Monday, September 4, 2017


I have to admit it, the sound of a fart cracks me up. Properly cracks me up. I’m not proud of it, I’m almost forty years old and the sound of human beings releasing wind tickles the shit out of me. So the fart orchestra in the room this morning had me giggling like a school child, especially when Jon got up for a piss and let off a proper comedy trombone style trump that echoed off the bathroom wall tiles. Of course, Johan lying in the bed opposite laughing only got me going all the more. It must have been the hot sauce on the grub last night I guess.

My throat is feeling worse today. I can sense the full blown cold in the post. Johan gave me these sucking tablets in the car yesterday that are supposed to stave off potential illnesses but they don’t seem to have done fuck all. It’s still early when I first awake but with no real stress to get going today I decide not to stress about the fact I can’t get back to sleep and just enjoy lying in bed listening to the symphony of farts.

Johan, Andy and I head down for breakfast before it finishes at eleven, leaving Jon in bed who says he’ll get up later. The breakfast isn’t much to write home about but being that it’s free it gets the thumbs up. Wouldn’t have been too chuffed to pay the advertised six euros for it otherwise. The coffee from the machine tastes like it’s never seen a bean for one thing. We’ve got an hour before we need to head back to the venue and pick up the gear and the car so we decide to take a walk over the river to Kreuzberg and go for a wander, hoping to find some decent java and maybe a record shop on the way.

We don’t find any stores but we do come across a trendy looking vegan cafe next to Görlitzer Park. I’m in the mood for sitting down in the sun at a table outside and people watching for a bit but Andy wants to walk. I would be most happy to sit and enjoy my coffee but I can sense it’s a no go trying to persuade Andy otherwise. As it turns out, we’re better off getting the drinks to go. The staff are pretty stressed out and bickering with each other and it becomes apparent that we would have been waiting ages had we sat outside. The coffee hits the fucking bullseye though. We walk a few more blocks and then turn back towards the hostel. We meet Jon outside who has been down to the shop to get some Club Mate. He’s looking pretty fresh considering he’s back on the booze again after a two month pause but he’s apparently forgotten his toothbrush, his breath is humming.

The Ekranoplan guys are sat outside the Jugendhaus drinking coffee with the girl running the place today. For some reason there is some math rock band blasting out of the PA in the venue. Nobody in there listening to it, it’s just blaring for no apparent reason. Does my head in as we load out the gear. Thankfully there isn’t much of it and it doesn’t take long. I mention it to Christian the Ekranoplan bassist and he just smiles, “What were you expecting? Jazz?” A bit of Coltrane would have been just the ticket I tell him. I sit around talking to Adrian for a while over a cup of coffee about music and upcoming shows and stuff, he books a festival in Jena that sounds like it would be a fun thing to play on, maybe next year. Last time I was in Jena was with Jen’s old band Misdemeanor, nice place if I remember right. We drink up and exchange goodbye hugs and thank them again for lending us all of their gear and then get going. Nice bunch of guys. I hope we get to cross paths with them again.

Johan drives us out of the city which I’m glad for since I feel a bit too tired to deal with the stress of driving in Berlin traffic, but it turns out it’s actually not too bad today. The only time we get held up is by some old age pensioner on a kick bike in the middle of the road, she must be about ninety years old. Some of the avenues in the city just seem to head straight into the horizon, huge straight roads. We take Prenzlauer Allee pretty much all the way out of the city on to the autobahn and then I take over and drive the rest of the way to the Hafenklang in Hamburg.

We arrive early hoping to find our dear friend Daniel waiting for us but he’s not working tonight. It was he who booked us on this show and it’s this show we planned the weekend around. He’s taking the night off today though and coming down later to hang out instead. We dump the gear in the venue and then take the car over to the hotel we’ve had booked for us tonight. We assumed we’d be staying in the band flat above the venue but a hotel will do, and it’s only a ten minute walk away. We drive over and find that the hotel, which is called the Kogge is just a couple of doors down from Bar Otto, the infamous rowdy punk bar just a couple of streets south of the Reeperbahn. When we pull up outside we find the hotel is actually another punk pub with some rooms above it and sat outside drinking beer are an array of punks wearing various American punk t-shirts, “What is this? Hardcore Hotel?” Andy scoffs. We park up, trying our best to avoid the piles of broken glass in the road and then head inside to find a friendly young woman behind the bar. Jon takes care of the check in papers whilst the rest of us take a look around outside at potential eating establishments. Dinner at the club isn’t for another three and half hours and we could do with a snack. When we go back inside Jon has the keys and we start to head off in search of the rooms. The bartender says to Jon to not forget to tell his bandmates about the free schnapps, Jon looks at us all chuffed “Yeah there’s a complimentary shot upon arrival boys”, he’s obviously put his away already. The rest of us politely decline.

Andy takes a single room upstairs leaving the rest of us with a choice of rooms on the ground floor, which are through a door to right of the bar just next to the stairs going down to the bogs. Pre-room inspection I’d agreed to share a double with Jon and Johan would take the other room and when we open the door I’m pleasantly surprised. It’s nice and light and the interior is pretty cool, they have an old Marshall top as a side table next to the bed. When we open the door a little more and walk in we find that there isn’t much more to walk in to though. The rest of the room is the double bed and it’s lying right up next to a big window with the curtains drawn wide open and there are punters from the pub sat eating at tables just a few centimeters away on the other side of the thin glass. It’s basically a knocking shop converted into a hotel bedroom. We piss ourselves laughing at it but whilst I’m laughing I’m thinking that I’ll probably end up taking the top bunk in Johan’s room, which is a grey, dark cupboard on the other other side of the wall from this one. We start talking about how much money Jon would require to sleep naked in the bed with the curtains open tonight. The thought of breakfast eating punters being confronted by that sight is just beautiful.

We head down the stairs next to Bar Otto to the harbour front and look for somewhere to eat. With the sun shining and there being about five hours to go until we play I decide I’ll have a beer with the guys, feels like too nice an opportunity to waste. We find a beer garden bar looking out over the water that is selling pizza and an assortment of locally brewed ales and decide that this is the spot. As Andy says, it’s dangerously tempting to just sit here the rest of the night and forget about the fact we have a gig to play later. But time soon catches up with us and it is indeed time for us to head back to the venue and find out what equipment we’re going to be borrowing tonight. We’ve been lucky to have the Ekranoplan guys with us this last couple of days but I don’t know what we’re going to end up with tonight or what the show is even going to be like. It’s part of some town festival or something and the line up is deliberately diverse. We’ve been told that there is a techno punk band opening up, then us in the middle and then a well known Deutsche Punk band playing last. Andy checked them out on Wikipedia earlier and the Swedish translation of the members names from the German page was brilliant. On vocals, Handsome John Köln, guitar Kompanjonen and on bass Räkna Disco. That’s particularly funny in Swedish.

The Deutschepunk guys are there when we get back and they seem really nice, a bit older and they look like they are going to play for an hour and half, as we’ve been warned by the in-house manager earlier, but they’re happy to lend us their gear. It looks good at first glance. On Jon’s side of the stage there’s a Marshall stack, there’s a decent looking Mapex drumkit, an Ampeg head with mini cab. But I have a hard time locating the amp on my side of the stage. And then I realise the little brown box that looks like a satchel is mine. To be honest, it’s a beautiful little thing, some old Ampeg speaker box, but it’s fifteen watts. There is an Orange Tiny Terror to go through it but I can not see for the life of me how I’m going to get a sound out of this piddly little thing. A little worried I head upstairs and look for some coffee.

We tuck into dinner when it arrives around seven. The Deutschepunk fellas certainly have a jovial way about them and they seem to spend most of their time laughing. Räkna Disco looks like he’s in Dexy’s Midnight Runners and he comes over for some chit chat. He tells us that their set is about and hour and half long, but then that’s without all the stage talk. I can’t really imagine how I’m going to be able to hack listening to them for that long. Any band for that long.. Indeed when I head downstairs after dinner I find the drummer writing their set list out and it’s so long he’s had to gaffa tape two pieces of paper together to get them all on. “Forty songs! And they’re not all thirty seconds long”, he laughs. Fuck me…

I head out into the main room looking for wifi info so I can sit somewhere and finish writing for the day. There is this tough looking short lady who works behind the bar, I decide to ask her for the password. “Wifi? Are you in the band?” I confirm that I am indeed in the band. “Noooo”, she says taken aback but laughing, “Really?”. Do I not look like a punk or something? When she realises I’m not some random customer trying to scam free wifi she gives me the info, still laughing. Next time I see her she’s throwing some old punk, some silly looking sod with big sideburns and a pork pie hat, out of the venue for being too pissed.

Jon and I decide to leave the merch and head out for some air before the show. It’s dark out now and we walk along the harbour to the Submarine which is a museum and permanently docked. One time we played here and Stachel was with us and we all took a look around onboard. There is something strangely ominous looking about it in the dark. We carry on walking and get talking to some guy who is running a sightseeing service where you drive around in custom made mini hotrods that are the size of go-carts. He tells us they can get up to 100 kilometers an hour. We just happened to spot them and go check out what the cars were, we hadn’t seen the guy in the garage and didn’t mean to get sucked into a conversation with him about them. He was nice enough though. Thanking him for the chat we walk back along the street towards the venue and when we pass the dark steps up to Bar Otto we hear a dog barking and some woman screaming, as well as what sounds like a fight going on between a bunch of guys. We decide we’ll take the other route back to the hotel later.

It’s good to see Daniel when we get back. He’s sat on the door helping stamp people’s wrists since there is now quite a current of people flowing into the place. Jon walks past and Daniel grabs him at first without realising who it is. The next second they’re embraced in a friendly hug. Our merch is set up right next to the door so we can steal a bit of a chat with him when things calm down a bit. The techno punk band, 100 Blumen, are playing now. It’s not what I thought, or what that description had led me to think anyway, I actually like the sound of it. It’s heavy and dark and the singer who looks like Jerry A has a great scream on him. It sounds a bit like Killing Joke at times and other times full on heavy punk. There room is packed full though so I can’t really get into the crowd to see much of the band so make my way back to the merch to hang out with the guys.

There are people constantly going in and out of the venue and Andy is stood to the side of our merch table stretching his arms back and forth, elbows out straight, getting ready to play, without really noticing the people behind him. At one point the bartender lady walks right behind him just as he thrust his elbows out and I lurch over to stop him hitting her in the face, but as it turns out his elbows would have wafted above her head anyway.

As the punters stream out of the venue for air when the opening band are done we fight against the current to get through to the backstage room. I’m a bit nervous about what kind of sound I’m going to have tonight and want to get up on stage as quickly as possible to try and work it out. Johan helps me with it but from the second we turn it on I can tell it’s going to be a struggle. You can get a distortion sound of it, my Blues Driver giving it all it’s got to push it towards my usual Victims sound, but there is just zero bottom end or body to the thing. We speak to the sound guy and agree that we’ll just have to try and push it through the monitors as much as we can. When line check is done I give the guitar one last blast and shout to Johan who is stood with his back to the crowd facing Andy, “Sounds alright I guess”. Johan just laughs. Who the fuck am I trying to kid really?

Despite the satchel amp I’m still pumped for the show, or maybe it’s having that little thing on stage with me that is actually spurring me to give it that little extra tonight. The crowd is packed in. It’s a lot of people. Jerry A is stood right beside me and he seems psyched as fuck about us. The first two songs go off with a blast and it really does feel like we’ll be ok. It sounds good, my guitar sounds okay when it’s in the mix of everything else and although the crowd looks like it’s mainly here for the Deutschepunk lot they seem to be digging us anyway. And then everything starts to go to shit. Proper fucking shit.

We’ve had two great shows so far this weekend. When we start playing the second block of the set tonight I start getting the distinct feeling we’re not going to be putting tonight’s show in the same category. We’re playing Victims in Blood Part 5, which is the first time my guitar goes solo in the set. Bare naked with just Andy playing the drums behind me the guitar, which is supposed to be chugging along during the breakdown section of song before the big end comes in sounds thin as fuck. It sounds like I’m playing reggae up there. To make matters worse Andy’s floor tom has inexplicably fell over so there’s none of the bass from that either, he’s just tapping along on his hi-hat with a worried smile on his coupon and obviously being distracted he forgets to do the big cymbal hit that marks the end section of the song and it just kind of carries on plodding along, confusing the fuck out of all of us. Okay so it’s a fuck up, but we recover for the next song as I play the intro to the new song in the set, seamlessly from the end of V5. My guitar still sounds like a transistor radio but when it all comes back in it sounds heavy and the crowd are going for it. What I’m hoping is just one little blip is soon forgotten and we carry on pounding through the set. It sounds good too and I’m really going for it on stage. When I snap a string during the first verse V6 about half way through the set though it slowly continues to go tits up from that point on.

For a start the broken string is just buzzing along through the rest of V6, sounds like wind. And then I have to change a string to the side of the stage whilst Jon gently strums along an AC/DC riff whilst talking to the crowd, country style like. Oh how I miss Adrian’s backup guitar now. Obviously stressed for time, I don’t want to spend five minutes stretching the new string in so somewhere in the ballpark of acceptable I signal that I’m ready. Of course, after a long break the worst thing we can now do is play the other new song, which is by far the slowest song of the set. As soon as we start playing it I realise we should have just skipped it and played We’re Fucked. And of course, my guitar detunes and it sounds like a bag of bollocks.

We’re Fucked and Scars are next and they go okay and then Jon introduces the last set of songs, presenting an old one from the first record, Rewind and Forward. The crowd cheer at this and I start the opening riff, only to have missed that Johan was still tuning his bass and is nowhere near the mic. Johan motions with his hand that he’s not ready so I stop, assuming Andy has seen him, but he hasn’t and starts banging away on the d-beat oblivious. Johan has to go up to the kit and wave in his face to make him stop. Fucking right brass. Still, it happens. We start again and get through the thirty second song. Then Andy goes straight into the big tom roll that starts Your Life is Red and stops at the end of the first chorus. Just stops. We stand there ringing out as Andy looks completely scoobied and not knowing what’s about to happen I just wait for him. He starts the big drum roll again and we all come back in, none of us sure what we’re doing. We kind of stumble back into the next chorus, skipping the second verse completely until we come to the stop again.. Cue another big drum roll and the exact same thing again. We’re basically just playing the chorus, stopping, and playing it all over again. On repeat as if we’re stuck on a loop. It must sound ridiculous.

Thankfully My Eyes and This is the End go by without any more fuck ups and we can just get off stage. Normally even during the slackest of gigs Jon will come over and try to be positive but he just comes running over as fast as he can with an embarrassed “Whooo-hooo-hoooooo”. Thank fuck that is over is all I can think. We pack down and hide in the backstage room.

As we’re sat there cooling down with a beer, performing an autopsy of the gig some guy walks in holding a Sirens lp and asks if we can sign it for him. Johan asks, “What do you want us to write? “Sorry”?” We all laugh but it seems to go over the guy’s head and he starts telling us how good it was to see us again after five years. I know most of the time you’re a lot more sensitive to the fuck ups on stage as a band member committing the fuck ups but surely he couldn’t have missed the train wreck of the second half of the gig? Perception is a peculiar thing indeed.

After the guy leaves I decide to make my way out into the venue and keep Jon company at the merch table. Before reaching him some guy wearing sunglasses blocks my path, some older pissed up guy who is laughing his tits off and obviously steamboats, “Hey man great show!” I thank him and then try to carry on but he persists, “Do you like Brutal Truth? I love em, yeaaaaah!!!” and with that walks off laughing. Fuck knows. Jon is sat there with a couple of bottles of beer and before long Johan and Andy have joined us and we sit there having a drink and a laugh. Sometimes you just gotta. Before long Jon is pissed up and he’s sitting at the now vacant entrance table, stopping every punter that comes in to check their stamp, laughing his ass off every time.

Jerry A and the gang are stood selling merch beside us and we get on with them just fine. Turns out Jerry is a big fan. He says it looked really strange me up on stage going wild with as he called it, “A little radio behind you”. Never thought about that, must have looked like a right tool. The tit with the sideburns and pork pie hat has somehow found his way back in here and he’s stood dancing with his eyes closed in front of the merch table. The Deutsche Punk band do indeed play for almost two hours, they’re not all that bad, pretty good to be fair, a lot of their songs and especially the singer reminds me of Leatherface, which is a very good thing in my book. But still, two hours. When they finally finish and we head to the backstage room to get our gear and head off somewhere else I bump into the singer and he asks me, genuinely confused, “So you fly to Germany from Sweden just to play for thirty minutes?” Fuck knows what he’d make of DB…

We chat with the guys for a bit and then get our stuff together and leave. We head back to Hardcore Hotel and the bar is buzzing. Some dj playing garage rock loudly and plenty of drunk people. It’s around one am but there is absolutely no point in trying to get to sleep in the room next door right now. Besides, we’re hungry. We walk up to the Reeperbahn in search of falafel again, thinking that’s probably our best bet since the food joints next to the hotel were all closed. I remember when I first came to Hamburg as a twenty year old I thought the Reeperbahn was really fascinating and exotic but it is in fact fucking horrible. It’s dirty and full of bright lights, misery and drunk tourists shouting. There are some great bars and music places to find in the streets above and below it though. For now we just make our way as quick as we can to the first falafel place we can find. It’s quiet enough when we do find somewhere and the food is pretty good although impossible to keep in one piece and I end up covered in sauce. Somehow Jon ends up not paying for his grub and just saunters out of the place after eating.

We’re heading back to hotel thinking we’ll grab a last beer in there, it’s two thirty and I figure it would be nice to be able to literally crawl to bed from the barstool when the time comes. But just as we turn the corner onto our street we bump into Jerry A and the gang and they convince us to come with them to another place called The Gun Club. They promise us it’s a chilled out bar but I’m wary of the name, can’t be arsed with any club at this point in the evening, I’ve only had a couple of beers and I’m getting tired. Turns out though that it is one of those great bars of St. Pauli, set in the cellar and pretty anonymous from the outside, you’d never find it without an insider tip. And when we walk in we find the Hafenklang crew there and a long narrow smoky bar filled with punks and lots of great stoner rock being played by the dj. Johan orders some beers in for us with the band cash and I get my lips around a beautiful bottle of IPA. Jon is sat there waiting for the White Russian he’s ordered and I clock the barmaid making three of them. I ask him if he’s ordered drinks for us, knowing fine well I don’t want to start drinking spirits but he looks non plussed. “She just asked me if I wanted cream or milk is all”, he shouts over the music. She places the three drinks in front of him and totally baffled he makes his way through them. Amazingly she figures by our reactions that she’d made a mistake with the order and she only charges him for the one drink, despite the fact he’s banged the other two down anyway. The fucker is on a roll today!

The beer is good but I’m struggling to get it down, tiredness taking over me. I can tell Andy is a bit sauced up though by the amount he’s talking. We have a good chat stood up against the wall facing the bar though. One of the guys from the Hafenklang crew orders a round of shots in for us and few others but I shy away from it knowing fine well my head will pay for it in the morning. I feel like a twat for declining but I know someone will drink it anyway. The other guys happily oblige though. Me and Johan crack up when Andy takes the shot in his hand and asks what is, and then we he goes to sniff it he ends up dipping his nose right in it.

It’s not long after that we decide to call it a night. It’s gone three and I need to get closer to bed. We head back to the hotel and I’m contemplating sitting with Jon in the bar for one last one as it’s a lot calmer in here now, although the music is still loud, but sense prevails and I realise that the reality of that beer won’t live up to the idea of it. We walk through the door to our rooms and I tell Jon sorry, but I’m crashing in the other room with Johan, knowing fine well I’ll be awoken by the breakfast guests sat a couple of feet away from the bed in about four hours time. Jon understands and it doesn’t matter to him. That fucker could sleep through an atomic bomb...

Saturday, September 2, 2017


Didn’t sleep all that much during the night, woke up a few times for a piss and my throat is starting to scratch. I had a mild pressure headache all day yesterday and now it’s moved on to the throat, so I guess I’m getting a cold or something. The moist, dusty room probably not helping. Still, glad I brought my sleeping bag. The other three guys must have been a bit chilly in the night. I wake up again around eight thirty and can’t back to sleep after that. The fact that I have to write to my seminar leader at uni and explain my absence today is playing on my mind a bit. I hate the fact that anything to do with school, or any type of authority leaves me feeling like a kid. Like I have a fear of being told off. Instead of just writing saying I’m away with my band and can’t make it I write that my daughter is sick and I have to stay home. I’m forty next year. Pathetic really.

I get up for a shower. There is no door and a huge cobweb hanging from the roof of it. Apart from that it’s a nice, warm shower. I don’t have a towel either but find a little polishing rag that is in a cleaning bucket in the hall and use that. We all begin to stir and ready ourselves to go downstairs for breakfast. I ask Johan how the sleeping bag he took from the pile on the floor was, “I tried not to think about it”, was his reply.

When we go downstairs Crust Frog is tidying up cables in the gig room and breakfast is waiting for us on the table. The coffee and rolls with assorted vegan pastes is most welcome. Feeling good today despite the sparse amount of sleep and my shoe which reeks of beer after getting drenched last night. We go pick up the car and then we make a trip over to the Buchenwald memorial museum which is the forest just outside of town. Froggy comes with us, he tells me he’s brought a lot of bands here.

I’ve never been to any of the concentration camp sites before, to say the feeling is heavy as we drive down the “Blood Road” leading through the forest up to the camp is an understatement. It’s hard to get your head around the sheer scale of the place, and the horror that has taken place here. The camp itself looks out over a huge valley, you can see for miles and miles, there is no possibility that the surrounding villages were blind to what happened here. We don’t talk much as we walk around the place, and Jon is holding back the tears as we look at the various reminders of horrifying murder. And to think Nazi’s are heiling on the streets again. Humankind certainly can get it horribly wrong, again and again it seems. As hard as it was to come here, I’m glad we did. It’s important that these places stand as a reminder of what happens when power turns the powerless against each other. Sad that that is relevant as much now as ever.

We drop Crust Frog back in town, his name still cracks me up, thank him for everything and head off to Berlin. The journey isn’t quite as bad for traffic today as it was on the way here, but it’s the exact same boring trip back as the way we came nonetheless. I must have played Berlin ten or eleven times throughout the years and I don’t think I’ve played the same venue twice. Tonight is no different. It’s a Jugendhaus place somewhere on the other side of Friedrichshain, right off of Karl Marx Allee hidden away behind some huge theatre. Behind the place is a wasteland with the S Bahn train running across on the other side of it. Really strange being in the middle of Berlin and finding a place this hidden and quiet. Our friend Eleanor from the band To What End? arrives a little while after we turn up, she’s been living here for nine years and she’s never heard of the place either. It’s a bit of a worry since it feels like a bit of a bigger club and the ticket price is set at 15 euros which feels pretty steep for a Victims show, at least from a crust punkers point of view. The guy booking us tonight, Tim, looks like a hardcore kid who doesn’t seem overly excited to have us here, but that’s maybe just his look, a bit dour you might say. He seems friendly enough, just doesn’t say much. We’ll see how this show turns out. I like the place itself though, there’s a pretty cosy little bar to the side of the gig room with worn out sofas and a beer garden outside, pity it’s not as warm as it was in Weimar last night.

The Ekranoplan guys were here when we got here, even if it’s only the second show of two we’re playing with them it’s still nice to be hang out with a familiar bunch of friendly faces. After dinner, which is not quite to the high standard of yesterday, a kind of soy meat mushroom soup with a shit load of marjoram in it, Andy, Johan and I go for walk to stretch the old legs. Jon hangs with Eleanor outside the venue where there are a few other people hanging out. We don’t really walk far, a few blocks down Karl Marx Allee and then turn back. With the venue being bigger tonight I don’t to miss Ekranoplan, not being sure how many people will come I feel it’s important to support them, plus I didn’t really get to see much of them last night.

The gig room is pretty big and wide and then the stage is tucked into the corner in a sort of deep alcove with the drum riser set way back. It’s like playing inside a box within the room and when Ekranoplan start playing I can’t see Adrian because I’m stood to the side. There are maybe fifty or so people in the room, it looks okay but not great. Quite a difference to last night. They play one song and then there is a big pause after it. The drummer, who seems like a right joker is walking about the stage pissing about and I can’t figure out if they were just soundchecking or what. Only after about three or four minutes do I realise that Adrian must have broken a string and by the time I’ve ran around to the side stage he’s already done fixing his guitar. I feel like a right wanker since he lent me his guitar yesterday and asked me if it would be okay to lend mine as backup tonight and I’ve just been stood there dreaming. Sorry boss.
I stand and watch the rest of their set from the side of the stage. It’s fucking eardrum splittingly loud on stage. I don’t know what the crack is but they have the two guitar stacks facing inwards across the stage. Adrian seems to be suffering a bit from it, constantly looking back at the drummer to gage where the song is at. The drummer can certainly fucking play that being said. Little ADHD kid banging the fuck out of them. When they’re done Gunnar the singer comes walking off stage past me, “Loud on stage!”, I say to him, he doesn’t even stop, just walks past, “Extremely fucking loud!” he says, shaking his head. Then Christian the bass player comes off next, “Good luck”, he says with the same head shake.

It seems like there are a lot of people hanging outside in the beer garden as we set up and a good mix of people too. We turn the guitar cabs to face the front, assuring the sound guy it will be ok, and lower the volume considerably. It’s a big system so should be ok. Andy is way back in the box of a stage though, I can just make out his grin through the haze of the big assed backlights. I’m a little surprised, as well as a little relieved that the place is pretty full by the time we start the show. Not that it’s the end of the world but it would have been a shame to play a duffer in Berlin on a Friday night when it’s always really good here for Victims when we book it ourselves. This is the first run of shows we’ve had our good friend Luc booking for us and I must admit I was a little worried that we’d get caught in the trap of going for guarantee fee in a bigger venue instead of guarantee good gig in a squat. But it seems to have turned out alright.

The show itself is a lot of fun. And no broken strings tonight. The stage is a lot bigger and there’s a lot more room for me to throw myself around like a tit on. That being said, I still manage to get tangled up in Johan’s bass at one point during the set. But it’s all good. The crowd really go for it during the show and there are a lot of happy faces when we’re done. This one guy comes up to me and tells me he’s really thankful to us for the show. We’d signed a t-shirt for him earlier, well it was for his girlfriend who he told us was a really big fan of the band but was in hospital and that it would mean a lot to her. I said to him that I hoped she was going to be okay but he shook his head and said, “I don’t know”. Fucking downer. But I’m glad we could do something at least, even if it’s something that little.

There is an early curfew on the venue and by the time we’re packed down and cooled down the house lights are already on. We chat with Eleanor over by the merch table where Jon has been stood selling since the end of the gig. She tells us that she was holding herself to the back of the crowd during the gig since she’s still a bit shaken up after landing with a concussion after some asshole hardcore dickhead clashed heads with her at a show a while back, but said she couldn’t hold it when we played This is the End and flew to the front. Back in the side stage room we find the Ekranoplan drummer in full on ADHD mode. He’s extremely happy and talking a lot and loudly. He’s nice but a little much for our old heads. Cracks me up though, he tells us how much he respects us and how much he appreciates how friendly we are despite being a “big band”. Again, I think they have the wrong impression of us. Then he starts saying how he saw Disfear for the first time a while back and how it was amazing, that despite being really old guys and they were obviously suffering on stage they still played really hard. We’re all pissing ourselves by this point. The next thing he gets out his iphone and starts playing us a song that he and his friend have made on the Garage Band music programme, some spoof glam rock band called Burning Lips. All the music on it is synthetic, proper glam rock shit. Then the vocals come in, kinda Axl style, and it’s he himself who is the vocalist. He starts singing along really loudly to it. It goes on for ages and we’re trying our best to politely laugh but then I notice Christian the bass player stood shaking his head, embarrassed as fuck, “It’s not good, it’s not good” he mutters.

We hang around chatting with the guys a while longer, Gunnar tells me how he saw Speedhorn in Rudolstadt years back and how he can’t believe I played in that band, that he some friends who are huge fans. Funny little world. We make vague plans about meeting up at some bar once we’ve checked into our hostel, and I’m pretty up for it since I’ve only had the one beer all day and could do with a quiet bar and some chat but I can sense that there’s not a realistic chance of it happening.

We take a cab over to the hostel which is about ten minutes away, a fucking jobbie inducing death ride which can’t be over quick enough. The hostel is just by the East Side Gallery, right next to the bridge. It looks pretty cool, it’s some old industrial warehouse that’s been reformed into a six storey hostel. We approach the door and find it locked. I peek inside and get a shock as I see some monster skinhead approaching us from the other side. He must be almost seven foot with arms like fucking tree trunks. Looks like a right fucking mongo. Jon whispers in my ear, “Check out the tat on his arm”. I steal a look and there it is, a bulldog and a Union Jack. Fucking great… Mongo opens the door, and without saying a word ushers us into the foyer. It’s quite the surprise to be then met by a really friendly young woman working on the check in. And amazingly check in takes all of ten seconds. I’ve never experienced that at an after gig hostel before, there is normally always fifteen minutes of pissing around as they try to find our name on the list.

Chuffed we leave the gear in the room and head back out in search of a bar. We don’t get far though. We sit at a falafel place right next door to the hostel. They have beer there of course, it’s Germany. I order a halloumi box which is halloumi, french fries and an shit load of salad and sauce. It’s disgusting really, but kind of good at the same time. As I expected though, by the time the food is done everyone is slowly fading. It is one thirty am I guess, pretty late for a bunch of old farts like ourselves. I text Adrian and tell him we’re not going to make it. He writes back sounding kind of disappointed but there’s no way I can do a party now. I only really wanted a quiet bar. Still, we take the remainder of our beer and walk over to the East Side Gallery and check it out for a bit. The city is still buzzing, loads of people everywhere, all of them drinking beer as they go. I contemplate over the fact it’s been a pretty strange day. Started with Buchenwald, ended with the Berlin Wall.

We head back to the hostel and decide on one more beer in the bar there. It’s calm anyway, just us here. Nice way to end the night though, although the beer is in reality completely unnecessary, all it does is weigh my eyes down. It’s nice sitting there chatting with the guys though. I love the fact that when we’re abroad we can use Swedish as a code language. Jon is talking about the scary as fuck security skinhead, he calls him Thule Kompis, which for those who get the reference is funny as fuck. We just happened to be talking about Nyköping and the whole Nazi skinhead scene there when the guys were younger. I never realised Nyköping was such a dirty scene. It seems the guys lost a lot of their punk friends to heroin or related suicides. They go through a list and tote it up to six or seven drug related deaths from their old scene. Fucking tragic.

I can barely finish the bottle of beer, tiredness has taken me over now. We head upstairs to the fourth floor where our dormitory is and fuck me, we bump into Thule Kompis, slowly trudging along the corridor in the dark. Jon almost has a fucking heart attack. He doesn’t see us though, he’s just slowly walking ahead of us and then fucks off into a room. If there was ever a fucker you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley it’s him.

Friday, September 1, 2017


It’s four fifteen and the alarm just went off. I’m supposed to be leaving in thirty minutes, biking over to Johan’s where we’re getting picked up by a cab that is starting at Jon’s place, which will then take us to the airport for a seven am flight to Berlin. And it’s fucking pissing down. Proper fucking biblical proportions of rain hammering the ground. Time for Plan B. Even if it costs more with the extra pickup there’s no way I’m sitting on a plane with my kecks glued to my ass. I call Jon to tell him to pick me up on the way but the fucker doesn’t answer. Strange, not like him. I try again, and again, before I start getting a bit worried. His phone just keeps ringing. I know he usually sleeps pretty hard but he’s always bang on when he has the responsibility of first call. I call Johan and then the next thing Ana, Jon’s girlfriend, is texting me asking if I’ve heard from him. She’s in Holland picking up a van for some band and Jon had asked her to call and wake him, which takes the piss in it’s own right, but the sod not sleeping through now three of us ringing him is another matter altogether. Eventually his phone just dies and with not much else to do, I call another cab and Johan and I head out to Arlanda to meet Andy who’s taken the bus.

The three of us check in, we have Jon’s guitar with us and the guy at the desk let’s us check it in too. Would have been a major pain in the balls to have to leave Jon’s guitar at the airport, even if it is ugly. Already stressed for time, we make our way to security and my stomach convulses when I see the size of the queue, snaking it’s way along the entire terminal. Flight is boarding in half hour, we could be in trouble here. Luckily, I bump into some old guy who works at the airport and he tells us to head to Fast Track, which we do, and with that we’re through. I can imagine there are a lot of squeeky arses stood in that queue that we just waltzed past… Andy’s bag gets stopped on the way through and he enquires with the woman what the crack is with the queues, wondering if the machines are down or something. “It’s always like this on Thursdays”, she matter of factly replies. Note for future reference.

Whilst on route down to Berlin Jon texts us on Messenger, completely engulfed in panic and anxiety. Tells us he slept in. No shit. He’s frantically texting and then it’s him, we’re on the plane already. He asks us if he should book a new flight, I tell him I think that’s good idea. Poor bugger, I can only imagine the horror of waking up and realising your band mates are already up in the air. To his credit, he books himself on the next flight and we tell him we’ll wait for him at the airport. Only thing is he’s flying to the other place, Tegel, so we have to pick up the rental car and head over there, which is on the total opposite of the city and not the direction we’re going.

We had grand plans of arriving in Weimar today and spending the afternoon checking the place out, by all accounts it’s a very picturesque little town with lots of sightseeing opportunities, lots of museums etc, like the Nietzsche and Göthe museums, Franz Liszt school amongst them, but it’s looking like those plans are now fucked. Thing is, you can’t really be hard on Jon, he’s taking care of that himself. And the main thing is, after he royally fucked up, he got on with things. As long as the cunt doesn’t climb into the car stinking of booze we’ll go easy on him.

Jon arrives around one, we’ve been sat there for about an hour and a half. He’s pretty emotional but doesn’t seem to be hungover. He says he can’t understand how he slept through all his alarm clocks, and that he’d spoken to Ana at three am and asked her to wake him. Now I’m confused… I ask him if he woke up at three and spoke to Ana. No he tells me, he went to bed at three, he’d been to the Viagra Boys show. Unbelievable. That was a pretty expensive little lie in he had...

After first getting sucked into Berlin city by the rental car’s very confused GPS and then a couple of traffic jams on the old autobahn, we get in to Weimar around seven pm. Fucking knackered and dying for a cup of java. The place looks great anyway, an old squat with a bar and a small room in the back with a tight stage, looks like our very own Kafe 44 back home. There are already a bunch of punks outside who look happy to see us, if not a little shocked by the flashy car we’ve just rocked up in. I have to explain that it’s not ours. An older guy, with a very friendly smile on his coupon shakes my hand and tells me he’s the promoter for tonight. I don’t catch his name at first and have to ask him again, it’s Crustfrosch apparently. I ask him one more time, and he repeats again, “It means Crust Frog”. I like him immediately. We lug the gear in, which isn’t much, since we’re playing with a band called Ekranoplan both tonight and tomorrow in Berlin and they’ve been kind enough to lend us their backline. The mug of coffee is welcomely received and I gulp into it with vigour, only to be shocked by a mouthful or powder. I forgot about the old east european way of making coffee. Once the powder sinks to the bottom the coffee flies down the hatch and I’m feeling better.

The Ekranoplan guys arrive and we help them with the gear. The first guy I meet is wearing a Regimes t-shirt. “I like your shirt! That’s one of my best mates bands”. “Yes, Bloody Kev. Great guy,” he says. “Raging Speedhorn,” he continues. I smirk to myself, thinking about how Kev would be gutted to hear that’s the first band the guy associated with him. The guys in Ekranoplan seem like a really friendly bunch, and they’re very helpful with sorting their gear out for us, setting it all up for us to soundcheck. The bass player, a cheeky looking type, says it’s a big honour to play with us. Another guy from the squat is talking to Jon, asking us if we had a driver with us, and when Jon says that we’re driving ourselves the guy seems surprised. He then tells him he can’t believe we’re playing a place this small. I think he has the wrong impression of us.

Adrian from Ekranoplan is helping us out during soundcheck, guiding us through it, since old Froggy who is doing the sound seems to be looking at his phone more than the mixing desk. Every time we speak to him, he simply gives us a friendly smile. Anyway, it sounds good by the time we’re done. Adrian’s amp I’m lending is a Russian tank of a thing, called a Petersburg. Never heard of them before but it sounds great. After soundcheck we tuck into the food one of the punks from the squat has made for us, and it’s banging! Really good thai style potato and zucchini soup. I’m feeling so much better now, despite the tiredness. We set the merch up and people start buying straight away, Jon gets stuck there with it but he seems happy enough so the three of us head off for a stroll around Weimar. It really is a beautiful little town, and there seems to be some culture festival going on. We come across some beer garden, really cosy, and there is some three piece instrumental band who sound like a cross between Mogwai and Trans Am playing to a half interested spattering of spectators. We head inside and grab a seat. I still have to move the car to the parking place later but I’m happy enough to stay whilst Johan and Andy have a pint and watch the band for a bit. I’m making a new habit of not drinking before shows anyway, not drinking too much afterwards and all for that matter. The band are really good and it’s so nice to sit here and chill out, listening to something completely different for a bit before we head back to the squat.

We get back just as Ekranoplan have started playing but you can’t get in through the door to the small gig room, which is a good sign. I give it a try but can feel the heat of the place just from the small doorway and decide to leave it. I watch for a bit and then decide to go move the car. One of the squatters comes along with me and we walk back through town once the car is parked up and he tells me all about life in Weimar. I didn’t really know much about it before bar the connection with the old Weimar Republic and it being the place where Nietzsche died. It seems like there is a lot of art and culture happening here though. Cool place.

I get back to the squat and hang out at the merch table with Jon and some others, drinking bubbly water and munching away on Erdnuss Flips, which are a German joy to the tastebuds, like little peanut butter Wotsits. I’d asked Adrian earlier if I could lend his guitar as backup as I had planned to restring mine earlier but arriving late didn’t have the time. He has a nice Les Paul Studio he’s only too happy to lend me. I tell him that I’m sure having it there as a backup will safeguard me breaking any strings during the gig.

Andy asks Frog if he can get a beer somewhere and Frog runs off, returning shortly with a crate of beer. Andy looks at me and laughs, “Typical Germany, you ask for one beer and you get given a crate”. Besides that, there are already two full crates stacked up behind the merch tables which we hadn’t even seen. The thing is, they’re a little on the tepid side and I’m really hoping for a cold beer after we’re done playing. I try to ask Frog if the band flat upstairs where we’re sleeping has a fridge, but the language barrier is a little tough since he’s a little drunk and finds the English, at least my joke of an accent, a little tough. I’m holding a crate of beer in my hands and motioning to upstairs. Froggy nods and says, “Ok, yeah it’s fine” but he looks a little put out. I head upstairs with the crate but find no fridge to put them in. And then I realise that Frog must have thought that I wanted to take a crate to hamster away from the other bands. I feel like a right twat. I head back downstairs with the crate again and find Frog looking really confused now. Jon tells me what the German is for fridge and then Froggy twigs on, “Ahhh, no it’s ok, you can just take a bottle and swap it for a cold one from the bar later”.

The gig room is packed and moist with sweat as we start the show with Death Do Us Part. As it happens, a fucking string goes during the first verse of the first song… there is a bit of a break whilst I swap guitar and straps before we start the second song. I’d thought that I would have just put up with having the guitar higher up if I’d broke a string near the end of the set but there’s no way I can do a whole set playing like Bob Marley. A minute or so later I’m ready to go and we get back on with things. The stage is really tight and it’s hard to keep your feet at times, especially when the punks fall on to the stage every now and again. The atmosphere is great and it sounds banging on stage. It’s all going well, although I’m a little wary of breaking another string so hold back slightly, that and my back is twinging a bit. And then at one point I puke a bit of Erdnuss flip in my mouth. Not the most rock n’ roll way to go.. And then Jon breaks a string in the middle of the set. It’s really dark on his side of the stage and he doesn’t have any spare strings but Adrian has a bunch so whilst they fart around sorting that, and then Jon stands in the light in the middle of the stage restringing his guitar I start playing a couple of doomy notes whilst the sweat drips from my forehead and nose. Johan and Andy join in and we strum along for what feels like five minutes. When Jon is finally sorted he says, “This song appropriately is called We’re Fucked” and the crowd erupts.

I like the set we have at the minute. The front end of the set is speckled with songs from the latest albums and then a couple of brand new songs from the new album we haven’t recorded yet. But we end with five or six classics from the early records and it feels like the set ends with a real burst of energy, both from the crowd and us. When we finish with This is the End a bunch of punks jump up onto the tiny stage and take over the vocals for the chorus, Johan taking a step back with a big smile on his face. Great feeling. The punks won’t let us leave the stage when we’re done and so we stay up for one more. Jon thanks the crowd dearly and then says, “This is our Wind of Change”, before going into the guitar intro of Killing. It’s a great way to end things. And the punks let us leave when we’re done this time.

Jon heads straight to the merch table whilst we pack up. Andy looks chuffed as fuck, “I’ve been thinking a few times during this long fucking day, thinking it’s not worth it, but then you play a gig like that and you remember exactly why we’re doing this”. I couldn’t agree more. We sit around on the stage chatting to a few punks for a while and then Froggy arrives with an ice bucket and a couple of bottles of bright green booze called Peppe, or something. It’s alcoholic mouth wash basically. Apparently we “have” to drink it. I don’t want to be rude but this is not the cold after beer gig I’ve been looking forward to all night. But what the hell, when in Weimar. I only have the one though. Andy and Johan are up for a second though, and a third.

We hang out in the bar for a couple of hours afterwards, the place is still pretty full and there’s loads of chat and banter. My friend and neighbour Johan Walin had told me in the week that he’d played at this squat with both Bombstrike and General Surgery and that it was a pretty cool place. I’m chatting to Frog who keeps looking at me with a drunk smile on his face and asking me if we had a good time and then wrapping his arm around my shoulder. I tell him my friend from home played here, must have been around 2006 or so. “Bombstrike?” Frog guesses immediately. Yeah! I say, “Very crazy people..” Frog smiles. I’ve never really known Walin as crazy… I’ll have to ask him what that was all about when I get home.

It’s one am and two bottles of Weimar’s finest when the gig high starts wearing off and tiredness starts hitting like a brick wall. I can see Johan is flaking too, he’s had a few glasses of the mouthwash booze and all. Originally we were supposed to sleep somewhere else but having heard about the band flat upstairs I’d told Frog we’d like to sleep here, which was fine. The Rock n’ Roll flat Frog called it. It looks like a hundred other sleeping rooms we’ve slept in at squats all over Europe. Bunk beds and dirty wooden floors. I’m glad we’re staying here though, otherwise we’d have run the risk of being kept up listening to loud crust music with drunk punks until the early hours. And I couldn’t have dealt with that tonight, we’ve been on the go for almost twenty four hours as it is.

We head upstairs and I climb into the middle bunk of three. The top bunk is really fucking high up, must be about twelve, thirteen foot or so. Fucking die if you rolled out of that in your sleep. Amazingly, I’m the only one of the four of us who has brought a sleeping bag. The one that Johan and Andy bought me as a birthday present as a laugh earlier this year. Chuffed as fuck with it now. There is definitely a cool draught in the room somewhere. As well as a slight whiff of puke.