Sunday, March 18, 2018


First show of the year. First show since we had the twenty year anniversary party. I hadn’t even been to the practice room for about three months before we got back together to rehearse the set for this festival in Holland. I really needed the break. My life has been pretty hectic since, well, since we started Speedhorn I guess, but this last few months has taken its toll a little. After the Mexico/US trip in the autumn I had a bit of a backlog with university work, which isn’t the easiest to catch up on when you’ve got family and work on the side, too. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not working in Solway or down the pits, but it was a bit of a strain all the same. I was glad for the few months off. Probably the longest stretch away from all band activities I’ve had in years.

It’s going to be a quiet year though, at least on the gig front. We have a new record on the go with Victims, which I guess maybe we’ll record this year. It’s a luxury in itself not having any pressure on that though. Doesn’t really matter if we release a record this year or in five, it will still reach the same crowd. And I don’t know what’s happening with DB, we have one show booked, which is together with Victims, back in Holland again at the end of April. Otherwise, fuck knows. Getting older, forty this year, I don’t stress any longer over filling a quota of gigs for the year, not like I used to.

On getting older... this trip to Tilburg felt like four business punks on a work trip. It was like the punk rock version of travelling to a work conference. We flew down to Amsterdam in the morning, got picked up at the airport by a taxi, were driven to the hotel in Tilburg which was just on the outskirts of the city centre, only a twenty minute walk to the venue, but far away enough in this cold weather to not be arsed leaving the hotel until it was time to go to work. When we arrived we sat in the backstage room drinking water and eating from the catering until it was time to soundcheck. We then played the show, watched Carcass afterwards, who were fucking great, and the headed back to the hotel to sleep for a few hours before being picked up at five am for the two hour drive back to the airport. We weren’t even in Holland for twenty four hours. I drank two beers. It was as far removed an experience from the last time we played the 013 in Tilburg with Speedhorn as could possibly be. The first time I played at this venue I ended the night stood in the back parking lot wearing nothing but my kecks, puking what felt like my entire innards up after consuming a shocking amount of hash cake. I don’t miss those days too much. This time I ended up the night drinking a beer in bed watching CNN with Andy, and that was more about trying to get to sleep than anything else. I have a hard time getting to sleep when you know you’re up again in a few hours time, especially when you’re getting up to catch an early flight. Being wired from the gig on top of that… The beer was nice, all the same.

We’d shared the shuttle back to the hotel with a couple of Norwegian black metallers from the band Aura Noir. I couldn’t understand a word they were saying and I was hoping Jon would take on the job of conversing with them, but he was more sullen than his usual self and the conversation was a little strained. They were staying in the room opposite us and one of them asked if we wanted a drink. I politely declined, saying that we were up at five and it was already one. He looked a bit sad, like a lost puppy with no one to play with, and replied that they were getting up at six. Next time, I told him. He smiled and repeated back to me, next time. If Jon was on the piss it would have been a different fucking story, that’s for sure.

The gig had been good, anyway. Total professional job. It was the Netherlands Deathfest show, we were playing in the smaller room which held about five, six hundred people. The room was packed, the sound was great and the crowd were really going for it. We had some guy called Erik doing the sound for us, he’d gotten in touch via mail and asked about working with us. Think the deal was he worked for free, entry to the festival being considered enough. Worked out great, anyway, he was a really nice guy. Older, with kids, just like us. I really enjoyed the gig, it’s hard not to when it sounds like a record on stage the crowd are going for it. It got less enjoyable towards the end when I stretched some muscle or other in my neck, which was pretty fucking painful. Had to play out the last few songs in a pretty rigid position. My mate Johan Wallin, jokingly told me a while back that I have the most consistent neck in hardcore, I’m starting to wonder if those headbanging days are soon to be over. Maybe it’s time, I guess.

We’d bumped into our old mate Petri from Famine Year, Finland at the airport earlier. He was with some metal band and they were sharing the same taxi as us. The dude from the band he was with, and his girlfriend, looked very metal. Not so strange I guess, given that we’re playing a death metal fest. If anyone looks misplaced here, it’s the four of us. Even Jon has cut his hair and is looking normal these days. Anyway, I fucking pissed myself when Petri told us that the metal guy had been confused over this show. First off, we make a stop at their hotel, which is a lot further from town than ours is. When the taxi driver assures him that this is the right address, the taxi driver has nothing to do with the festival, he’s just some random old guy, and that the hotel is indeed far out of town, the metal guy says in a simple fashion and not altogether amused way, in thick Finnish accent, “This is balls”. When Perti comes back out to the taxi, having checked in, he tells us that the metal guy had only realised a few weeks ago that the festival was in Holland. He’d thought he was playing the Maryland Deathfest in Baltimore, being that it’s the same organisers. He hadn’t thought to check his flight tickets that had been booked for him. When the organisers were booking his flight and had asked him how long he wanted to stay, he’d said, “Well, two nights at least”. He’s well pissed off now, realising he’s stuck in a road side hotel on the outskirts of Tilburg. Made me laugh, just as much, that thinking he was going all the way to the US, that he’d take advantage and stay a whole extra night…

Felt bad for Jon, since by no fault of his own, he was in a similar shitty position. He too was staying an extra night, although he’d planned to spend the second night at his friend’s place in Amsterdam, but his friend ended up moving back to Sweden a few weeks ago, must have been pretty abrupt, so now Jon was stuck here at the festival, taking the same five am taxi to the airport as we were, only a day later, and on his own. He’s not even drinking at the moment so it’s doubly boring. Good he’s not drinking, though… He told us afterwards that he ended up going to bed at nine thirty on the second night. Poor fucker had even had to pay for the extra night at the hotel. Not the best investment he ever made I guess.

We arrived back at Schiphol around six thirty am, fucking knackered. Johan and I had been getting stuck into some free peanut butter that they were handing out at a shop which exclusively sold peanut butter yesterday, and we’d made plans to drop by on the way home and pick up a couple of jars, but we were too tired to care about waiting a half hour for the shop to open. We’ll be back in a couple of months anyway. I didn’t even manage to squeeze some pommes frites with satay sauce on the trip. I had gone off in search last night whilst we were waiting for our shuttle back to the hotel after the gig, but the guy in the chip shop around the corner told me he only accepted Dutch cards, or cash. I had neither. The guy was out of satay sauce anyway, so I would have been purely striding ahead with the purchase out of pure pigheadedness.

As we checked our guitars in, I thought back to Jon yesterday and had a little chuckle to myself. He’d checked his bag into the regular hold on the flight, whilst all the guitars and merch had been checked into oversized. Whilst Jon went off to the regular belt the three of us went to pick up the heavier gear from oversized. We stood there chatting for about fifteen minutes watching the odd pushchair arrive. Jon eventually turned up with the whole load on a trolley, struggling with it down the ramp towards us, starting straight ahead in avid concentration, the three of us laughing at him.

I was jealous of the thought of him still tucked up in his hotel bed, though, as we were sat waiting for a flight home on about three hours sleep. Until I remembered that he’d be doing the exact same thing the next day, albeit on his own.

1 comment:

  1. Great stuff. I'll have to catch up. Old punks are funny, as I am one. A book in the making? Count me in! Hello from the Eastside of Los Angeles