Niklas is working from home today, taking care of bookings for the Tuska Fest. He laughs, saying that some management type is on their case about a wrong logo being used somewhere. First world problems. We sit down for some breakfast together, strong black coffee and this superb dark, rye bread for sandwiches. Feels healthy. We get to talking about what we do in our “normal lives”, work and stuff. Niklas tells us that his family moved to Moscow when he was a kid, between eleven and fourteen. This spikes my interest immediately. He lived there in the late Eighties, before the fall of the Iron Curtain, tells us that life there then was pretty fucked up, corrupt as shit. Still is he says, at least it was when he returned there a few years back. For the most part he spent his time skateboarding the streets of the Soviet capital, not bothering to fit in or learn the language, says he wish he had of now. We get to talking about the punk scene in Russia, about the problems they have with Nazi skinheads there. I’m planning to write about the history of racism within the punk scene for my end of term paper next spring, looking at places like Russia and East Europe, but even South America. The fuckers are everywhere it seems. Niklas recalls the story of the punk gig in Russia a few years back where out of nowhere a plastic bag appears on stage whilst the band are playing. Someone from the band picks the bag up to look inside and in a moment of shitpanting shock discovers a nailbomb inside. Luckily it had malfunctioned and didn’t go off. Some Nazi bastard had infiltrated the gig though. What the fuck is that all about?
After an hour or so of breakfast and chat we start to make a beeline for the sauna upstairs. Lucas is amazed by it, actually I am too. A full on professional sauna in the bathroom. Not too unusual for this country. Kev is in first and then Luc and I sit together in the little steam room. It’s absolute heaven. The perfect way to start the day. Feel so clean when you’re done showering afterwards. Imagine beginning every day on tour in this manner.
We get ready and head into town, Niklas dropping us off before heading back home to work some more. The plan is to meet at Lepakkomies at three. We head off to Combat Rock record shop where we’re supposed to meet Brown. I could spend a small fortune in the record shop if I wasn’t a student. There are a lot of great pieces in there. The guy behind the counter keeps an curios eye on the four of us as we flick through the stalls. Luc and Kev get a couple of things each. Whilst paying up the guy says something about the band, he must have seen us last night. We talk about dropping some seven inches off to him later, says he’ll take five. Nice one. Brown has texted and says he’s sat in a bar called B-12, just a little down the road. Of course he is.
We walk in and find Brown, Hesu and some other friend of theirs, chuffed the lot of them, supping on pints of Koff for breakfast For a second I think to myself that there’s no way I’m ordering a beer at this time of day, but to be fair, the Koff’s look fucking tempting. Vik is right on it obviously, that fucker is never shy of an early beer when out and about. The rest of us follow his lead and sit down with the guys. Brown is looking exactly the same as when we left him. I wonder how long he’s been here drinking, how long he was up last night. Despite the fact you never see him without a drink in his hand, he always looks totally fresh. These Finns have a different makeup than the rest of us, they must have. We’re all squeezed into this booth and we’re talking about different things, Brown is chuffed with the blue Some Girls t-shirt I’m wearing, much to my joy and Vik and Luc’s disgust. They were offering to buy me a new t-shirt today if I’d wear it for the gig tonight. What can I say, the system is not to be fucked with. Brown starts talking about Some Girls being his favorite band, saying he wants to move to Stockholm and start a screamo band with me. Says he has two hands too, so we’ll be even better than Some Girls, taking the piss out of the one handed singer who sang with Some Girls. Hesu is saying something to Kev about how he has one hundred girls on his case, from an array of different places they’ve been on tour, and that the problem is there are so many of them he can’t be bothered, and so he’s single. The friend of theirs, this guy who looks like he could be British, sits there smiling.
The woman briefly turns her attention back to Luc’s thigh before we decide it’s time to leave. Brown says he’s has a little bit of food left for us from last night’s dinner they’d had, all we have to do is pick up some bread from the store. I think he really wants us to come check his place out. We follow him down the street and into a supermarket. He and Vik grab a loaf of bread and then some cans of beer, the rest of us picking up some crisps. We follow Marko along the street and through the middle of a skate park, he’s completely oblivious to the guys skating around him, couldn’t give a toss. They have to move out of his way, not vice versa. Marko’s flat is up on the sixth floor of an apartment building overlooking a lower division football ground, a one stand kind of job, just down the road from the venue. The lift up to his place is this little boneshaker of a contraption that stops with a jolt when it reaches it’s destination. Frightens the fuck out of me and Luc. Brown tells us that a while back they’d squeezed six in, it’s only supposed to take three, and that’s pushing it. The lift had stopped halfway up and the six of them, pissed up, were stuck there for half hour. Sod that.
His flat is pretty cool, loads of records, books and artifacts everywhere. It has a really big balcony that stretches the length of the flat. Hesu lies down on the mattresses on the living room floor, I guess this is where he slept last night. Janne and his girfriend, our mate Irene from Leeds, are in the other room, not fully awake yet. They must be knackered, they’d had an all night journey from Leeds to Helsinki via a bus trip to the airport in London. The leftover food Marko serves up is fucking great. These veggie bangers that are out of this world and some soy stew, awesome stuff. He plays through a selection of Hurriganes records, some Finnish rock n’ roll band from way back that were huge apparently, even in Sweden. Pretty good to be fair. Then he puts on Duran Duran, the song about Rio, and he’s off. Just stands there dancing in the middle of the living room between swigs of beer. We get back on to talking amongst ourselves after laughing at him for a bit but he carries on for a good while, in his own world. Giving it the old saucy dance moves. Says it’s his favourite song of all time. What a guy. Vik is drinking this good Pale Ale which I have a sip of but I feel like I need to leave it now until we get to the next destination. It’s time for us to get a move on down to the venue to meet Niklas, don’t want to keep him waiting. We say bye to the guys and say we’ll see them at the venue in Tampere.
The trip to Tampere is only two hours, as are the other legs of this little tour. We stop halfway at a service station and pick up some snacks. Petri tucks into this garlic loaf thing, that looks great but maybe a little overpowering. We buy a crate of beer for later, since you don’t know how much we’ll get for free. Kev buys one of those plastic eggs that have a toy inside, hoping for something pleasing on the eye, he receives a gold AK47 key ring. Not all the pleased he chances again and gets a little diamond like skull ring. Much happier.
The venue is this punk bar on one of the main roads out of town, overlooking this big lake. I imagine it would be great sitting here drinking beer in the little garden outside during the summer time. The walls inside the venue are covered in old gig posters, Victims and Nitad amongst them. The Victims gig was before my time though. The room is long and at one end there is a high stage and at the other a slightly raised area with tables where we can set our merch up. Whilst setting up we realise that we forgot to leave the records with Combat Rock. We’ll have to leave them with the other guys. It’s fairly big in here but the set up is such that it wouldn’t crave too many people to make it look okay. Seems that this place is a bit of a classic on the circuit.
Tumppi comes up to us after we’ve eaten a very reasonable lentil stew provided by the venue with a troubled look on his normally cheerful face. “I have some very bad news guys. There is apparently no deal with the place about beer. All we get is a discount”. He looks truly gutted, embarrassed even. We chuckle and tell him it’s ok. The crack is we can buy a beer for two and half Euros which is pretty cheap anyway, especially compared to home. With that we head to the bar and each order a pint of Sandalls. Never heard of it before, some mainstream Norwegian pilsner. Hits the spot perfectly.
With that I’m ready to get up on stage and do this thing. Vik was right too, there are a few punks coming in through the door. The PA speakers are hanging dangerously low from the ceiling at either side of the stage. I make a mental note to myself not butt the fucker. I got a bit of a nick from my guitar last night, just a little scratch though, no glory blood. I look over to the other side of the stage just in time to see Luc crack the top of his nugget off the bottom of the speaker. Looked well fucking sore.
I watch the start of Famine Year’s set from the front but I’m still sweating from our gig so I head back to the merch tables, take a cold pint of Sandals and listen to them from there. It’s a really good sound in here tonight. Niklas had said to me that he’d gotten goosebumps when we blasted into the first sound, so good was the sound. Seems like they’re having a good show too. Helena is having a good night, she’s got a distro on the go and she’s shifting gear at a good rate. She has these unisex football socks with different words on them, like Beer, Bimbo and other such slogans. Luc buys a pair for PB. Helena stands there flicking a modest wad of Euros, chuffed. Before Kylmä Sota start their set Vik and I decide we need a shot of something, lighten the load a little, guts feeling heavy from the pilsner. We order a shot of the house’s homemade liquorice booze, goes down a treat.
Kylmä take to the stage, the last band of the night, and you can tell Brown is in the mood to fuck with people. This one kid, stood dancing on his own in the middle takes his eye immediately. Second song in and Brown has pulled his t-shirt off over his head and is now shuffling about the stage bare chested, his chest tattoo that simply says “BROWN”, done in the style of the Venom logo, on full show. The punk kid nears the stage and Brown grabs him, forcing the mic into his mouth and holding the kids head into his crotch, looking away to the side of the stage for laughs. This ends up with him being pulled off stage and then being feebly carried around by the kid and a few others, first crashing to the ground and then up again and then landing pretty roughly on the stage. His shirt has made the journey with him and the kid throws it back at him. Brown takes exception to this and kicks a beer glass full pelt off the stage in his direction, “Watch it boy, watch it!” he warns him, speaking English. I get the feeling this could get nasty. There’s an ongoing interaction between the two for the rest of the set. It takes Marko three songs to manage to get his shirt back on fully, much to our amusement. No sooner has he got his shirt on that he’s got his arse out and mooning the kid. At one point he holds the mic out for the kid to sing into, without grabbing him, and the kid obliges by singing along. And then it’s “donk”, Marko has bopped him on the top of the head. Just about the right side of piss taking. Funny thing is the kid doesn’t seem bothered, in fact he seems chuffed. Marko looks like he wants a fight though, the kid is oblivious. After the gig I get talking to the kid who has made it into the backstage room, tells me he loved the gig. Marko seems to have chilled out a bit with it and soon enough they’re friends. Marko’s smile is back.
We’re wondering what to do after the show. There is talk of a party at some club in town, there is also some confusion as to whether there is a bar upstairs, and if there is it seems the consensus is that everyone is there. Niklas comes up to me with money from the gig and says he was about to give it to Luc but Luc is standing there with a small plastic carrier bag containing DB badges hanging from his ears and under his chin, Niklas says he’ll give him the money tomorrow. Some woman, a friend of Helena’s is talking to Kev, seems really friendly. She says upstairs is the place to be. Myself, I kind of feel like heading back into town and sitting in a bar, chilling out. There seemed to be plenty of places around the hotel and I wouldn’t mind having a deek. After tidying the gear up in the backstage room, making sure everything is in order, and Luc standing on a chair and giving a speech to everyone about how happy he is to be here, first in Swedish and then in Portuguese, we follow him to the exit. Luc has commanded us to party. We head upstairs to have a peek and it becomes immediately obvious that this is where we’ll be staying. The place is great. Looks like a big living room and it’s packed with people from the gig and a few others, really buzzing atmosphere, really friendly.
Unfortunately I seem to have missed the first bell because the bar closes right after and the chance for further drinks has passed. Maybe just as well. Now I really am in the mood for heading back to the hotel and maybe grabbing a beer in a bar in the vicinity before heading to bed. Helena is talking about going to some club, “Klubi” she keeps saying, pissed as a fart, with all her friends. Kev is up for following but I’m subtly suggesting my plan. Turns out there’s a bit of a balls up with cabs anyway and the club thing gets canned. Well, Helena is still going but the four of us decide against it. The Famine Year guys head off to a friends place to sleep and we decide we’ll do breakfast in the morning. Fuck knows where Brown and the others are.
We get out of the cab by the hotel and the four of us head into the bar next door. Looks like a bit of a posh place, very quiet by this time of night, only a few left in. We take four beers out of the band money. The beers at the punk bar cost us two and half Euros, these four cost twenty six in total. Probably just as well we hung out at the venue until two am. Still, it’s nice being sat here on a big antique style sofa, just the four of us to end the night, having a little drink. Vik and Luc are both pretty boats, me and Kev more monged than anything. Vik is in lively mood though. The bouncer comes up to us and in Finnish politely tells us that it’s soon time to drink up. Vik starts babbling back to him in Finnish, totally flowing. The three of us are sat there talking to amongst ourselves and don’t notice it at first, but then Luc asks what’s happened to Vik and we’re all amazed to hear him having a full on conversation with the bouncer in Finnish. This is something we did not previously know about Vik. Apparently it’s some sort of skill he picks up when pissed. Vik then asks the barman who comes to clear up our empty glasses if he can take a few picks. There’s no stopping Finnish Vik now, Luc just keeps shaking his head confused, “What’s going on with Stix?”. After the pics it’s time to leave and we plod out, had more than enough now. Vik is last in line, banging on some more with the bouncer on the way out, clearly loving it now.