Monday, May 12, 2014


Woke up at seven am this morning.  Slept from midnight, completely undisturbed.  Normally I'm up a few times a night to tend to Polly crying in her room before I'll eventually cave in and bring her into our bed.  You get used to the non-sleeping side of being a parent though, as long as you've got plenty of coffee.  Funny thing is, whenever I do manage to get a good night's sleep I usually find I'm more tired than normal.  And as much as it was pure luxury having the bed to myself last night, I still missed Polly's little feet prodding me in the head this morning.

The girls slept at my mother in law's place last night which was really cool of Jen since I'm taking a couple of nights off as it is, and that to go to Norway, play punk rock and drink beer.  Jen knows all too well how tiring playing in a DIY band can be though and I guess she figured I was worth a good night's sleep in my own bed before a couple of nights of laying down fuck knows where.  It's great being married to someone who plays in bands too.  I don't know how it would work otherwise...

Kev flew in last night and we had a good practice for a few hours.  Went through the set a couple of times and it sounded tight.  The new songs from the upcoming tape sounded a lot better than I expected.  Can't help feeling it's a shame we don't get to practice with Kev more often though.  I feel bad for him that he gets to practice new songs like, one time, before we head off and play them live.  He does really well with the situation I have to say.

We practised until around ten and then headed back to my place with some chocolate and candy bought from the garage to accompany a couple of documentaries on the Third Reich I had recorded.  Me and Kev have been enjoying a long tradition of late tv nights since way back in the Speedhorn days.  Top of the list is anything about World War Two or UK's Most Haunted (old episodes with Derek Acorah), failing that When Animals Attack or anything with thick as shit criminals hurting themselves will do.  I made it about half way through the first of the documentaries, a one hour program about Albert Speer, before falling asleep.  Kev had nodded off before me.

It's been quite a while since I enjoyed seven hours of straight sleep and I didn't want to get out of bed this morning but our flight is at ten thirty and rush hour traffic can be a bastard so leaving anything after eight would be asking for trouble.  As it turns out, we breezed through and made it to the airport with a couple of hours to go.  We sat down to coffee and/or beer and a couple of airport priced sandwiches, although these would be cheap in comparison to where we're going.

The journey was pretty smooth, except for a little bit of unnecessary stress at Oslo airport where we had to retrieve our equipment and check it in again for the second leg to Trondheim.  We only had an hour between flights and it took a while for our stuff to show up, and when it did it appeared neither on the belt allotted for our flight or the Oversized Luggage belt at the other end of the room but another belt entirely.  No time to moan we made it quickly through customs and checked in again.  I was starting to worry for a little while there... Bad memories from Chicago O'Hare with Speedhorn seeping in.

I have to say, the Norwegian people seem to be a very friendly race.  They seem to have a lot of time for you.  The guy at the Oversized Luggage check in belt was a very jovial looking man with an impressive moustache.  If only we'd had more time for him.  If only he realised we were in a hurry.  He had a young girl working with him who from the pace of things I'm guessing was an intern and Moustache was guiding her slowly step by step through the process whilst I nervously kept an eye on the lines for the security check.  We dump our gear on the belt one by one and then they check our passports.  “Garret?”  Yes, I give a friendly smile.  He then turns to Lucas and asks him if he's Billy the Kid.  It goes totally over Lucas' head.

The queue through security isn't too bad and we're through in five minutes.  My bag gets checked twice trough though since first off I forget a half full bottle of Coke and then I have two guitar pedals in there.  Normally I hate people like me, when I see them farting around holding the line up I snigger contemptuously.  The only people I was holding up today though was myself and the rest of the band.

The flight to Trondheim is basically up and then down although I do find time for the first beer of the day and a packet of Pringles.  Even if it is Carlsberg it's still pretty satisfying.  I have to keep in the back of my mind that I do get drunk really easily these days though and have to think about what I'm doing.  It's a long way to go until show time.

When we land the sun is shining and we have a couple of hours to spare until the sound engineer will be at the venue.  We take the bus into town, again greeted by friendly people working on the bus who are only too happy to tell us when our stop is coming up and direct us to where the venue is at.  You ask a bus driver in the UK for such a service and chances are the answer you'll get will be preceded by an annoyed sigh, if you get an answer at all that is.

When we arrive we follow the directions to the club where the sound guy, a quiet, long haired chap, is rolling cables and pottering about his business.  The venue is a small cellar bar, almost dungeon like, with huge, thick walls and a low ceiling.  The stage is small and compact at the one end of the narrow room where the entrance is.  This will do nicely.  Always good to play a room where fifty people would fill it.  The sound guy seems to keep himself to himself, save for asking about a drum kit.  We're starving and since the other bands aren't here yet and neither is any drum kit, we dump our gear and head off in search of food.

I'm really in the mood for falafel but the place I had my eye on is closed so I earmark it for later, I'm sure I'll be hungry after the gig.  We check out a couple of places but nothing really tickles our fancy so we decide to get some food from a mini-market and sit in a park somewhere to eat.  It's a beautiful day after all.  I remember last time I was here, when I was tour managing the country singer Mary Gauthier, that I went and checked out the old cathedral which is situated at the top of the city centre.  It's really quite stunning and I thought the guys should see it.  I buy some bread rolls and cheese, Luk picks up some salad that at first we mock him for but later it turns out to be a good idea, and Vik picks up a six pack of Tuborg Grön.  I figure it'll cost the same as the food so we should be about even.  Well... four bread rolls and a pack of sliced cheese comes to about eight quid.  When Vik walks out of the shop to where we're all waiting for him, he looks like he's just seen a ghost.  The six cans of beer came in at about fifteen quid, one hundred and fifty Norwegian kronor.  He's fucking gutted.

Still, when we sit down to our little picnic in the grounds of the church the price has been forgotten..kind of.  It really is a glorious spring day and our spot underneath the spectacular view of the western wall of Nidaros Cathedral is a perfect setting to enjoy a couple of beers and some cheese salad rolls.  We're not sure if you're allowed to drink in public here so we keep it subtle.  I'd like to see someone attempt to take Vik's beer away from him though...

We sit there for a half hour or so and then head back to the venue via a music store to pick up some small bits.  The Paranoid guys are just parking up their car when we get back.  It's good to see them again.  It's always nice to hang out with Jocke, who besides playing in some great bands like Paranoid and Desperat, puts out our records on his label, D Takt och Råpunk.  I don't really know the other two guys but they seem like nice people.  Jocke laughs and tells us that they've sat and listened to an audio book during the entire six hour drive from their home town of Östersund.  Not everyone's a talker like myself I guess.

The Mörkt Kapittel guys are also here now.  It's great to see Atle and Oystein again.  I've kept in touch with these guys since they brought Victims here to play a few years back at the punk house, UFFA.  We had a great time then and we've been trading records and mailing on the odd occasion since then.

I'm not sure what the playing order is yet but we do the honours and sound check.  It's very quick and pain free, in fact, the sound guy asks me to turn my amp up at one point, that doesn't happen very often I can assure you.  It sounds really great on stage though, you can hear everything perfectly and it fills me with confidence for the show.  We play a couple of songs and during the second song a big clock falls off the wall and smashes on the floor.  I guess we're pretty loud.  Everybody laughs except the sound guy who looks gutted as he sweeps up the broken glass.

When the other bands are done we head off in convoy to get some food.  Atle has suggested a place over in Svartlamo, which is a kind of bohemian/anarchist part of town.  It reminds me of Kreutzberg or even Kristiania a little.  There is graffiti everywhere and by the looks of it a lot of squatted houses.  Luk had been talking about this area earlier, having being tipped off by his girlfriend about it.  We eat a place called Ramp which is a really cool, kind of thrown together sort of deal.  The food looks good.  The guy serving us is a tattooed guy with a shaven head who apparently plays in the punk band, Brutal Kuk.  You don't have to be Norwegian to figure that one out.  Atle had actually given me their record last time, so amused was I by the band name I had to have it.  He's a really nice guy anyway and it's fun to meet him.

The three bands sit down to dinner, most of us having the veggie pasta, that although is rather shy in portion, tastes great.  It's grand sitting down with all the bands and having a chat over dinner and a beer.  I had no idea what kind of a deal we're getting from these shows but I was very surprised that Atle sorted the bill out for everyone.  I tell him there's no need but he insists, saying that he'll take back expenses from any money we get in.  He tells me that they'll give us the money for our flights too, which I really hadn't expected!  Atle tells me, not for the last time tonight, that some people buy expensive cars with their money, others invest it in punk rock and having a good time with their friends.  What a fantastic attitude.

When we're done with the food we head outside to some chairs to have another beer in the sun, just as the sun is fucking off behind some clouds.  Fuck it, it's nice sitting here anyway, although Kev doesn't look too chuffed.  He'd been telling us earlier how he doesn't like hanging out in the sun drinking beer.  Strange old sod.  Still, now that the sun has momentarily hidden itself he should be a little happier.  I take myself to the bar and see what's on offer.  I had a pint of lager with dinner and fancy something with a little more taste in it now.  My eyes almost pop out of my fucking head when I notice that a pint of Pale Ale costs about fifteen quid!  A seven quid Ringnes it is tack...

As always whilst sat around talking with fellow punks, we're treated to a pair of interesting stories.  A usual theme on such tale telling occasions is old gigs, or more precisely, weird gigs one has played over the years.  It turns out that Emil and the MK guys have a common acquaintance.  Atle tells us of a show they played up in the north of Norway that was booked by this flakey guy who lives up there.  The gig was this weird little festival that took place on an army barracks, if I understood correctly.  The attendance is pretty piss and the gig not much better and at the end of the night they're just looking to get out of there.  The guy tells them that they have beds available in one of the military huts but Atle says no thanks, they just want to get home.  When he asks for some money for the gig, namely for petrol, the guy looks flabbergasted.  “Petrol money?  There isn't any.  You guys got food!”  Shit gig...

Funny thing is Emil not only knows the guy, it turns out he actually played in a band with him!  The worst gig he ever booked them, probably the worst gig Emil ever played I imagine, was at some junior school that was having a party for the end of spring term, before the Easter holiday.  Emil tells us that he's sat there, looking like he does (face tattoos, crazy mohawk etc) playing drums in this crust band behind this ridiculous perspex wall, humiliating as fuck he notes, to a bunch of small kids running about the place.  The gig is of course in the middle of the afternoon and the daylight is shining through into the school assembly hall, just to add to the atmosphere.  If that isn't bad enough, the only payment they receive for the show is a fucking Easter egg!  I fucking piss myself at that!  I've done some shit gigs down the years but that just about takes it.

Now on to the theme of funny punks we've met down the years, Atle tells us a story that frankly leaves us in a state of amazement, as well as laugh induced stomach pain.  He tells us about this bloke, a real drunk punk, who garnered national attention a few years back after he made a trip to the Philippines.  Apparently he'd been sat one day with his daughter watching tv, listening to the horrifying news of the Indian Ocean Tsunami that devastated so many countries in 2004.  They were watching a particular piece about the Philippines when his daughter innocently asks her dad why they can't help somehow?  A real doer, he tells her that they can help and before you know it he's booked a flight to the Philippines and is on his way to help the villagers rebuild houses.  Very noble indeed, in fact, quite astonishing.  But then it gets weird... I'm not sure how it happened but whilst he's there, he gets drunk one night and insults the mayor of the town he's in and gets thrown in jail!  Fuck knows what he said but I guess it was pretty bad because he ends up sitting there a while, not in prison-prison I might add but in the holding cells.  After a somewhat exaggerated detention he's released but upon leaving jail he's convinced that he's made some enemies and is shitting himself, paranoid that he's going to get done in.  He purchases a gun in case he needs to protect himself.  Thing is, he's never owned or even fired a gun before so he takes it down to a quiet area of town and practices firing it into a skip.  As he's doing this it just so happens a cop car comes driving by and he's thrown back in jail, now on even more serious charges!  By now, people back home both in the punk community and the community in general have heard of his plight and start a support group for him, their mission obviously to get him released.  One of the people involved is your man here at Ramp, Brutal Kuk.  Anyway, whilst this is going on Drunk Punk does an interview with a Norwegian newspaper, from jail, talking about his plight.  Seemingly completely unable to keep his Doc Martin's out of his mouth, he tells the journalist that the situation is under control and the fact is that the Filipino money isn't worth shit and he can easily buy his way out of prison.  It just so happens that The Filipino ambassador to Norway reads the piece in the newspaper a few days later and is incensed by the insult to his country, so he contacts the judge taking care of his case and suggests he makes the fine for his misdemeanour much, much higher.  It turns out to be an absurd amount of money that the guy has no fucking chance of paying.  Fuck knows how long he's over there, but it takes the support group back home quite a while longer to raise the extra money, and they must have wondered why they were even bothering.  By the time Atle is done, I'm literally in tears of laughter.  The waiter guy from Ramp is across the street in a skip, pounding down cardboard with his boots.  “Ahh, Brutal Kuk”...Oystein wistfully remarks.

The sun is making no sign of reappearing and the night is pulling in so we finish up our beers and head over to a squat where the Paranoid guys are sleeping, to check in with the guys there.  As we're stood outside waiting around, a couple of punks come running out of this tunnel at the end of the alley and chase each other around for a bit.  I don't really think too much about it but Lucas tells me one of them had a syringe in his hand.  The squat seems pretty cool though and the people there are friendly.  We head back to the venue via the supermarket to get some beers in for the night, again Atle pays up, very kind of him.

It's Friday and Atle tells me that most people won't come until later on, so there's no rush for anyone to start playing.  We spend the next couple of hours sat around in the bar or in the back room, playing pool, lying down, chilling out, listening to music, chatting, drinking beer... By the time Paranoid are due to start, around ten thirty, I've probably had as many beers as I should before a gig.  Actually, I've had more than I should but they're only medium strength so I'm okay.. Just about.  Vik cracks me up, he said a couple of hours ago that the beer he had in his hand then would be his last until after the show.  The fucker is standing with a beer in his hand as Paranoid begin and tells me that he's stopping drinking when there's an hour left until we play... which would be about the time he's telling me this.  Kev is more pissed than anyone though.  I notice this when he runs up side of me and takes a close up photo of my mug, before laughing and shooting off again.  In fact, it's only Luk who seems to have it completely together and noticing the vibe he suggests we take a walk around the block to get some air before we play.  Kev tells him he'll be right behind and then walks the other way.  Luk doesn't seem to find that too funny.

There still aren't that many people here but that doesn't make any difference to me enjoying the Paranoid set.  The noise they make is pretty insane, full on chaos punk.  I love it.  You play the kind of music we do, you can't let playing to a small crowd bother you...  That said, by the time they finish up the room has filled a little more, maybe thirty people, including band members and it looks ok.

The noise Mörkt Kapittel make is simply immense.  They have a huge guitar sound that drowns the entire venue and I enjoy every minute of it.  They are so fucking tight it's unreal.  And considering they don't play that often that's quite amazing.  Atle, the fucking man mountain that he is, has a solid voice and even if he has the friendliest of faces he still kicks the shit out of the gig.  By the time they're done I'm raring to go, which is a fair barometer of how much I enjoyed their set.

There are still around thirty people in the small bar by the time we're ready, which is about five minutes after MK since we're all using the same equipment.  These are my favourite kind of stage set ups, small, no monitors, no need for them.  Everything sounds solid when we kick into D?B!.  It's a little on the fast side, but not uncomfortable. Into Nausea and everything is under control, now I can relax and enjoy the set.  The stage is pretty fucking compact though and there isn't much room to move.  I feel Kev's presence in my close proximity a few times and every now and then we're banging in to one another.  After a while it starts getting on my tits so I give him a kick up the arse onto the floor space.  Thing is, you never really think about what you're doing when you're playing a show and soon enough I'm on the floor with him and then I've gubbed him in the jaw with my headstock.  Sorry buddy.  The set goes well anyway and it's a lot of fun to play.  There aren't loads of people here but then when did that ever matter?  We put a couple of new songs from the upcoming tape in the set tonight, Good Strong Hand and Hypnotic Eye.  GSH goes a little fast but sounds generally tight but then HE gets pretty fucked up.  The song is the only slower song we've written and the whole thing starts with Vik playing a 4/4 intro, that just randomly starts up through a load of feedback, the whole idea being that it sounds like the set has just come to a grinding halt and then out of the feedback we blast in to the big riff... Well, all goes to plan until said big riff is about to kick in.  When the moment arrives I stand on my lead and pull it out of my tuner pedal leaving me with no sound, it's only Luk's bass playing and I'm stood there feeling like a prize turd.  I quickly rectify the situation and plug the lead back in and join in with the song.. Only I don't because the pedal is set to go straight to tuner mode when you plug in so I've still got no fucking sound.  I guess you could say the impact of the song is kind of lost.  When I finally get it going the rest of the song continues to it's end undeterred.  At least it's a new song and nobody has knows any better.  Guess not many know the older songs either...Still, bit of a fucking brass.

We're all pretty pleased with the set anyway and there are calls for an extra song but we dither about on the side of the stage too long and eventually the PA music comes on.  Fuck it, didn't really feel like an encore moment anyway.  We pack down, cool off and then hang out by the merch, which, nobody bar the guys from MK purchases.  The beer has ran out now so we take ourselves to the bar and buy a well earned cold pint that costs a fortune.  I enjoy the fucker all the same.  I get chatting to Hendrik, the guitarist from Paranoid for a bit.  He's a really nice guy, although he seems a little on the shy side.  We're talking about the Paranoid/I LIKE BUGS tour the guys just did in the UK and he tells me it's the first time he's been abroad.  I'm not sure I hear him right but then he tells me he's only nineteen years old.  For a second I feel old but then I think of Kev, it's comforting to know that he's always ten years ahead of me, even if sometimes to look at us you'd think it was the other way's also comforting to know that the younger generation is still coming through and continuing to drive the scene.  Hendrik not only plays in bands but writes a blog called Lockyard.  Good man.

It's getting late and I'm both hungry and tired.  We're staying at Eirik's place tonight and we have to be up at seven to catch the eight thirty train to Oslo tomorrow.  We take the gear over to Eirik's office which is just across the water from the station and then head off to get some food.  Now it really is time for falafel.  Except it's not, because of course the place Eirik takes us too is all out.  I end up munching through an incredibly salty bag of fries whilst the others tuck into a veggie roll that costs about a tenner.  It tasted good though and I wish I'd bought one.

When you're tired, it's late and you have no idea where you're walking to, it feels like you're never going to arrive at your destination, no matter how often Eirik tells you it's not far now.  We seem to walk the streets of Trondheim forever and it's almost three am when we arrive at Eirik's fifteen minutes later.  He's been telling us about his bread baking machine all night and right enough he heads to the kitchen to sort some out for the morning.  The rest of us grab any spot we can in his living room, I opt for a camper bed that has a few springs popping out here and there but will do just nicely all the same.  It's three thirty by the time the lights go out.  Up in three and half hours... It's funny, I take a break from the sleepless nights at home with Polly and end up with less sleep than ever.  It's not exactly what you'd call a relaxing getaway but it's the life we choose.  And sleep isn't part of the deal I guess...

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