Thursday, April 12, 2012

Schaffhausen

There is little under a week left of this tour, at least for Victims. Tormented and Black Breath still have a couple of weeks left, but we're hopping off in Stockholm next week. Kinda made sense that way. If I'm honest then I would have liked to have done the whole tour, then...before we left. But now, with a week to go, I feel differently. Three weeks of touring this way, no sleep, booze every day, a constant intake of junk food, is about as much as I can handle these days. I'm fucking knackered when I wake this morning and I'm starting to look forward to going home.

We're on the road again by ten am, and the journey takes the best part of eight hours. I sleep for a while but it's hard going when your legs are stiff as boards and your knees ache from being cramped up in the van. The journey is a long one. We pass a bit of time watching the film Super Bad, but apart from that it's just hours of staring at the road.

A while past the Swiss border we see a pretty horrific car wreck on the other side of the motorway. There are a bunch of cars involved and one small car is completely fucked, it's missing it's entire back half. It's simply not there any more. I can't imagine how anyone sitting in the back seats would have survived such a smash. It doesn't bare thinking about...

We eventually arrive in Schaffhausen around seven pm, only a couple of hours late. It's a very picturesque little town built around an ancient castle that sits on a hill keeping guard. I imagine it would have been a nice place to have spent some time in. When we pull up to the venue ad load in, the Black Breath guys are already there. They got here at one am since Peter drove the entire night. The guy's a fucking machine! Although I guess unlike us, he didn't play a show last night.. I hear Eric telling one of our guys as we're loading in that they've had a really nice day in the town, sightseeing and the likes. I jokingly say “Fuck you!”to him, but he doesn't seem to get my British wit. It doesn't always translate so well I guess..

The venue itself is a strange little club. Very professional people, very friendly. The stage and the PA is all very high tech, but the room is weird. It's on two levels, the bar being on the second level and the stage in a sort of pit on the first level. My main concern in a town like this is, “where the fuck is the crowd going to come from?” Is it so hard to sort a show out for Zurich, or Geneve, Basel? I mean, I'm not a concert booker but it just seems a little strange.

The people at the club are super friendly. The promoter is a young, innocent looking guy called Mike. He asks Johan and I to follow him into the cellar and choose what bottles of booze we want for the night. They have shelves of expensive spirits, including single malt whisky and Barbados rum. Mike tells us he has no idea about what booze is what and that we can take what we want, and if we need more later then we just need to come and tell him. We're staying at an apartment around the corner from the venue tonight. This is going to be a wet one..

Switzerland is a funny little country. It just kind of exists on it's own. It seems everyone here has money and the towns all look like the model villages I used to love when I was a kid. The venue opens at eight and a few people come in. Straight away a couple of punks come up the merch table and one of them buys every record we have, a t-shirt and a hoodie. Another guy wants to buy an lp. We're only in Switzerland for the one day and we don't have any Swiss money the merch float. The lp costs fifteen Swiss francs, the guy hands me a one hundred note...

Johan and I hang out at the bar and get talking to the manager who is a really nice guy. We get fully engaged with him in a conversation on two of our favourite subjects. Local beer and football. He insists we try the local cloister beer from the brewery here in Schaffhausen. It's really good. We sit there for about a half hour talking away him about FC Schaffhausen, Hammarby and Liverpool and how we all suffer following such clubs..

We watch Tormented play their set. The sound from the stage is fucking awesome. There are about forty people in the place. Somehow I don't think there are many more on their way. Mike seems happy enough though. I wonder if this is another venue that is state funded or something...or if Mike is just a rich kid who books bands that he likes. He really can't do enough for us and I almost feel bad for him. This is easily the lowest attended show on the tour so far. It's not like it's a disaster or anything, far from it, it's just with the amount of money they must be spending on the venue and the hospitality they must be taking a huge financial hit on the show.. Still, it sounds great and those people that are here seem to be loving the show. These forty odd people probably are the Schaffhausen scene..

By the time we play the crowd hasn't increased any and I'm feeling like it's going to be tough. Not because of the crowd, simply because I'm exhausted.

We play through the set and although I can feel that we're playing tight, I'm having a hard time with the sound again. For the first time in years I have to put ear plugs in whilst on stage. Stupid really that I never use them. It helps a lot once they're in although it's a completely different feeling on stage when you take away all that top end distortion. It is indeed a hard slog on stage tonight. The crowd are receptive enough but I'm feeling weak. All in all, it's still a fun enough show though. Weirdly, for the first time probably ever, Johan breaks a bass string during the set. I thought Jon had dropped out of Circles at first because a huge part of the stage sound disappeared but then I spotted Johan's guitar. Shit. When the show is over I pack up my gear immediately and then head to the back stage room. I need a beer.

Jon goes to the bar and fixes some glasses with ice and lime and I make a round of rum and cokes for everyone. It hits the spot perfectly. Johan admits that he was a little drunk on stage, that the two or three beers he'd drank before the show had gone straight to his head. Not surprising considering the long day but it's not very often you'll see Johan tipsy on stage. I hadn't noticed to be honest..

Jon is chuffed today since he got to go bowling. He and Elijah had gone off together earlier on the back of directions they'd been given by somebody at the club. They had arrived at the supposed bowling alley only to find a bar and a confused bartender. When they explained they wanted to go bowling, the bartender directs them down a couple of floors to a closed bowling hall. They have to turn on the lights themselves and then they get the entire alley to themselves. If heaven exists then heaven is a bowling alley according to Jonny boy.

I'm a little tipsy myself by the time Black Breath take the stage. The crowd is still no larger and most of the Victims and Tormented guys are stood at front to the right of the stage, drinking beer and singing along. We have a really good time and again, the PA sounds amazing. Those few people who are here are certainly treated to a great sounding show.

Mike asks us if we want to go to a bar and hang out after the show but we tell him we'd rather stay at the club if it's possible. It's not like we want to go out on the pull, most of us are respectable guys that are happily settled with wives and girlfriend's, some of us have kids. All we want to do is stay at the club and get pissed together.

We spend the night around the fussball table, me and Erik taking on Johan and Peter. Peter turns out to be some sort of fucking hustler and goes the night unbeaten. We've empties two bottles of rum by this point and I go to fetch another from the cellar but think better of it. It's two am and I'm already pretty pissed. I go back up to the bar and find four of the boys around the table with their tops off, hammering the shit out the fussball table. I guess they're playing strip fussball. My guess is confirmed a few minutes later when Jon starts taking his jeans off after conceding a soft goal..

We're all in a pretty advanced stage of inebriation but Jocke is in a particularly bad way. He was only telling yesterday that he hadn't really been drunk on this tour yet but he's more than making up for that tonight. I find him in the bogs, white as a fucking ghost, on his knees with his head down the shitter, puking like there's no tomorrow! Robban walks in as I'm stood pointing and laughing at him and asks what's going on. He then spots Jocke and goes to his aid, “Aw Jocke, how's it going buddy?” with mock concern in his tone as he pulls out his phone and starts taking photos..

Jocke finally pulls himself up and goes outside to take some air. He's sat on a step in the car park looking sad as we get back to the fussball. There is a pile of sick on the floor over by the doorway. Poor Jocke..

About thirty minutes later, we're still playing fussball when Jocke comes running back in to the club. “Eeeeh Jocke's back!” I cheer, full of genuine jubilation. Jocke storms past, heading straight for the toilet, “I'm not back” he quivers..

The night finally comes to an end around four am. We trek through the cobblestone streets of Schaffhausen, my bag's heavy wheels practically waking the whole town as we go. Most of the guys check into the flat that is owned by the club. Elijah is hanging out of a window upstairs shouting down to us when some guy in the house opposite angrily demands we shut our yaps. “Ah sorry brother!” Elijah beams in his usual Boomhauer tone.

Johan, Mark, Peter and I opt for the hostel the club has booked for us. We lie in bed watching CNN for a while but I can hardly concentrate on anything being said. My eyes give in sometime around four-thirty. I'm glad it's only a short drive tomorrow..

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