Thursday, January 7, 2016


I was sat at school this morning, trying my utmost to concentrate on my maths book but all the while distracted by the sight of the trees flailing about in the wind. It was as gloomy as a Lars Noren play outside, the sky as dark as fucking Mordor. I’ve never really been a nervous flyer but I’m not that comfortable being thrown around at thirty five thousand feet. I’m certainly not too chuffed at the prospect of flying in a front of wind they’ve christened Helga. Storm Helga. I do my best to plough on through the second grade equations on the page in front of me but I’m constantly keeping a check on Arlanda’s website, seeing if the flights are being cancelled. I wouldn’t be too upset if the flight got canned, even if I have been looking forward to the show in Trondheim tonight. No word yet though.

Eirik from Mörkt Kapitel texted me first thing this morning, saying that our connecting flight from Oslo had been cancelled and rebooked for an hour later. Nothing to do with the storm apparently, something else, although no explanation was given. This means that whatever the case we’ll be arriving in Trondheim pretty late tonight.

I leave school around lunch, a couple of mates wishing me luck on the way out whilst smirking at the sky above and the rain pissing down from it. Johan and Jon are at the practice room picking up the gear and meeting Andy and I at Liljeholmen, just down the road from my school. I get there first and find shelter in a doorway. When the guys text to say they’re stuck in traffic I head into the second hand store to get warm. Find a Chomsky book there for eight kronors. Chuffed with that at least. Andy comes in not long after me, I can tell he’s thinking the same thing as me. Don’t fancy this fucking trip today. “It’s a short flight at least”, I say searching for some grain of positivity. “Yeah but even if it’s only an hour, I can’t be doing with an hour of hell!” True that. I think we’re all in the same boat. We’re parents to small kids and that if nothing else makes you understand your own mortality.

We’re out at the airport a couple of hours ahead of flight time. It’s at least comforting to see planes lifting every other minute, up into the grey. Seems like there’s a problem with the booking though. Eirik ordered extra luggage for us and although I have the receipt, the old lady at check in is saying it’s not showing up in the system. I had a feeling we’d get some shit like this. She checks the receipt though and makes a call and it gets sorted. Thing is, it’s been my contact on these two shows and when it’s on me I really don’t want any bumps in the road.

We grab the usual Max Burger before boarding, a new tradition since they opened up at Arlanda. I always think of Luc and his boycotting of them after the Moderaterna scandal. For a while he was pretty on it, and gave us grief if we were tempted by their veggie burger. It’s a good fucking veggie burger. And then one time Kev was over for practice and was wanting to go by Max for lunch, Luc started telling him about how the CEO was a right wing nut job who’d sent out a letter to his staff warning of the downsides of voting for the Social Democrats and how we should boycott them. Kev replied in typical fashion, “I couldn’t give a fuck if Hitler was frying the burgers, I fucking want one!” Luc’s boycott is now over anyway, although credit to him, he lasted a while. It was a pretty fucked up thing if the truth be told. Fucking Moderaterna...

We board the plane and I text Jen as usual. When out travelling we always text each other to say when we’re boarding and again when we land. This time of instant information brings with it a deal of stress and worry and I find myself looking at the clock and waiting for the text when Jen is out and about flying with work or whatever. Funny to think that before the era of the mobile phone and the internet things were considerably different. Jen’s mum lived in Japan for a year at the end of the Sixties, it took her a few weeks to get there and then when she did there was no thought of letting her parents know she’d arrived safe and sound. In the end her parents got in touch with her through the Swedish Embassy, three months later, just to make sure she was ok. How times have changed.

We lift off, the pilot having made no mention of the weather conditions on route before hand. It’s dark as we bang and bump through the clouds on the way up to cruising altitude, Johan throwing me a nervous look coupled with an equally nervous laugh, “I can’t be doing with this”. We’re on the very last row of seats as well, where you hear all the weird engine noises, just to add to the tension. Thankfully once we’re through the clouds the turbulence diminishes and the rest of the short journey to Oslo is smooth. We land at Gardemoen and have a couple of hours to kill before we get the connecting flight to Trondheim. We head to the nearest bar.

A lot of people back home in England, actually, I take that back, a lot of people in my dad’s crew or members of his generation, scoff whenever he’s off to Sweden to visit me. “Phwah! Sweden? Eight pound a pint there init?” It’s literally every time. None of these people have been to Sweden of course, although the reputation the country has for being expensive runs far beyond my dad’s gang. And to a certain extent, it’s justified, Sweden is an expensive country, especially if you’re a tourist. But the fact that the international currency of the pint is always the first thing to be scoffed into the conversation cracks me up. I digress. Now Norway? Norway is expensive! Especially if you’re a tourist, like us. Even for us Swedes Norway is expensive. This place would make some heads explode back in Corby. We each order a pint, and they come in at a tenner a pop. Ninety nine fucking kronors! Given, this is an airport bar, but fuck me… We only have the one. We have another on the plane, a nice can of Mikkeller. One of the upsides of flying with SAS is that they serve Mikkeller.

We land at Trondheim after a very smooth forty minute flight and Fredrik from Mörkt Kapitel is waiting for us. It’s good to see him again, the last time was when DB was here last year. He’s since become a dad, like the rest of us, bar Jon. The gear comes out pretty quick and we head off to his car. The first thing that hits you is the crisp, clean air. We’ve been having a shitty winter back home so far, four or five degrees plus and grey and pissy rain. Here it’s a few degrees below and a lot drier, like winter should be. The second thing I notice as we walk to the car is that Jon is munching on a Peperami style sausage, it hits me that this must be about the fourth or fifth I’ve seen him devour today. It must be his new thing. He always has a thing.

We drive into Trondheim, too dark to enjoy the views on the way into the beautiful city. We arrive at the venue around eight thirty, a half hour or so before doors are due to open. The place has changed a little since we were last here in 2009. The gig room is a little smaller for one thing, which is nice, UFFA, the punk house, burned down not too long after we played back then, and it took them a while to rebuild the place. Oystein tells me that since then the scene has moved on a little and they’re trying to rebuild it. Hence we’re here. The guys in Mörkt Kapitel obtained a grant from the government to put on a weekend show at the house so they booked this little festival with us headlining tonight and Martyrdöd tomorrow. Oystein, who is my friend and the person I’ve been in main contact with for these shows tells me that he’s hoping this will wake a bit of life back into the Trondheim punk scene. It’s good to see the MK guys anyway, they seem very concerned with us enjoying our time here. Good lads.

They show us up to the band hang out rooms, behind the stage, out through a back door, up some wooden stairs and into the floor above. There are plenty of beers to tuck into and for the most part we sit around, catching up a little, and drinking a couple of cans. The beer is nice enough but I still feel myself forcing them down as opposed to simply enjoying them. Sometimes it’s like that. I thought I’d be gagging for a beer by the time I got here tonight but it’s not really flowing. I feel like I’ll need a shot of something before we play in a bit, just to get the blood flowing. Johan concurs. He like me, enjoys a bit of a dram before gig time.

There are a few punks milling around about the various rooms up here on the second floor, one guy has this big Victims tattoo on his arm. He’s one of the guys behind the booking of the shows, and seems chuffed we’re here. Nice guy. We head downstairs as soon as we’re told food is ready, all of us pretty hungry by this point. We head to the kitchen and help ourselves to some great vegan food, roasted potatoes and veg, and a lentil stew with soy meat. Tastes fucking great. We head to the cafe/bar area where our friend Jason is waiting for us. He lives in Oslo but has made the trip up on the train to hang out tonight. He’s taking the same train as us back tomorrow and we’re staying at his after the gig tomorrow. It’s fun to see him here, fun he made the trip up. He tells us the train broke down in the mountains for two hours and all of the passengers emptied the bar of booze whilst they waited. So he only just got here himself.

Whilst eating Atle turns up, the singer in MK. Always great to see him. The big friendly bear. Not long afterwards it’s time for MK to play and I run up and grab a beer to sip on whilst watching them. It’s still not going down all that smoothly but it’s nice just to have something in your hand whilst you watch the band. The sound is a little squiff, I can only really hear Fredrik’s guitar and Oystein’s bass but it’s fun watching them anyway. They have a lot more epic riffs going on in their sound these days, with screamo style blast parts played by Oyvind too. I really like it. But then again I like that stuff, and both Oyvind and Oystein played in the screamo band Dominic who were great. I feel in the mood to play by the time they’re done.

There are four bands on the bill, but I only manage to catch MK. I don’t manage to catch any booze before we play but I feel warm enough as we set up. In fact, before we even start the stage lights have put a sweat on me. I’ve had a shitty cold for the last few days, I’m hoping this gig will sweat most of that out. It takes a while to get going, usually the case when you’re lending almost all of the gear. When we finally do, we’re only halfway through the first song, Death Do Us Part, when Andy stops playing and the song falls apart. I look over and see that pissed off look on his face. Seems like his kick pedal has fallen apart. It takes a little while to get going again but when we do I can still feel the pissy energy coming from Andy. He’s fidgeting with the kick pedal between the first few blocks of songs and I can tell he’s not happy. I try to just get on with it and have a pretty good time of it nonetheless. There aren’t a huge amount of people here, maybe fifty or sixty, but the room is small and dark and it looks okay anyway. The sound from Fredrik’s amp is huge and it’s pretty much all I can hear as we play. It’s definitely one of those gigs you have to fight through a little, but I can feel that the crowd in here are enjoying it anyway.

Funny thing is, just as last time we played Trondheim with Victims, someone launches a can of beer at me during the gig. The first time here the fucker caught me right in the pan, this time I merely feel the can whizzing by my ear. Fuck knows what that’s about. Must be the punk thing to do up here in this part of the world. The punks are shouting for more as we finish This Is The End, but I don’t even have to look at Andy to know that we won’t be playing any extras. I take a peek in his direction anyway and as I suspected he’s stood there shaking his head. Looks well pissed off. I’m happy enough with that anyway, it’s hot as fuck on the stage and my face feels like it has a thousand burning hot needles stuck in it, like someone is pouring acid into every pore. It must be the head cold I’ve been suffering with, I’ve been blowing my nose constantly for the last and my face felt red raw before we even played. It’s quite a strange sensation. Eirik comes up to me straight after the gig and tells me it was awesome, but I can only thank him and then run out of the back door to get some freezing cold air on my face. It takes a while to calm down.

It’s good having Jason with us. Even if everyone else tells you the gig was great, he’s straight up and tells us the sound wasn’t that great. No bullshitting there. Not that that takes anything away from the rest of the guys enjoyment of the gig, or indeed their genuinity. The MK guys all seem totally chuffed which makes me happy. I don’t want them to feel let down by us. All in all though, a long way from the best gig we ever played but perfectly fine. Maybe not for Andy I guess but for the rest of us.

We’re sat up in the hangout room and I’m really hoping that someone has some booze. I have an incredible urge to drink booze. Andy laughs at my constant repeating of my inquiries, and subsequent delight when Oystein tells me he has some aquavit, albeit back at his place. Good thing we’re sleeping there then. We hang out and drink a couple more beers, Jon pulls out yet another sausage from his pocket and we all have a good chat. Most of the MK guys are parents too so the conversation revolves around that and music. Total middle aged punks. A couple of younger girls appear after a while and one of them sits next to me. The two of them are a little flirty, just drunk and a little cocky, as you are at that age. They’re nice enough though. The thing is, as they sit there babbling away the only thing I’m tuned into is the sound of my own thoughts and how old these two young girls are making me feel.

Just as it feels like the party up here is starting to kick off and there are more and more people swarming around we decide it’s time to get going back to Oysteins. It is one thirty am as it is and I’ve been up since six thirty. The old cunt in me is longing for a bit of quiet at Oysteins place and a little nightcap before bed. We head downstairs to pick up the gear and the merch, who we’d left with the venue to sell for us at their request. Not that they were taking a fee for it, they just wanted to help out. Very nice. I suggest we give the two young punks a free shirt each and the rest of the guys agree that would be a nice gesture, so I take the box back to the little room off the thin hallway between the bar and the gig room where they had merch and distros set up. The guy selling the shirts is a young street punk and he’s totally delighted when I ask him if he wants a shirt, genuinely made up. He gives me a hug and I pat him on the back whilst in his embrace, not noticing the rows of sharp studs on the back of his jacket before it’s too late. Proper fucking hurts my hand. There is this young girl beside him who then asks, “What about me? I really want a shirt too”. I tell her that of course she can have a shirt and then she asks, “What band is it anyway?” Cheeky little get.

We catch a cab back to Oystein’s place in the city, telling Jason we’ll see him in the morning. Jason is staying at a hotel right by the station. Oystein has this really nice, old flat, all wooden surfaces and floors. Looks like one of the houses at Skansen. He’s made some fresh bread, it’s roasting hot as we attempt to put butter on them. We sit around the coffee table on the floor and chat for a while, the beer in my hand the best tasting of the night. The aquavit is fucking spot on as well. I of course did not bring a sleeping bag, like Oystein had told me too. I made the decision not to because all I had at home was one of those big bulky fuckers that would have taken up the whole bag, and the zip was broke on it anyway. I don’t say anything to Oystein though, it’s pretty toasty in here anyway. By three am we decide to hit the hay and I crash out next to Johan on the double mattress that Oystein’s girlfriend had laid out for us earlier. Jon takes the sofa and Andy a camper bed or something. This will do me just fine, I think to myself. The only thing slightly bothering me as I fall off to sleep is the fact that we have to get up around seven thirty to catch the train to Oslo in the morning.

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