle I already have in my hand as Andy drops his bottle on the floor, spilling it's contents dangerously close to Tormented's merch box. Andy doesn't say anything, just takes the other bottle he's bought for me and drinks that instead. Brilliant. I'll get myself off to the bar then Big Man...
The venue cleared out and we were invited to stay for a lock-in. I love a lock-in, what could possibly be better than having a bar all to yourself to have a party in with your friends? Fucked if I can think of anything! Claes and Mark chose to take advantage of a good nights sleep, but everyone else was at the bar, along with the good folks who'd booked the show. We had some good music, plenty of great beer and lots of banter. I had a long chat with Eric about our favourite sports, baseball and football, and the problems with the money driven businesses they've both become. As I was talking to hear him I could and feel my words beginning to slur.. And then the shots started to come out.
I got into long chats with Elijah and Jamie about hardcore and touring and with Johan about his driving and how I appreciate all he does for us. Jocke and Jon are having a slurred argument somewhere about black metal and death metal and which is better. Jon is pretty sauced, but then again we all are tonight. Earlier Elijah had chatted with Jon for about twenty minutes about Nasum without even knowing Jon was in the band. “No way man! Killer!” was the reaction from our friend the Wizard when he finally clocked on.
We're lucky on this tour to have three bands that are all such good friends. They are all great guys and as the clock gets later and the beer continues to flow I start to get that loving feeling, the one I always get when I'm boats where I inevitably end up hugging people and telling them I love them, man.
It's around three-thirty in the morning and I'm really starting to feel drunk. Not shit faced but I'm getting to the point where if I drink much more then I'm going to end up there. Andy is looking like he's in the same boat as we converse at the bar. Andy is doing his best to convince himself that he's done drinking for the night.
Andy - “I feel really bloated”, rubbing his stomach to demonstrate.
Me - “I feel dizzy”
Andy - “We should probably call it a night?”
Me - “One more?”
Andy - “OK”.
Together - “Two beers please!”
Andy, Johan and Jon leave together a short while later, waving in unison as they exit, looking like they're on a tv game show or something. Tickles me somewhat. I stay for one last beer before finally calling it a night, by now feeling totally fucked. Jamie, Drette, Elijah and Eric are the last left, along with Emma who has been doing a stellar job of looking after the bands all night. She still is by the looks of it as she's corking open another bottle of Jagermeister and threatening them with shots.
Eric is not far behind me though and we head back to the dormitory in the band flat. When we arrive Jon is still awake. He's climbed up into the bunk above mine and is fumbling around trying to remove his jeans. Seems to be having a hard time of it. Me and Eric head to the bathroom to brush our teeth. Just as I'm inwardly commending myself on being of a sound enough mind to brush my gads despite the level of drunkenness I'm experiencing, my toothbrush projects from my mouth in wild laughter as I notice Jon is now naked in bed. Naked, except for his bandanna and gaffa taped glasses.
“Why are you naked?” I manage to ask him between bellows of laughter.
“You love it. But you can't look at it” is Jon's reply to that question. He repeats this line over and over again, pissing himself laughing. I don't even want to look at the clock by the time my head slams into the pillow, I just know tomorrow is going to be a rough one...