Thursday, October 19, 2017


We slept past noon and still had time to spare. Funny how sleep patterns have flipped over this last couple of weeks ago. The first couple of night in LA a couple of weeks ago we were struggling to keep our eyes open after eight pm, and the first morning we took Polly for breakfast at Caster’s all night diner at five am. Soon it will be time to turn it all back around again. Anyway, it was nice with the seven hour sleep, even if it did commence at five in the morning. Most of the rest of the guys are already up and Big Jon has popped out in the car to buy the Victims guys coffee, which is warmly appreciated by us. What a diamond.

I enjoy the coffee on Bruce’s backyard patio with Johan and Jon and Kyle. We spend almost a good hour talking American politics, with that putrid orange wanker Trump at the top of the bill, obviously. Kyle seems quite fucking destroyed over the state of his country at the minute. I feel for him. There are a lot of amazing things about this place, a lot of fucked up things too, and a lot of wonderful people, It’s just as shame that most of those in power are either thick as shit or pure evil. Or both. Isn’t that usually the way though? Still, it’s a very nice way to start the day and I thank Kyle for the company and the chat as we get our gear in order, ready for the next trip and the next gig.

The DIS guys have booked another van today with Rob, an old road dog and professional roadie at the helm. Rob’s van has a big trailer with it too and he’s an old hand when it comes to crossing the Mexican border in Tijuana, today’s destination. First time playing Mexico, can’t wait. We stop on the way out of town for some pretty rank quesadillas at Del Taco before carrying on to the border. It’s pretty fucking hot out today, if it’s like this in Tijuana it’s going to be a sweaty gig. The journey south doesn’t take much more than a couple of hours, a chunk of it is spent watching some old animated Superman cartoon on the tv screen in the van. It must be from the 80’s, it’s a film length episode featuring two Supermen; the original chisel jawed hero we all know and love, and then another alter ego who is all blue in the face and yellow eyed, Big Jon dubs him Partyman since he looks like a crack addict. There is no sound on the monitor so to the delight of us all Big Jon provides hilarious dubbing. We spend most of the way to the Mexican border laughing. When the laughter dies down Big Jon and I discover that we share a love of Twin Peaks and spend the rest of the way talking about the new series.

The border is a piece of piss. Rob knows a quieter crossing than the main one from San Diego which saves us a lot of time. The sight of Tijuana on the other side of the border as you approach it coming down the hill from San Diego always gets me. On the one side you’ve got a big open highway and on the other just a sprawl of houses and that huge Mexican flag in the middle of it. The crossing we take is indeed calm and we drive right up to it, no queue ahead. We stop and Rob gets out and has a quick chat with the cops. They ask him what we have in the boxes and I think for a minute we’re going to get busted for a carne on the shirts and records but they’re not arsed. A cop opens the back door and asks us all to turn around, then she takes a quick photo of us, smiles and closes the door, and with that we’re off. On the other side of the road there is an endless line of cars stood still, queueing to get into the States. Quite the contrast.

As we drive into the outskirts of Tijuana about ten minutes later the DIS guys are pointing things out on the streets and generally taking the piss, much to our amusement. In the middle of it all, Big Jon, who is in the middle of most of the banter, points at a huge billboard on a hill and shouts gleefully, “Is that Brad Pitt?!” In unison our eyes cast to where Jon’s finger is pointing and sure enough there is a chuffed looking Brad Pitt, with the cheapest looking photoshop of a huge moustache and sombrero on his bonnet. Doubt they sought old Brad’s permission for that fucker. We all piss ourselves laughing and the two Jon’s laughter tickle the fuck out of me and have me cracking up for the next ten minutes.

Rob locates the venue, which by all accounts is a small bar, and then parks the van and trailer in a parking lot across the road, saying he’ll stay with the van during our stay in the city. As soon as you get out of the van the smell of heavenly food hits you. It seems to be everywhere. We walk over to the bar, which is called Mous Tache, and find it closed, so we head into the bar beside, which is some small, rustic, sports bar with a few tables outside and we order a few beers. I feel a bit bad for Johan because I get the feeling he’s not entirely comfortable. He has a hard time dealing with situations and places he’s not in control of. Hopefully it will ease up for him. The beer tastes pretty good anyway. Well, no, it doesn’t really taste of that much at all, but being sat in the sun drinking the cold beverage is still a pretty decent gig. Shaun order a plate of cheesy fries and everyone piles in, it’s literally a plate of fries swimming in a runny cheese sauce. Disgustingly marvelous.

After the beer we take a walk up to the famous Revolution Street, which is parallel to the one we’re on. I say famous, I’d never heard of it, but Bruce had been giddily telling me all about it, saying about some of the things you see up there that you wouldn’t believe. Most of it sounds like stuff none of us would either want to believe or see. The tamest of it are the donkeys painted as zebras and being paraded for money. We see a couple of them and the Swedish contingency gather in pity for the poor things. Revolution Street is fucking nuts though. Just the fucking noise is intense, there are sounds blasting out of every single establishment along length of it. It’s not just music, it’s whistles and cars, police sirens, people shouting. Just fucking mental. And it’s early Sunday evening. Can’t imagine what this place is like on a Saturday night. It probably doesn’t make any difference what day of the week it is.

We’re all up for another beer and some snacks so after a lap up and down the street we end up getting sucked into a place by some old boy with a menu, shouting something in a mix of English and Spanish at us. Luckily Henry is of El Salvadorian heritage and can speak the lingo and he sorts things out. The bar is a big club that actually resembles a building site. The ground floor is simply a dancefloor in a state of decomposition and obviously not in use, and the upper floor where we’re lead to is pretty much the same story, but with an open veranda with high tables on the edge overlooking the street. There is some manic little guy with a squint eye serving tables, which is only our table and one other, running around with a whistle in his mouth, which is his way of communicating over the music that is blasting out of the sound system in here. We order some beers and nachos from him and we’ve barely got the order done before he runs off. Right nutter. The food, and even more so the cold bottles of Pacifico’s are banging. I enjoy chatting with Henry as we chow down, he tells me about his upbringing with El Salvadoran parents and life in LA, and also about his job. He’s been on the booze since I met him a couple of days ago basically and doesn’t seem to be letting up. “Oh man, tomorrow at work is gonna suck man! And I sell marijuana for a living!” Turns out he’s the main driver for a medical marijuana company.

Whilst we’re sat up on the veranda we spot our friend Luzen, the singer of Bio Crisis, who played with us last night and are also playing tonight. They’re from here and Luzen is the guy booking the show. One of the DIS guys shouts across the street to him and when he turns around and spots us up on the veranda just smirks to himself. “Of all the places in Tijuana you guys choose this place!” he laughs when he arrives at our table. He tells us that we can load into the venue now anyway so when we’re done with the drinks we call Whistler over and he comes running across with the bill.

We walk back down to the venue where Rob meets us with the van and we load in. The bar is tiny, and just as I’m wondering where the fuck we’re going to play Luzen opens up the door to the back yard where there is a low stage set up in a little space under the open sky. It looks ace. Basically playing in the little back garden of the bar. There is a staircase leading up the wall of the building behind the stage and up there we climb and take a bird's eye view of the city, ample opportunity for some nice band pics. This is quite a place. Even up here, the noise from Revolution Street is pounding. I ask Luzen how many people he’s expecting tonight and he says for a Sunday night he’ll be happy with fifty, sixty people. That would be enough to create a good enough atmosphere here in this little space. Luzen tells me that a big band on a weekend would pull around one hundred fifty people here, which I guess is about the size of the Tijuana scene. Still, when you think about it, playing to fifty people in Tijuana is fifty more than I ever thought I’d play to.

The first band of the night is a two piece d-beat band called Cánidos. They play pretty straight forward but do it really good, they just have that something extra about them that’s hard to pinpoint. The vocals are super aggressive and the guitarist/vocalist stands on the ground in front of the stage and just fucking kills it. Real fun to watch, and everyone in Victims has a good time doing so. They have the odd sludgy riff thrown in here and there too which they work into it really well. Nice start to the night simply put. Andy and I go up to the guitarist afterwards and ask him what the name of the band is and tell him how much we liked it and he looks totally chuffed.

It’s that time of the night when it’s time to decide whether or not to eat before the gig. Andy is thinking the same thing and we decide to go grab a quick bite somewhere. I ask Johan if he wants to come with and he nods, but says maybe we should get one of the locals to come with us. I tell him I think it will be okay and we’ll go somewhere nearby. I ask Luzen and he tells us about a place that does good veggie tacos just back up on Revolution Street so we head there, it’s only a five minute walk away. I have a couple of tofu tacos which hit the spot. The girl working there gets talking to us and after asking where we’re from starts telling us how much she loves Sweden, says she’s been there a bunch of times. Really friendly girl. We walk back down to the venue and laugh at the fact that the taxis here beep at you as they pass, as way of telling you they’re free. Everything in this town seems to be competing in the din of noise.

We miss the second band Bonebreaker, which Jon says were amazing and keeps banging on about how good looking the bass player was, “He was one of those fuckers that make you ashamed of yourself”. Don’t know how many times he tells me this. That and how the band were a cross between Terror and Trash Talk. He also nods to a big buff guys stood behind him, he’s set up shop just behind our merch table, selling an array of bootleg punk shirts, among them a couple of proper shit looking Victims shirts. He says to us, “I don’t know what we should do about that?” I take a look at the size of the big bastard and conclude that there is fuck all we can do about it.

Luzen’s band Bio Crisis play third on the bill and again I really enjoy watching them. I missed them last night, missed all the bands last night due to the size of the tiny room the gig was in, and Cooky was telling me afterwards how much he liked them. I can see why. Again no bassist, just two guitars, a drummer and Luzen on vocals. The one guitarist has a double amp set up though, I think anyway, and some pedals that take care of the bass sound in the band. They play epic d-beat, kinda like Envy playing hardcore punk, which is not always my bag but I really enjoy this. It’s really well executed with a ton of killer riffs and Luzen has a great voice. It’s set off really nicely by the dark blue and red stage lighting under the night sky too. And there are indeed about fifty or sixty people here now and it looks decent enough.

The DIS boys are on before us and I crack up as soon as I see them setting up. They’re all there except Henry who appears a couple of minutes later, walking across the stage grinning and letting out a, “Whoooooooo!” I haven’t seen him for a few hours but he’s obviously been hitting the sauce. I think maybe a couple of the others have too, they all seem pretty chuffed anyway. Big Jon gives the nod and they start. Henry is stood in the middle of the stage, Jon off it in the crowd. Henry has one of those chuffed faces that just kinda looks wasted all the time, his eyes half closed and his grin barely able to contain itself. He does all the guitar soloing in the band and goes sporadically nuts on the old whammy bar, giving it the full on Slayer treatment. Even pissed up he pulls it off pretty well. We all piss ourselves though at one point during a song when we look up and see he’s stopped playing and is just stood there taking a huge swig of beer from a forty bottle while the rest of the band play on, not giving a piss. When he finally joins back in with the rest the band there’s only another thirty seconds or so of the song left. Fucking love him. It’s fun watching the guys play in this very cool venue and for a while I climb up the rickety steel staircase above the stage and watch them from up there, taking photos, trying to get both the stage and the city backdrop on the other side of the surrounding walls in the frame. Can’t say I’ve ever played in a venue like this before.

We set up as quick as we can after DIS are done. It’s an early show tonight, Luzen wants it over by eleven, which suits us fine since we have to get up at six to catch a flight to Mexico City in the morning, and Luzen is starting work at seven. We’re staying at his place so it all works out well. Anyway, a little with that in mind we’re eager to get on with things. It’s a very fun stage to play and the small Sunday night crowd get more and more lively as the set progresses. Jon gives a shout out to the Mexican president for taking the piss out of Donald Trump, tonight’s intro for We’re Fucked. He cracks me up too when near the end of the set he thanks everyone for coming out on a Sunday night to see us and tells them that we have “official merch” for sale at the back of the yard. I have a good time playing tonight, have lots of energy. It’s great to see the two brand new songs in the set are going down really well, especially the slower one of the two. Before we played it tonight I was contemplating whether we should leave it out as the crowd hadn’t been all that lively up until that point but that song ended up being the one the seemed to kick the crowd off. It is pretty driving I guess, even if it is a lot slower than the rest of the set. Right at the end of the gig, before the last two, I spot some boots and braces skinhead in the crowd who is shouting “Tijuana skins” at Andy. At first I think there’s trouble on the go but it seems more like he sees Andy as a compatriot, much to my amusement. The skinhead goes mental in the mosh as we end with Killing and This is the End.

After the gig we stand around chatting with people for a while, cooling off in the night air. I get talking to a couple of different people from San Diego who tell me that they come down to shows in Tijuana pretty regularly. They just leave their cars at the border and walk over the bridge. Simple as shit. One of the guys is English, from Plymouth and he’s shocked to hear I’m a Brit too. We chat for a good while, he tells me he hates England and never wants to go back. I’ve heard it, and said it before, probably a lot around the time I was his age, but it’s mellowed in me now. I know where he’s coming from though. Plymouth is a nice enough town, but it’s not exactly San Diego.

When everything is packed up we do a photo session with the DIS guys. It’s been really fun hanging out with them and they’ve been so great to us arranging the vans and lending us their equipment. Truly lovely guys and it’s been an absolute pleasure. We stand around chatting for a bit, laughing at Big Jon barking at us, calling us Dad-beat as the three of us and Shaun from DIS show each other photos of our kids. Big Jon, who is in the process of splitting up with his wife contemplates, “Better than fucking Divorce-beat I guess,” and we all laugh together for one last time before they head off into the Tijuana night to do whatever they’re going to do before heading home back across the border. Gonna miss those guys.

We take a quick beer with Luzen in the bar, enjoying the quiet, kind of quiet, before sharing an Uber back to his place. He lives in one of the cheaper parts of town with his roommate, the street his house is on is more of a dirt road back alley. His house is nice and spacious though, all stone floors. He has a really cute dog called Misty, some reddish brown Staffordshire mix maybe, who is really happy to see us. I open my bag to get my pyjama bottoms out and she plonks herself in my open bag, panting at me. Doesn’t look like the smartest dog but she’s absolutely lovely.

Early show or not, it’s still gone one by the time we get to lay ourselves down in the backroom of Luzen’s place, three of take mattresses on the floor whilst Jon lays himself down on some quilts in the hallway. I feel knackered. I wish we weren’t flying so early in the morning.

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