Thursday, January 30, 2014


Playing the show without a hangover last night made a refreshing change.  It makes a hell of a difference.  It was nice getting to the half way point of the set and not feeling like you're going to pass out or throw up, instead you felt good, filled with energy, like you could play on for another hour, no problems.  Vik said after the gig last night that it was the first time we'd played where he felt the set seemed a bit short, that it would have been perfect if we could have thrown in a few of the new songs.  We'll have to try this sober lark more often.  Tonight would not be such an occasion unfortunately.  I can categorically say that I felt like fucking piss this morning.

I was surprised to find that I'd actually managed to get myself into my sweatpants before I went to bed and my clothes were folded neatly beside the mattress I was sleeping on, although I almost always manage that irrespective of the state I go to bed in to be fair, and I do have a very vague memory of brushing my teeth in the bogs before climbing up the wooden staircase that leads up to the hole in the ceiling that was the gateway into the dormitory.  But still, no mistake, after barely four hours sleep I felt like I'd been dragged through the proverbial hedge backwards.  After registering where I was, the next thing I realised was that Thin Lizzy's album Jailbreak was playing full blast in the venue below.  I mean, loud as fuck.   I pull the sleeping bag over my face in vain hope of drowning the noise out but it's no use.  It occurs to me then that this has actually been going on since we went to bed, that some punk has obviously put the album on repeat and then passed out drunk.  I recall, or I remember a feeling, stirring a few times to the sounds of Lizzy creeping into my dreams like a poisonous fog.  I lay in bed for almost one full revolution of the album before kicking of the sleeping bag, aggrieved.  I don't mind Lizzy, although I think they're criminally overrated, and like most self respecting record collectors I've got a few albums, but I simply don't understand the concept of putting on music, whatever it is, full blast through the PA and fucking off to bed.  Even harder to understand is the fact that despite the fact that people are clearly up and about downstairs, nobody seems to bee inclined to turn the fucker off.

I pull myself up and shake myself down, the first thing I notice is Åke sleeping on the other side of the room with his jacket on.  And then Kev, beside me, looking like he might actually have snuffed it in the night.  I chortle to myself and head downstairs through the hole in the floor.  There are indeed a few people moving about, zombie like, except Jocke who is fresh and ready to go.  One day I actually will give up booze, I'm sure of it.  I head over to the bar where there is some breakfast on the go and Jimmy, one of the main guys involved in the running of the venue, has put a pot of coffee on.  I'm desperate for a cup and barely notice it's pale complexion as I lift it to my mouth.  “That has to be the worst coffee I have ever made, I'm actually ashamed of it” Jimmy confesses.  I have to agree with him.  As desperate as I am I can not drink it.  We'll have to stop as soon as possible to organise some caffeine.

One by one the boys rise like corpses from the dead and we sit about together and eat what we can.  There are more than a few comments passed about Jimmy's coffee.  And then, as if to save my day, as if he was put on this planet just to make me feel better about myself, Lucas appears from his slumber, no longer wearing his blouse.  It's a wonderful thing how seeing someone that is so obviously far worse off than yourself can make you feel like a million quid.

It's time to go and after loading the van and saying goodbye to the guys we head off for Stockholm.  I won't be listening to Thin Lizzy again for a good while...Kev tells me it's a good thing they didn't play the song Sarah as that would undoubtedly have reduced him to tears, that name having a special place in his heart.  We stop almost immediately and grab some petrol station coffee and a few snacks for breakfast.  The Desperat guys are all looking perky and are blatantly enjoying our state of affairs.  Chrille is on at Luk, waving his little metal cup around and asking him if he wants a dram.  Luk looks like he's going to throw up on him.  Jocke is of course driving this morning, there is no way I would get away with sitting behind the wheel.  The journey up to Stockholm is a little more subdued than the reverse trip yesterday.  At least from the DB side of things.  Luk hasn't even bothered to put product in his hair, a most unusual sight, and spends periods of time with his head in his hands cursing Chrille.  Chrille and Johan are sat at the back with Kev, playing bizarre umpah style music with saucy lyrics, laughing to themselves, their laughter contaminating the rest of us. Outside it's grey and miserable, the rain pattering on the windows provocatively.  It's going to be a long trip.

Jocke drives most of the way back to Stockholm, an effort I'm very thankful for.  As the day rolls on though I do start to feel a little better, a couple of cups of coffee along the way helping somewhat.  If I was at home and feeling like this then I wouldn't be fucking laughing but when you're out in the van you never really reach that same depth of awfulness, and plus, there's plenty to laugh about, not least my Brazilian friend sat beside me looking as pasty as a Scotsman in winter.  At one point he lets go of a fart, doing his utmost to sneak the fucker out, and looks at me hopefully, “Maybe it will be one of those that doesn't smell..” he barely emits the words from his mouth before the stench engulfs the van, “No!” he panics whilst the rest of the van heaves in disgust.

The journey isn't as bad as I suspected it would upon leaving this morning and by the time Jocke pulls over for a coffee just outside of Nyköping I feel ready to take the wheel again and steer us down the final stretch into Stockholm.  I spend the last couple of hours chatting away to Åke, a real diamond of a bloke who's grin never seems to quite leave his face.  We're close to town when Lucas tells me he needs a piss and I end up pulling over into what I think are services but is in fact a narrow road into the dark countryside.  It takes a while to find somewhere and when we do it's not the safest of places to stop, a tight turn in the road that leads to a little church path in the dark, car headlights coming the other way.  Fuck this.  My phone is starting to buzz too, that familiar buzz that accompanies a home town gig, except today is even worse since we're kind of organising the show.  I wish we could just turn up ad play but instead I feel a little stressed, concerned that the gig will go well and everyone will enjoy themselves, that we can make enough to cover ours and Desperat's costs and that everyone else will be sorted out.  Still, I'm confident it will be well attended, it's a good line up what with Tortyr playing their first show in ages and Red Doves who are always great.  It should be a top night.

Claes Tortyr texts me as we're driving into the city, telling me they've dropped their gear off and have gone for a beer.  I'm looking forward to seeing the guys.  Tortyr are the same four boys that make up Tormented.  Tormented are Tortyr's death metal alter ego if you like, they simply switch vocal duties between Claes and Drette respectively.  Pretty cool.  I saw this in full effect when we played a punk squat in Groningen with Tormented and about halfway through, catching the vibe a little, Claes took the mic and they changed to Tortyr.  Left all the punk kids scoobied for about half a song and then when they understood what was happening they went mad.  It was a lot of fun, I was right there in the middle of the crowd pumping my fist to Bombarna Faller.  Great times.  It will be brilliant to see the guys again.

We pull up to Kafé 44 around five pm, load in, talk a little with Bengtsson who is occupied with his computer playing Solitaire and not saying a whole lot, not giving much away about whether they're going to have a bar tonight, something a lot of people have been asking about this week, something which a lot of punks view as quite critical in determining their presence at the show.  We've been telling people all week not to expect a bar but as it turns out Bengtsson grumbles that they're going to open one anyway and we have to scramble around the internet letting people know this fact, a half hour before doors.  I wish it wasn't like this, that you didn't have to sell beer just to get the punks to come on a Saturday night but that's the way it is.  Otherwise you end up with a best case scenario of a well sold show but nobody there when the bands start playing, being that they're all at the pub during intervals.  For DB this would not be good since if you miss the first ten minutes all you've got left are the last five.  One day we'll probably start playing a little longer, one day we'll get into the habit of not being hungover on stage and having the energy to do so, though as said, tonight is not the night.

I'm feeling a little better now anyway but Lucas is still feeling pretty piss by the looks of it.  We head down to La Neta to get some good, cheap Mexican food with the Tortyr guys and catch up on old times.  They're a great bunch, funny as fuck, they don't even mean to be a lot of the time it's just the way they are.  I've never laughed as much on tour as the three weeks we spent in a van with Tormented.  The Desperat boys have joined us as well and we sit down to a big communal enchilada feast together.  Jocke has put out some Tortyr records along the way and as usual, everyone knows everyone.

Suitably filled and satisfied we head back to the Kafé and upon arrival I feel it's now time for my first beer, time to recover and shake this shit.  I sound like a fucking alcoholic!  In all honesty I don't actually drink that much anymore, only when we're out playing and even then it doesn't take much to get me pissed anymore.  By the time we get back there are a good few people in and there is that buzz about the place that having the bar open creates.  The first time I ever went out in Stockholm was to a party at this place and I've been enchanted by the old building ever since.  A can of Norrlands Guld in hand, ironic name given that it tastes like piss, I head into the gig room to see Red Doves.

Henke is one of my favourite punk rock vocalists.  I loved his singing in Trapdoor Fucking Exit and it's really fun to see him once again playing in another great band.  It's been a while since Trapdoor split.  Red Doves are a little more snotty California, early 80's style punk and their newer stuff seems to be reaching further into latter day Flag when they started weirding out.  Nirre is a fucking great guitar player, again, I loved his work back in the Section 8 days, so with these two guys in the band it can't really go wrong.  The room is almost full when they take the stage and I take my place near the front, looking forward to their set and to playing ours afterwards.  They don't disappoint.  I have to crack up, during their set I notice Luk has made his way to the stage to obtain a better view. Surrounded by punks clutching beer cans, Luk has a huge mug of 7 Eleven coffee, quite the contrast to last night.  He ends up making his way over from the steadily rousing moshpit and landing just in front of me, although he hasn't noticed I'm stood there.  I clunk my beer can to his coffee, “Cheers buddy!”  Per automatic he raises his mug and gives me an enthusiastic “Cheers!” back without looking away from the stage, when he turns mid toast and realises it's me the façade drops and a look of sorry defeat washes over his face, “No” he groans, shaking his head.  Again, I still feel pretty useless but this guy is helping me feel good about myself.

When Red Doves are done we slouch up on stage and set up.  Set up, tune up and slurk off again, pick up some water and slouch back again.  We must look a sorry, pathetic lot.  Somehow though, as always, we find the energy from somewhere and give it all we've got.  When I think about it, this can't be healthy.  Feeling like a sack of shit all day and then going up on stage and going nuts for a quarter of an hour.  They say you shouldn't exercise when you're hungover and doing what we do must be the equivalent of going on an all out sprint for fifteen minutes whilst feeling like dog turd.  Saying that, it seems to work because I always feel a lot better afterwards and in due course I'm ready for a beer again.  Funny that.

Our show flies by and it's an overall good vibe.  It was almost exactly a year ago that we played the first DB show, at this very same venue, and the difference between the two is palpable.  I thought then that that first show went well, for a first show, but a year later and I can now see how shaky we were.  Tonight felt completely controlled.  Strange, something that seems to be becoming a bit of a recurring theme is what Jocke Tortyr said to me afterwards, “You guys were great!  Much better than I thought it was going to be!”  I don't know what that means really but I'll take it as a compliment from my buddy.  Anyhow, it's nice to be a year along and feeling a lot more comfortable about playing live with the band.  The room was pretty full when we played and my mate Joran, my reliable, fellow immigrant who I buy coffee from every morning at Il Caffe, was down the front in his DB shirt going for it the whole show.  Brought a smile to my face.

It's a real pleasure seeing Tortyr play a whole set this time around.  Stood there watching them I longed to be back on tour with the guys.  I feel a huge amount of love and respect for these boys. Just looking at Jocke's cheeky little face when he plays the drums tickles me, and fuck can he play the drums!  It's been a long time since they played Stockholm and they get a good response from the crowd, especially when they play the song Piss Job which I guess resonates with quite a few of us in the room.

Desperat close the show tonight and the first thing I notice is how much clearer Jocke's vocals are compared to last night.  The second thing I notice is what a great vocalist Jocke really is.  He has that thing going on where he can scream, hold it forever without breaking and still bring a melody to it.  I mean, it's harsh as fuck but there is tune in there somewhere too.  Desperat top off a really solid night of bands.  I'm completely satisfied with how everything has gone, it couldn't really have been any better.  This considering the legendary Sham 69 are in town!  What a joke.  Not really conflicting crowds I guess, for the most part, although once person that gig did steal from us is Jon Victims who was playing in the band Stilet who were opening up for them.  But that's another story...

Once Desperat are done Bengtsson takes a hold of me and gives me a wad of cash, thank you very much sir.  The bar is now closed and it's time to get everyone out of here but after all the worries about tonight and the costs being covered it turns out Bengtsson is now in a very good mood, as am I, because I can give Claes more than enough money for Tortyr's petrol and nobody in the DB/Desperat camp ended up having to fork out any money to play these two shows.  We settle up and everyone is happy, shit, DB and Desperat actually have a thousand kronor to split between ourselves, about fifty quid each, not bad for two nights work.  Jocke laughs as he informs Åke of our profits, Åke seems chuffed as always.

We sold pretty good on merch tonight too, so after packing away the gear and saying a long goodbye to the Desperat guys, plans for a UK leg already beginning to hatch, we take our winnings and head to the nearest bar with the Tortyr guys.  I say nearest bar, it's not quite that, but it's the cheapest option, where all the other punks have gone to.  It's a new place on Folkungagatan called No Name Bar, Drette mentioned it earlier but I didn't have a clue what he was going on about.  It turns out to be quite an odd place.

It's a sports bar that sells cheap beer and there are loads of punks hanging out in it.  Kev is delighted with the prices, saying that it's even cheaper than back home, each time he comes back from the bar with a new beer he looks more chuffed than the last.  We're sitting at a table with the Tortyr guys and Andy Victims, having a good old chin wag over a couple of pints, when some young chav kid stoats by our table carrying a round of drinks stops, a look of confusion on his face, “Sorry, have to ask, but is there some sort of hard rock event going on tonight?  This place seems to have been invaded.”  Or something along those lines.  I don't know if he's trying to be a wise cunt and start trouble or if he's just genuinely curious.  I tell him there was a punk gig on at Kafé 44 and that seems to clarify things for him.  “Ahhhh..” He then says something about there being some artsy after party on at the studio besides 44, or something, I don't quite catch it.  Turns out Luk is there anyway...Luk actually turns up a little later with some of his hip crowd, hip as in young and happening as opposed to the old farts that are we sat around our table drinking beer and talking about “the old days”.

It's great catching up properly with the Tortyr guys and it's too bad they're not sticking around tonight.  We had organised places to stay for them but Robban was happy enough to hang out for a while and then drive home.  We say goodbye to them and talk about seeing each other more often but in truth it's never that easy.  They live a couple of hours drive away and these days I barely see my mates in Stockholm, outside of those I play in bands with, more than a few occasions a year.  I guess that's life when you grow up and start a family and everyone else is doing the same.  

By the time they turn the lights on in the bar I'm ready to go home but Kev and Vik are really up for another beer and as Kev is going home tomorrow and Jen is staying at her mum's with Polly tonight I decide to go with.  Andy is pretty pissed and declares it's time for him to call it a night.  I can't help thinking I should follow suit.. But then, I'm sober, the way you are after a heavy session the night before, when it seems you can drink all night long without being affected.  Andy is actually on a whole other level to that I'm on it must be said, his eyes are going, the way they do when he's pissed, and his parting shot is a cracker.  He's stood talking with Luk and his mate Philly Bee, quite a hip left-winger, and somehow manages to knock Philly Bee's red wine out of his hand and down his shirt.  Andy slowly looks down at the red stain on his shirt and then up again and by way of explanation offers, “I'm sorry, I'm very drunk” and then turns back to Luk and continues his conversation.  I hear Philly Bee, stood by Luk's other ear, “Who's this guy?”  Luk does his best to explain..Andy heads home.

Luk ends up coming along with me, Kev and Viktor, as well as our friend Ragnar, a brilliant and respected artist who designed one of our shirts, the white one with the red skull on it, for one last/two last drinks.  The options in this part of town at this time of night are pretty shite though.  Actually the options in any part of town at this time of night are pretty shite.  We try the hotel bar at Malmen first, fuck knows why, it's a hell hole with utter tripe for bouncers.  As it turns out, the particular walking steroid on the door on this occasion takes one look at Ragnar and tells him he's not coming in, informing him he's too drunk.  Arguing is completely and utterly pointless of course.  We turn around and try the next place, although Kev is bitter, convinced they only knocked Ragnar back because he's got long hair.  “I fucking hate cunts like that!  Turning Ragnar away just because he looks like he does, fucking fascist!”  To be fair, I'm sure Steroid was only to happy to turn Ragnar away...

We end up in an equally horrid establishment a little further down the road called Charles Dickens, where apparently everyone is welcome irrespective of how drunk they are.  The place is absolutely rammed, uncomfortably so.  We shuffle our way to the bar and after a good twenty minutes manage to order some beers and find an air pocket in the corner by the bogs to drink them in.  We stand there blethering for an hour or so and despite the shocking surroundings we find ourselves in, venture back to the bar for a refill.  The night deteriorates into slurred words and bleary eyes and Kev telling Ragnar about our friend Robbie from London who isn't gay but sucks old man's cocks, Ragnar's jaw agape, Robbie is a special guy it's fare to say, and it's three thirty by the time I decide enough is enough.  We head down to the tube station and there I say my goodbyes, a little sad to see Kev leave as always but there will be plenty of other good times to come I suppose.  I'm still nowhere near drunk, just knackered and a little disappointed I haven't take advantage of a good night's sleep since the girls are away and I've got the flat to myself tonight.

But the I figure... fuck it, you can sleep when you're dead, as they say, or in my case, when Polly is a teenager and I'm too old to be playing in punk bands anymore.  Or?...

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