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.
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.