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.

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