Wednesday, June 15, 2016


I lie awake in Kev’s bed, watching the tv as Kev sleeps uneasily beside me. Thinking about the long day ahead, but pretty relaxed about it. After we play in Nottingham tonight we head straight for Heathrow airport for the seven am flight. Symsey and his gang had the same deal after they played London on Friday and I remember thinking how much that sucked for them then, knowing we’d be in the same position in a couple of days. It’s just sleep though, you can always handle more than you give yourself credit for. Sleep and playing shows are rarely on the same boat.

We take breakfast at the Waiting Room today, sat outside in the sun eating bagels and drinking black coffee. Miles is travelling with us in the van today, he’s coming to the show tonight and then continuing up to his home town of Barnsley for a few days. He’s been in Australia for a while and now he’s back he’s homeless, drifting from sofa to sofa whilst working a few different jobs. Not a situation I envy but he seems ok with it, he’s talking about moving up to Leeds. I’m amazed by the fact that he’s never been to Nottingham.

We can’t get into the Bird’s Nest until midday but we’re in no rush, we don’t have to be at the venue in Nottingham until six according to Andy EGS, although the guys have invited us to a garden barbeque at Jeremie’s place. That would have been really nice to attend, I was there last year with Polly, we had a punks and kids get together at his place with some friends from Nottingham, something that would be nice to make into a yearly tradition. Anyway, with a four hour drive and London traffic to navigate, making it for the barbeque is very unlikely. After picking up the gear from the Nest and dropping most of it off back at Marv’s studio, we say goodbye to the Deptford crew and head over to DIY Space with Kev to pick up a speaker cabinet that Steve from Molluch had left when they played here a few months ago. We’re punk DHSing it up to Nottingham for them, and using it at the gig tonight. We all help each other out, as it should be.

They’re having a clothes swap at DIY Space today, would have been fun to have a deek at, but time pressing we say bye to Kev and make our way north. Kev is looking forward to a well earned relaxing day at Ellie’s. He’s put shows on three nights in a row now and is understandably knackered. It takes a while to get out of London of course, and with me and Gordon sat up front nattering away we miss a couple of turns, which delays things a little. It’s great being able to catch up with Gordon properly though. I’ve kind of been looking forward to this journey today since I knew it would give us the chance to have a good talk, something we don’t get the chance to do all that much anymore. He’s still one of my best mates and we’ve been through so much together in Speedhorn, but life pulls you in different directions and that’s the way it is.

We have a really nice chat during the four hour journey whilst most of the guys snooze wearily in the back of the van. There is a lot of talk about Speedhorn, of course, but not only that, about life in general. About work, ambitions and what we’re hoping to do with the next few years, kids, marriage, the lot. I was Gordon’s best man at his wedding a couple of years ago, and he and Katy are very important people in my life, it’s too bad we don’t get to see each other more than we do. Gords tells me certain things about Speedhorn today that don’t come as any surprise, but it’s nice to hear that in general he’s really happy with how it’s going. We talk about the last record we made, and how in hindsight maybe we should have started a new witha new name before releasing that album. I’m kind of torn on that one. We’re both really proud of that album, and it was a bit of a departure from Speedhorn’s past, but at the same time we finally got the band to where I wanted it to be musically and I’m kind of glad that we put that out as our last album. At the same time, Gordon is right in suggesting that had we started with a new name then then the album would probably have had a bigger lift and we might have carried on longer. But I don’t know, it was probably time to call it a day anyway. As soon as we’d released that album I knew I didn’t want to write an album long distance again, it was far too demanding flying fucking Ryanair to practice over a the period of a year.

Gordon tells me that as much as he’s enjoying Speedhorn again, he still wants to start a new band, do something different. Something which he doesn’t have to run, where he can just play. I totally get that. That’s how I felt when I first started playing in Victims. It felt like such a relief to just play in a band. But of course, after a couple of years of just being a passenger it’s time to step up, and Victims is a band that demands at least a little from everyone. As it should be.

With all this gabbing, we miss the turn for Nottingham off the A14 and get stuck behind a horse transporter on a small narrow lane for about twenty minutes. It’s a bit of a pain in the balls but we get to see some of the English countryside up close. We get to Nottingham just before six, although it takes a while to localise the venue. We played here in 2009 on my first trip to the UK with Victims, but the venue is very anonymous, hidden above a pub on a one way street. We get to the right address anyway and I jump out of the van to find the place when I hear Jeremie shouting me from down the street, big smile on his face as always. Andy, Gords and Steve are just behind him beginning the load out into the small alleyway beside the venue. It’s good to see these guys again. It’s a great feeling organising shows with friends. I’ve said it fuck knows how many times but the thing I love more than anything about playing DIY shows is that in every town you get to meet good friends. And tonight that is very much the case with EGS and Skiplickers playing, plus a bunch of other friends who live in Nottingham coming to the show. Shame we’ll have to leave right after the gig…

We load the gear up three flights of stairs to the small function room above the cafe/bar above the pub. Henry Molluch from the 539 Collective who booked the show tonight has tubs of warm kale stew with him and Jeremie has brought a bag with a few leftover beers from the barbeque. The food is great, and this bottle of Hot Mint sauce takes the fucker over the edge. Absolutely stunning. I hadn’t planned on drinking at all tonight, the thought of feeling booze groggy at the airport in the middle of the night not particularly appealing, but it’s pretty balmy in here and the early evening sun is shining through the windows of the cafe. A bottle of San Miguel hits the sweet spot, it turns out. There’s even room for a second.

My old childhood friend James turns up and we catch up for a bit, always great to see him. We had our first band together, Morphine. We’ve both come a long way since then. James tells me that his band Grey Hairs has just recorded a new record. Looking forward to that. Steve Molluch is also here, he’s very happy about his cab being returned. He’s always smiling anyway, always got a cheeky look on his face.

After eating we take a walk around the city centre in the last of the daylight. It’s a very pleasant June evening here in Robin Hood town. There are people sat at tables outside of all the pubs and I could easily take a place at any one of them. How I now wish we were flying back later tomorrow. I’d seen Gords and Steve outside the pub beside the venue earlier drinking two of the most gorgeous looking pints of pilsner I’ve ever seen. Fucking gagging. But with two in the system already I knew I’d have to leave it. Gords follows us as we stroll around, we take a deek at the castle where of course there is a pub with a load of people sat outside enjoying themselves. We went to this very pub when we were here with DB a couple of years ago. It claims it’s the oldest pub in Nottingham, almost nine hundred years old. That’s quite amazing really. Funny, I swear the pub beside the venue had the same claim written on it’s facade too..

Anyway, time getting on, we head back to the venue, I don’t want to miss any of the bands tonight. Gords heads back to his van for a bit of kip so he’s rested up enough to catch us play later and then drive us three hours to Heathrow. When we get back the Skiplickers guys are hanging outside, I clock Weird Chris first in the gang mulling around outside. It’s good to see him and Bry. They ask how the London shows were, I tell them they were good. The DIY Space show was really fun, lots of people I tell them. “Did you enjoy some cucumber water?” snorts Weird Chris. He’s an outspoken critic of London in general and has previously made his feeling clear about DIY Space. God knows. To my amusement Bry says that he’s played there a few times and really liked the venue, Chris doesn’t look convinced. We head inside just as the first band start playing. You wouldn’t have known it since the cafe bar still has music playing, which seems a bit cack but then I guess there isn’t a bar upstairs and they want to keep people here drinking. I head up at the faint sound of drums and I’m a little surprised to see EGS already into their set. The small room is almost full. Henry sat by the door gives me a satisfied nod as I shuffle into the room.

EGS are absolutely superb tonight. The majority of the material they play is from their newly recorded album. It sounds fucking brilliant! Can’t wait to hear it when it’s out. Sometimes you forget what a fucking drummer Steve is. I mean, you don’t forget, he’s Steve from Heresy, an absolute legend, but he’s so unassuming, at least when he’s sober. I can’t take my eyes of him whilst they play, just a phenomenal drummer. But then Andy and Gords are both pretty fucking masterful on their instruments too. It’s an absolute pleasure watching them play, I wanting to just get up on stage and play now. Andy takes time out between songs to mention the seven inch they’re selling to help fund Victims, and then he speaks about how the song from it is about testosterone foaming bullies who infringe people’s lives with violence. He notes that this very town has it’s fair share of scum who thrive on making other’s lives miserable. “Fuck em, just fuck em”, he shakes his head solemly before furiously screaming the lyrics to the song whilst playing at breakneck speed. Blows me away, and at the same time leaves me pondering what he’d said.

Gords also takes some time later in the set to touch upon a poignant subject, namely the sudden passing of an absolute legend of the scene, Brandon Ferrell. Brandon was really young and suddenly, heartbreakingly left the world, leaving young twins and a wife behind. Vik was friends with him and he’s been really down about it. A lot of people have. It’s so sad. Brandon was an amazingly talented musician and songwriter, leaving a superb catalogue behind him with bands like Direct Control, Wasted Time and Government Warning, to name but a few. Nobody seems to really know what happened yet but it’s left a lot of people gutted, he’s one of those who had friends all over the world, many of my friends among them. Gords gives a heartfelt speech about how horrible it is to lose someone so important from the scene, people our age who just, die. After some gentle applause EGS go into their last song, a longish song from the new record that has a hint of Killing Joke about it. Brilliant way to end the set.

I’d been really looking forward to seeing Obstuct, who were added quite late to the bill, I really like their lp. But unfortunately their set is hindered by various technical problems tonight. The crowd is in full attendance and willing but it doesn’t quite get going. First off the one guitarist breaks a string, and not having a spare guitar takes a painfully long time changing a string, which drags out over three or four songs. He doesn’t look rushed in the slightest. It’s not too bad since they have two guitars anyway, but then the singer’s mic lead starts cutting out without him seeming to notice so they do a couple of songs with only three of the five members playing. They are really good though and the songs they do all play together sound great. The bass player has a great Totalitär t-shirt too. The thing that surprises me is how young they all look. And they also have a young kid with them, obviously a mate travelling with them, who is done up in all the right skinhead attire. I must be at least fifteen years older than this crew. Weird, I always assume everyone is the same age as me. Before they started I’d caught up with Avi, the Dry Heaves singer a little. Always a pleasure. He’s driving Obstruct and he tells me they’d came down from a Glasgow show the night before. That’s a good old drive.

Skiplickers, and Bry in particular, are as spot on as ever. Just a really solid d-beat band, but Bry’s persona gives them something extra. What a great fucking line up tonight is, a pleasure to be involved. Bry says between songs that the first time they played this venue was in 2008, which surprises me a little since I didn’t realise they’d been going that long. I think they’ve only released two seven inches in that time! “We probably played this song that night anyway,” says Bry as they blast into the last banger of the set. Proper fucking good!

We get set up as quickly as possible once Skiplickers are done. The room isn’t all the full by the time we start with Death Do Us Part, I’d suspected this would be the case, but by the time we get a few songs into the set the room is absolutely full. I love floor shows. I can only see the front row of people, where Jeremie is stood in the middle, watching Johan’s mic stand, as is Steve Molluch who is clenching his fist, lapping it up. I spot James just hidden in the second row, keeping a solid eye on me, as well as Gords Speedhorn stood up on a stool near the back as well as Gords EGS who is stood up high at the back taking photos. It sounds absolutely perfect when we play, the set just plays itself and leaves me the freedom to just flail around and enjoy every second of it. About half way through the set, as people are rolling around on hands holding them aloft, a wave of people come crashing on the “stage” and fall into Johan. I notice Jeremie picking them all up and placing his foot at the bottom of Johan’s mic stand to try and prevent Johan getting any teeth knocked out during the rest of the set. It’s a really, really fun show. I’m a little disappointed when I see Andy giving me the cutthroat sign afterwards as people are shouting for more, I guess he’s feeling fucked.

Jon is chuffed afterwards, he comes up and says some old boy had approached him as he was packing up and said, “I saw Discharge five times before they were shit and they blew me away. Tonight, you guys blew me away”. Strong words. As I head downstairs to take care of merch I pass Henry in the doorway looking chuffed, “Sold out on a Sunday night, can’t ask for more than that!”

I hang out downstairs with Gords and James, sweating my ass off whilst trying to participate in the conversation. Jon arrives with a perfectly chilled can of Bulmer’s cider in his paw. It’s about the best thing I’ve ever tasted. It’s enough with a sip though, we’re leaving soon and I can’t be arsed stopping for constant piss breaks on the way to the airport. The night seems to end very suddnenly and I don’t really get the chance to hang out with the Nottingham crew afterwards. I chat a little while to Kellp Apple, who has moved here from London since we last met, she seems to be doing well, seems happy. It’s quite nice to stand and talk about other things than just punk. She’s asking about how the family are and things went with school. She does take the time to bash the whole Temples thing though, she’s been an active combatant to the whole sham online, calling the asshole out who has fucked over a lot of people. Good on her. We, like many other friends, have been shafted by that guys ego. Although hopefully this weekend has gone some way to making us some of that lost money back. I really can’t afford to do this and lose money, which I do simply by coming away since most of the extra work available to me being a student, is at the weekends. So I’m double fucked. On that note, Andy EGS gives me fifty quid from sales of the limited seven inch he did for tonight. By that, I am truly, truly humbled. What a beautiful gesture.

It feels like it’s been a little too brief, Nottingham. It feels like before we know it everyone is packed up and ready to go. Gords EGS has made us some of his infamous keyrings, custom Victims ones. With that as a parting gift we get the van around to the venue and make to go. I’m still wearing my soaked through Paranoid t-shirt when we leave, I make a mental note to change that when we make a stop for petrol. I sit up front with Gords and chat for a while. He tells me it’s weird seeing me playing in another band, but at the same time he really loves it. He’s raving about this weekend, he says he’s had a really good time watching us every night. It’s been great hanging out with him. I’m so grateful to him for helping us out.

When we pull over for a gas stop I change tops, it’s fucking cold now and I’m freezing as I switch. I head into the garage shop and pick up a couple of packets of crisps for supper. We chat for a little while longer once back on the M1 until Gords kindly tells me to get my head down and kip. There’s a pillow laying on the front seat that Gords tells me belongs to Paul Cook, the Sex Pistols drummer. He’s been out in Gords’ van recently. Funny that. Cookie’s pillow comes in just handy. I close my eyes and the next time I open them time has moved on three hours and we’re pulling into Heathrow airport. It’s now three am. Check in for our flight begins at five. We line up to give Gords some hugs and thank him again. He says he’s going to give heading straight back to Cardiff a go since Katy is home for the night before heading off to Leeds for her next job.

I’m fucking freezing as we walk towards the departure hall. It’s the tiredness more than the temperature itself I think, although the we’re all shivering as we walk across the road. With not much to do, we print out our boarding cards and find some floor to sleep on. The lights in the hall were dimmed just nicely as we entered but of course, as soon as we lay down they brighten. I’m not sure if I get any more sleep, it’s hard to tell. The others seem to be clocked out though.

We wake at five and head through security after dropping our bags and we’re on the flight to Oslo at seven. I sleep pretty much the whole way. We have only a short stop there of forty five minutes and we’re on the short flight from Oslo to Stockholm at ten am. I decide from there on in there is no point in sleeping any more and order the first coffee of the day, the first of many that will be needed for the day ahead. It’s Sweden National Day today and everyone is off, including Polly, who will want to play when I get home.

I sit by the window next to a couple of women. The middle aged woman sat in the middle seat pulls out her laptop and begins to type furiously, she’s completely immersed in her work. She doesn’t look up once during the entire flight, not during take off, not as the wheels touch back down. I can’t help but look what is so engrossing. I’m a bit taken aback by it all. It seems very much like she’s writing a letter to her husband, Gustav, telling him that their marriage is over. It’s a very depressing letter, full of self loathing. I notice the woman in the aisle seat has put her book to rest and is now looking horrified at the woman’s laptop. The letter writer is hardly being bashful about writing this thing. Poor Gustav.

Fucking weird end to a hazy journey home.

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