Sunday, April 3, 2016


Last day of tour today. Feels strange. As always. It was only nine days ago that we played the first show in Santa Ana and yet it seems like months ago. We’ve covered a lot of distance in that time and hours spent on the road in the back of a bus can skew the perception of time. As much as I’m looking forward to my first visit to Canada, and Eric assures me the show in Vancouver tonight is going to worth the hassle of the border crossing, I’m ready to go home to my family.

I woke up and Skyped the girls, sat on the deck of Eric’s houseboat in the sun with a cup of black coffee. Jen assured me Polly is missing me despite the fact her attention was mostly drawn to her favourite kids show on the iPad. Polly does take the time out to tell me that she’s coming with mum to pick me up from the airport soon though. When I hang up I feel a longing to be back home with them but put it to the back of my mind. We’ve got a lot of ground to cover over the next two days before I’m back home in the comfort of my home. First off, we have to get across the border, which although Greg has assured us has slackened a lot this last year or so, and the fact that we have paperwork from the venue in Vancouver, Eric has a criminal record that requires a bit of navigating around when he crosses the border. If we get into the country then after the show we’re basically heading straight to the airport for a seven am flight out of Vancouver back to Los Angeles and then we’ve got an eight hour stop over there before flying back to Stockholm at six pm. It’s going to be a long, sleep depraved couple of days.

We grab some breakfast at a diner by the marina where the guys live before hitting the road around midday. Jude is coming along too since they’re going to go camping in Canada for the weekend. As we’re stood at the door waiting for a table I spot a young girl with a bit of a hard rock vibe stood at the counter looking our way. Eric says under his breath that last time he ate here she kept banging on about his Venom t-shirt. She’s a bit of a local eccentric by the sounds of it. Sure enough, she spots Jon and shouts over, “Hey man! Nice Motörhead t-shirt!” And then barks across at us for the next few minutes whilst we wait for someone to seat us. After we’ve eaten she comes over to our table and asks if we’re a band and then starts taking details. She tells us how her friends band are supporting Mushroomhead in a couple of weeks and that she’s going with them to help carry gear and that she’s getting in for free. Fucking Mushroomhead? Are those tits still around?

Stuffed on a huge breakfast we head back to the bus and make the two hour trip to the border. Like I say, we’ve got paperwork that Greg assures us will ease our passage into the country by stepping into the unknown it’s still a bit unnerving. The last time Victims played Canada was before I was in the band and on that occasion they left the van in the US and took a Greyhound bus into Canada, returning a few days later by foot over the Niagara Falls bridge. Must have been quite the sight for our friend Matt who was waiting with the van Stateside.

Not really sure where to go Eric pulls up into the bus lane and there we wait. There are cops in the other booths dealing with car passengers and most of them look our way but make no gesture to us as to direct us. Eventually some G.I. Joe looking asshole, complete with crew cut hair and shades, struts over. Eric leans out of the window to greet him and G.I. barks “Shut off the engine!” What a prize fucking dick! For one, does he really look at himself in the mirror every morning before leaving work and think, “Yeah man, I look fucking good!”, and secondly, is there really a need to talk to everyone like they’re a cunt? Johan remarks that it’s as if they’re trained to talk down to people and make them feel uncomfortable. Nothing like an abuse of power. Joe enquires about the purpose of the trip and what us guys are doing in the back and then orders us into the building with our passports. Here we go then…

It’s not all that bad though. They don’t seem to give a fuck about us, they’re mainly concerned with Eric. He’s been through this route a bunch of times with Black Breath and got through due to the fact that being a member of the band he was then seen as essential to the travelling party but now they’re wondering why he has to be travelling through with us if he’s not in the band. He points out that he’s still pretty essential to the travelling party since if he doesn’t travel with us then we won’t get anywhere. After an hour or so and a two hundred dollar fine we’re let through the border. We split the bill with Eric.

It’s only another forty miles or so to Vancouver and we arrive at the venue a little ahead of time. Vancouver seems like an interesting place. It’s beautiful for one thing, surrounded by snow tipped mountains, a real breathtaking horizon in all directions. And Eric assures us that there are some really beautiful parts of the city, some really affluent parts of the city, but the area we’re playing into tonight, East Hastings Ave, does not belong to that particular part of Vancouver. East Hastings is a long straight road that seems to go on forever. When we start along it we seem to be in a pretty trendy part of town but as we get closer to the venue the area seems to get poorer and poorer. The venue itself is still on a pretty safe block but Eric tells us that a few more blocks and you want to be emptying the bus of anything valuable when you leave it. Eric tells us to bring in our most valued items anyway.

The venue, the Astoria Hotel, is closed when we arrive anyway. Whilst Eric and Andy are checking it out I step outside for a bit of air and as I walk down to the street corner I spot some young guy with a smile that’s just a tad menacing looking my way. “Hey, do you drink Labatt's?” A bit confused by the question at first I tell him that no, I do not drink Labbatt’s. “So you’re not a yuppie then? You’re not a hipster either. That’s good”. I have no idea where this is going back head back to the van before finding out. He’s chirping on after me but it turns to an incoherent babbling. He starts on the next person, a younger girl, who in no subtle terms walks across to the other side of the street.

With some time to spare we drive back up the road to some sushi grill place Jude had spotted. Fuck do I need something a little healthier in me. The place is absolutely top notch. They have such delicious vegetarian sushi in North America, makes you realise how boring and unimaginative the stuff we get back home is. Despite sushi being by far the most common “ethnic food” in Stockholm, it’s all the same boring shit wherever you go. We’ve had some great Mexican grub during the last week but this is by far the best food I’ve had all tour.

We make our way back down to the venue and it’s time to load in. The first band Last Kaste are soundchecking and it’s loud as hell. Andy comes walking out with a pained expression on his face. The venue is cool though, a big spacious bar with pool tables and flipper machines and a cordoned off gig space. The girl who booked the show, Vanessa, seems delighted to have us here. She’s super friendly. Load in is interesting. Eric parks the van a little way down the block so we have a bit of a walk with the gear back and forth. As we’re opening up the back of the van some chuffed looking homeless woman comes up to us enthusing about the bus, saying she’s never seen one like it before. And then there is some crazed homeless guy sat right outside the venue holding a cup in his hand shouting, “Quarter!”, as we load in the gear. I tell him that I’m sorry but I don’t have any money on me, every time I walk past. I feel sorry for the guy. He reminds me of so many of the people I work with at the homeless shelter back home.

Once loaded in we set up by the side of the stage and then hang out by the pool tables. Seems like someone has left one of the tables mid game whilst the other is taken by the local street punks. Andy comes walking out of the toilet laughing, saying that he thinks tonight might be a bit of a wild one, apparently there is a couple fucking in the toilet. Ten minutes later Jon comes out and says he just did a shit in the cubicle beside the one the romantic couple are in. “Someone just came all over the place whilst I was taking a dump”. Seems that the couple in question are the holders of the second pool table and the fuckers have taken the cues with them. Want a fucking game here! I ask Vanessa if there are any more cues and she laughs and says, “Well… This random wasted couple came in a while back and started a game and then went into the toilet together and have been gone for quite some time, I don’t know where the cues are though”. Right enough the couple finally emerge from the bogs, the two of them looking rough as shit. They sit down to a table where a half drunk pitcher of beer stands. They finish up and fuck off. Eventually the pool cues turn up and me and Jon finish the game.

We hang out playing pool and flipper until the first band start. We’re supposed to be on at eleven tonight but it’s nine thirty and there is hardly anyone here and Last Kaste haven’t started yet. I guess we’re going to be a bit late but since all we have to do is go to the airport for five am that might not be a bad thing. Very strange feeling waiting for a gig and then knowing that you’re heading off on a mammoth journey home directly afterwards. Eric assures me that the show tonight is going to be good and says that over here in Canada things are a little slacker and the punks come out a bit later. Vanessa asks if we want more drinks, of course tonight we have a totally free bar, typical that this gig is the last one. I thank her kindly but tell her about the journey we have ahead of us and she totally understands.

Last Kaste start just before ten and indeed quite a few punks have arrived. And also two random old guys, not together, pushing walking frames. One looks like he’s wearing pajama bottoms and is sat right at the front of the crowd in front of the band. Some punks start moshing and this big punk with a mohican wearing a Kaaos t-shirt stands in front of the old guy to protect him from being fallen on. I notice the old guy patting him on the back and asking him to move out of the way. Brilliant.

Last Kaste are pretty good. Total snotty punk with this girl on vocals who stands on the floor in the crowd for the entire set. Really enjoy the show. The second band, Chapel, seems to grab the attention of the rest of the guys. They’re a three piece wearing corpse paint and the singer/guitarist plays with a hood over his head the whole gig. Sounds more like High on Fire. I think they’re pretty good but, and I’m glad the line up of the show is a good mix, but I lose interest after a few songs. I stand by the merch and drink the second and last beer of the night, really tired and hoping to find some energy from somewhere for the show. There is a steady stream of people entering the venue so it should be a good gig anyway. This one guy catches my eye, he’s stood lingering just to the side of our merch table, looking over now and again. He’s wearing a denim jacket full of patches of which every one is Swedish in origin. There are also a few Wolfpack and Anti Cimex patches in amongst the the mohicans and studded leather jackets.

It’s around half twelve by the time we start setting up. I love it when you can feel a show is already buzzing as you’re stood setting up on stage. People are coming up close to the stage even as we line check. By the time we start the floor is pretty packed and by the third song, Victims in Blood part 5, the punks are really going for it. The show feels great, loads of energy on stage and in the crowd. The stage is quite high and squared off with room down either side of it so we’re surrounded as we play, giving it an all the more intimate feel. It’s a great feeling playing your ass off and seeing punks flying into each other, and those who aren’t are stood with broad smiles enjoying the gig. By the time we finish up with This is the End, we’ve got people on stage. We play Your Life is Red and My Eyes as extra songs and leave the stage to great applause. It’s a fantastic end to what has been a really fun tour.

As we’re packing up after the show lots of people are coming up and thanking us, shaking hands and saying “Wow” a lot. This one guy says he drove over from Calgary to see some show tomorrow night and dropped in tonight just on the off chance and that we blew him away. Another guy tells me he’s been waiting to see Victims since 2001 and that it meant so much to him that we came, he’s pretty emotional about the gig. Amazing how music connects people. What a wonderful thing. The drummer from Last Kaste, who has been taking photos the whole gig asks me if one of us can do a quick five minute interview, I tell him sure and send Jon his way.

And then it’s time to go. It’s a shame, it would have been great to hang out with Vanessa and the crew and I would have liked to see more of this city. My first ever trip to Canada has been all too brief. Hopefully we’ll be back again sometime. Once packed up Vanessa comes over and gives us all big individual hugs, we thank her from the bottom of our hearts and then we head off. Eric and Jude have booked a four star hotel by the airport for the night and they’re taking us there so we can shower off before Eric drops us at the terminal.

It’s about two by the time we get to their hotel and we have to be at the airport for check in at five. What I wouldn’t have done for a direct flight home from Vancouver at say, noon. I’m so jealous of the guys staying at the hotel. I love hotel rooms. Eric has done a monster job for us this tour though and he’s certainly earned a bit of luxury. I think ahead to the end of April when me and Jen are going to London for the weekend, just the two of us for a couple of nights, and have a nice hotel booked. We’re actually going to watch Speedhorn play one of the nights, Kev is coming along too. That will be fun.

Anyway, we take it in pairs to sneak up to their room and shower off. Jon and I head up first whilst Johan and Andy sort their bags out and then we swap. We say goodbye to Jude. It’s been great hanging out with her too. She’s coming over to Europe with the Black Breath guys in July and Stockholm is the last show so they’re going to hang out for a few days. Really looking forward to that.

Whilst Johan and Andy are up showering Jon and I sort our bags out and arrange the rest of the merch. We’ve got a bit left over so we’re bring an extra bag home. Going to cost a bit I guess but we made way more from tonight’s show than we imagined we would so it paid off. We’ve got a release party for the new album coming up in a couple of weeks at Kafe 44 with Bengtsson, so it’ll be good to have some extra merch to sell. Once packed Jon pulls out a bottle of Canadian Club and demands I take a swig with him, just to toast the end of a successful tour. I take the mildest of swigs.. Jon takes a somewhat larger mouthful and by the time Andy and Johan return he’s drunk.

Eric drops us at the airport around three thirty and with some time to kill we get our heads down for an hour or so. I wake up to the vibration of my phone alarm going off in my pocket. Five am, time to check in. I’m so tired I feel fucking stoned. Jon too by the looks of it. Either that or he’s sat drinking his whiskey while the rest of us slept. Either way he’s acting weird. 

It’s going to be a long journey home. At least Andy and I have a direct flight home from Los Angeles, even if we do have an eight hour layover there.  Johan and Jon have to fly via Paris with a further two hours wait there, and their flight leaves LA half hour after ours.  It's going to be an even longer journey home for them, more so for Johan if Jon is, as it appears, intends on going on the sauce. 

Can't wait to get home to see my girls.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Portland (again)

Woke up sweating my ass off on Eric’s couch. We’re heading off early to Portland today so there wasn’t a whole lot of sleep last night. With one foul swoop you’re back to feeling knackered again. Yesterday’s day of rest already forgotten. Seems like Johan is getting sick now too. With my luck it will come to me just as we’re about to fly home on Saturday. Two shows left now. It’s been fun but I’m ready to go home. We have the stress of going in and out of Canada to deal with too. But one thing at a time.

We get some coffee and breakfast for the road and double back on the route we took yesterday. Three hours back to Portland. Eric and I sit up front listening to records and talking about how the poor are kept down by the rich and turned against one another, about the prison labour system here in the States, British colonialism and how we’re not really taught that stuff in school when we’re kids. And then Eric gets into 9/11 conspiracy theories, or facts as he puts it. Time flies by when you’re putting the world to rights.

We get to Portland a couple of hours before load in time so we do a bit of mall shopping and then head over to the venue. The place is fucking huge tonight and when we walk in through the back door and into the concert room we’re met by a lot of serious looking metalheads going about their jobs. The stage is gigantic and there is amps and drums all over the place. Quite the fucking contrast from the Veteran’s Hall in Eugene. I know where I’d rather be. Eric is walking about looking for anyone who might be in charge and this big, long haired, old in-house stage hand who is walking about with a lamp on his head like a zombie shouts at Eric, “Get the fuck out of my way! We’re trying to work here!” I don’t know if he’s joking, I guess he could be Portland’s answer to Bengtsson, but it compounds the feeling that we don’t really belong here.

Thankfully there are some friendly faces and old friends in the building too. Henry, a friend from New York is here tour managing Tribulation, a Swedish band some of whose members I recognise. Then there is Jeff from High on Fire, an old friend of ours, their tour manager John is also a friend of ours. And then there’s Olle, one of Jon’s closest friends who is doing sound for Tribulation. I get talking to Henry for a while and ask how the tour is going. They were in a van crash a while back but they seem to have recovered. Apart from that and one of the bands on the package he said it’s going good. I ask what the deal is with the band he mentions and he says, “Awful band. Terrible people”. Pretty scatching review.

None of the rest of our friends are here yet so we sort things out with the venue staff, most of whom are actually friendly, I guess it was maybe just a bad start with old grumpy bollocks, before heading off in search of food. We’re getting nothing from the show tonight. Not even paid. It was Scotty who wanted us to play the show if the truth is told. But fair enough, I could see why he thinks it’s a good idea.

The venue staff seem to like the cut of our jib, turning up in the green and white bus, and they stand around talking with us for a while. High on Fire’s driver comes up to me as I’m stood there waiting for the rest of the guys and asks if he can have a look onboard, seems to make his day.

It’s fucking roasting in Portland. We go by some food trucks and sit around on a curb in a parking lot, eating burritos in the baking sun. It’s not exactly enjoyable. After a quick walk around we head back to the venue for line check. John has kindly offered to do sound for us for free, he’s only tour managing High on Fire on this tour so he thought it would be fun anyway. John was out with Nasum when Jon was over here a couple of years ago. The huge stage provides a massive sound anyway, not used to hearing Andy’s drums pounding at me through big side fills. We finish up and they open doors right after. With forty five minutes to spare, Jon ducks off with Olle for a quick beer. We haven’t got wristbands yet though and the thought of him not getting back into the venue through the tight security here makes me smirk to myself. Turns out to be no problem though.

Feels like Johan is a mixture of nerves and sick today and not long before we go on stage his nose starts bleeding. We’re stood in the wings waiting for the sign to go on and Jon tells everyone to not stress the gig. I don’t feel the slightest bit stressed. I’ve done a hundred gigs like this with Speedhorn over the years and they were normally pants. All very well doing a big gig but if you’re first on and playing to nobody then it is in fact just a small gig in a big venue, which is just cack. And pointless. We walk out on to the stage and I swear there are less people in the room than there was at the Eugene gig the other night. Total pants. Just as we’re about to get going Jeff from High on Fire runs on to stage and hugs everyone, and then he heads out on to the floor to stand and watch with Henry, Eric and Olle.

The gig actually isn’t that bad. As the set goes on people filter in and the crowd gradually inflates to around a couple of hundred. There are actually quite a few sat up on the balcony that goes around three quarters of the room. At one point during the gig a small most pit even starts up, although it only consists of about four people running around a large space of open floor. And then when Jon announces, “Okay, we’re gonna play two more and then leave you alone” someone shouts back, “Play three!” I don’t know if they’re taking the piss.

We pack down immediately and the helpful venue crew help us down to the loading bay with everything. Jon appears with a six pack of Pale Ale that Jeff had given him from High on Fire’s rider. Nice one. Sweating my ass off, sat in the breeze by the door to the parking lot, the beer goes down a treat. Once the van is packed I go back up to the stage to watch a bit of Tribulation. It’s not really my thing but it’s actually pretty fun watching them. They put on a great show, very choreographed maybe, but that’s a big part of the package I guess. The guitarist on the side of the stage I’m wearing catches my eye and I can’t take my eyes off him afterwards. He’s wearing high heels and an open see through blouse, really skinny guy wearing make up, effeminately dancing about the stage as he plays. It’s almost like watching a ballet dancer. There is incense burning on either side of the stage and as much as the music isn’t my cup of tea I can’t help but appreciate the art in their performance.

Towards the end of Tribulation Brad from From Ashes arrives, he’s gutted he just missed us, he tells us he was on parent duty. It’s okay, it’s great to see him. He mastered the new record and it’s fun to have a copy to give him. Ridiculously he insists on paying for it. I laugh when Tribulation finish their set. The house lights come on and the four in the band link arms at the front of the stage and take a bow, and then stand there waving arms in the air and thanking the crowd. The venue is maybe no more than a third full but they’re stood there looking like the back of that Alice Cooper band record. I don’t know if they’re taking the piss.

We head over the road to this games arcade that has a bar with Brad and Olle. It’s nice to sit and chat with them, we talk mainly about kids and the joys and tribulations, no pun intended, of being a parent. A little bit of punk rock gets thrown into the conversation of course, but it’s mainly kid stuff we cover. We get talking about Canada since we’re heading there next. I tell him I’ve never been there before. Brad says, “It takes a couple of hours to go through all that border control shit and then you drive five miles into the country and you realise, it’s exactly the same thing. And then some punk comes up to you at the show and says, “It’s great that you guys could come oot”, and you realise, that’s different”. Brad has to head off early tonight, he’s got a big evening on with his wife tomorrow for her birthday party. Something about a Price is Right theme night or something. Fuck knows.. It was great to see him for a little while anyway.

We head back over the road and catch most of the High on Fire set. Always fun to see those guys play even if don’t really listen to their records all that much. Watching Jon’s big idol Matt Pike play guitar is always entertaining though. I’m surprised that there are still pretty big gaps at the back end of the room though. Might be that this venue was a little too big for this package. The room doesn’t fill up any more when that fat sausage Abbath goes on afterwards to close out the show. Two songs into that we pack up the merch, think we sold around eighty dollars tonight, half of which came from Brad and Jeff, and head out to the van. Andy and I go to meet up with Joe from Long Knife whose drumkit we’ve rented on this tour, he’s stood outside the venue. We spend most of the time talking about GISM and Deathside playing again, and how he’s heading over to Europe to see them play. Before we leave we pop into the High on Fire bus to say bye to the guys and hang out there for a few minutes. Joe Preston from The Melvins is here too, he stands there smiling broadly without saying much. Always looked like a nice old dude did Joe, proves to be the case. We’ve certainly caught up with a lot of people on this little trip.

The drive back to Seattle seems to take forever though. From the beginning I’m fighting like hell to stay awake, but about halfway through the journey I get a second wind. We continue with Eric’s Teenage Fanclub education whilst the others sleep in the back. It’s three am when we get back to Eric’s. I’m out almost as soon as I hit the couch.

Friday, April 1, 2016


After three days of seven hour drives it was a bit of a luxury to wake up today knowing we’ve only got a few hours in the bus up to Seattle. The plan was to get up there early and spend the day hanging out with Eric in his home town. I think he was eager tos how us about his home. I was really looking forward to it. The plan is to the same tomorrow and head back to Portland early since we’re back for the High on Fire show before heading to Vancouver for the last show of the tour.

I have a quick mug of coffee on the veranda at the back of Kelly’s house, the sun is shining and I feel good. Got to speak to the girls on Skype too, the perfect start to the day. We take some pics with Bengtsson and then say our goodbyes. Jamie has already left for work but hopefully we’ll catch him when we’re back tomorrow. Bengtsson tips us off about a decent organic coffee shop a few blocks away so we head there to get some breakfast to go. I tuck into a delicious fried egg, cheese and sundried tomato roll and a cappuccino. The people at the cafe are really friendly, “You guys look like you’re in a band”, remarks the girl behind the counter. After talking for a little while I head out to the bus and then when Eric comes out behind me he’s holding a big paper bag full of yesterday’s muffins that they just gave us for free. Great start to the day.

It only takes a couple of hours up to Seattle. I sit up front with Eric as usual and we play gems from the Teenage Fanclub catalogue, he seems to really dig it, whilst he points out the sights like mountains St. Helens and Rainier, as well as places like Tacoma, Olympia and the Sleeter-Kinney Road which the band took their name from. It’s just after one when we get into the city. Before heading to the houseboat where Eric and Jude live, and where we’ll be sleeping tonight, Eric takes us to this park called Gasworks Park, which is an old gasworks that they’ve now turned into a green park overlooking the lake with a great view of the Seattle skyline on the other side. Really cool place. We sit around in the sun for a bit, taking in the views and just generally chilling out.

Eric’s place is pretty amazing. They live by the marina which is in the middle of an industrial area which helps keep the price of living down for them. Their boat is more of a two story apartment floating on the water than a boat, it has no motor. I can’t believe it when we turn up, it’s one of the coolest homes I’ve ever seen. We sit upstairs out on the deck in the sun and enjoy a cold bottle of Pyramid IPA. I could sit there all day. Pure fucking heaven.

Andy is looking worse today. He looks pale and in dire need of rest. I can see him flagging and as we’re sat out on deck drinking he’s gone and lay down on the bed. Sucks to be ill on tour. THe four of us decide we’re gonna go play some mini golf over by the golf club and leave Andy in peace. After stopping by a taco truck just outside the marina Eric drives us over in his El Camino pick-up to the club, Jon sat in the front and me and Johan sat outside on the back. Feels fucking weird driving around Seattle backwards out in the open of the pick-up garnering looks from other drivers as we pass them. They have a great deal at the golf club where for eleven dollars you get a round of 18 holes on the mini golf and a pint of beer. Fucking magic.

It’s so nice being out of the van and just hanging out, doing something else outside of tour world. We have a good game, Johan winning, taking me at the last couple of holes. It was neck and neck between us but then I choked when the pressure was on. Johan was well chuffed. Jon comes in last but seems happy with his efforts. It’s around six thirty by the time we’re done and all of a sudden we’re back in tour mode. Almost forgot we had a show to play tonight. Andy is sleeping on the sofa when we get back and for a minute I wonder if he’s going to make the show at all tonight but when he wakes up he actually looks a bit better. Apparently Jude has given him so strong medicine.

On the way to the gig we stop by Guitar Centre to buy a replacement bass drum skin for the one that Bigfoot destroyed last night. The venue, The Highline, is a vegan punk venue/restaurant bar in the trendy Capitol Hill area of town. It’s a nice spot and the staff are really friendly. They give us a few beer tickets each and tell us to order what we want from the menu. It’s a good line up on the bill tonight with Jaeng and Deathraid playing with us. Eric has said that it will be a similar sort of crowd to the one in Portland last night, ie, older and a lot of people in bands, but that there should be a bit more energy from them. He is of course of the opinion that the Seattle scene is superior to that of it’s Oregon counterpart.

We set the stuff up on stage and then order some food. I order a vegan battered fish sandwich and fries. It’s really good but after eating it I feel a bit weird, almost a bit sick. I think it must be simply a case of days of eating fried food. I think I need a salad tomorrow, or soup, veggie sushi or something. I need some health simply put. After dinner we all decide to take a walk around the area since we’ve got a couple of hours to kill and we all feel a bit bloated. We bump into Eric and Jude who had taken off to get some thai food and they take us down to the neighbourhood where Elijah from Black Breath works. Would be good to see him. Not sure if he’s around though since he hasn’t been replying to Eric’s text messages. He’s always fun to see and I want to check out his hair. He’s known for having this huge ginger hippie afro but Eric told us that strangely it seems to have shrunk recently even though he hasn’t cut it.

We walk over to the record shop where he works which is this huge place full of vinyl. I walk in and I swear I hear Elijah’s voice greeting us, “Alright guys”, Johan hears it too but we don’t see him. Turns out the sound was one of us walking in on a creaking floorboard. We piss ourselves laughing since we were both convinced it was him and that is how he sounds when he talks, that kind of Beavis and Butthead tone going on. Turns out Elijah is in India with his girlfriend. Hadn’t bothered telling anyone in the band he was going, just fucked off. Classic Elijah. Eric wonders if he’ll even make it back. We all go record shopping anyway, Andy picking up a few choice hardcore cuts for cheap. I pick up a copy of Mother’s Finest’s second lp that Eric has been playing in the van. They were this really cool black rock n’ roll band from the Seventies. I soon as I heard it I thought to myself that it would be right up Jen’s street. It was only four bucks. The guy behind the counter makes me laugh. I go up with the lp and he asks, “Hi how are you doing today? Do you want a bag for that?”. The usual. I pay up and start to walk out when Andy shouts me from the racks with a punk lp that he says I need to buy, only costs three bucks, so I take it and head back to the counter. Literally a minute later. “Hi how are you doing today? Do you want a bag for that?” He’s not kidding either.

Afterwards Eric wants to pop by the bar he works in, it’s just across the road and he needs to pick up his paycheck, says he can sort us out with some free beers. Sounds good to me. The place is busy but we manage to get a booth and Eric sorts out a pitcher of Manny’s IPA. You can tell this place is one of the places to be and you get the sense that at the weekend the place is packed, full of poseurs. The beer goes down a treat and I have a nice time sitting there having a conversation with Jon and Jude about studying since all three of us are currently or soon to be back in school. She’s really friendly and easy to talk to, just like Eric. They make a great pair.

Time is getting on so we have to head back to the venue. It’s past ten and we’ve probably already missed the first band, which is a bit of a shame since someone in Portland last night told me they were really good. As we walk back up the road I say to Johan that if I’m honest, I could happily fuck the show off tonight and just hang out on Eric and Jude’s boat, chill out and watch a film or something. He couldn’t agree more. Think we’re all feeling the burn a bit. Old bastards, we’ve only done six shows…When did it get this way really?

Neil from Black Breath is at the show though meaning that we’ve checked off the whole band on this tour except Elijah. Neil looks as happy as ever, comes up and gives us all crushing hugs. Eric introduces me to a friend of his Dave, who is sat at the bar. He’s been a huge fan of Victims for years and he’s telling me how he fucked off work to come to the gig and that he’d only found out about it today. He’s well chuffed.

We did indeed miss the first band which is a bit of a bummer and Deathraid are already playing when we arrive. They sound fucking great and me and Andy stand and watch the rest of their show. The sound in here is top notch, loud but not overpowering and you can hear everything perfectly. Deathraid drive a lorry load of d-beat straight into the crowd for about twenty five minutes. Nothing new, but done really well. I guess Victims aren’t really bringing anything too original to the whole d-beat genre either, not many do, but it’s always a buzz seeing bands who do the style really well. Watching Deathraid puts me in the mood to play the show for the first time today. Thanks guys.

There is a fairly decent sized crowd in for tonight considering it’s a Wednesday, the dancefloor area is filled out. I don’t know what it is but there is just a lot more energy tonight. The crowd is really receptive, and although they’re not flying about the place, this is another 21 and over venue so to be expected, there are quite a few heads banging enthusiastically and the entire crowd seems to be smiling. Eric is stood right in front of me the whole gig banging his head, loving every second of it, he might be a bit drunk I don’t know. There is this one girl beside him who is sending a text message and he bangs her out the way, making it clear that if she wants to stand and text she should go to the back of the room. She throws the ice from her drink at his back but he doesn’t give a piss, just carries on banging his head. Nice having such an enthusiastic driver/tour manager. Not to mention good friend. We get called back on for an encore tonight and unlike the LA show we nail both songs.

Really good gig, I’m buzzing afterwards. I grab a pint from the bar and get a rush from it straight away. Feeling a bit sauced I decide to leave packing down the gear and head to the merch where Eric and Jude are helping people with their needs. I meet a bunch of friendly people who really digged the show. I’m blown away by this guy from Japan, whose name I learn is Taki. He tells me he flew here from Tokyo just to see us. I’m sure I’ve misheard the guy but he confirms that he’s here just for us. Exasperated, I ask him why. “You no come Japan”, he says completely non plussed. I give him a big hug and take him around to the rest of the band and get everyone to sign stuff for him and he asks if he can get a group photo with us. I’ve never seen anyone so happy, he keeps repeating, “This is so cool!” I feel completely humbled by Taki. It certainly puts things into perspective.

I also get talking to two of the guys from Jaeng, turns out they're from the band Gloss.  I tell them they my other band has a song on the new record which had the working title Gloss, they laugh and look pretty touched by that.  Great band.  Feel like I missed out now, should have seen Jaeng.  I'll have to check out some of their stuff online.

We hang out for a little while longer before loading out the gear and heading back to the boat. Jude has sorted some beers and snacks and when we get back to their lovely home we sit around munching on avocado oil chips and hummus, talking American politics until four am.

Today was a good day.