I feel better for the piss release though, sort of. When I get back to the room the rest of the guys are stirring to life. Rappy smiles at me, tells me that me and Kev were involved in some really sweet pillow talk last night. Fucked if I remember what we were talking about. The guy who lives in the squat, who brought us here last night, appears and tells us that he’s making us some coffee. In all honesty I’d rather just get out of here, I’m in need of a shite and I don’t want to do it in the bog here, it’s one of those shelf jobs that leaves you sitting on your own turd. Can’t deal with that right now. Kev looks as knackered as I feel, “My mouth tastes like an old man’s arse. It’s like my arse and mouth have swapped places, like there’s teeth in my arsehole and piles in my mouth.”
We take the bags down to the van and stand around in the sun for a while. Luc asks what the plan is and someone says we’re heading back inside. Luc wonders why. “We mistakenly ordered some coffee”, explains Sticky. The host is a really nice guy though, turns out he’s originally from Barcelona and used to be in the band Cop of Fire and knows a bunch of people we know. We sip on some coffee and share a few slices of bread, my eye on the big bathtub in the corner of the kitchen, wishing I could just sit in the fucker and clean myself. Kev gets sorted out with a load of throat pills from the guy, he’s got a whole box load of goodies that he’s happy to bestow on Kev.
We head off around lunch time, the sun shining, a new day on tour. I feel a little bit sick. We take the first stop on the motorway to grab some breakfast. Coffee and grilled sandwiches. The old lady serving us looks severely unimpressed with us, each ordering separately, one after the other, the exact same order and paying with different cards.
Sticky and Dan Arne are sat up front besides Ronnie at the wheel, which means they’re sat at the bar. It’s not long until the bottles start clinking up there and Kev is being passed the bottle of Toilet Duck. “I fucking hate these cunts” he groans as he puts the bottle to his lips. Sticky and Dan Arne enthusiastically make their way through each of the bottles, I lost count of the times I hear them say, “A little sip of this and then we’ll take a pause” only to hear the sound of another bottle opening shortly afterwards. Dan takes a big sip of Fernet. How anyone can drink that horror is beyond me. When lets out a satisfied “Aaah” after pulling the bottle away, “It tastes of herbs and freedom” he declares. Another pause is announced shortly before they find a small pack of Underberg, Ronnie pissing himself laughing at the two of them. “Small little bastards these bottles”, Dan contemplates, not too impressed with it. By the time they close the bar Sticky’s face is an interesting shade of red.
When we cross the Czech border we drive into a blizzard, the sky having turned black. The GPS seems to lose its way in it and we end up on a narrow road beside the motorway. We’re now on the scenic route to Prague, about eighty kilometers to go. We drive through this grim little industrial town that Dan proclaims has raped Mother Nature with its presence before following the river through the countryside which is noticeably more picturesque. I wish I could enjoy it more but I’m sat in the back writing and feeling a little travel sick. We stop at a garage and top up on chips and chocolate which makes me feel better, Rappy and Crappy exploring pondering over which will be tonight’s energy drink. They opt for something called Smarty which costs about four Swedish kronors.
I take the front seat next to Ronnie for the remainder of the journey, feeling considerably better for the sugar and the fresh air, even though the air was filled with wet snow. We arrive in Prague around four, and as is usually the case in the city, it takes a while to find the venue, even with the help of the GPS. Turns out the venue is this little café in a park on the outskirts of the city center. We have to drive down a path that leads to it and when we’re backing up beside it we feel a bump and a loud bang. The two Dans get out to check what it was, turns out we backed over a large stone in the ground, “Some memorials stuff,” according to Dan Arne. Seems like the van is ok, and the guys place the sign back on the stone.
Cool little place this. I notice stickers of friend’s bands like Agent Attitude and Damaged Head and the likes, fun to know they’ve been here too. We have a couple of hours to kill so we take some coffee and chill out in the café. I’ve been saying to Stix all day that I’m taking it easy tonight, which he finds hilarious since I was banging on about Prague being the party night at the start of the tour. He asks what happened to that, “I peaked in Leipzig it seems, overshot it.”
After a while Luc and I decide to stretch our legs and have a walk around the park. Even though the sun is shining the wind is viciously cold so it’s not the most pleasant stroll, but we have a nice conversation about life and our families and a load of other stuff. Nice to get away for a bit. As we’re walking around we see this wasted guy staggering about with a plastic bag shouting to himself or anyone else that will listen, looks like 28 Days Later. Off his fucking tits. When we arrive back at the café I’m wondering what’s happened to him but then I hear more shouting and see he’s now found his way to the other side of the park. We head back in.
I’m looking forward to tonight because we have a couple of mates coming down. First off my friend Alec from Scotland, who now lives in Ostrava and then Paul Symes, who played guitar in Dead Inside with Kev and now lives here, is playing with his new band Crossfire Fuckin Hurricane, first on the bill. I’ve been speaking to him a lot via the internet about this show and other stuff and it will be fun to finally meet him after all the correspondence. He turns up around six thirty, Kev heads out, “Symsey!” It’s fun to see them back together again. It’s really nice to meet him and his band. The singer is this big Irish guy who’s old band apparently played with Speedhorn back in the day, In don’t really recognize him though, which is strange because he’s a big bugger covered in tats, so you’d think I’d remember. Seems like a nice guy anyway, he’s straight there helping out with carrying the gear in.
Turns out they forgot to bring Paul’s guitar though so they have a dash back to their space to pick it up. In the meantime Alec turns up. It’s really great to see him. Alec played in Ninth Circle which was the first band Speedhorn ever toured with and we’ve been friends since. Alec is such a friendly guy, that soft Scottish accent of his making him very approachable. We sit down and catch up, mostly on what’s going on with our lives. I’m really interested in how he’s doing in Ostrava. He tells me that he’s been a bit sauced up over the weekend, that they celebrate Easter here in the Czech Republic in a very special way which involves everyone getting steamboats. Apparently the tradition is that the men in the city make these whips out of willow branches and the crack is that they go around all the houses, don’t have to know the occupants, walk in and smack the women on the arse with the whips, upon which they’re given a shot of Czech booze. And this starts around four am! Fucking mental. Alec says it freaked him out a bit and he was fucked by ten am. Bonkers.
Just as we’re contemplating ringing the promoter to find out where he is, worrying a little about the fact it’s seven fifteen and Symsey’s band is on at eight, we’re all Hank Marvin too, he turns up. This big tall skinny guy with long black hair and glasses. He sorts us out with some veggie goulash immediately. It does the job if nothing else. At least we’re not as stuffed as we were yesterday, I couldn’t handle another gig like that. Symsey’s band go on at eight and the place is pretty full, it’s only small so it doesn’t take much, but it feels good. I’m now on my second beer, Stix laughs, saying that he thought I was having an easy night, “Not at these prices” I tell him. This country is still ridiculously cheap, at least for beer, funnily enough the bottled water costs more than the ale. It tastes fucking wonderful though, Pilsner Urquell on tap for about nine kronors, you can’t complain Dan Arne has gone for some wheat beer that is garnished with a slice of orange, looks chuffed.
Anyway, me and Kev stand at the front and watch the band. It’s great seeing Symes play guitar, I’ve never had the pleasure before. He’s a hell of a guitarist, puts shit loads into the gig as well. The drummer and the bass player are solid as fuck too, its fun to watch them. I’d like to hear the record so I can pick out the songs a bit better though, it’s pretty chaotic hardcore punk that is a bit lost in the sound of the room, I can pick out the odd little bit of guitar genius from Symsey here and there, would be fun to hear it on record. Kev smiles, noticing that a few of the songs are remakes of stuff they had together in the band Shut The Fuck Up that was based in Barcelona, that never really went anywhere.
Even though the singer announces that Pyramido are up next, in fact it does state on the flyer that we’re top of the bill, I make sure we’re in the middle. The Pyramido guys are more than happy to play next but I tell them I don’t want to look silly going on after them, our fifteen minute set would sound daft after their epic whirlwind, “We’d sound like a fucking Benny Hill band going after you guys” I explain.
Just as I’m setting up the gear I see notice that the input socket on my amp has fallen inside the casing. Fucking typical. Luckily Crappy is a very kind man and is happy to lend me his JCM 800, which sounds immense. I don’t need to change anything, just plug in and go. This turns out to be my favourite gig of the tour so far. Despite feeling ropey all day the energy comes back for the show. The room is full and we’re stood on the tiled floor, lights on, kinds weird but it works. It feels tight tonight. At one point I’m a little further out in the crowd, much to the bass player from Symsey’s band who is slapping me on the back, loving it. I can tell the rest of the guys in the band are all feeling it tonight too, just as last night I could tell they were struggling a bit. It’s a good feeling when it clicks. It’s still chaos, but it’s controlled chaos.
The sweat is pissing out of me after show so I head outside into the cold. Weirdly enough there are a couple of older punks stood out there with distros set up on the veranda. They’ve been stood there all night, fucking freezing out. Fuck that. I head back in and find Mira, the promoter, walking around with a box for donations for the band. Doesn’t exactly fill one with hope. I grab a beer and when I head over to the merch Luc is counting the money with a slightly worried look on his face. We had been expecting this tonight to be fair, Mira hadn’t promised us anything. And the gig was great, as long as don’t too many like this we’ll be okay. We don’t sell much merch though, we really need to sort some lp’s out. We’re planning on putting out all the releases and four new songs on an lp ourselves later in the year..Still, we shift a couple of sevens and a shirt. Better than a kick in the balls I suppose.
Pyramido seem to have a harder time on stage tonight, something weird going on with the tuning in one of the songs that seems to have them baffled. Strangely enough, I had the exact same thing when we started Join The Queue, sounded a half note out but when I checked where I was playing I was on, and the rest of the song was in. Really strange. Maybe it’s something to do with sound bouncing around. It seems to throw the guys a bit although I enjoy watching their set as always.
We’re in a bit of a conundrum after the show. It’s an early finish, by the time the P Beats are done it’s only ten. I know Symsey is keen on us all staying at his place, he says he’s got a big flat near some cool bars, and Kev is keen to hang out obviously. The thing is Mira has a flat where we can stay that as well as floor also has mattresses, something Symsey doesn’t. There is an option of splitting up but nobody is really up for that. We decide we’ll stay at Mira’s but me, Kev and Stix will head into the city for a couple of beers with Symes. The rest of the guys feel like an easier night. To be fair I feel pretty knackered myself but I’d feel bad for not socialising. Alec has to head off to catch the last train back to Ostrava. It’s been great seeing him.
We walk off in search of a cab with some friend of Symsey. He’s struggling a bit with the English but from what I can make out seems like a nice guy. He’s not coming out with us, just helping with the cab situation. It takes a while, and its fucking cold. When we do manage to flag a cab down the driver is this middle aged lady who doesn’t seem too keen on picking up four lads so fucks off without us. We end up taking a bus for free into town. Nobody seems concerned about paying.
We get into town and take a cab from there to this bar in Zizkov that Paul knows well. The old guy driving flying about the cobbled streets at a ridiculous speed. The bar is just what I required. There are only a few people and they’re playing 82 punk at a low volume. Perfect. We sit around a table at the back of the room. There is this girl sat across from us at the table beside us. She looks pretty wasted. She starts talking to me in Czech, and when I ask her if she speaks English she looks at me all intense and tells me that she knows me. I tell her that I think she’s mistaken. “Are you an actor?” she asks me. She’s making me a little uneasy. She wants a cig for her joint anyway but nobody can help. She shuffles off after hanging around in silence for a couple of minutes. In her place arrives this pissed up old Rastafarian. He asks us if we’ve heard of the Bad Brains. We tell him that yes of course we have. He can’t believe it, says they had a bet on at the bar that we wouldn’t have heard of them. He then starts going on about some Swedish band with electronic drums but we can’t work out what the fuck he’s going on about.
When he fucks off the girl comes back and sits at our table, still looking at me intensely but saying nothing. Symes is in full flow and doesn’t even notice her whilst he bombards us with questions about the UK and punk rock. It’s really nice chatting to him but the girl is freaking me out a little bit. When Symes heads back to the bar she starts talking again. She starts saying about how she’s had a rough night and that she was expecting to meet some friends and she needs some money blah blah blah. Symes lends her the two hundred kronors she’s asking for, tells her she can leave it with the bar tender tomorrow. She asks his name but Symes says the bartender doesn’t know his name, he’s just known as the English Guy. He has a slate going on behind the bar and he insists on paying for our beers too.
The girl finally leaves and I go for a piss. When I come back to my utter amazement there is now another girl sat at the table in silence. What the fuck is going on here? I head back to the table and we carry on chatting and the girl heads off. I’m really starting to get tired by this point, I’m starting to ache for bed. I can sense that we all are. We decide to have one more beer for the road before heading off to find a cab. I don’t know if it’s just the tiredness but the cold is now unbearable, the tension is actually causing me a lot of pain in the chest, like a fucking hot knife piercing my heart. Thankfully it doesn’t take long to pick up a cab. It was really nice to meet Symes.
When we get back to the place we’re staying a moment of horror hits us when the phone number we’re given isn’t getting through, as either is Lucas’ phone. Stix tries again though and Mira answers. I couldn’t have dealt with being locked out in this part of town that is totally dead right now. Mira comes down and lets us in, shows us into the room where the rest of the guys are sleeping. It’s tight as fuck in the room. There are mattresses spread across the floor but there is only one single size mattress available. Mira is sleeping in the kitchen on a double bed but some other guy seems to be sleeping beside him. The three of us have no choice but to snuggle up, Kev in the middle with his feet at our end. We’re doing our best to be quiet as to not wake the other guys but the silliness of the situation makes it hard. I turn to Stix, “Love touring” I say and the two of us burst into stifled laughter. I’m laughing so hard that I have to stuff my face into the mattress to smother it, almost crying. I wish I had a pillow to stuff my face in to but it’s dark and I can’t find where it might be. I manage to find my sleeping bag but I’m too tired to look any further.