Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Cabin Fever

The USA is a fucking big country. We'd been travelling through the night from Seattle, slowly snaking our way across Washington state and then Idaho, Dutch must have been driving for twelve hours, and still we were nowhere near our end destination. Dutch had rightly laughed at me when I'd asked him where we were having our day off between Seattle and Denver...

I'm not sure how many breaks Dutch was giving himself, but they were few and far between. I went to bed, half drunk, with Dutch at the wheel, plodding through the night, I woke up about eight hours later and it was if Dutch hadn't moved. He just seemed to keep driving as if in some sort of a trance. Scary to think about it in hindsight..

We spent the entire day flaked out in the RV, watching wrestling films, watching the barren landscape drift along, eating junk food and drinking coke in the morning, the odd beer in the evening. Daylight became dusk and the journey rolled on. We finally stopped for dinner in some small town called Twin Falls, somewhere in Idaho. It was like walking out of prison when we climbed out of the RV. Oh for some fresh air.. We were also in desperate need of hot food, anything would have done. The fact that Twin Falls had an outstanding Mexican restaurant was just a wonderful bonus.

It must have been around six pm by the time we'd stopped. I asked Dutch when he was going to sleep, “Can't sleep for long, we'll never make it to Denver for the show” came the simple answer. I just pretended I hadn't heard that and headed inside the restaurant. I hoped the Denver show was going to be worth this fucking journey.

We were about two weeks in to the tour and as usual some people in the band had been a little more flagrant with their budget than others. Daz had managed to piss away most of the money he'd brought with him and with there still being a week to go until payday back home, he was now forced into being somewhat thriftier with his bunce. We all sat down and ordered food, except Daz, who just sat there quietly and drank the free tap water on offer. As is the norm in the States, each plate of food ordered was enough to fill a bear's stomach for a winter of hibernation and so Daz ended up feeding on the sizeable scraps left by the rest of us. The thing is, the daft cunt boasted upon leaving the restaurant that his plan had worked magnificently. That fucked the rest of us off big time and the fucker didn't get a crumb out of us for the rest of the tour. I remember at one point later on Jay delightedly handing over a half eaten plate of food to a waiter, waxing lyrical about how good it was but that he couldn't possibly manage another morsel, all before a drooling, famished Daz. Nothing like team spirit to get you through the rigours of touring.

Considerably stuffed, we took a quick walk in the cool evening air to help the food go down. Twin Falls was exactly as it sounds, a little settlement next to a large ravine with two waterfalls, although the river was dry and the falls were little more than a trickle. It was a stunning sight all the same. We stood there admiring it for twenty minutes or so before reluctantly climbing back aboard the RV. There would be no partying tonight, everyone was exhausted. And so Dutch rolled on through the night.

By the time we arrived in Denver it was already dark. Thirty six hours we'd travelled to get here and we had to load in as soon as we arrived since we were a little late. Denver was another of those places I'd been looking forward to seeing since it's not the kind of place I'm likely to end up on holiday. When I come here as a tourist it's always New York or California, but places like Denver still interest me and it was one of the destinations I'd earmarked when we first got the tour dates through. Of course, as is the fucking norm, the club we were playing was nowhere near the inner city. It was just on some faceless long stretch of heavily trafficked road that could have been anywhere. There was the odd bar here and there but nothing of sightseeing interest.

The atmosphere within the entire touring camp seemed a little subdued, which is hardly surprising after the epic journey we'd made. Even Chris, Soilent Green's tour manager, was quiet, and he's normally someone you can't beg to shut up, constantly cracking jokes and taking the piss out of people, normally us Limey's and specifically Gords. We loaded in and afterwards slumped into the backstage room. The compulsory bottle of beer was opened but drank with lacklustre.

The venue was quite a big place, with a balcony looking down over the stage, and it was full of long haired death metallers. Not a fucking chance tonight! I went to check on Lasse who was sat reading a book by the merch table. He looked pissed off. I guess this wasn't what he'd signed up for. I could feel the strain between us. It's fucking hard when you're tour managing your own band, trying to take care of everything, feeling responsible for everyone and still trying to enjoy the tour yourself, never mind put everything into the shows. I was starting to get pissed off with the sour look on Lasse's face. I felt responsible for him because he's my friend and I'd brought him along, and I could feel it starting to cause tension within the ranks. This is what you call cabin fever..

Of course to make things better, the show fucking sucked. I could sense that the normal level of energy and animosity we have was sagging significantly. We played to a near full room but it was a room full of people standing there looking like they hated us. In fact, some brave cunts on the balcony above were spitting at us and throwing beer cans as we played. John offered each and every one of them on stage but received no takers. I would've loved to have seen that go down. I could tell by the look in John's eyes that he was ready to kill someone. He has that look every now and then..

Nile had a great show by the look of it. I watched them for a while whilst drinking a beer I wasn't in the mood for. They sounded half decent again and the crowd were going wild. As privileged as I knew I was to be travelling around this country, playing shows and getting paid and fed, I was starting to wonder what we were doing with this band. I mean, we just seemed to take any tour offer there was going, and maybe that was something we'd have to think about in the future. As much fun as it could be battling idiots in the crowd night in, night out, it could get to you now and again, especially after and energy sapping journey like the one we'd just made.

All the same, the drive to Omaha, Nebraska was a breeze compared to that we'd just taken, and we'd filled the bus with booze. Me and Lasse had gone to a nearby liquor store and bought a case of beer and a bottle of Captain Morgan. On top of that someone in the band had stumbled across a bottle of rank tasting Slo Gin. I felt like getting fucking shit faced tonight. The trouble is, I wasn't in the best of moods and that isn't a good place to start when you're drinking copious amounts of booze...

We were travelling through the night again, and we were all drinking like there was no tomorrow. The music was blasting, Dutch constantly shouting at us to turn it down, us ignoring him as we passed the bottles around. The beer was warm and tasted like piss but nobody cared. And then a simple discussion suddenly flares up into something way beyond reason.

Gords is one of my best friends and sometimes it felt like it was the two of us taking most of the strain for the band. Unfortunately this lead to the two of us bickering every now and again. The trouble with this occasion is that we were both pissed as farts. Gords starts on about the record label, moaning and complaining about something or other. Standard stuff really. But then I start to feel like he's turning it on me, having a go for not being on top of things and fighting the label enough on the band's behalf. This completely fries my piss since it seems I spend my entire life trying to make this fucking band work. A light bickering soon flares up in to a full blown argument and the two of us are getting very emotional. And then a red mist comes over me and I lose my mind for a brief moment. I'm sat at the lounge table, penned in by Kev who is trying to hold me down, punching the fuck out of a twenty four can box of beer, smashing my fist into it with all I've got, screaming at Gords, “Why is it always fucking me? Why is it always me that has to do everything for this fucking band?!” I feel myself completely lose touch with sanity for a few seconds, as I continue to pummel my fist into the cans of beer. Kev is trying to calm me down as everyone else stands back looking on. Gords is by now close to tears, Dutch is shouting at us, asking what the fuck is going on. It all calms down as abruptly as it started and before long we're all hugs and sorrys. I feel like a bit of a twat, but at the same time justified in my outburst, although quite why I feel the need to damage my own hand is beyond me.

After that the party is pretty fucking dead and we all stumble to bed in sombre mood. Lasse, completely not reading the situation, then thinks it funny to pull me out of my upper bunk by my hair as he's on his way to bed. I go fucking mad, telling him in no uncertain terms that if he does that again I'll plant my boot firmly in his fucking coupon. The knob just lies in his bunk, sounding upset, asking me if I'm serious, like he's really hurt. Jesus Christ, I feel bad again now. Fuck this shitty night, I need to sleep.

I wake up in the morning to find the van is parked up by some roadside service station. I know things are going to get weird between me and Lasse if we don't address last night so I crawl into his bunk and give him a hug. And then I go to Gords' bunk and we do the same. It feels better this morning, as if the air has cleared somewhat. Maybe last night is exactly what was required. Does good to blow the cobwebs off now and again. Dutch is worried though. As we sit and share a coffee on a bench in the parking lot he tells me he thinks we should stop drinking. He's serious and all. I tell him we'll be ok, it's just the way we are sometimes. He clearly has no understanding of where I'm coming from though, he just shakes his head, “I thought you were the sensible one!” “I am” I tell him, although I hear how half-assed it sounds..

We enjoy the rest of our black coffee in silence...

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