Thursday, April 12, 2012
I'd set the alarm for nine am, determined to make up for last night's failure. I'd happily sacrifice a couple of hours sleep for some free time in Barcelona. Besides, I had some record shopping to do and Tallers, a great little street that is peppered with record stores, was just around the corner from the hostel.
After a quick shower, Johan, Claes, Drette and I headed to La Rambla in search of some breakfast. Andy, Jocke and Robban weren't far behind. It's almost a sin to waste a breakfast at a tourist trap on La Rambla when there are so many other places to go in this city but time was against us and the need for record shops was greater than that for coffee. Any café would do.
Having a couple of hours to walk around the city was truly soul soothing after last night's disappointment although it did serve to reaffirm the need to come back here on a real holiday soon. I guess we are playing Hellfest in France later this year and then Jenny and I plan to spend a few days in Paris after that...So many places to be, so little time..
The record shopping wasn't a roaring success, I only found a re-print of the first Necros record, but the walk more than made up for that. We met with everyone back at the hostel at twelve thirty and ordered some taxis to take us to the park where our vans had spent the night... We ended up in a cab with a sweet little old guy who was quite a character. He was pissed off with the cops since they'd spotted him blocking the small street the hostel was situated on when we were packing our bags into the boot. Apparently this was an illegal move and the cops had given him a ticket that would set him back one hundred and fifty Euros. Seemed a bit excessive to me. He spent the entire ten minute trip complaining about the cops. When we drove past another cop sat on a motorbike he started shouting something along the lines of “Policia! Stupido!” and proceeded to slap his face in frustration. I sat in the back cracking up. When he dropped us off at the park where the rest of the guys were waiting for us, he helped us out with our bags and walked around everyone shaking hands, “Beunas dias amigo!”. Nice old boy..
From the top of the park you could see just about the entire city so we took advantage of the chance to get some tourist style photos. I could have stayed there for hours taking in the views but unfortunately time was getting away from us and we had another show to play tonight. Time to get back on with things..
The drive to Toulouse was a relatively short affair, especially when contrasted with the drive we faced to the show tomorrow in Switzerland. We'd be leaving straight after the gig tonight.. The scenery on the road back over the mountains to France was once again quite stunning but strangely enough as soon we passed the French border the sky turned black and it started pissing down. Felt too bad to leave Sunny Spain behind us. I've been told that Toulouse is itself a fine looking city but I doubt very much we'll get a chance to see anything of it. I've also been told there is an active skinhead scene in Toulouse, and not the friendly, ska loving kind either... now that's something I truly hope we don't get the chance to see tonight.
Jocke had taken over the wheel for the last couple of hours of the journey but he's adamant he doesn't want to drive the van into the city, proclaiming we'll all die if he does. We're looking for a place to pull over so someone else can take over, not me, at six months I'm still too green to be trusted with a band van, rightly so and all say I, but somehow an opportunity never arises and as we land in the thick of Toulouse down town traffic Jocke is still stuck at the wheel, shitting himself. I think he's doing an ok job but when he makes a wrong turn the rest of the guys can't help themselves but take the piss. He ends up finding a spot to pull over on a back street somewhere and Claes takes over, a relieved Jocke jumping in the back next to me. At least we got to see a bit Toulouse mate..
The scheduled get in time for today was five pm but it's almost six thirty when we arrive at the club. And Black Breath are nowhere in sight yet...The club is on a very narrow street that as is usual in this country, packed with parked cars. The guys from the club have thankfully taken the liberty of cordoning off a space for the van although even that is tight. It takes Claes a while to squeeze the van into place, the whole while a young couple are making out in the middle of the road in front of us, like a scene from a cheesy movie. I think it's sweet but most of the bitter old men I'm sharing a van with seem quite irritated by it. When Claes finally does kill the engine we're in so tight we can't even open the back doors to get the gear out. Robban comes to the rescue though and shoves the little French car parked behind us backwards a couple of feet...and then we're in.
The people from the club are extremely friendly and everyone helps us load in. The club itself is a really cool little place, perfect for our needs. The stage size is just right, not too big, the floor space in front of it would look nicely filled out with about sixty people and there is an upper level with a balcony to look down upon the stage from. I guess this area will be closed off tonight though, unless for some weird reason we have as many people in attendance tonight as we had in Barcelona yesterday..I doubt it though since the French hardcore scene is quite minimal..
The balcony area is indeed closed off and they're using the space up on the second floor for an area for the band and club personnel to hang out. When our gear is fully loaded in Black Breath are still nowhere to be seen so we sit down to the dinner the people at the club have made for us. I tuck into a delicious pasta salad with feta cheese and mouth watering tomatoes, capers, basil and a zesty vinaigrette. Wonderful stuff! I wash this down with a sharp glass of French rosé wine, all very civilised.
I'm starting to feel pretty fucking ropey by now though..I think it's simply a lack of sleep mixed with a continuous intake of alcohol. It's not that I've been drunk every night, in fact, I've only been pissed a couple of times, but it's just that it's every day and I'm not twenty years old any more.. After dinner I really start to feel quite shaky for a while and have to sit down for a while and concentrate on getting my head in gear. I think I'll stay off the booze for the rest of the night..not like there's going to be a party afterwards.
Black Breath turn up not long after dinner and we help them load in and set up on stage, ready for Tormented to sound check the gear and then we make plans for tonight's journey. We decide on trying to make it Nimes and a Formule 1 hotel, about three hours away, which will hopefully allow us at least six hours sleep before driving a further eight hours tomorrow.
There are about fifty to sixty people in the club by the time Tormented play. Not bad for a wet Tuesday night in Toulouse. It's far from packed but it still looks pretty good down on the floor. Most of the crowd seem to be very metal though, so again, we'll see how that bears for us. As I watch from up on the balcony I see two middle aged metalheads playing air guitar and giving each other the big thumb as Tormented blast away. They looked totally chuffed. There is another long haired metal guy in denim jacket covered in patches, screaming in his best black metal voice “Tormented!!!!” Andy is throwing pieces of cake at Jocke. Jocke is confused...
Johan has got his computer set up in the dressing room, streaming the Liverpool-Blackburn game. I'm not sure I even want to watch it so depressing has watching Liverpool been this year, but when Maxi Rodriguez puts us in to an early two goal lead we're cheering along with the rest of the crowd, “One more song! One more song!” as Tormented bring their set to a close. Just before we head down to the stage to set up, our fucking keeper gets sent off, giving a penalty away in the process. How the fuck are we supposed to concentrate on playing a show when this is going on? I do my best to put the game out of mind and set up my gear.
It's yet another good show. The stage is extremely bright though and I have one huge light in particular that is on me for the entire show, fucking cooking me like a Christmas turkey. Fuck knows how much fluid I lose during the show! Apart from that though it's a lot of fun. The small crowd are responsive and the stage sound, at least on my side, is really solid. We blast through the half hour set and then head upstairs in search of the Liverpool result. We won! I celebrate with a cold can of beer and a shower.
I watch the second half of the Black Breath set from the merch table. It seems like a slow night for business. Some big, leather vested biker guy comes up to me at one point and says “Bon soir” and then a lot of other French that I can't make out. I tell him I can't talk French and apologise to which he replies, “Well you have no choice.” I don't really know what to say to that so opt to say nothing. I notice the club patch on his vest reads “Hard Rock Crew” and figure maybe he's not so dangerous after all. He actually turns out to be a friendly bloke and has no problem talking English with me. He's doing his best to explain to me that the metal scene in France is rubbish. I spend most of the time just nodding my head in non-committed agreement.
A while later another guy approaches me, a younger kid who looks more like the typical hardcore fan, and proudly shows off a couple of Swedish phrases he knows. He's a really nice guy who's name is Sebastian. He buys the Neverendinglasting lp, telling me it's the only Victims record he doesn't own. I tell him he'll be happy with his purchase since it's a great record. It's nice to be able to say that without being a big headed cunt since I wasn't in the band when they did that album and like most of the Victims albums, is a record I like as a fan rather than a band member.
Sebastian then asks me if I've played in another band before, saying he recognises me. Oh no, if this is a Speedhorn thing then there's a good chance this isn't good, I think to myself.. It turns out that he was a big Speedhorn fan though and he's really chuffed to meet me. He tells me that he used to live on an island in the South Pacific, on the Polynesia islands somewhere, and he bought our first album from a record store there. That blows me away. I had no idea we sold records so far away from the shores of the UK..
I head back upstairs before BB are done with their set. I notice the guy with the black metal voice is now in front of the stage on his knees, screaming in ecstasy at the feet of Mark as he riffs away. Brilliant.
As soon as Black Breath finish we start packing down the gear. By the time Eric comes back to sort out his gear the stage is near empty. We want to get going as soon as possible. Night drives are never fun. We're loading out the van and the black metal guy is doing his best to help us. He's absolutely steamboats though and can barely see straight. After much insistence, he finally gets the message and leaves us to pack the van. He's friendly enough and doesn't mean any harm, but we don't need any delays tonight.
When the van is packed, I go back inside to do an idiot check and find Jon and Robban at the bar tucking into a glass of Pernod. When we're set to leave, Black Metal Guy finally gets to help us by guiding us out of the tight space we're parked in. At least we let him think as much since it seems to make him so happy. We pull away from the club with him stood beside the van giving us a very satisfied thumbs up.
We hit the motorway, Johan and Robban up front, the rest of us in the back watching Talladega Nights. By the time the film comes to an end everyone in the back bar me is fast asleep. My eyes are fucking heavy though. When we reach the hotel the car park is absolutely rammed and we have to park it on the lawn, hoping we won't receive a parking ticket that we won't pay anyway.. The bigger concern is that the hotel is full. That would be a right kick in the balls. Andy goes to check it out and the rest of us wait around, hoping for good news.
Good news it is. There are three rooms available. Thank fuck for that!
I crawl into bed at three-forty five, setting my alarm for nine-thirty. Lights go out. It takes me a while to fall asleep...