Tuesday, December 17, 2013


There is simply no good reason for my alarm clock ringing at four am.  Nobody should have to arise from their pit at this ungodly hour.  I'm the first to admit that I'm a fucking nightmare in the morning but this is beyond the joke.  Four am.  Polly sleeping still in her crib, Jen rolls over agitatedly at the melody of my phone doing it's best to sing me out of bed.  Fuck off.  Just fuck off.

It's still pitch black outside and the thermostat reads a couple below zero.  I've only slept a few hours.  Polly awoke at two and took a bit of settling before dozing off again.  She's stirring again when I come back from the shower.  Bonzo is curled up on the sofa, oblivious to everything.  I throw an espresso down and see to Polly before heading out into the dark, cold morning.

I walk down to Sundbyberg station, shoulders pulled in, trying in vain to keep out the cold.  The train arrives on time, thankfully.  Vik and his dad meet me at Jakobsberg station twenty minutes later.  Vik's dad, Tommy, drives the car at an insane speed.  This is something he likes to do.  As much as I'm grateful to Tommy for the lift, and despite the speed he tears along at I trust him behind the wheel, I could do without the joyride.  At this rate we could just skip the flight and have Tommy drive us to Bradford, he'd make it back in time for work I'm sure...

Lucas meets us at Arlanda, the fucker has taken the express train since he still qualifies as a youth and therefore enjoys youth prices, meaning he's got an hour's sleep on us.  After a huge, piping hot cup of coffee I'm back on track though.  Still, I'm glad Kev has thought about us and booked us in for early check in at the hotel in Bradford.  I'm going to enjoy every second of my afternoon nap later on.

We board the plane on time but then it takes a while to get going and when we do pull away from the terminal a snow storm has engulfed us and the wings are soon covered.  The pilot tells us we'll have to head back and de-ice again before heading off.  I'm not a nervous flyer but I'm still relieved to hear all precautions are being taken.  We're in no rush anyhow.

We land at Manchester airport after a nice, uneventful flight around ten thirty.  Behind us on board were a band on cheesy heavy metallers on their way to a gig somewhere.  I can't remember what their name was, I overheard when some old rocker bloke had spotted them and started up a conversation, but it escapes me now, sounded crap anyway.  I recognised one of the guys, possibly from the bar, but I doubt he recognised me.  I can't help smirking to myself at the thought of the three of us sat in front of them, on the same mission as they are albeit way more subtle about it.  There's no fucking mistaking these boys behind us, they look like every heavy metal band you've ever seen, whereas we look like a trio of office boys.  The guy behind Lucas spends long periods of the journey tapping away on the back of his seat, getting right on Lucas' tits.  I guess he's the drummer.  No manners on the cunt anyhow.  Of course, we say nothing.  We just quietly mock how pathetic they are.  I guess that makes us pretty pathetic too...

It's a smooth journey to Bradford with just a quick change at Leeds station.  I haven't been here for a few years, the last time was a house show with Speedhorn which was one of the best gigs we ever played.  We played in a room in the basement which was crammed literally to the roof by us and around twenty five other people.  Then there was another basement room opposite the one we played in that had about another thirty people in,  who obviously couldn't see us but were moshing away nonetheless.  It was an amazing night. Most other times I've been here though is to play the wonderful 1 in 12 Club, the very same place we're playing tonight.

We arrive at Forster Square station around one pm and I'm delighted to find that our Travelodge hotel is literally right across the car park, meaning it's only a fifteen minute walk to the club later on.  Bradford isn't really that big a place, but still.  We check in to our room and the three of us dive into our beds, me and Lucas sharing a double and Vik in a single.  There is no better feeling than tucking yourself in under the cool sheets of a welcome hotel bed, especially when you're fucking knackered.  Even if you are sharing it with a horny young Brazilian... The fact is I'm too tired to sleep but it's so nice just lying in bed watching the BBC World News service that I don't care.  I eventually do drift off, I think at least, but it's only that very lightest of sleeps, right at the very surface, where you catch yourself nodding in and out of conciousness and the only real sure sign you've slept at all is the wet patch of drool on your pillow.

After a couple of hours rest we walk into town and make for the nearest reasonable looking café, which oddly enough is called Smorgasbord, although as far as I can tell the name is the only Swedish thing about the place, well that and the free wifi.  And of course, as soon as we discover that, we're all online and ignoring each other.  One of my best mates, Lee, who used to drive Speedhorn on tour, is coming down from Glasgow to hang out for the weekend.  He arrives just as we're finishing our coffee.  It's great to see him, unfortunately an altogether far too seldom occurrence these days.  The pair of us practically used to live together on board our van Betty for weeks on end, driving all over Europe, Lee putting up with just about everything we could throw at him, but nowadays we lead different lives.  He's still someone I consider a brother though, and when we do see each other we pick up from exactly where we left off the time before.
Lee is a very easy guy to hang out with and he gets on with Lucas and Viktor immediately.  We drink up and pass the next couple of hours with a trip to the National Media Museum, one of Bradford's highlights, it's like a play park for adults.  We fart about, taking pictures of ourselves posing in front of a blue screen that up on the monitor shows us hanging out with the Teletubbies, flying about on a hoverboard and reading the weather report etc. etc.  There are loads of gadgets to fuck around with and we have a good crack watching Lucas read the BBC news.  We of course spend a long chunk of our visit in the old school games room where they have a bunch of old arcade machines from the 80's.  Lucas and I get involved in a pretty intense game of Pong, the fucker eventually beating me two sets to one.

Whilst waiting for Kev and Jamie to arrive, as well as Vik's girlfriend Bea, we head to a chippy for some dinner.  Luk and Vik are weirded out by the institution of British gastronomy that is the Chip Butty.  Luk kind of pokes it about a bit whilst me and Lee wolf ours down.  Vik goes for the safer option of fish and chips. Afterwards we head back to the hotel to wait for Kev and Jamie.  Vik goes off to meet Bea and when everyone is finally gathered we head down to the club.  We had planned earlier to go for a curry before the gig, something one simply must do when in Bradford, but there isn't time.  Maybe afterwards.

If I still lived in the UK then Means to an End Fest is something I would attend whether I was playing or not, which isn't always the case with gigs we're on.  I'm chuffed to be on this bill though since there are a lot of other bands I want to see.  For once I'm happy we got here the day before we play.  Later on tonight our mates from back home, Infernöh, who are also playing tomorrow, are arriving, so it's bound to get messy.
Just walking into the building brings all the memories of previous visits back.  The smell of the moist brick walls either side of the thin staircase, the stickiness of the floor, the poorly lit bar selling Sam Smith's beer in plastic glasses, it's simply wonderful to be here.  The bands that have played on that stage over the years, the building is simply drenched in punk rock history.  It's always an honour playing here.  We played a few times with Speedhorn back in the day but the best show I ever had here was a few years ago with Victims.  The place was pretty packed that night.

We check in with Steve, sort passes out and all that stuff, although we're a little early, so we  head to a local pub with an friend of Kev's, Russ, who used to play in the brilliant band Stalingrad.  He's a real character, big as a fucking house and gruff as a bear.  We pass a few pubs that Russ labels "fucking shite" before settling on a place that is no frills interior-wise but has a healthy selection of beer, and at a more than fair price.  I get a hit off the very first sip of the very first pint, a lovely English IPA.  I thought I'd made a mature move and gone for the weakest ale they had on tap, which at 4,2% I would have thought was more than safe, but a combination of old/dad and sleep deprivation have fucked with that idea.  For now though, sat here with a great gang of mates, pint in hand, all warm and fuzzy inside, I feel good.  I know it's only going one way though...Only if I stop now will I be able to avoid the inevitable.  And that's simply not going to happen.

We've been sat at a table beside the door for about twenty minutes when some guy who is obviously a junkie and pretty wasted, pops his head in and asks if any of us have cats.  I see he's carrying a bag with him and for a brief second of horror I think he's got a cat for sale.  Turns out he's got an array of stolen junk he's looking to offload and amongst his selection is a multi-pack of cat food, or I should say a half opened pack of cat food tins.  Russ tells him he's got a cat and the junkie shuffles over to him.  The poor bastard can barely speak nevermind negotiate a price.  When Russ asks him how much he wants for it he's told eight quid, to which he scoffs, "Fuck that!  A whole pack costs a fiver, forget it."  The junkie then asks how much Russ will give him for it to which he's told one pound fifty.  He simply looks defeated, "Well give me that then.." Fucking tragic.  Russ is chuffed enough though, "There you go, fucking cat food!"

We head back up to the club in time for the first band which is Nu, Pogodi! a trashy, grind d-beat three piece lead by two girls, one of which happened to be the girl we sold a t-shirt to at Fuk Reddin' that received a free massage from Luk during the transaction.  I buy myself a pint of Sam Smith's Old Brewery and watch their set.  I enjoy them a lot more than the beer I have to say, there is something not quite right about the taste of it.  Maybe it's the plastic glass, I don't know.  What I do know though is this beer, I've drunk it enough at the Rock, and this sour taste is not fucking right.  I'm on the verge of returning it before realising that will be a completely pointless exercise and so I battle my way through it.

Another two pints and I'm drunk.  Not just I've had four pints and now I'm feeling pretty hazy but I've had four pints and now I'm feeling pretty fucking boats.  I'm not sailing alone though, the Sam Smith's has gotten everyone.  The Infernöh guys are here now too and their presence has only excelled the party to the next level.  They were already steaming when they turned up...

We all end up hanging out in the bar upstairs on the second floor and of course missing the majority of the bands on downstairs.  We're all too fucked to either notice or care.  For a while we hang out by the fussball table, singing and dancing every time team Lucas/Gaz scores a goal.  Then our attention turns to the dartboard, Lucas throwing the arrows as hard as he fucking can and generally failing to hit the board, they just hit the wall and flop down to the floor.  At one point I go to retrieve them and in what I believe will be a funny joke lob one over to Luk and tell him to catch, which he of course does, with the palm of his hand and then lets out a yelp.  "Why would you do that?!" he implores me.  I feel a little bad I have to admit. Sometimes the asshole in me comes out to play when I'm back on the island, I've done a good job at hiding him from the Swedes for the most part but being in the UK or with other Brits when boats is normally a bad combination.  Everyone else has a good laugh about it although Luk calls me a cunt for a while and informs me he doesn't much care for Brit Gaz.  The night rolls on...

Before things get really hazy and collapse into a mass of hugging and photographs one thing sticks in my mind.  There is an unopened bottle of champagne with a Union Jack covering on it.  Attached to it a note that reads: "Donated to the 1 in 12 Club to commemorate the death of Thatcher.  To be corked the day Cameron joins her!"  A nice touch I thought.

By the time I've drunk my sixth and final pint, I am absolutely wankered!  What the fuck do they put in this stuff?  Four percent alcohol my fucking rana!  My only solace is that everywhere I look I see faces that appear as drunk as I feel.  Lucas is particularly fucked and doesn't seem to notice Bea cheekily pouring her cider repeatedly into his beer when he's not looking.  Or maybe he does and he doesn't give a toss.  For that mater, Bea looks pretty sauced too.  As does Kev, and Vik, and Jamie, and the Infernöh guys and the other two skinhead punks who have passed out upright on their chairs over there.  The only sane one, as always, mentally documenting it all, is Lee.  Like old times...

I really wanted to see Disguise and despite missing pretty much every other band tonight I tell myself to get it together and follow everyone else down to see them.  I remember very little except that there are a lot people and Lucas does a couple of stage dives during their set.  Shame because I like the band and had been looking forward to seeing them.  Fucking alcohol, stupid.

Pretty much the last thing I can remember of the night with any hint of clarity is being back upstairs in the bar with everyone, sat about a table and getting Lucas to suck on one of Lill Jonas from Infernöh's dreadlocks.  I do this knowing fine well Jonas can be a bit aggro when he's drunk, or so his reputation decrees.  Lucas asks how much we'll give him if he completes said task and I tell him a tenner.  Before I know it Luk is sucking that dirty dreadlock like a pipe.  Jonas is as expected, not amused and asks someone, not looking at Lucas but irritably thumbing in his direction, "Who the fuck is this guy?"  Luk spends the next couple of minutes talking his way out of the situation, explaining he's with us lot.  When he's done I tell him I need my tenner back.

There is also a fuzzy picture of me and Kev sniffing a bottle of poppers and laughing our heads off.  I haven't done that for a long, long time.  Weird that that stuff is legal since it drives your head fucking crackers.
And that's about the last I remember.  There is a vague memory of buying some disgusting chips and cheese from a kebab shop and me, Luk and Lee trying to take a band photo by capturing our image on their CCTV monitor, and there is another hazy recollection of not finding our hotel key and having to be allowed into the lobby by some unamused night porter and then trying to explain to him what room we're in and under who's name it's booked.

The next thing I know is I wake up beside Luk in the double bed and my head feels like it's about to expolde!  I look to my phone to check the time and that action alone almost brings the vom to the surface.  A glance at my phone tells me not the time but that both Kev and Jamie had called me at three fifteen am.  I look over to Kev's single bed and it's empty.  I look back at Luk and see he looks about as horrible as I feel and tell him I'm in trouble, that I don't know if I can play the show tonight.  Literally every fucking breath hurts my head some more.  I use every breath wisely in that case, begging Luk to either find me some headache tablets or text Bea and ask if she has any since she's a girl and bound to have thought of such things.

It takes almost two hours for salvation to arrive in the form of Bea.  She'd actually gone and bought pills this morning since her head was thumping too.  Kev finally arrives having slept on a spare matress in Bea, Vik and Jamie's room (Lee had been sensible enough to book his own) apparently the first thing he said, or shouted, when he woke up was, "Where the fuck am I?!"  He doesn't remember a fucking thing and is gutted to hear he went for a curry with Jamie and can't recall any of it.  He's still pissed when he arrives in our room, something I have a hard time dealing with.  He's gone and bought a breakfast box from the vending machine which is packed in a plastic wrapper and spends about twenty seconds trying to open it before it explodes all over the floor.  I realise I have to get some food in me if I have a chance of dealing with this day and Kev calling me a ponce and make an attempt on a chocolate digestive from a half eaten pack beside my bed.  I manage half a biscuit before I have to stop.  I can do fuck all until those tablets kick in so I simply lie back down in bed and ignore Kev.

I do gradually start to feel better though and about an hour later I've even made it to the shower and had a cup of tea.  By the time Lucas tells us he thinks he's pissed his bockies I'm feeling positively festive!  He says he thinks he may have been dreaming in his drunken slumber that he was pissing and then woken up and realised he actually was.  I'm expecting to see a fleck of moisture on his kecks but he reveals a huge patch of piss that has me and Vik rolling around with laughter.

A couple of hours down the line and we've gone into town and I've managed a pretty decent cheese toastie, a black coffee and we've found a pub to watch the Liverpool game in.  I even have a pint of Guinness which is well beyond expectation and probably sense.  The game is shite and ends in a two all draw despite Newcastle being down to ten men for the majority of the game.  This of course pisses me off but I'm comforted by the sight of Lucas sleeping on the sofa opposite with an unquenched pint of Carlsberg stood in front of him.  The Guinness wasn't great but it's levelled me out at least.  It's time to head back to the hotel, pick up the gear and make our way to the 1 in 12 Club to do what we came here for.  Some day we'll have to try this lark sober...

There is a really good crowd in early doors tonight and Rat's Blood, which is some of the guys from Disguise, there are a shit load of bands from the Irish scene from the same nucleus of people, get a great response.  I really enjoy watching them and it's nice to be watching bands play when I'm sober and can appreciate them, the hangover is still hanging around a little but all in all I feel pretty good.  A miracle considering I was at death's fucking door this morning.  Die had started the night but I'd missed most of their set, and when I did turn up they were in the middle of a very long breakdown.  The bass amp had blown and it took them a long while to sort out a new one.  Not a great start to the night since everyone is sharing the same gear.  When they did get going again they played this brilliant song, slow in pace and stomping, almost akin to Shellac.  I wished I'd seen more of them.

We chill out upstairs for a while on the top floor café and tuck into the band food.  It's the usual punk stew but as with anything else, you pour enough Tabasco sauce on it and it works at treat.  There are some other guys hanging out, some friendly French lads, the Rat's Blood crew, one of which, the bass player, Viktor knows from way back through Nitad ties.  It's nice just sitting there, chatting away, drawing up set lists for those who need them and stringing the guitars.  Now it's just waiting time for the gig...

The French guys are on before us and they play some chuggy, melodic hardcore.  It's done well but not really my thing.  There are a lot of people in though and I'm ready to get up there and kick the shit out of this place.  Just as the French guys finish up their set Steve, one of the organisers of the Fest asks us if we can do our best to get straight up on stage and play, being that they need to make time back after the enforced lengthy delay Die had.  I have a feeling our set will get things back on track.

We're using pretty much the same equipment and a few drum changes aside, we have little to do but plug in our pedals and go.  We make a bit of noise to let the punks outside on the street taking some air know that we're about to start but the place fills out in no time.  I give Vik one last look and motion to him to keep a check on the tempo, he nods back to me and we fire into D?B!/Nausea. The tempo feels perfect.  Fast but not out of all control, although I guess it might only be us that hears it that way.  The sound on stage is blasting and by the time we get to the end of the first block I know it's going to a very enjoyable fifteen minutes.

The crowd get into it more and more with each song and although hot as fuck and still a little hungover, I feel the energy tonight.  One of those gigs were you can tell everyone is feeling it.  The only slight niggle from my side is my fucking tuner pedal, which is still playing up, but that aside everything is perfect.  The place is really busy and the crowd are going for it.  I love playing stages where the crowd filters down the side and behind you, giving you the feeling that you really are in the middle of it all.  There is a big bearded, bandana wearing dude, a little older than myself maybe, who seems to have a part in the running of the Fest who's really digging it.  When we finish the last song, he immediately approaches my ear and tells me that we have time to play more if we want to.  I politely inform him that we've played all the songs we've got, to which he laughs.  And that's that.  Easily the most fun DB show yet.  There is something fucking magical about this old venue and once again it hasn't disappointed.

We pack down and chill out at the merch stand with the Infernöh guys.  Jonah and Pungen give us the thumbs up.  They're both looking a little "tired" today.  I'm really looking forward to their set in a short while's time.  We head out to get some air and find the Rat's Blood guys there, as well as Beard/Bandana, who comes up to me and tells me he loved the set.  He seems to know me but I have a hard time placing him and spend the short conversation calling him mate.  Hate it when that happens.

It's raining a little but it's more than welcome to, it was fucking hot up on that stage.  Lee has to leave for home, he's got a long drive back up to Glasgow.  It was so great to see him and I'm touched that he could be arsed coming all the way down to hang out.  We're all on his case, telling him that if we go out on tour at some point then he has to come out with us.  I promise him he'll get a better deal than he did with Speedhorn.. I think he might just be tempted.  I give him a hug and he heads off.  Once he's gone me and Jamie head back to the hotel with the gear in his car, nice to have it done so we can relax with a beer or two to Infernöh.

By the time we get back they're just about to start so we head down to the side of the stage in prime position to see them basically slay the crowd.  They're a great band.  I love the records but live it's just something else.  They're simply superb musicians.  Jonas is a great guitarist and Pungen is simply ridiculous on drums. He can certainly play that d-beat, and then some.  Lucas is jumping around down front and Kev is looking like he's wanting to.  That party vibe is in the air again... At one point some punk shoves a bottle of poppers up Jonas' nose mid song and he doesn't even miss a note on his guitar.  He just gladly inhales and carries on.
By the time they're done all that's left is FUK.  I almost feel a bit sorry for them because they obviously don't want to be playing last.  It's quite apparent that a lot of the crowd are spent after Infernöh and around half of them have fled by the time FUK play.  That said, they still play for what feels like an hour.  Maybe it's not, but it feels like a long time.  They're ok, nothing more than that really.  Not really my kind of thing.  I can't stop looking at the old boy on guitar who looks like Robert Blake's character in Lost Highway.

Vik and Bea have left with some friends and gone for a curry, feels like a good idea.  Not going for curry whilst visiting this city is criminal actually.  Luk has been walking round saying "Spacy curreh" since he heard Lee say "spicy curry" yesterday.  Luk seems to love the Scottish accent thing... Anyway, I start lobbying with the guys for a late night meal, Jamie and Luk seem to be on board.

Somehow though, Kev is boats again.  Not sure when that happened. We find him upstairs in the bar stoating about with a beer in his hand.  Stick from Doom, who is sitting with a gang of familiar faces opposite, spots him and shouts at him to cut his hair.  His do is a bit wild at the minute...  Kev is of course old friends with these guys and slides over to them.  We hang out for a little while although being sober and Kev being this pissed, all I can think about is eating.  It's too late to reach the level Kev is at now and I can't even be arsed trying.  I'm trying instead to get Kev to come along and eat some grub but he's not interested.  He's talking all kinds of nonsense and Jamie has cottoned on to him and decided to take advantage.  Jamie sat one side of Kev, Stick the other but chatting to another crowd and not really hearing what Kev is blabbering on about, Jamie asks Kev mischievously why Stick plays in Varukers, being that Varukers are rubbish these days.  Kev swivels on his arse towards Stick like a drunk puppet and blurts, "Why do you play in that shit band Varukers?"  

I laugh the most cringe worthy of laughs whilst Stick tries to explain that the guys involved are nice people, all to no avail, Kev just repeats that they're rubbish and that's that.  Jamie, Luk and I decide with that it's time to leave Kev to it and we fuck off for some dinner.

It's a wonderful quirk in British dining culture that Indian restaurants are always open late.  I wouldn't ever think to go our for a curry at this time back home but there is something about going to an Indian restaurant on the way home from the pub.  Bradford has more curry houses than most places and the three of us head in one determined direction across town.  The International.  One of Bradford's finest.

The scene as we walk across town is bordering on loathsome.  It's like being on the set of one of those reality police tv shows.  I have little sympathy for the pigs but I wouldn't want the night shift in Bradford on a Saturday night for any fucking money.  They're welcome to it.  The place is crawling with Ralph Lauren shirts, pissed up mini skirts, puke, aggro, shouting and snogging.  What a fucking place!  We head through as quick we can.  As we approach the restaurant I realise that it's at the bottom of the street of the house show we played here years ago with Speedhorn.  I tell Luk this, more than once it turns out, repeating myself to the point that I figure maybe I'm just the slightest bit tipsy after all.  After the third or fourth mention of the "house show" Luk tells me he gets it and tells me to stop banging on about it.  Fair enough Lukey boy.  To be fair I'm almost boring myself with it by that point.

When we walk in to the restaurant the head waiter, a middle aged man, greets Jamie with open arms and a big smile, "Hello sir!  Where is your drunken friend?"  We piss ourselves laughing, understanding immediately that he's talking about Kev.  When we sit down Jamie shows us some pics he took of Kev here last night, asleep at the table with his dinner in front of him.  Brilliant.  The food is of course great, even Luk, who doesn't normally agree with Indian food, enjoys it.  It's a very nice end to a great weekend.

We walk back to the hotel stuffed and satisfied.  The madness of Saturday night Bradford still going off around us.  It's around one thirty by the time we get to bed.  We watch the late night news for a while before falling asleep.  Kev comes in around three-thiry, banging about the room in the dark like a fucking whirlwind.  I pretend I'm asleep but I hear Luk is in the bog.  "I'm fucked!!" Kev's voice repeats over and over in the dark.  I hear Luk come out of the toilet and Kev grabs him and starts giving him grief, "Come ere you bastard!"  Kev is trying his best to wrestle Luk, Luk is trying his best to put Kev into his bed.  I just continue to lie there with my eyes closed, trying in vain to keep the smirk off my face.

It's nice to wake up in the morning minus yesterday's hangover.  Kev looks a mess.  Luk and I take great pleasure in photographing him.  Vik and Bea come by a little while later, Vik laughing his ass off as he recounts the scene last night.  After their meal they'd gone back to the club to see what was going on and as they walked in the after party disco was in full swing, the intro to Beat It booming out of the PA.  Without even noticing them stood in their way, Kev barges past Vik and Bea, dancing his way to the floor, giving it the big moves, the one with the point from floor to ceiling in diagonal motion being a particular favourite.  Kev loves a disco...

It's soon time for us to divide up the group.  Bea is heading back to London, Kev and Jamie are heading off in the car, Kev jumping off at Reftord to see Bloody Joyce for a few days, the three of us heading over on the train back to Manchester to meet my sister and her family for dinner before catching the evening flight home.  It's been a great weekend and yesterday was easily the best DB show yet.

Feeling good about this band right now.

Friday, November 15, 2013


I have to admit, I’ve been feeling the burn a bit this week. It’s been a bit much recently, practising with three different bands/playing football/working/being a dad.  I’m certainly not as young as I used to be and the lack of a night at home in the week takes it’s toll.  Of course, apart from the work part it’s all good fun and I don’t mean to sound like a moaning bastard, it’s just, after last weekend’s drunken escapades in Stavanger I could have done with this trip to Copenhagen being delayed by a week.  That said, as I sat on the short flight to the Danish capital I began to feel the first pangs of thirst… The temptation to buy a beer from the trolley as it rolled past me was great but I refrained.  There would be plenty of time for that later on.  I could wait a few more hours.

I’ve been to Copenhagen many times but despite that fact, I know very little of the city.   Apart from a couple of venues and a couple of bars near them I’ve only ever really explored the city centre and Freetown Cristiania.  Funnily enough Copenhagen was the place that Jen and I officially became a couple and we’ve been back once together to commemorate the occasion but even then we ended up at a hotel in the city centre and didn’t explore too far afield.  Strange really, not usually our style.  This weekend I was looking forward to righting that particular wrong.

Something else I was looking forward to this weekend was playing the legendary Youth House, being that it’s a staple of the punk community in Europe.  Of course, it’s a different place now.  The famous building in Norrebro that was the scene of the riots a few years ago has since been flattened by bulldozers and wrecking balls and all that’s left is a gaping hole surrounded by a yellow, plywood fence.  The new building is a little further down Norrebrogade in the area of Bispebjerg, something that took the punks sixteen months of weekly demonstrations to obtain.  It might well be a different building but the foundations are the same and I was thrilled by the prospect of adding our mark, no matter how small, on it’s history.  

Once again we were all on different flights.  I was hooking up with Kev later, who had been in K Town since the day before with the rest of the BUGS gang who were playing tonight, but Lucas and Viktor would be meeting up with us tomorrow since they had other plans.  The fest we’re playing is a two-dayer in honour of a friend of Kev’s, Charlie, who is celebrating his birthday by putting on a host of predominantly grindcore bands.  My previous experiences with Victims playing grindcore festivals have been positive so I was relatively sure we’d go down pretty well with the crowd.  I figure that most grindcore has punk in it's roots anyway.

We were originally supposed to be playing tonight but we’d since been moved, although only after we’d booked our flights.  A night at home with the family would have been nice after a hectic week but I’m here now and looking forward to a night of partying with the BUGS gang.  I figure I may as well just get on with things...

I arrive at the airport and decline any attempt at conversing in a mixture of Swedish/Danish whilst purchasing tickets for the train in to town.  Norwegian I can handle but the dialect the people use in this country is way beyond me.  When I hear the Danish tongue it always reminds me of the dancing man from the Black Lodge in Twin Peaks, the little guy who talks backwards.  No offence to my Danish friends intended.  It’s a quick ride into the city and I arrange to meet up with Kev and Jamie at Norreport, the major station on the northern side of the city.   Not entirely sure of where I’m going but I head off in search of a coffee shop since I’m a little ahead of the guys who are making their way on foot from Cristiania.  I find nothing to satisfy my needs though.  A little disappointed I settle on some rank 7 Eleven coffee and stand about amongst the thousands of parked bicycles by the station entrance waiting for the boys, the glare from the sun stinging my eyes as the chill in the air bites at my bones.  I should have taken a thicker jacket with me.

The guys arrive after twenty minutes or so and the first thing Kev tells me is that he’s hungover to fuck.  They’d had quite the night apparently.  We jump on a bus that takes us up Norrebrogade to Anders’ house. I’ve never met Anders but heard a lot about him and seen countless photos of him wearing DB t-shirts.  He and Kev met whilst Kev was here at some gig a couple of years back or something, their drunken minds finding each other in the haze.  Anders has since stopped drinking because as Kev puts it, he’s crazy enough without it.    

He’s one of the main guys involved with the fest and sings in a couple of the bands that are playing, one of which is called Märsvin, the Scandinavian word for guinea pig, named such in acknowledgement of the cute little animal that Anders loves so much.  We jump off the bus about ten minutes down the road and head to his flat.  As soon as you walk in the smell of weed smacks you in the face.  I follow Kev and Jamie into the living room and find Wayne, Clara and Kiwi Chris lying about on a patchwork of old mattresses, a haze of thick smoke hovering about their heads, curtains drawn shutting out the daylight.  The wall behind the door is lined with cages that house the guinea pigs.  I wasn’t previously aware of any allergy I have to them but felt my eyes burning as soon as I walked into the flat.  I’ve slept in far worse places than this in my life and I really don’t want to be that guy but I know that there is no chance I can sleep here tonight.  Apparently Hannah had crashed here last night but that had proven enough for her and she has since booked herself into a hostel with Viv and Misa who came in today.  The fact is there are rooms at the Youth House for bands to sleep in and this place will be far too crowded for us all anyway so I’m taking my chances on there being a bed for me there.  I’m just hoping that the fact I’m not playing until tomorrow will have no bearing on the matter.

Kev, Jamie and I leave the other three there and head up to the house.  We arrive as they’re checking the PA.  A familiar scene.  Not much to do except hang about.  The place itself looks great although I’m immediately struck by the size of the stage and the room it’s in.  The building adjacent this one, just across the courtyard, feels like it would be a lot better since it’s way smaller.  The thing that’s mainly playing on my mind is the fact the Hårda Tider have a huge release party in Malmö tomorrow and Copenhagen’s brilliant Night Fever are playing with them.  Being that Malmö is just across the water it’s generally expected that a huge chunk of the scene here will be heading over there.  Just can’t help feeling that they should have moved this gig to the smaller stage… As I’m thinking about this one of the guys from the venue, who happens to be smoking a comedy sized spliff at the time, then tells me that Dogmatist have pulled out of the show tomorrow.  Fucking gutted about that.  Without wanting to sound disrespectful they were the band I was most looking forward to seeing.  Apparently they pulled out yesterday citing the fact they haven’t rehearsed for a while as the reason for their withdrawal.  If that’s so then it sounds kind of weak.  I can’t help wondering if they’re going to that party tomorrow...

This place is great though.  I can imagine the courtyard between the two buildings would be a fun place to hang out in the summer, with the cocktail bar and barbecue area.  It must have been a blast here at the K Town Hardcore Fest in June.  I was the only Bastard not in attendance at that particular event.  It seemed like fun.  We have to try and get on that next year.

They seem to check the PA for hours.  And then they check the drums for ages when they’re done with that. I’m chuffed to find that there is a bed for me in the band dormitories upstairs anyway.  I pick a mattress in the corner of the bottom row of bunks and throw my bag on to it so as to lay claim to it.  It seems safe enough to leave our gear here.  There are signs all about the place asking others to be respectful of those sleeping and the band names allocated to each room are clearly marked on the door.  I think respect is a big thing here.  It feels good like a good environment.  Along the corridor from the dormitories are some band rehearsal spaces and a studio, as well as an office area and toilet and shower room.  In the building opposite, above the small bar stage is the kitchen and dining room where they have “People’s Kitchen” every Thursday, an event where they make cheap food for anyone who needs it and where a lot of people meet and share ideas,  This whole place is quite an impressive set up.

Whilst waiting for dinner to arrive a few of us sit outside in the courtyard nursing some beers.  As much as I’m in the mood for a pilsner I have a hard time truly enjoying the one currently in my hand due to the fact I’m both freezing and hungry.  After a half hour the eternal soundcheck comes to a halt and we take ourselves into the relative warmth of the stone building.  We find Anders tucking into what looks like some superb food and we make our way excitedly towards the kitchen.  The grub doesn’t disappoint.  The guys have put on some delicious bean chilli with tortilla breads and a guacamole to fucking die for.  All vegan of course.  I notice the sign on the kitchen door warning that anyone bringing food into the building of the non-vegan variety will be told to fuck off immediately.

Feeling completely recharged we head back downstairs to the now open venue, ready to give the bar the attention it deserves.  They have a bunch of different beers and shots on offer, none of it costing much more than a couple of quid.  Anders asked me if earlier if I’d wanted my DB beer tickets today already but I think for these prices I can save my coupons for tomorrow.

The place has barely been open an hour when I see some fucked up punk kid, very fucked up actually, being dragged out of the building by two of the house residents, each taking a leg, the punk so wasted he’s completely out cold.  They just drag him across the floor and out the door, his hands trailing above his head behind him.  I guess the beer is pretty spicy in this place.  It’s going to be a long night.

It’s going to be an even longer night for Kev and the guys though, BUGS aren’t playing until one twenty in the morning.  That in mind, Kev does a pretty good job of staying sober for the early part of the night.  As usual, I start to feel drunk after a couple of beers and by the time Viv, Misa and Kiwi Chris turn up I’m well on my way.  I go through the assortment of beers and each one just seems to get stronger.  After polishing off what must be my fourth I make an inward agreement with myself to take the foot of the gas a little but before I can raise my hand in polite refusal Misa has bought me another.  She, as always, is carrying two for herself, one in each hand, chuffed as fuck.

Most of the bands on tonight go by me without grabbing much attention, but there are a couple who stick out.  Slow Plague open the day, Kev laughing about how they always seem to open these fests on a big stage, referring to Fuk Reddin a few weeks back.  There again aren’t that many in the place to see them but I enjoy them as always.  Preggy Punch, despite the frankly ludicrous name, play a really nice set of punk influenced grind.  What grabs me more than anything though is the guitarist/singer, who looks like a computer science student and wears this mischievous grin on his face the whole time.  He marks the end of each song with a two thumbs up signal.  I don’t know what it is but I love him.

Anders’ first band, Ajuna, are for me the band of the night though.  It’s not my favourite style of music by any stretch, but the atmospheric/epic/melodic black metal doom they play, sounding like a cross between Envy, Neurosis and Burzum is executed so expertly that you can’t help being blown away.  And I don’t know how they do it but their sound is ten times louder and clearer than everyone else’s which just fucking floors me.  But all this being as it may, what truly astounds me is Anders’ voice.  To look at him up there with his crustlocks, Bermuda shirt and Adidas jogging pants you’d never imagine he’d be capable of delivering such a thing, but his high pitched screaming sounds like the fucking Devil himself.  He starts the show on his knees, rocking back and forth to the slowly building music and then it just comes out.  Some of the screams he exposes the crowd to just seem to go on forever without the slightest hint of breaking.  I’m at exactly the right level of tipsy to enjoy Ajuna to the fullest and by the time their half hour set is done I’m left completely buzzed.

After Ajuna the night really starts to take off and with each beer I let go a little more.  Märsvin, Anders other band play a little later and as good as they are, and as entertaining as Anders is once again, I’m a little too fuzzy to appreciate them fully.  Something that has not helped is the horrible drink I’ve just bought that I’ve had to give to Viv, who is only more than happy to accept.  I’d come out of the bogs and noticed that at a table located behind the sound desk appeared to be a food stall, indeed they had a sign advertising Langos, the deep fried bread infamous at Gröna Lund tivoli.  Drunk enough to convince myself I’m starving, I order one.  I’m therefore shocked to the very fucking core when they then pour what appears to be some sort of moonshine substance into a plastic glass and ask what soda I want with it!  Completely confused I manage to answer with, “Errr...the red one I guess”.  It tastes fucking foul.  I manage to drink about a quarter of it before giving it to Viv, who wolfs it down.  I guess Langos is something completely different in this country.
It’s around one thirty when BUGS play and amazingly Kev has stayed sober for the gig.  They whale out their noise for about fifteen minutes, Wayne flying about the dance floor, the rest of them battering it out on the high stage.  The crowd, most likely as pissed as I am, look pretty scoobied.  And the sound guy is obviously a bit lost.  This is most noticeable when Wayne notches up the delay on his voice pedal, building it up into a whirlwind of chaotic sound and the guy immediately cuts it out of the PA, as if he’s scorning Wayne for being a naughty little boy.  I love watching BUGS all the same, I always do.  Hannah is entertainment on her own behind the kit and it’s always great watching Kev play Street Bass.  I fucking pissed myself laughing earlier when I saw his setlist written out, it was nothing but numbers, which of course denote the frets on his bass he is to follow.  Punk by numbers.  Genius.

After BUGS, the rest of the night turns to mush.  Kev and the guys seem to go into turbo mode and they’re all seemingly as pissed as I am within a half hour of their set ending.  I don’t remember a whole lot from this point on except having a pointless conversation with Luk, who was as drunk as I was and in another part of the city with his old college mates.  We spent about five minutes repeating what the other was saying, like a couple of pissed up parrots.  The other things I remember is some guy hooking up with our crowd and sharing a bottle of Ballentines about, and I remember Kev break dancing to the last band.  Funny thing is he wasn’t anywhere near the stage at the time but rather at the back of the room by the bar.  And what always makes me laugh when Kev break dances (he does this regularly when pissed) is that he puts his cap down on the floor like an Eighties disco dancer would her handbag, and dances around that.

It must be four in the morning when we head up to the beds.  Me and Jamie are pretty fucked but compared to Kev we’re dancer.  We throw Kev into his bed which is one of the two campers that are placed in the middle of the room and then head down to the toilet for a piss before lights out.  When we get there the door is locked.  It stays that way for about another ten minutes, until Jamie opens the lock from the outside by some measure or another and we find Anders inside, sleeping on his knees with his head resting on the bog seat.  As soon as we open the door he jumps up and walks off like it’s nothing, bidding us goodnight.
I wake up, or I should say I’m awoken, at around eight am.  It’s daylight outside and the room is brightened by the white sky peering through the thin curtains.  It’s not this that has awoken me though.  What’s awoken me is some cheeky fucking punk kid who has crawled onto the mattress beside mine and simply taken my fucking quilt!  I roll over, amazed to find the cunt snuggled under my cover.  I rip it back off of him and turn over again.  The fucker takes it back again.  I shit you not, we spend about two minutes in a tug-of-war over my quilt, neither of us once saying a word to each other.  He finally gives up and fucks off and I roll back over to sleep wondering if I’d been dreaming.

I wake up for good around ten.  Kev is furious.  He was disturbed a little earlier by two or three guys hanging out in the room having a loud chat, one of them had actually been cunty enough to park their arse on Kev’s bed.  So much for the signs telling people to respect those wishing to sleep!
Kev is in a rough old way, he looks like he’s been dragged through a hedge backwards.  Pablo and Raquel are up and about and inform us that breakfast is ready.  Jamie and I do our best to get Kev out of bed but he’s a mess.  He tells us he’s been up in the night vomming.  We finally get him up and he spends the next ten minutes walking about in just his t-shirt and pants, looking confused.

I’m not that hungry and in all honesty feeling a little shit myself, it’s only the state of Kev that makes me feel any good at all.  We sip on a bit of breakfast coffee and chew some sarnies before heading into town for a bit of air.  The shower seems to be broken so we all head out stinking.  We find a decent little café on Norrebrogade opposite the site of the old Youth House.  The cappuccino I order hits the fucking bullseye and I immediately feel a lot better.  I’m recharged and ready to go for a further walk now but Kev has just realised he’s got sick on his t-shirt and wants to go back to change.  “Even for me that’s pretty fucking rubbish” he mumbles to himself, a little depressed.

We head into town, via Assistens Cemetery where Hans Cristian Andersen is buried, and make our way to Cristiania for some lunch.  They have a great vegetarian café there and Kev, Pablo, Raquel and myself tuck into some of the best potato salad I’ve ever eaten.  The spuds are marinated in sesame seed oil and are simply divine.  Before long Jamie, Misa, Viv and Hannah arrive and after eating themselves we go for a wander before stopping at another café.  Last time I was here I watched Roddy go to space on some hash coffee, which was quite an amazing event, but there’s none of that today.  We simply enjoy a latte in the sun.
Kev and I eventually head back towards Norrebro and after stopping at Anders’ place so Kev can finally change his t-shirt we head to Mikkeller Bar to meet up with Vik and Bea for a couple of drinks.  Kev hates the place, labelling it hipster and overpriced, but at forty kronors a pint I find it more than reasonable.  And the beer is of course superb.  I couldn’t imagine Vik coming to Copenhagen without visiting this place.  I have to laugh when Kev goes to the bar to order a pint, any fucking pint will do of course, and the poor bartender starts to give him the background story on the particular ale he’s ordered.  Apparently he’d originally brewed it for his wedding.  It’s excruciating watching this poor sap tell his tale as Kev ignores him, obviously finding the whole thing about as interesting as watching paint dry.

After a while Lucas and our friend Cristiano, who is from the same city as Luk and used to sing in his old band Avalanche, turn up.  Cristiano and his wife Cristiane live here now and it’s with them I’ll be staying tonight.  We head up to the venue around seven, a few hours before we’re due to play.  By the time we arrive back at the Youth House I’m really starting to feel how bad the hangover is that I’ve been carrying around all day.  The thing is, I got a bit of a hit from the two beers at Mikkeller Bar and for a short while felt pretty good again but the hit wore off on the five minute bus journey here and all of a sudden I’m feeling worse than I have done all day.  The thought of playing a show in a couple of hours time is not all that appealing right now.

The London lot are in the house and seem more willing than I in any case.  Misa is walking around with her customary smile and two bottles of beer.  I figure I may as well give it a go and get one for myself but it doesn’t sit right, one of those that takes about an hour to go down and by the end of the bottle you’re left battling through a warm, sloshy dribble, but battle on you do, for some reason.

It’s really cold tonight, both inside and outside the house.  I can’t seem to get warm.  The beer isn’t helping.
A gang of mates have now arrived, a large contingent made up of people Lucas studied with.  Of the people actually in the venue right now we I’d say about sixty percent of them are with us.  I can’t help wishing the show was in the small bar.  The size of the crowd gradually rises as the night progresses though, if only a little.  There are probably about eighty people in the place by the time we take to the stage.
To be fair I’m pretty pleased with the amount of people hanging out to watch us but something doesn’t really feel right as we stand about waiting to play.  For a start, both me and Kev are hungover to piss, Kev had just moments before asked the time honoured question, “How the fuck are we gonna do this?” as we stood around waiting for the grind band before us to finish their set.  But it wasn’t the hangover, I’d been there before and as shite as I might feel I know that I’ll get through it and more than likely feel a whole lot better afterwards.  The nagging feeling inside me was due to the fact that we felt completely unprepared.  It can be a bit hard since Kev doesn’t live in the same country as us and that being so we don’t always get the chance to practice as a full band before a gig, but when that’s the case we have to make sure we have our shit together before we play.  And tonight didn’t really feel like we’d managed to do that.  We didn’t know if we were doing an intro or not, there had been murmured discussions both for and against, Vik didn’t have a set list and only a short while ago he didn’t have drumsticks, I didn’t have a tuning pedal that was working properly and Kev didn’t know what song was what.  All in all it was a little stressed.  And it showed, at least to my ears, when we played the intro twice and left Kev standing around on stage like a plum and then when we did get started for real, we played everything at about twice the speed it should be.  Thankfully these things are usually only noticed by the band members on stage, at least when you’re an unknown band like ours.

Those who were in the crowd seemed to have a good time all the same, and by the end of the short set they were starting to throw themselves about.  I ended up playing the show on completely borrowed gear, except for my guitar.  This big guy with a military haircut and bulging biceps who had played in the grind band preceding us had come up to me before we played and said I could just plug my guitar into his pedals and amp and go for it.  Really nice of him.  He came back up to me as soon as we were finished with a huge smile on his face, full of praise.  “You guys were awesome!”  I thank him although I’m not overly convinced myself..

“No seriously, that was the like the best show I’ve seen this year!”  Ok, you’re actually serious.. He then tells me he’s going to buy a Telecaster, inspired as he was by the sound I had from mine.  Funny how differently you can experience a show on stage and off it.  Even Lucas’ designer friend, Katrine, was in to it, kind of,  “You guys were nowhere near as horrible as I thought you would be!”  And with that she bought a shirt.  Even Jamie said to me afterwards, "I'd like to see you guys play when you're straight since every time I see you you're complaining about feeling fucked and yet you still go nuts!"

Even so, I couldn’t help feeling nagged by the gig and the other guys were the same.  We dropped the ball a couple of times and even if no one else noticed it, we did, and that’s enough.  I know this is punk rock and it shouldn’t really matter, but I’ve been hanging out with Johan Victims long enough to know that punk rock or not, you should still play fucking tight and take pride in what you do.  That said, we’re a young band, not in age obviously, except Luk, but in historical terms and we’re still finding our way.  There’s another gig tomorrow and we’ll kick the shit out of that one.

Last night was a very fucking wet occasion and tonight, at least for myself, was never going to be the same. I tried drinking a few beers but I could as well have been drinking cat piss such was my enthusiasm for them. The London lot were having a good time it seemed though.  Viv tried to convince me to take a drink with her from the Langos stall, but I couldn’t bring myself to it.  I eventually caved into to her considerable pressure and took a shot of the filthy booze that was the core ingredient of said drink and regretted it immediately. Much to my annoyance I noticed that they actually were selling Langos, as in the deep fried bread, tonight too.  Bastard.

Luk and I spend the rest of the night taking turns at the merch stall, the pair of us a little worn out from the night before.  Him and Vik had been out with Solomon from Night Fever and that always ends in carnage. Cristiane was still in bed apparently, suffering the hangover of all hangovers.  There are a couple of other bands playing that we take little notice of and then ending the night is Agathocles. Seriously, how long have these guys been around?  They’re entertaining only in the most novelty of ways and they play for far too long, of course.  The bassist/singer ends the set by doing the last few songs without his guitar and without his t-shirt in the crowd, prancing about like a tit.  I don’t have anything against them really, just don’t really get "fun" grind.

When they’re finished we pack up and commence the ritual of saying goodbye to everyone which takes a while.  There is a metal disco starting up as we leave but I’m not all that tempted to stay.  As it seems now the party is pretty flat and even Kev is sober and talking about going to bed..  With it being already past midnight it feels too late to start kicking things off now and the thought of sleeping on Cristiano’s sofa is far more appealing.  Even so, Vik seems to have gotten himself a little sauced is talking after party.  We all nod in feigned enthusiasm and make to leave the Youth House, saying bye to Kev and the guys, but as soon as we walk out on to the street I confirm with Luk and Cristiano that we’re going back to his place to sleep, right?  They both nod, to my relief.

Vik and Bea are staying at another friend of theirs, Sander, who lives a short distance away.  Sanders is drunk and when he’s drunk he is brutal in his piss taking.  He let’s Vik have the full brunt of it, much to our amusement. Vik is asking him when the next bus is coming, a simple enough question but Sander berates him, “What the fuck am I?  Your babysitter?  Read the timetable!”  as he sways back and forth on his bike.

Sander is determined he’s going to another bar, calling us pussies and shouting “Yolo” a lot.  Vik and Bea end up taking a taxi back to his place on their own.  After a lot of farting around at the bus stop we finally head off back to Cristiano’s place, picking up some pizza for supper.  On the walk back to the flat we pass a drunk guy coming the other way.  Without breaking stride he asks us, “Have you guys seen some nigger kids?”  Before we have time to process the question the guy has gone, we look at each other a little stunned and then burst out laughing.  Random.

We end the night sat around the table in Cristiano’s flat, talking in hushed tones so not to disturb his hungover wife.  The pizza is great, the sofa even better.  I fall into a most welcome sleep shortly after curling up on it.
We spend half of the next day lazing around watching CNN and other tripe on tv.  At one point Cristiano puts on the song Land Down Under by Men at Work on the turntable, something that pricks my ears up. Nice one Cris, perfect for a Sunday morning.  I’m a little taken aback when the next song comes on and I realise he’s actually playing the whole lp, that he actually owns the lp in fact.  There I was thinking he was just putting on a novelty song for effect but no, he’s into it for real.

Cristiane arises and makes breakfast, excusing her absence yesterday and telling us how bad her hangover was.  One of those evil bastards that has you confined to your bed all day.  I sympathise.  Breakfast and coffee is most welcome and after a shower and yet more sitting around the four of us head into town for some lunch.  We end up at a cool café called Laundromat where you can indeed do your washing whilst eating, or vice versa maybe.  It’s a nice place though, right in the heart of Vesterbro, and their Portobello burger is simply superb.

Vik and Bea meet up with us afterwards, although Bea has to head back home pretty much straight away.  I feel for them, seeing them saying goodbye to each other.  I remember those days when me and Jen first got together.  Horrible and wonderful at the same time.  If you last the distance then those days apart pay dividends in the long run though.

Vik, Luk and I head to the station to take the train to Valby, where tonight’s show is being held.  It’s out in the south western suburbs and accessible only by this overground train.  I get the feeling it’s going to be a lowly attended show, given the location and the fact it’s Sunday night.  I’d spoken to Anders yesterday about when we should meet up today and he’d suggested we head out here at eleven am.  That struck me as utter madness.  Why the fuck would we want to hang out at the venue all day?  It was around six when we got there, Kev, Jamie and the rest had been here since around one.  It takes us a while to find the place, we ask a few people in the area, including the girl at the 7 Eleven but nobody has even heard of the street it’s on. We eventually find it though, not five minutes walk from the station, and there we see Viv, Clara and Wayne walking across the road a little further up.  “Oh my God it’s Diagnosis? Bastard!” Viv screams at us waving as we hurry on past.

The venue is a really cool place.  A three story community centre with a venue in the basement.  The gig room is really small and sixty or seventy people here would look good.  Jamie is taking care of the sound tonight since whoever was supposed to be doing so hasn’t turned up.  Maybe it’s just as well.  They serve up some great looking pizza but I’m not really in the mood for anything except sitting in a warm, cosy bar somewhere and having a pint of draft malt beer.  There doesn’t seem to be much on offer around here though and as it happens they have a little bar downstairs.  Anders has brought a couple of crates of Tuborg with him and as appreciated as that is I need a pint, and at twenty kronors a pop I’m more than happy to pay for it.  Kev is hungover again, turns out he persevered with the metal disco last night and ended up dancing with the Agathocles guys before going to bed in a haze sometime around five...

The first band on tonight is a local grind/metal band with a posh English guy on guitar/vocals.  There are about ten people watching them, not including our lot, that seem to be friends of theirs.  I watch on slightly intrigued as they seem to be having "technical difficulties" and whilst whatever the problem is is being solved Posh English starts telling jokes.  Not very good ones.  When no one laughs he changes tack and asks if anyone has any weed. It's a bit painful.  Also quite eye catching is the very serious looking drummer they have, a finely chiseled, Aryan looking specimen of a bloke playing with his top off, obviously chuffed with his muscles.  He looks very, very serious.  The bass player looks friendly enough.  I remember little else of their show.

We're still waiting for friends of ours to turn up, the need for their presence all the more vital when the ten or so mates of the first band fuck off after they've played.  Well, they head outside to smoke weed with Posh English for the rest of the night anyway.  Cristiano, Cristiane, Sander and crew eventually turn up, just as well since Sander has a bag of our merch that we need to have to sell to nobody.  There was talk of Solomon coming over tonight but I was sceptical considering they had the big party in Malmö last night.  He never turns up.  By the time BUGS play, there are just our lot, Anders, a couple of people from the venue and a couple of the first bands friends watching.  And the serious drummer is playing fussball with someone else. That's it.  Fuck it, it's still fun watching them play, and they sound good!  Between songs at one point I hear Viv, who has now taken over control of the lighting, "Would you like another colour?  Maybe a bit of blue?". Brilliant.

BUGS finish up and except for Kev, we swap places with them and start or short set.  It sounds better tonight than it did yesterday, and the tempo is a bit more controlled, but it's still not quite right.  I do feel that I have a lot more energy though and it's nice being back on the floor where we belong.  There is a bit of a fuck up when Vik starts the wrong song at one point, leading me to scream, "For fuck sakes!" but it's born more out of adrenalin than actually being that pissed off about it.  I always get a bit of a rush going when it feels like we're up against it.   After the show Anders gives me a hug and says, "Hey Mr. Crazy Guitarist" with a big smile on his face.  I guess it was a bit more of a spectacle tonight.

Following us, Slow Plague play the best set I've seen by them since that first time in Sheffield.  Fucking brilliant, they're perfect for these small, dark venues.  And the beer is tasting a little better tonight, giving me a bit of a kick to enjoy their torturous music with.  Tonight is also Pablo's birthday, which adds to the spirit of togetherness I feel with my friends here in the arse end of Copenhagen.  This might be a poorly attended show on a wet Sunday night in Copenhagen, but I'd rather be here than stood at work on a dead Sunday night in the bar.  Whether I'd rather be here than at home with my family, cosying up on the sofa in front of the tv is another matter...

After Slow Plague are done we pack up the gear as quick as we can.  As we're going about our business Kev walks over to the stage area where Pablo is packing up his pedals and stuff, "Nice one, good work this weekend mate!"

"Ah thanks, you too" replies Pablo, looking up with an expression of gratitude on his coupon.  "Not you, I was talking to Street Bass!" Kev snorts as he walks past Pablo and gives his bass a stroke.
Luk and I take care of the merch, although there isn't much to take care of.  One girl, I think she belongs to the first band's crowd, wants a shirt and inquires about the cost of them.  Luk tells her eighty kronors, she fishes around in her pocket and comes back with two, Luk bends down to the bag to retrieve a shirt.  I have to stop him.  "Mate, we can't fucking sell a shirt for two kronors when we're asking for eighty!  That's taking the piss!"

"Yeah I guess so."  He's just so eager for people to wear our shirts, it's an automatic reaction to just grab one from the bag.  I mean, we're trying our best to be a DIY punk band and keep our merchandise at good prices, but there has to be a limit.  They cost four quid to make, we can't sell them for twenty fucking pence! We end up selling the shirt to the girl for something like fifty kronors, once she's gone off and scrounged together some smash from her mates.

We don't hang around for all that much longer.  Most of our crew have already left and the London lot are staying with Anders I guess.  Vik, Luk and I catch the last train back to Vesterport and head to yet another pizza place.  We go back to Cristiano's place and eat it quietly as our hosts sleep.  Vik gets a cab back to Sander's place around one thirty and Luk and I hit the hay.  It's been a good weekend but I'm fucking knackered now and ready to go home.

We're up early in the morning for our flight to Stockholm.  As usual, I can't sleep.

Friday, October 11, 2013


Battle of Santiago doesn’t play that many shows.  In fact, three of us, Paddan, Olle and I meet to walk our dogs on a more regular basis that we do to practice.  But the odd show we do manage to perform every year usually turns out to be something a little away from the ordinary.  This weekend was to follow the usual theme.  We were flying to Stavanger, the “oil capital of Norway” to play a poetry festival. We’d be performing with Stig Larsson, not the dead guy but the other one, the old poet who made a name for himself in Swedish culture circles back in the seventies and eighties as somewhat of an outlandish, outspoken, heavy drinking rogue.  It was bound to be an interesting weekend…

We made a record with Stig a couple of years ago.  At the time I was pretty confused by the whole concept. Erik had said to me about the idea of recording with Stig.  “Stig?  Which Stig?” I asked.

The conversation bounced back and forth awhile, “E: From Rosa Drömmar. G: The old piss head guy? E: Yeah, he’s gonna do some reading and we’ll play music to it. G: What do you mean read? What’s he gonna read? E: Some of his poetry. G: Aha, I had no idea. E: He’s pretty well known. G: Aha, I thought he was just an old boy from the bar who likes the sauce. E: Well, he is. But he’s a pretty well known poet too.”

The record was recorded live with Stig reading and the guys playing some instrumental pieces written specifically for the record.  The only person who was missing was myself since I was on tour with Victims at the time and the whole idea had been conceived, written and recorded within the space of a week.  I went into the studio when I got home and put some guitar bits down on it.  The record came out about eighteen months later on our friend’s label, Svedjebruk…

We’d performed the thing with Stig a couple of times at Rönnels antique book store in Stockholm since. The first time went well, the second had a lot of people in attendance but Stig was pretty pissed and gave a somewhat shaky performance.  I wasn’t really expecting any other offers to come in but Stig is somewhat of a “cult figure” in this part of the world and sure enough, a few months after the second Rönnels gig we received an offer from this poetry festival in Stavanger. Flights, hotel for two nights and five grand Norwegian. Why the fuck not?

And then about a week before the trip someone from the festival’s production office rang Erik and asked if we’d be interested in playing some music with four other foreign poets that would be reading before our thing with Stig.  At first Erik tried to explain that we really didn’t play together that much and that we’d have a hard time getting things together in time.  They said that was too bad, and that just so we knew they’d double the pay.  Erik immediately changes tune, tells them he’ll ring them back in five.  All of a sudden we’ve got four songs to write.

Erik had some rough ideas anyway and it didn’t take too long to get it together.  The hardest thing as usual was getting everyone to the rehearsal space at the same time.  Olle, the bassist runs his own restaurant and works an ungodly amount of hours, I play in three bands, run a bar and have a baby at home, Erik plays in another band that rehearses an insane amount, Tompa has a quite astonishing social life and Paddan plays with a bunch of other people and has a dog.  It’s not easy.  I managed to make it to three practices, the final one being with Stig the night before we left.  Everything was sounding good.  I liked the four new songs. Amazing how Erik just seems to pluck them from thin air.

So we set off for Stavanger late afternoon on the Friday. We’d met up at the practice room, which is the same place where we used to practice with Victims, coincidentally.  As I walked up the hill from Rådmansgatan station I’d found Stig sitting on the wooden bench outside, under the statue  of Stringberg looking out over Tegnerlunden park, looking a little lost.  He told me he’d been sat there awhile, waiting for the other guys.  I noted the fact that the gate was unlocked and the door downstairs was open suggested to me the guys were already here.  Stig tells me he’s heading down to the Queen’s Head for a drink and he’d meet us back here in a half hour in time for the taxi that was booked.

He came back with a fair whiff of booze about him.  We got in the cab and headed to Arlanda where Stig battered us with stories of travels, booze and drugs co-starring an assortment of famous people.  I sat and listened to the most of what he had to say but I seemed to be the only one to do so.  I guess the other guys see the fucker a lot more often and have probably heard it all before.  I wonder if they view me in the same light?  I’m always banging on about stories from the past after all…

When we get to the airport Erik suddenly seems to be having a hard time of things, freaking out a little.  He tells us he’s shit scared of airports and gets really claustrophobic on flights.  This is news to me.  I think it’s just an excuse for him to drink Jagermeister, which is what he seems to drink exclusively these days.  Whilst we’re waiting for the flight, all bar Tompa are stupid enough to take a snack and a beer at the poshest restaurant in the airport.  Tompa goes for Max which is a way wiser move.  The beers at this place cost a hundred fucking kronor and the sarnie comes in at just under one sixty.  And we’re supposed to be heading to Norway’s most expensive city?  It can’t be as bad as this place that’s for fucking sure!  To top things off, the cheeky cunt stood behind the bar then puts a guilt trip on us, pleading for a fucking tip.  He stands there and gives us the exact instructions on how we leave said tip whilst paying by card, guiding us all individually as we take turns to pay.  “If you would like to leave a tip, then you type in the amount you want to leave, followed by the total amount and your pin code.”  For Olle and myself this is shocking behaviour.  We both work in the branch and asking for tips is just something you don’t do, not saying of course that tips aren’t appreciated but you don’t fucking beg for them. This isn’t the USA.  First Olle leaves a minimal amount and then after receiving the exact same spiel I follow suit.  Erik is having none of it though.  “If you would like to leave a,” Erik presses cancel and moves straight to pin code, “No. Okay”.  Erik takes his card and walks away.  Wish I’d done the same.

We fly west to Stavanger on one of those little Indiana Jones propeller planes that cruise at something like five hundred feet.  I’d never been on one before and the sight of the thing had made me a little nervous to be honest, fuck knows what Erik and Paddan must have been going through since they’re both terrified as it is, but in actual fact the whole experience was a pleasant one.  The flight was smooth and the scenery in to Stavanger as we descended, seemingly skimming the mountain tops, was breathtaking.  In the midst of this mild elation I broke my gaze away to the seat across the aisle that Stig had previously been occupying and noticed he was gone, this long after the fasten seatbelt signs had been lit.  I gave an inquisitive glance to Olle and Paddan but they were as scoobied as me.  “What the fuck?  We can’t lose him now!” decried Paddan. It turns out the old sod had wandered off down the aisle looking for his bag and had been sat in another seat by one of the stewardesses.

We arrive at the small airport and are met by a big friendly looking guy who will take us to the venue we’re playing tonight.  We’ll soundcheck first and then leave our bags at the boat hostel where the Santiago boys will be staying, Stig has another, presumably costlier hotel, and then we’ll be taken to get some food.  All this is explained in Norwegian and I’m inwardly pleased with myself that I can understand about eighty percent of it.

It’s a short trip into town and I’m very pleasantly surprised to find that the venue is a cool little bar with the floor for a stage and a small balcony facing it.  I’d had no idea what to expect but I’m glad we’re here and not in some stiff theatre or wooden hall.  The first thing that strikes me about this place is that it would be a great venue for Victims or Diagnosis to play.  It certainly feels more punk than poetry.  The soundcheck goes by without a hitch and as far as I’m concerned, the sound is perfect.  Not over-the-top-loud, but enough, and you can hear everyone clearly, something not always easily achieved with a band that has three guitarists playing different things.

Stig has already disappeared to his hotel and we won’t see him again until later on in the evening.

If the venue looked more like the place for a punk gig than poetry reading then we were left in no doubt where we were having walked into the dining room to grab some dinner.  Erik points out immediately that the other people in this place are not of the same ilk as we.  This puts him on edge.  Not that he’s intimidated by the upper echelons of the Scandinavian arts scene, more that he’s annoyed by them.  The food is pretty fucking exquisite though and we wolf it down with a glass of wine, although we enjoy it sat on a sofa in adjoining room, “Fucked if I’m sitting in there with those snobby wankers!” Erik protests.

This isn’t your average gig, not by any means.  The town festival is run out of the Kulturhuset and is obviously state funded.  They’re probably not used to dealing with bands, and certainly not bands like us. Everyone is friendly enough though and upon realising that we’re around all day tomorrow too, the Production Manager is kind enough to give us food vouchers for both lunch and dinner to see us through our whole trip.  It’s a most welcome gesture being that we’re in Stavanger and a day’s worth of eating tomorrow would either be extremely expensive or extremely minimal.  This must be how Kev feels when he’s in Stockholm…

Before we’d eaten dinner we’d dropped our bags off at the boat hostel.  The bedrooms are absolutely tiny, no cat swinging there, even so, they’re pretty cosy.  The boat itself though is really beautiful, all wooden floors and gold trimmings.  It looks like a mini version of the Titanic.  There is a large dining room as well as several smaller salons with signs like “Ladies Lounge” and “Smoking Room” on the doors.  The place actually looks more like a museum than a hostel.

Everything sorted we head back to the venue which has a cosy front bar that is full of Stavanger’s trendiest. We find a table large enough for the five of us and enjoy a beer that has been traded in for one of the coupons we were given earlier.  Stig has rejoined us by this point although he’s supping on a glass of wine. There is a buzz about the place and we’re feeling good.  There is sufficient confusion about how the night will play out, what with these four other poets we’re supposed to be playing with, and of course, each of us has a different interpretation of the Production Manager’s instructions.  Just as we seem to have collectively figured it out, the PM approaches our table and asks us if one of us can perform an improv piece of music with one of the four poets, a chap from Zimbabwe.  This isn’t in the script.  What do you mean improv?  We all kind of turn our gaze to the window and shuffle slightly away leaving Erik who is sat closest to her to deal with the question.  What can he say?  He reluctantly agrees.  “Why is it always me?”

He goes off to meet the guy and returns a few minutes later looking a nervous wreck.  “This dude wants me to play guitar along with him as he speaks and he’s gonna steer how intense or calm I’m supposed to play by motioning to me with his hand.  Fuck sakes!”  I crack up laughing.  It’s a coward’s laugh.  I would be absolutely shit in this situation and the result would be pitiful at best.  But Erik I know will be able to pull this off.  My confidence in his talent is of no comfort to him though.

We start the evening off with the first of the four new songs we’ve written especially for this night.  The first one I’ve christened Earth, as it reminds me a little of that’s band’s later records.  It is by far the kindest piece we will play tonight and when we perform it we do so to around twenty people.  When we bring it to a close there is but a smattering of applause.  Some guy who is obviously tonight’s host then takes to the stage/floor and in English introduces the band, Battle of Santiago who will be performing songs that will accompany the readings we have for you this evening.  It hits me then what a strange gig this really is.

The floor space we have to perform in is pretty tight and it’s a bit of job finding a space to lean out of the way in, avoiding pedals and cables and Paddan behind me.  The first reader is a guy from Israel who reads the first chapter from his new book, which is some sort of violent comedic drama taken from the perspective of an immigrant.  He reads for a good twenty minutes.  I manage to catch most of it between tuning my guitar and looking about the audience and profiling them.  It seemed like a pretty good book anyway.  When he’s done we go into our second song which is a more driving up-tempo piece, very much in the vain of later Sonic Youth.  A few more people have filtered into the room by now but the response is equally refrained.

Up next is a woman from Iraq who reads a series of very short poems in her native language, that are translated on a projection screen behind Tompa’s kit.  We then go into the third piece which starts with a racketing, stabbing riff that then breaks into a mellower driven section with mildly chaotic guitars and bass. For the first time tonight I feel myself starting to play a little more aggressively and I sense that by now the audience must really be wondering what the fuck is going on.  I’m surprised then that the response to this piece is a little more enthusiastic.

Up next is a woman from South Africa also reading a chapter from a book of hers.   I don’t really take much of it in.  When she’s done she looks to me and Paddan stood to the left of her and says quietly, “Take away the noise.”  And we do.  The fourth piece is by far my favourite of the new songs.  It starts with Paddan playing a driving riff at the bottom end of his baritone guitar and then we all blast in.  It’s just the one riff the whole way through, which just escalates to the point we’re all going off on different tangents until it breaks down into a myre of drums and Paddan making feedbacked noise from his delay pedal.  It’s a fucking whirlwind of sound and I’m loving every second of this.  Then like AD/DC’s Problem Child  we start the whole thing over again, albeit just a few bars until it suddenly stops.  I’m really happy we pulled this one off, although again it seems we’re way more chuffed with it than the confused audience seems to be.

It’s now time for the fourth and final reader before we begin the whole thing with Stig.  It’s time for Erik and the Zimbabwean to do their stuff.  We shuffle off to the side where the bar is and leave them to it.  First off he reads a charming poem about his uncle Thomas, called Uncle Thomas.  I really like it.  Really simple and without a trace of pretension.  When he’s finished this poem he starts into another and it’s time for Erik to perform.  And perform he does.  He just jams around on some other stuff I’ve heard him playing before, lifting and descending when ushered by the poet.  I’m overwhelmed by a huge feeling of pride at how well he does in such circumstances.  I’m also just the slightest bit tipsy from the two beers I’ve drunk.  Erik does brilliantly and the whole thing goes by smoothly until right at the end when the power from his guitar goes out, must be a dodgy cable, but it’s right at the end and no one cares.

The plan was we’d have a break before Stig starts but as time is getting on we fuck that idea off.  We’re stood at the bar beside the stage space and Stig tells us he wants to say a few things before starting his reading.  As if it’s expected of him, he starts to talk about sex.  He stays relatively mild with it, I’ve heard him say far worse things in the pub, but all the same, the feeling I get is that he’s talking about this shit because it’s what the audience expect to hear from the controversial Stig Larsson.  When he’s done he then reads his poem Nyponsoppa, which is quite a lengthy poem.  During the reading Erik, stood beside me, lowers himself to the floor and starts fiddling about with something.  I assume he’s checking his dodgy cable.  When he returns he has a bottle of Jager in his hand and he pours himself a whole highball glasses worth, right in front of the bartender.  The only sound to be heard in the room, besides Stig’s Nyponsoppa, is my hysterical laughing just about smothered in the palm of my hand.  I don’t know why I find it so funny but I have a fit of laughter that lasts for the rest of the poem.  I feel like a kid sat at the back of the class trying his best to avoid the teacher’s glare.

It’s finally time for the performance of our collaboration.  This must be the longest gig I’ve ever had. The room is now packed.  Stig really does pull a crowd in these circles it seems.  I have to say, Stig is fully on his game and the whole thing goes off seamlessly.  We finish off with three of our own “real” songs to which Stig maintains his position on the stage and dances along to whilst Erik stands beside him and screams into the mic.  I decide I can’t stand being hemmed in any more and make my way out on to the space in front of the stage and really go for it.  As we bang out the last chords of In the Presence of Colossus which stops with a sudden, violent end, the audience lets out a thunderous applause.  Wasn’t expecting that.  I was in fact expecting the vast majority of them to leave upon the realisation that Stig’s reading was over.

We’re all pretty chuffed with how the gig turned out and it’s now the drinking begins in earnest.  We won’t stop, bar for a few hours of sleep,  until late into the following night…

Since Polly came along there hasn’t been a whole lot of drinking, or there hasn’t been any piss up at least, and it’s probably a good thing that Santiago play so seldomly because when I’m with these boys the booze just seems to flow.  We’re all in good spirits as we hang out by the merch table that Erik has set up, containing the sole item of the record we made with Stig.  Erik is more concerned with passing around the Jagermeister than selling the album though and soon packs the records away.  It’s not really a record buying public I guess.   We have drink tickets and the beer is slipping down my neck like liquid silk.  We’re all around except Olle who has fastened somewhere else with Stig.  Just as I’m wondering what he’s up to he returns looking a little flustered, “Ah fuck sakes, I need to lose Stig!  I got stuck in a fucking useless conversation with him about AIDS.”  I guess it was Stig doing most of the talking.  Olle zips off to the bar and is soon back in better spirits.  Stig joins us briefly, looking slightly sozzled, wearing a schoolboy grin, before disappearing into the night.

After an hour or so of hanging and drinking, chatting with some of the elder Stavanger poetry crowd, a few of which seem very interested in our music, or at least very eager to try and understand it,  Erik doing his best to get me drunk on Jager, lambasting me over the shameful quantity I intake when he shoves the bottle in my coupon (fuck that, I’ve had more than my share of Jager over the years since Speedhorn used to be fucking sponsored by the clatty shite), Paddan performs his usual disappearing act.  This is something he is well known for.  He’ll shuffle out the door with his phone to his ear, or with an unlit fag in his mouth, and then without so much as a glance continue all the way home, or wherever the evening’s bed is, in this case the boat across the road.  The fucker does it all the time.

Olle soon clocks that he’s gone and sends him a text demanding to know of his whereabouts.  “WANKER” is the simple reply.  The rest of us stand about cursing the cunt for about five minutes, although really we all think it’s hilarious, and then Tompa drops the bomb on us.  He tells us Karin is pregnant and he’s going to be a dad.  Cue arms aloft and a mighty group cheer.  It’s weird being in the situation where it’s me handing out advice and philosophies, all gained from the last seven months… I text Paddan and tell him that he has to come back, no arguing, and celebrate Tompa’s news.  He replies immediately, “Fucking hell!  That news is of course worth going from naked to dressed again for.  Be back in five!”  And he was.  And as if he’d never been gone the booze is flowing freely once again.

It’s gone three by the time we leave the place and stoat over the road back to the boat, although none of us have sleep on our minds.  We head to the lounge at the back of the boat that had the sign Smoke Room on the door.  As we stumble down the corridor, past our huts and many others, a large pissed off looking lady appears in her nightgown and shouts, “People sleeping!” at us.  She is ignored.  We are on a mission.

We crack open some more beers, drink some more Jager and listen to some music through the tiny speakers on Paddan’s phone.  And being the Smoke Room, the smokers in the band light up.  We’re not being that rowdy in all honesty, the music is quiet and tinny and the voices are kept to conversation level.  It’s only when Olle attempts to open a bottle of red wine by the method of banging a knife down on the cork with his shoe that we cause any alarm.  The guy who I assume is the night porter, actually it’s the same guy who handed us our keys upon check- in, a mustachioed sap with a perm who looks Mediterranean in origin, appears, just his head poking around the door, with a wide eyed, gaping mouthed look of horror on his face. He doesn’t say anything, and either do we, we just stare at each other for about five seconds until he fucks off again.  We all crack up laughing.  One by one, we drop off into the night.  Erik  passes out on the bench seat behind the table before crawling off to bed, Tompa and then Olle give it up eventually too, leaving just Paddan and I and a final beer and a couple of punk records playing through the crackly speakers.  It’s around four by the time I collapse into bed.

I’m awoke around eight with the usual dying for a piss, can’t be arsed getting out of bed routine, and lie there suffering until Olle texts about an hour later, asking if anyone is up and about yet and in the mood for breakfast.  I respond immediately and jump into the shower and then meet Olle on the street, feeling pretty okay, considering.  There isn’t a peep from anyone else so the two of us head off into town to explore and look for coffee.  It’s a grey, drizzly morning in this beautiful harbour town with a nip in the air that I’m grateful to receive.  We walk around for a while before settling on a cool little, book shop cafe with two friendly women working behind the counter.  We take espressos and croissants.  This place is also a venue for the festival.  It seems like most places here are hosting something over the weekend.

We head back to the boat and meet up with the rest of the guys who have now arisen.  Tompa is laughing, telling us he’d seen Mustache/Perm angrily taping a sign written in English to the door of the Smoke Room, warning that any smoking on board will result in prosecution and IMMEDIATE EVICTION from the boat. I guess he’s referring to us.

After a bit of farting around, I’m concerned with finding a bar to watch the Liverpool game in later on, and some lunch at a cosy little Italian place we have a coupon for, we decide to embark on a boat trip to the fjords.  We’re all hungover and the weather is miserable but we all agree it would be a crime to come to this part of the world and not see one of it’s greatest wonders.  Paddan brings a bottle of Ballentine’s to accompany the trip.  The boat ride takes around three hours…

I’ve seen some sights in my lifetime, some truly amazing things, but these glacial cliffs, these grey, jagged rock faces disappearing upwards into the low hanging mist and downwards into the black, icy water take some fucking beating.  The five of us spent the majority of the three hours gasping in awe and bewilderment between sips of whiskey.  If ever there was a cure for a hangover it was the combination of blended scotch and nature at it’s very spine tingling best.

Of course we weren’t the only tourists on board and one of them, somewhere, was smoking weed. Paddan’s nose was up in the air like a dog’s tail on heat.  He casually walks up to a woman he for some reason believes is the source and asks her if she has any to share, albeit in a bumbled attempt at being subtle. He comes back empty handed muttering something about miscommunication.

When we get back to town we head straight for a pub with Liverpool flags hanging all over it and watch the game.  They’re at home to Southampton, a game that considering the fine start to the season they’ve had should be expected to win.  They lose one-nil and the game is absolute shite.  The beer costs about seven quid a pint too, making the whole experience utterly miserable.  If it wasn’t for the company of my four friends I would have been in no mood to continue with the day’s festivities.

We head back to Kulturhuset for some more of the fine grub on offer for dinner.  The food isn’t quite as good as yesterday and the vegetarian options are slimmer but it’s still free scran and there is enough of it to fill myself with.  Paddan seems to have gotten himself pretty drunk, although none of the rest of us can quite work out how this has happened.  We surmise that he most likely had drank quite a bit more of the Ballantine's than the rest of us.  He’s on to his second glass of red now and is in the main eating room talking loudly with strangers.  Whilst this is going on we get talking to a friendly chap who runs the music library here.  He offers show us about the place and we gratefully accept.  After some effort, we manage to drag Paddan with us and we spend a half hour or so looking about this museum of recorded music.  It’s quite something.  The guy guides us about the place and we engage in a great conversation with him.  A real bonus.

Before we leave we head back down to the production centre in search of our pay.  We are introduced to a smug looking bastard called Espen.  When he realises we want cash he almost chokes in disbelief.  “This is a properly run organization and we don’t just hand out cash to the artists performing, we do all that via bank payment.”  You can tell he’s thinking that we’re a bunch of jumped up punks.  We agree to mail him our bank details.  He then changes tack and asks, “You guys have fun last night?” whilst giving us two thumbs up.  We stand there like a bunch of fucking chumps, despondent.

We hit the town, cashless.  Paddan walks straight out of the building still holding a full glass of red in his hand.  Something that would be very frowned upon and probably illegal, but he’s past caring.  I insist on seeing a bit more of the town before we hit a bar, something met with a sigh from Erik who is by now dying for a drink himself, and I’m given five minutes to go look at a park with a small lake in the middle of it.  We take pictures of Paddan stuffing his head into a concrete alligator’s mouth.

We head back to the boat to regroup for the night.  Paddan goes to sleep.  He tells us he’s taking a power nap.  It’s six pm.

We discover that the deck up top is open to guests and not only that, they have tables and chairs up there. Why the fuck didn’t we think of checking this out yesterday?  It would have been a lot cosier and we wouldn’t have disturbed anyone on board.. The four of us minus Paddan park ourselves and tuck into another bottle of Ballantine’s, this time Tompa the provider.  Erik’s phone provides the soundtrack which happens to be the first Obits record.

We sit up there and make our way through the bottle as we divulge into various topics of conversation. Tompa’s baby, Olle’s upcoming wedding, tour stories (such as the time Erik was on tour with Stomping Souls in Germany and two girls Indian girls bought him a drink because they thought it was really cool that a muslim was playing in a rock band, they’d made the mistake due to the fact that Erik had a silly scarf wrapped around his head, the fucker has always got some sort of accessory up there), and various nightmare experiences with drugs.  As the bottle of Ballantine’s emptied, the conversation grew louder.  By the time it was finished we decided it was time to wake Paddan and head to a bar.  Erik suggests we just leave the bottle and plastic glasses on the table but Olle objects, “Nah come on don’t do that!  We shouldn’t mess the place up, everyone has been really friendly and good to us on this trip.”  I agree with him and suggest that after last night’s shenanigans we should tread a little lighter on this boat.  We then joke again about the Mustache/Perm’s shocked face when he looked in on us the night before and his angry sign this morning. “The thing is, we always seem to piss people off, though never intentionally” we laugh.  In good spirits we bound down the steel staircase that leads from the top deck to the main.  At the bottom of the staircase I turn to look through an open door and find a room full of people staring with silent anger in our direction whilst some poet is giving a reading.  We’d had no idea the boat was also a venue and we certainly had no idea there were a hundred or so people unwillingly listening to our drunken ramblings.  Typical.

After some struggle we manage to entice Paddan from his bed, although not before we’ve taken a suitable amount of pictures of the fucker.  We head to a punk gig we’ve been tipped off about at a club just near the venue we played yesterday.  The band is called The Good, The Bad and The Sugly, a shite name if ever I’ve heard one.  Erik knows all about them though since the singer in the band used to play bass in Mensen with Marianne, whose band Mary’s Kids Erik now plays with.  Erik dislikes the guy.  He tells us that apparently he’s this scientist dude who lives in the Bahamas or somewhere and earns loads of money, that he’s only a punk when it suits him.  Fuck knows.  We go to the club, we’d arranged a guestlist, and sit down to a few drinks.  Pretty cool club, although a little on the large side.  The band start and there are quite a few watching them although not as many as I would have thought considering Erik insisted they were really hyped.  They sound kind of like Kvellertak with a greater emphasis on the Turbonegro bits and without the black metal parts altogether.  The guitarist is wearing a Victims t-shirt funnily enough and is of course by far the coolest guy in the band.  The bass player looks like Uncle Fester and keeps pulling ridiculous lurching faces when he plays.  I find this amusing but it seems to annoy the rest.  The singer does indeed look like a bit of a poser and I find him crowd surfing on top of about five people a bit much.  When he shouts into the mic the opening lyrics of one of their songs, “You can call the police, I couldn’t give a fuck!” I can’t help myself but wonder if he really does live in the Bahamas and if he does what a cock that would make him for singing such lyrics.  In fact, they’re pretty cock lyrics either way.

We decide to leave and head back to Cementen, the club we played last night, deciding we’d rather hang with our new crowd the poetry society than the punks.  They weren’t really punks to be fair, more your average rock club fare.  Paddan has disappeared and we figure we won’t see him for the rest of the night whilst Olle is by now pretty steaming.  I only really realise this when some local youth stops Olle in the street and asks for a light for his fag, “Are you German?” inquires Olle with a tone of genuine curiosity.  The youth, confused, “Er...no” still waiting on a light.  “What are you?” Olle asks, even more confused than the youth.

“I’m Norwegian!”  Olle then hugs him with a big “Ohhh, I’m sorry, I thought you were German!”  We all piss ourselves laughing at the scene.  Olle lights the guy’s cig and we continue.  When we get to Cementen the place is packed, well the bar area anyway.  We head to the room with the stage we tread yesterday and find a Sami woman reading a poem in her native tongue with some soft, electro music beating in the background.  Olle, Tompa and I head up to the balcony, Erik has fastened somewhere down on the floor. Olle is amazed by the performance, going on about how it’s like something from Twin Peaks and that it’s “So fucking strong to hear someone talking in a foreign language you don’t understand!  You hear the rhythm instead of getting caught up in the words..”  He will later tell the Sami woman this.

After the Sami woman has finished, a large Welsh guy in a tight fitting paisley shirt and geeky glasses steps up and starts to recite in his own, beautiful, fucked up tongue.  Of course, I can’t understand a word of the language of my heritage.. I spot Erik stood downstairs, obviously not wanting to be there but feeling it would be rude to leave in the middle of the guys performance.  Olle, thinking this Welsh guy is also brilliant, texts Erik, “Trainspotting?”  I don’t really know what he means by that but I guess he’s maybe referring to the fact that the whole thing is a bit surreal.  Erik replies immediately, “This guy is so gay.  But he doesn’t know it himself.  I need a Jager.”

The performances come to a close and after some shots at the bar forced upon us by Olle, we head back into the bar.  Olle is now boats.  Tompa and Erik are looking pretty sauced too and soon head back to the hostel.  Considering I’ve put a few away I don’t feel too bad, but that’s most likely because now I only have Olle as a reference point.  We’re stood there in the packed bar area when Olle starts up with some middle aged guy shuffling past, “Hey!  How are you?”  The guy looks completely bemused, “Do I know you?” he asks.

“Yeah sure, we spoke last night!  You’re from Stavanger, right?” Olle forges ahead.

“No, China,” the guy’s responds with more than a hint of distaste.  I piss myself laughing although Olle is not to be stopped.  I get pulled away from them a little by the current of people passing by but when I clamber my way back to them a couple of minutes later, Olle is still ear bashing the guy with far too much enthusiasm. When I pick up the conversation again the first thing I hear is the Chinese guy saying, “Dude, you’re being kind of aggressive now.”  Olle, the mildest, sweetest guy you could ever meet, does tend to go wild when he gets a proper drink in him, which due to the enormous amount of hours he works is about once a year.  I pull Olle away and we head back into the theatre room, which by now is a full on club and the area where we played yesterday and where just a half hour before Sami and Wales had been reading, is now a throbbing dancefloor.  It’s gone from poetry festival to Bips Nightclub in Corby.

Olle is on the fucking rampage.  First he introduces me to this older woman and her middle aged, suit wearing son.  I’m not sure what the connection is but Olle keeps telling me she’s awesome.  They seem nice enough and I chat to the son for a while.  Then Olle starts talking to some other girl, in English, he’s talking English to everyone now, but this girl takes him up on it.  Turns out she’s from Malmö and she tells Olle that it’s really weird he’s talking English to people, here in neighbouring Norway.  Olle plods on, trying to explain himself whilst I look the other way, not bearing to watch.

Olle keeps going back and forth to the bar, buying beer after beer for us, and each time he does this he precedes with “One last one?  Come on, one last beer!”

We’re back on the dancefloor, well, Olle is, I’m stood to the side with a bottle watching Olle boogie aggressively, fretting slightly about the fact that it’s three am and our cab is coming in five hours but convincing myself it’s worth sacrificing sleep for the Olle Show.  He approaches after a while, exalted.  He’s spotted the singer from the punk band, the scientist.  He tells me that he’s been hassling him, telling him that although he doesn’t know it, he’s a gay icon, whilst rubbing his back.  When Olle is drunk he will always tell you that in his opinion the gays are the last of the true punks.  Always.  Olle used to work in the kitchen at a gay bar whence he formed this opinion.  His eyes are starting to glaze over, a heady mixture of booze and mischief.  He runs back into the crowd of the dancefloor and makes his way back to the singer guy, who is dancing with some girl whilst doing his best to ignore Olle’s advances.  I’m stood texting Erik and Tompa frantically, imploring them to return to witness Olle in action.  I happen to look up just in time to see Olle running at me full fucking force.  He grabs me and plants a huge kiss on my cheek before dry humping my leg like a rabid hound, “Pretend we’re together!  Pretend we’re together!”  Jesus Christ man, get off me! Olle insists it will be hilarious but I manage to scrape him off my leg.

With that we finish the drinks and head out of there.  It’s three thirty now and I realise that I must get some sleep before the cab comes to take us to the airport.  I know I’m going to be wreck when I get home tomorrow afternoon and that Polly is going to want to play.  I feel like a bad dad.  But I couldn’t pass up seeing Olle in this form.  As we head across the street to the boat Olle starts talking to some passing skinhead, “Why do you look so angry?” Olle asks.  Fuck this, I’m out of here.  Enough.  Turns out the guy is a bit of a football hooligan.  As I’m leaving I hear Olle shouting, referring to me, “This guy!  This guy is from Corby!  Fucking Division 6 in England.  That’s fucking real football!  His dad, his dad goes to every home and away match!  I fucking respect that.  I hate modern football!  I fucking hate the Premier League. Liverpool are okay, but otherwise I fucking hate it!”  The football hooligan could not have had the slightest idea what he was in for.  I sneak off to bed, dreading the feeling that will be waiting for me in four hours time.

Erik knocks on my cabin door.  I feel like fucking death warmed up.  I stumble into the shower across the hall.  Fuck.  The shower does nothing for me.  The only thing that helps is the sight of Olle, although it’s only minimal since he’s not hungover, he’s still drunk.  He says he only went to bed at five.  After the football hooligan he got talking to a couple, the girl being Norwegian, the guy from Italy, and he married them on the street, performed the whole fucking ceremony.  The Italian was a bit freaked, the Norwegian moved to tears apparently.

It’s a quarter past eight and there is no cab.  Our flight is at nine twenty.  My hangover is suddenly pushed to the back of my thoughts.  Where’s the fucking cab?  Erik calls a very sleepy production manager who insists the cab is on its way.  After another ten minutes Erik calls again, only to be told that the cab is waiting outside Stig’s hotel but there is no sign of the cunt.  Fuck that old bastard, Erik tells them, if he’s slept in that’s his fucking problem.  Tompa phones for another cab and Erik explains to the production team that they’ll be paying for it.

The cab arrives and we climb in.  We sit there very nervously, watching the clock as the cab pounds along, hoping to fuck we’ll make our flight.  To our amazement and disgust we find Stig at the fucking airport, hair all over the place, looking like he’s just woke up in a hedge and stinking of booze, “What are you guys doing here?” he asks jovially.  Fucking unreal.  Erik tells anyone who’ll listen that he’s going to kill the old bastard. It seems he’d stumbled out of his hotel, into the cab and instructed it direct to the airport, leaving us stranded.  Fuck knows what the cab driver was playing at though, listening to him…

It’s stressful, but we manage to check in all the luggage and make it to the gate in time.  It’s a small airport. Or course, Stig, who was supposed to check in one of our instruments has instead checked in his cabin bag, leaving us with a bill of five hundred kronors for extra baggage.  He’s half way up the escalators when we realise this.  We shout at him across the check-in hall to come back and witness him walking backwards down the escalators, all over the fucking place, which is a scene almost worth paying five hundred for to be fair.

Relieved to be on the flight, hangover kicking back in, I close my eyes and try to gain another hours sleep before we land in Stockholm.  As if that will help.. Turns out I can’t catch even one wink.  I rarely can on airplanes.  It’s probably a good thing Santiago don’t do tours...