The shower is lukewarm and of little immediate comfort but I do feel a little better once washed and dried. And the teeth are clean again, the day starts to take shape. I lie back down on the bed for a while and wait for the rest to stir into life. I hear Vik from the double bed he’s shared with Luc say, “It feels like we’re living in a Coke refrigerator”, and I’m struck by the accuracy of this observation. One could rightly assume that the hotel is indeed sponsored by that all encompassing conglomerate considering the interior design in the room. Whilst Vik is in the shower I get up and lie beside Luc on the bed, deciding to check out a bit of Finnish tv. Kev picks up the hotel room bible, hard to believe this practice still exists. Kev prepares to read us a passage, opens up the book and then slams it shut with a look of great sadness upon his face. “You won’t believe what I’ve just found in there..” I really have no idea. Kev opens it up again to confirm what he’d found and when he sees that his eyes weren’t deceiving him gives out a disgusted sigh. Some dirty bastard has left a soggy johnny in the Good Book. Kev admits that he can appreciate the action from a sacrilegious point of view but it’s not really what his hangover needed and has left him feeling sick. He’s worried too that if we leave it we’re going to get the blame for it. He puts it back where he found it, after much debating.
We decide to meet the Famine Year guys outside the hotel at noon. Niklas sent me a pic a while ago of Tumppi and Marko drinking beer for breakfast. Fuck that. It’s another grey day in the north. We wait a while for the guys to show up having left the room a little early. They tell us about this great pizza place, really well known in these parts, and we decide to head there. I haven’t eaten anything yet and maybe pizza is not really what I would have gone for for breakfast but I tell myself that it’s bread and cheese and in that respect breakfast like. The place is just down the street from the hotel and we get there just in time. The place is already busy but there is the one table that has enough seats for the eight of us. Not long after we’ve sat down a queue has formed that goes out of the door and onto the street. The pizza doesn’t lie though, it’s fucking bang on. Hence the queue. Tumppi and Marko take a beer to accompany the food, of course, but the rest of us abstain. I can’t even entertain the idea. Even Vik opts for Coke. There is free coffee and salad from a buffet bar and that acts as a quick breakfast before immediately diving into lunch. The pizza is great, but huge and I can only manage about two thirds of it. Here they have finely chopped garlic as a side topping, kind of like the Italians do with parmesan, comes in little bowls on the table. The Finns pile into it, not shy. Tumppi jokes that he’s married so he’s free to eat garlic. Petri absolutely hammers the stuff onto his pizza. I take a little and have to admit, it’s an ingenious idea. Not very sociable maybe but none of us have to care about that, it’s only Kev who is single, the rest of us are out of the game. I wrap up the remaining portion of pizza in tin foil and take it with me, determined that I’ll eat the rest later but knowing deep down it will most likely be left in the car.
We decide to split the group in two, with half going in one car to the venue to pack up and the other to stay in town and do what they will. Pub is my bet. Vik and I head off with Petri and Niklas back to the venue, having won a game of rock, scissors, stone that we’d never actually decided the consequences of victory on, but I’d kind of decided I wanted to go to the venue anyway, didn’t feel like going to the pub which I was pretty sure is where they were heading. If it was sunnier then maybe I’d have fancied a walk but the sky was as grey as concrete so fuck it.
We leave Tampere just after three pm, another two hour drive to the next show. Pretty easy on the gas, touring Finland. I wish we could have seen a little more of this city since the downtown area looked pretty pleasant. Playing punk gigs and sightseeing aren’t exactly mutually exclusive though. We stop halfway for some much needed coffee and a snack and then carry on to Turku. I’m sat with Petri up front, listening to Pink Floyd and talking about his work and the state of politics in Finland. Marko has fallen asleep in the back of the car, Kev is sat pretty quiet for the most part. We’d asked Marko about his old band Unkind, approached the subject of the old singer Janne, who sang in the great band Herätys later on, but there wasn’t much to get out of Marko on the matter. When we pulled up at a service station for petrol we spot a coffee advert with a slogan, the word Herätys catching mine and Kev’s attention, being the geeks that we are. Apparently Herätys means “wake up” in Finnish. Learn something new every day. Good name for a band.
The venue in Turku is just outside of town, as is so often the case. It’s in amongst some industry units, the place is called TVO and is another well known place in the Finnish punk scene. We load in the gear and have a gander, looks pretty nice. Clean and tidy, nice little bar, nice little room. Stage is in the corner of the room opposite the entrance, it has a pillar right in the middle of it. Kev is wondering where he is going to stand later. We head upstairs to the band area where they have a kitchen and hang out area, a bedroom and of course a sauna. Brilliant country. The smell of frying soya meat is filling the room and confirms my hunger. We’ve timed it just right though, the guy cooking, who is the guy booking the gig, starts serving up not long after we slump down on the sofas around the low table. It’s good too, although as always I’m the world’s worst food critic since I think everything is good. The food hits the spot anyway, aided by the Sriracha sauce admittedly.
The Kylmä Sota guys turn up shortly after us, smiles still firmly set in place. Helena tells us that it was just as well we didn’t follow them to Klubi yesterday since first off they got kicked out the cab for being too pissed and then the bouncers wouldn’t let them in the club either. Proper fucking steaming. Bullet dodged there. Helena is back on the sauce now anyway, as is Marko. Hesu isn’t around yet, he lives in this city I think so I guess he’s at home. Janne and Irene are playing foosball on a table I hadn’t even noticed until now, despite the fact I’ve been sat next to it for half hour. It’s the third day of three today, but it feels like I’ve been on tour for three weeks. Fucking knackered. We’re all the same too, the DB guys that is. The Finns are hacking the pace, indeed they’re setting it. The Hurriganes are back on again, their rock n’ roll sounds playing out of Helena’s phone, her and Marko chuffed. The same song keeps repeating, albeit in different versions, and Marko and Helena are equally as chuffed every time each version starts. Janne takes to the sofa after the game is finished and starts telling us about when he toured Japan with Selfish. The drummer from Forward was talking to him about music but Janne couldn’t understand what he was banging on about. “Remu. Remu biking.” Lemmy is a viking it turns out was the jist of it.
Helena says that when they got to Japan the punks there taking care of the tour had said to them that they would buy all of the drinks on tour, that they would be sorted. Helena laughs and says to them, “I don’t think you understand how much we’re going to drink”. By day two the kindly Japs had agreed, “Ok, yes, you buy your own drinks”. The Finns are pretty hardcore it has to be said. I thought the Swedes were mad for it but compared to the Finns and the Danes they’re tame. Janne tells us that when they were in Japan they mixed pure ethanol they’d bought from the chemist with Coke, just for the crack I guess. Their Japanese friend timidly tries it, puts the glass firmly back on the table, “No. Does not taste good”.
Whilst all this laughter and storytelling is going on Marko is playing air guitar to the Hurriganes song, asking us if we like it. Chuffed as fuck. As tired as I am I force back a couple of beers, more in the hope that it will wake me up than that I’m in the mood. Helena has a bottle of Salmiakki with her though and that gets a bit more oil on the chain. We have a couple of games of fussball with Ronnie and the exercise gets me properly going again, but a half hour or so later I start sagging again. I try the Salmiakki again.
We head downstairs to check out what’s going on and find Marko sat talking with some old crust punk. There is another band headlining tonight, something we’re glad for since we don’t want to play last, it’s our turn tonight. This band are supposed to be some old half known band from Turku that have a bit of a following from their heyday back in the Eighties/Nineties or whenever. They don’t play very often and it seems to me like a good way to pull the crowd in a bit. Marko introduces me to the guy, but he barely even looks at me, just sits there staring into space doing his best to look broken and apathetic. Fries my piss straight away. You should see him, total profile of what he thinks he should look like, it feels to me. Little dirty headband around a greasy pan, undercut hair, leather jacket and jeans falling apart. Seems to be sponsored by Volvo too, has a Volvo patch on his jacket and what I’m guessing is his amp is decked out in Volvo signs. He looks like the kind of guy that gives Victims shit for looking the way we do. Showered that is. Except for Jon. Jon doesn’t really shower. I’ve got nothing against crust punks of course, far from it. Just his face annoys me, and his attitude. What makes things worse is that he’s asked Marko to ask us if we mind playing last, after them. It feels very much as though the situation is already decided though. We really don’t want to play last, it feels like for starters the crowd might piss off after these local heroes and then there’s the fact that it’s always a pain in the ass to divide up the touring package when everyone is using the same gear. It’s a bit awkward whilst I say I don’t really want to play last and Volvo just stares off into space. Feels like he’s already told the promoter anyway though so last it is. My gut instinct tells me that if we play last then we’re going to play to an empty room. Marko says that the reason Volvo doesn’t want to play last is that he’s already on the sauce and won’t make it until the end of the night. How very fucking rock n’ roll. Give me a break. Funny that he very specifically wants to play third on the bill of four though, not first or second. Whatever. At first I assume that Marko has some sort of connection with this guy but I don’t think he actually does, think he just latched onto him since he was pissed.
Famine Year are first up tonight and at first I think it’s going to be a disaster gig. The sound is pretty good, not as good as last night but still pretty good. But there are around fifty people in the place, again, pretty good since it’s a small enough room, but quite a few of the people are sat at tables, and stay sat there when Famine Year start to play, and stay sat there for the duration, like they’re watching a fucking documentary. Hesu is sat a table next to the stage, hair all showered, looking fresh as a daisy. I will him to stand. This other naughty looking old boy, shaved head and tattooed bonce grabs my attention too, just sits there looking unimpressed. Makes me a little uneasy. The other guys in the touring party stand up close to the stage to give support and within time others in the place follow suite.
The guys impress me, they really put it all into their gig every night. I get a buzz during their set, a mixture watching them play, being annoyed with Volvo’s antics and the Salmiakki. Somewhere near the end of the show Petri’s vocals disappear from the PA. He hasn’t noticed since he’s hearing himself in the monitor but for a whole song he’s gone for the rest of us. Helena starts motioning annoyed to the sound guy who eventually turns up and gives him another mic. This works somewhat sporadically too, cutting in and out. After testing both and asking us in the audience which is the best of the two broken mics he decides to fuck it off and screams the end of the set with neither, just screaming as loud as he can above the music, first on stage and then into the crowd, grabbing people and screaming in their faces. You can hear him pretty good aswell. This impresses the shit out of me and the rest of our crew and buzzed by it we’re all shouting along and pumping fists. A great end to the set. What a fucking star.
And then it’s time for Kylmä Sota, one last time. Brown is in a great mood, buzzing off of Hurriganes and booze. With the help of Stix he gets the sound guy to play I Wanna Be Adored by the Stone Roses as an intro. The punks don’t really seem to get it but we love it. He walks up from the crowd, shuffling onto the stage with the Manc walk. Absolutely brilliant. Before the show starts we move aside for this man and woman in wheelchairs, who sit in front of us, right up next to the stage, each with a beer in hand. They look to be suffering from some harrowing degenerative disease of some sort. Marko hasn’t noticed them yet, too busy with his dance, but Janne spots them and explodes with joy at the sight of the two guys. He barges past Marko and starts waving at them, really happy to see them. I figure they’re old friends. Marko looks a bit confused at first, and I must admit, I fearing the worst, but then he bends over and shakes the man’s hand. And then they start their set and the band explode into life, Helena laughing from the very first second. She’s always happy but I think right now she’s mainly laughing at the crap and very clean bass sound she’s got coming out of the combo amp the venue owns that we’re all having to use tonight.
The Kylmä Sota set is spot on though, they’re a great d-beat band, and of course Marko is very entertaining. If he’s not singing Stone Roses songs between their own, then he’s playing air tambourine Ian Brown style, or doing Elvis style karate shunts, at one point he does a really quick drop to the knee and then up again, “Oh, that’s a new one”, notes Kev. It nearly all goes very wrong at one point though. He does a kick out into the crowd, timing it with a stop/start in one of their songs and comes really close to booting the woman in the wheelchair in the mug. She doesn’t seem to be that bothered but both me and Kev are reeling in anguish. I don’t even think Marko noticed. When they’re done I’m totally buzzing and really wishing that we were up next.
And then everything comes to a temporary halt.
To be totally honest, they sound pretty good. Kind of early Nineties UK crust, reminds me of Disaster a little bit. And they only play for twenty minutes or so. None of our crew have watched them but it sounds like they have an okay gig, not loads of people, there is a death metal fest happening just across the courtyard in another venue which has taken a bit of a hit on this gig, but it seems alright. As soon as they’re done we’re on stage and ready to go in under ten minutes, straight on with it tonight, no fucking around. All fired up, we blast into Good Strong Hand and immediately into Am I Stupid? Or Idiot! and when the first block comes to a dead end I slam my guitar into Kev’s shoulder, totally aiming for him. A bit out of order. When I do this I hear some voice in the crowd, “Hey, be careful with the amp”. I assume it’s Volvo. I just laugh to myself. I’m not even playing his amp but I guess he’s worried about me slamming into it behind me. Later on during the gig Luc bangs heads with Kev too, poor old bugger, not that he seems to care.
We have a really good show anyway. It doesn’t seem like anyone has left the building and our friends are down the front having a dance, Helena, her friend and Irene all enjoying themselves in particular. We play really tight and by the end of the set the annoyance I took into the gig has faded into happiness. Before the end of the gig Stix asks for the mic to thank the other bands for sorting us out this weekend, proclaiming we’ve had three really great shows in Sweden. I assume he’s taking the piss at first but he’s simply made a tit of it. Must be the peach cream wine. He corrects himself, to our amusement and then we finish the set. There’s a good cheer at the end and for the first time ever we decide to play a couple of extra songs., a new one from the upcoming lp called Black Christmas and Hypnotic Eye. It’s a fun way to end a very fun show.
Afterwards we chill out by the bar, enjoying a couple of cold pints of Finnish lager. It’s the best thing I’ve tasted all day. Vik tells me the drummer from the old band came up to him afterwards and said he really loved our gig. It seems to be going well at the merch too, we’ve sold all the copies of the first seven inch that we had with us, meaning there are none left for the Combat Rock shop. Oh well. It’s pretty nice just hanging out by the bar enjoying a couple of beers and chatting to our new Finnish friends. Marko grabs me when I’m on my way upstairs, looking kind of serious. “The people in the roller coasters, you know?” I don’t really catch it at first but then I figure out he means the guys in the wheelchairs. For a second I think he’s taking the piss, in a way only he dares, but he’s not. He’s been really sweet. “The guy used to play in a band with us, way back, he got sick though”. Fuck, that sucks.
We were originally supposed to be staying here at the venue tonight but the sound guy couldn’t stick around and we can’t stay here alone, so we’re staying somewhere else. The problem is that the somewhere else is with this punk guy called Sammy, who’d arrived earlier and introduced himself, seemed like a nice bloke, but is now sat upstairs in some sort of booze coma. I go up to him, put my arm around his shoulder and ask if we’re still staying with him, but he just sits there starting blankly at the wall. Absolutely gone. Guess we’re looking for somewhere else.
The Famine Year guys worry that we’re left high and dry, and when it’s starting to looked fucked they say we can come with them. Thing is the friend’s place they’re staying at is supposed to be really small. But they start to play it down, saying it will work. They obviously have no intention of leaving us without a roof. But then Helena approaches and tells us we’re staying with them tonight. The place they’re staying is this punk house with plenty of room. Niklas looks at me and says it’s okay for us to follow them, if we don’t feel like partying with the Kylmä Sota guys. Tonight though we decide to risk and and go with the party. We tell the Famine Year guys that we’ll see them back here at noon tomorrow. Kev’s flight is at five pm so that should be plenty.
Of course, there’s a bit of fucking around before we leave. A cab has been called, it takes it time arriving and when it does there are too many of us to all get in. Beside the DB guys, Helena, Janne and Irene, Ronnie and his girlfriend, there are another four or five friends, one punk who is completely boats, can hardly stand, and some other violent looking fucker who seems a bit aggro. The cab is a big people carrier as well, really big, tour bus cab we call it. Helena says to everyone that she’ll take this cab with the DB guys but everyone piles in anyway. I’m the last in of our lot and have nowhere to put myself except for the floor at the back. It’s all very confusing, amongst everyone saying to me to lie down and others fucking around at the door. I’m far too sober for this. I lie there waiting for the cab to go until I realise that the reason it isn’t is because the drive has spotted me lying there. Before I understand what’s going on Stix says it looks like I’ll have to get up and Aggro is telling me to fuck off. I’m tired and I don’t need this shit. Really pisses me off. I don't need this guy talking to me like that and I kind of wish one of our other guys would stay with me when I’m kicked out of the cab. Helena get’s out with me though, and together with Ronnie, his girlfriend, Insanely Drunk Guy and another friend, we wait for another cab.
I’m feeling a little pissed off as we wait there but I shake it off soon enough, I don’t really blame the other DB guys it’s not like they’re thinking they’re leaving me to sleep somewhere else. And plus, Helena has some chocolate milk she’s spiked with booze and that starts getting passed around. We actually have a nice chat whilst waiting for the next cab. Although Drunk Guy can barely stand and keeps falling into Helena. We get to the place a half hour later and I can tell the guys are feeling a bit bad, they all come up to me straight away and ask if I’m okay. Yeah, it’s all good again.
There is a fussball game going on, Aggro is playing on the one team and apparently he’s lost his rag, disputing a goal. Really making a bit of a scene. Seems like a bit of a tit. Kev and Helena are up on the raised DJ booth, taking turns at spinning old hard rocks vinyls. Both of them in their element. Luc has fallen asleep on a couch at the other end of the room. Vik and I have a beer, and then one more after that, which feels unnecessary, it was time to go to bed after the first one, we spend the second beer yawning for the most part. We wake Luc and leave Kev and Helena to it.
We head over to the house, wary of the little dog. The coast is clear. Helena’s friend who lives here, this friendly long haired guy, shows me the kitchen and the bathroom and then escorts us to the large living room where we’ll stay. I grab a mattress on the floor and I’m gone almost immediately. I wake up in the morning with Kev lying next to me, bare chested and without any pillow or mattress. He must be freezing. It’s not that warm in here. He wakes later and I ask him how late he was up last night. “Until about five. I looked up at one point and there was no one left, it was just me and Helena playing records”.