Saturday, April 14, 2012

Stuttgart

I shot up in bed like a fucking vampire when stabbed through the heart with a stake. I look over at Johan, his eyes are wide open, confused. What the fuck is that fucking noise? It sounds like somebody is chainsawing wood right here in the apartment. I look at the clock. Eight-ten am. The din goes on for the next twenty minutes without showing any signs of abating

Eventually I get up to find out exactly what the fuck is going on. I need a piss anyway so I make my way to the bathroom. I find some young, curly haired geek going at the front door of the apartment with an band-saw. He just kind of smiles at me, not in any sort of apologetic way mind...there is maybe a slight hint of embarrassment at best. It appears he's moving the door of the apartment forwards a couple of feet. Why the fuck he has the need to do this at this hour I don't know. I go back to bed. The din continues for at least another thirty minutes. If I didn't have a hangover from hell I'd probably chase the bastard, instead I just lie there suffering through the insanity of it all.

It's ten thirty when I wake again. I crawl into the shower and try to wash away last night's poison..

We meet up with the rest of the guys back at the apartment. We sit down to the breakfast that Mike has bought in for us and try to gather ourselves. Jocke seems to be doing better than when I last saw him. Jon, Drette and Elijah all still look pretty hammered. We still have to go back to the club and pack the van. In fact, we still have to pack all the gear down. If I remember right then we left it all up on stage as it was.

The load-out is heavy going. I really wish we would have sorted it last night when we were pissed up, would have been a lot easier. To add insult to injury, when we're trekking back and forth from the van we spot a bunch of pretty, young office girls who are looking at us from the building next to the venue. They're all laughing, openly mocking us and giving the peace sign. I guess they're aiming this more at the likes of Elijah and Eric but seriously, what the fuck is that all about?

The one consolation to today's hangover is that the journey to Stuttgart is only an hour and a half. We decide to take the opportunity to do some sightseeing since we have time on our hands, so before leaving Schaffhausen for good we drive off to check out the Rheinfall falls that are situated in the middle of the town.

The sound of water, especially when it's rushing in full flow, has always had a kind of hypnotic effect on me. I love being around water, it's one of the reasons I fell in love with Stockholm. These falls, although not that tall, are wide and powerful, the white water creating a cacophony of noise. I stand and take it in for a good twenty minutes. Jon and Drette are stood supping from another bottle of rum that Elijah had taken with him from the club this morning. Jon looks pretty drunk. Elijah has spotted a large, plastic jester mask that some fucker has thrown into one of the still pools at the bottom of the falls and has decided to climb in and fish it out, as much to do his bit for the environment as to get his picture taken with the mask.

I sit up front for the journey to Stuttgart. Schaffhausen is right on the border to Germany Black Breath's van, which is directly in front of us, gets pulled in by the border cops. A rather hard looking bastard then approaches our van, not a hint of humanity in his eyes, and puts his head in through the driver's window where Johan is sat at the wheel. “Are you guys travelling with them?” he grunts, pointing at Black Breath's van.

“Yes.”

“Same band?”

“No, different band.”

This seems to confuse him. He takes another look around the van, at the hungover faces starting back at him and then nods and tells us to carry on. We pull away hoping our American brothers are going to be ok. Sometimes the Swiss border can fuck you over when you're carrying merch with you. When we get to the venue, somehow Peter is already parked up in the car park. Johan jokes with him, asking how the fuck he managed to get here before us. “Because you're a musician, I'm a driver.” he smirks in his usual, friendly Hungarian tone.

Neil tells me later that that the cops hadn't kept them at the border all that long, and their line of questioning was pretty fucked up. They'd asked them if they had any drugs with them, you know, since they're a band and all and bands are prone to carrying drugs across borders. They obviously answer with a unified no. The cop then asks again, saying if they have cannabis, cocaine or heroin then they will not be allowed into Germany and will be forced to turn back in to Switzerland. I don't know if that is a trap tactic or indeed an absurd truth...

Stuttgart is a beautiful city, buried in the belly of a valley. The drive into the city is always worth being awake for. Unfortunately this youth centre we're playing to today, the same place we played a couple of years ago with Municipal Waste, is in a rather drab area of the city. The venue itself is pretty cool, but there isn't much to look at in the surrounding areas.

Since we're here with plenty of time to spare today, I decide to take a walk on my own, in the hope of finding a park or some other hidden gem. Really, I just need to get away on my own for a while. I love walking. An aimless walk with no deadline to be anywhere, or any destination to be reached, is like therapy for me. I love all the guys in the van, they're a great bunch, but sometimes you just need to be on your own for a while. It's nice just not to talk for a while. When you're on tour you are in constant company. The forty minute walk takes me nowhere and there is nothing of interest to see, but I feel a lot better for it when I get back to the club.

Jon is looking pretty fucking boats when I get back. I'd heard it from the front of the van on the way in, the way he was talking, arguing with anyone who'd listen that Ozzy is shit and Dio is King. He'd reasoned that you had to choose and he'd made his choice. There was a funny moment when Robban said from the seat behind him, “You're weird...” and everyone went quiet. The funny thing is he's now stoating around the venue talking and walking like Ozzy himself. Thankfully, he doesn't need to be told, he decided himself that he needs to rest and fucks off to a bed in the band dormitory.

There is another band opening tonight, Mankind Vs. Humanity. They play a kind of sludgy metalcore mixed with some nineties style hardcore. They're pretty good at what they do, the guitar sound is booming but there aren't many people in the venue to witness their performance. In fact, when they'd started up I'd gone in to check them out and there were about four people in the room, all stood way back against the far wall opposite the stage, that for some weird reason has a mirror spanning the width of it. The room looks like it should be hosting aerobics class rather than a gig. Anyway, by the time they're done a few more people have filtered in, but there is probably something like twenty people, mostly metallers in bad leather jackets, stood around smoking cigs.

I thought the German shows on the tour would be a sure thing since when we play here with Victims it's always a good turn out, but then I guess that is a different scene with different ticket prices.. Not that surprising that there aren't that many punks attending these shows. Black Breath definitely pull a more metal and hardcore crowd in Europe. Jamie told me that back home it's far more mixed with a far bigger support from the crust crowd than they receive here. Funny how that works really..

Tormented play to a quite a few more people than the opening band, the greater contingent of the smokers having made their way inside by now. The sound is really good in here and they play a solid show as usual. Most of the crowd seem to be digging them, Elijah in the middle punching his fist in the air, Mark in his usual spot at the front banging his head. Most of the rest of the crowd though, although donning looks of approval, refuse to be drawn into making any kind of physical movement.

I'd guess that by the time we start the set there are around fifty to sixty people in the room. It looks ok. When we played with Municipal there was more like two hundred, but even then I remember that gig was pretty stiff. Well, fuck it, when the crowd is stiff that usually just spurns me on more, it induces me to get their face all the more. Ozzy Lindqvist is now back with us, looking more with it than he did a few hours ago but far from sober. He has quite the look tonight. Hot Snakes t-shirt, bandanna wrapped around his pony tailed hair and gaffa-taped glasses.

We kick into Theft and I'm straight off the stage on to the floor. Come on you bastards! I enjoy a pretty good stage sound for most of the show, again opting for ear plugs, I might be able to get used to them. The show, although the crowd remains stiff for the majority, is good fun. I enjoy myself anyway. Jon certainly seems to be enjoying himself too, he's totally off on one tonight, pulling out some seriously debatable moves. Such classics like the black metal arms, licking his fingers and rubbing his nipples, giving Johan the rock God bow as he plays his bass. Fuck knows what we must look like with me on one side of the stage throwing my guitar about like it's on fire and Jon on the other side feeling himself up. No wonder the crowd looks confused. I do love the boob though.

I love the support the bands on tour give each other. We watch each other's sets each night. It's so nice to be on a tour where that's not a chore since you genuinely like the bands you're playing with. That didn't happen so much back in the Speedhorn days. Elijah had told me he'd been talking to some metal guy after our set who thought that having bands like ours, playing all this d-beat and shit, was ruining the show. Elijah felt the need to put him in his place, personally insulted by the guy. Sweet of him, but it's not any of us give a fuck about that kind of thing..

As usual, we watch the Black Breath set with a beer in hand. I'd only managed the one before the show, and that was only because Elijah had offered me on of the two he was carrying whilst we were watching Tormented and I had a hard time refusing his smiling face. In truth, the beer we'd received on the rider tonight was pretty pants, seemingly denying the laws of physics and refusing to drop from it's luke warm temperature to something more drinkable, no matter how long you left it in the fridge, or maybe that's just how my hungover taste buds experienced it. It wasn't any good though and I struggled through a second beer before giving up. The BB boys were great as ever though and it was fun watching them. Jon was down front giving it the black metal hands in front of Mark. Then he was over in front of Eric, getting involved in some beat down when the guys went in to one of their stomp sections. Then he was on the mic again, screaming along to their song Virus. The BB boys seem to lap him up though and dedicate a song to him.

After the show, we pack down and split the gear up, since Black Breath are playing the Roadburn festival tomorrow and we're playing some punk fest in Groningen. I'm actually looking forward to it since Tormented are going to do a special and play half the set as their crust alter-ego band Tortyr. Should be a shit load of fun! Will be cool to see Claes singing. The Black Breath guys are pretty bummed that they're going to miss it. When the vans are packed, we sit about casually chatting away. Most people are abstaining from any sort of booze although Jon is fucked again. I spot him, walking around confused at a seemingly impossible forward leaning forty five degree angle. Drette has fixed another crate of beer and a bottle of rum, but most of us stay clear. Funnily enough, Johan seems to be getting into it a bit..

We end the night back in the dormitory, watching Youtube clips of all our old bands. Robban is this guy with an insane death metal voice and sings in some pretty big bands. He was in Edge of Sanity with Drette, who were a classic death metal band in the nineties Robban now sings in a successful death metal band called Scar Symmetry, who play big assed shows. We check out some vids along with some of his other old death metal bands. Elijah and Mark can't believe what they're witnessing! It's pretty funny.

Then some old Speedhorn live clips come on, stuff from Ozzfest and the likes. “Whoah dudes, I can't fucking believe this!” Elijah raves, supping from the rum, “I'm in a room with metal legends, I had no fucking idea!” He goes on like this for the next hour or so, genuinely shocked by the company he's in, which is hilarious to us chumps. We force Mark into showing us some old stuff by his band Go It Alone and another band he has now called Devotion. He sings in both bands, he has a really good voice, although he seems very bashful about it.

The best clip of the night though, something of a classic in our circles, is the Skitsystem Goes to Poland video. It was one of their last shows, and an absolute disaster where they re-start songs, re-start the entire set at one point, all of them fucked out of their minds playing different songs from each other, alarmingly out of tune. In the end, Alex runs at Wallenberg and kicks him before leaving the stage. It's painfully funny. The show ends with a steaming Kalle getting of his drum kit and taking the mic, “No speed, no punk. What can I say?”, before leaving the stage shrugging his shoulders. The clip ends with an excited Polish fan grabbing the mic and screaming, “Play some more!!” Mark can't believe what he's seeing and being a big fan of the band and an extremely professional, sober musician himself, seems really hurt by the whole thing. We all piss ourselves laughing. Great clip.

I eventually go bed around two-thirty, wishing then that I'd done so a lot earlier. I'm stone cold sober when I tuck into my sleeping bag, and that being the case, it takes me a long time to nod off. I lie there in the dark, listening to the sounds from the other room. “I can't fucking believe you guys, awesome!” I hear Elijah drooling into Robban's ear, and the howling laugh of Drette and Jamie as they share the bottle of rum..

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