Thursday, October 31, 2019


Choices, choices… Are we going to join Svalbard at the thermal bath or head to Vienna for a look around there? I certainly could have done with a soothing bath after sacrificing a decent night’s sleep for a couple of beers, but I really wanted to see Vienna. I’ve played there four or five times and never seen anything more than the inside of a venue or squat. We met up with Zoli for a farewell breakfast and Liam mentioned that they had room in their van for anyone who wanted to join. It was a little tempting… But no, Vienna it would be.

Felt a little sad saying bye to Zoli, it’s been great hanging out with him again. But there will be other times ahead, I’m sure. Still, felt it a little bit, him waving to us as we jumped in a cab to take us back to the venue. The drive wasn’t too bad, and we got to see a little bit of Budapest on the way out. There is this really cool rock face on the other side of the bridge on the Buda side of town, with statues of what I assume are important old men and the like in the cliff face. Rather beautiful. Would be a nice spot to check out if one was here on a romantic weekend with your loved one I imagine, as opposed to having a bunch of grumpy, tired old men in tow.

The drive to Vienna didn’t take too long and we arrived at the Arena venue with a couple of hours to spare before load in. It was a long time ago I was last at this place, we played here a couple of times with Speedhorn in the early 2000’s. I remember being particularly fucked on one of the occasions, over in the little punk cafe on the left side of the compound. I remember something about someone smoking hash out of a dirt pipe in the ground, and maybe something about eskimos. Quite the night. This place is really cool, though. There are four or five stages, one of which is a big open air in the middle of everything. Then there are a few different brick buildings housing different small rooms, bars and stages, as well as a building where they have the band apartment. We’re playing in the smallest room, which is very good news as far as I*m concerned. It looks kinda like the room at Kafe 44 back home, holding about one hundred at a stretch. Saying that, last time Speedhorn played this room and there were only eight paying punters. And that was fucking rubbish. I remember the promoter telling me at the time that as bad as our show was, the week before he’d had Reo Speedealer on and they’d only sold four tickets, and even then only two turned up. What a kick in the tits that is.

We intended to make the most of the time we had and walked over to the metro station for the short trip into Stephansplatz by the big cathedral, right in the middle of the city, Sure beat the fuck out of haging around in the industrial estate the venue is in. The weather was perfect for sightseeing purposes. Cold, crisp and sunny, with the light just beginning to fade, giving it that perfect shimmering, moody blue/black sky as a backdrop to the sensory onslaught of magnificent buildings. It is without a doubt one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. It honestly made me a little emotional. But part of that is to do with the thoughts of what a great time I would have here if I was here on holiday with the family. It kind of made me miss them a little, as much as I loved every second of the two hours Andy and I walked around, having left Johan and Jon at a pizza place. I wanted to try and find something for Jen since it’s her birthday next week, but it was all upper class designer shops or souvenir places. I did find a pair of joke Freud slippers, yes, they were actually called Freudian Slippers. I was so tempted. But at forty euros, even if they were genius, the price was a bit salty. All I ended up buying was a coffee and a delicious piece of apple strudel before we headed back to the venue for soundcheck. Bonus to find that Johan and Jon had already loaded in and set up.

Soundcheck was pretty fun. This punk lady was engineering and she was super sweet and really enthusiastic, buzzing about the place with a huge smile that infected everyone. Really cool person. The stage was tiny, though, so it was hard to get anything more than myself up there, but I’m sure it would be okay, you know, as soon as the room was full of people.

The promoter was this big bomber jacket wearing lad with a crew cut. Real military looking dude, but friendly as anything. He showed me the dressing room and proudly showed me the array of vegan food he’d shopped in, even stretching to vegan chocolate bars. Well chuffed. We had a buyout for dinner so walked over to this mall that was built out of huge old gas tower. There was a noodle restaurant there with very happy staff and good grub, so we sat in and I enjoyed a beer with dinner, just to top off a good afternoon of sightseeing. Dad was coming to the show again tonight, and he’d just texted saying he was sat in a bar across from the venue watching the football. Johan, Andy and I went by and met up with him. It was great to see him again. He bought a round in and although I was a little hesitative about having another beer close to gig time, it felt too nice to turn down. We all agreed and so sat with him and had a blether for a while. He didn’t seem to have enjoyed Vienna as much as Berlin, much to my surprise. But then it turns out he’d once again booked an absolutely shit hotel. Don’t know how many times he has to look at a few extra details beyond the price when books places, but he never learns.

We all head back to the venue with dad in time to see the second half of Svalbard. The room us pretty well filled out, there must be at least ten times as many as that Speedhorn gig here all those years ago. Seems like Svalbard had a good show, Mark tells me he really enjoyed it. Liam still wasn’t one hundred percent satisfied, but he’s admitted that’s kind of his thing. I really enjoy playing our show tonight for some reason. It’s not there was a huge response or anything. There we plenty of people but not much movement, although you could see people were enjoying it. I think it must have been seeing dad in the crowd with a big smile on his face that got me pumped up. And maybe those two beers. Jon dedicated the last song to him, saying we had a special guest in the crowd, “Gaz’s dad, Grandfather Victims, all the way from Corby.” I was a little taken aback when the crowd cheered and applauded loudly and dad’s face lit up as we gave a pumped fist. He looked well chuffed. I gave him a big, sweaty hug afterwards and he laughed, “Fucking hell, you’re minging!”

I took merch duties after the gig and gave dad a free shirt. He said he wanted one as it would be great for “Bullshit value” at the Rock among with his mates. He loves “Bullshit value”. He had to head off shortly after since he was up early for the flight home. I look forward to seeing him at Christmas when he comes to stay with us. It’s times like this when I realise I don’t see enough of him, which is too bad because we’re really close. But we’re both busy as fuck, doing our thing. The reason I’m “doing my thing” is largely down to the huge encouragement he always gave me as a kid. Some punk comes to buy some stuff and tells me how he thought it was awesome that my dad was at the show. I can only agree.

We pack the van, knowing it will be safe within the compound, and then sit down to a beer in the cosy little punk bar beside the gig room. At one point some crusty punk sits next to Andy and starts babbling about “Bookers”, saying that if we hadn’t done a show with a booking agent, our friend Zoli that is, then there would have been a lot more people at the show. I guess what he’s trying to say is that if the entrance on the door had been eight euros instead of fifteen then it would have been better. He doesn’t mean any harm by it, though, he seems like a nice enough guy. Andy is not interested, though, “I don’t care. There are far bigger problems in the world than punk rules.” Conversation over.

I laughed with Andy earlier, saying that when you sleep at the venue it’s usually when you sleep the least, since bed is comfortably close and you can go sleep at “any time”: So there’s always the chance of just one more beer since it’s all cosy and you’re enjoying a chin wag. That’s exactly how I played my hand, too. I only had two beers, but I ended up staying up until two thirty, even though I’d been ready for bed long before. It was nice sitting there with Alex, Mark and Liam though. The other Victims guys had all gone to bed, leaving me directions to the bedroom, since we were staying in a different house than the Svalbard guys and I hadn’t been to our place yet. Those two beers got me tipsy, though, and when I got to the door of the house and found it locked, it left me a bit scoobied. I rang Jon, but then found another door before he answered and hung up. I knew the fucker would be waiting for me to have a go, though. I went to step into the dark doorway and mistook the flat ground for a step and nearly went tits aloft, but saved it barely into a stumble. Not sure if the Svalbard guys saw it. Those beers must have been strong.

When I found my way up the stairs I see Jon has left a Yahtzee score sheet on the floor that he’s drawn a big arrow on, pointing at the door. I’d woken him, though, as predicted. He gives it a moan, as predicted.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019


We met the Svalbard guys for breakfast, hard going on the vegans among us, but pretty good coffee, we were back on the road for the remainder of the journey to Budapest. It only took another few hours and was pretty nondescript for the most part. Sat with Zoli in the back listening to him reel off a list of assholes. I was taking the piss out of him and his pessimistic view on human beings in general and then we pulled up at a gas station to fill up the tank and are immediately accosted by some woman trying to flog us a mobile phone. “See? Assholes!” Zoli chortles, chuffed with himself.

I have a hard time compartmentalising shit. Jen is so much better than me, it’s one of the things I admire most about my wife. But when I get a call from the building blokes at home telling me there’s a problem with the bathroom renovation it puts a damper on the rest of my dad in principal. There is also some stress around our bachelor thesis that I need to sort out and all of a sudden the joy of touring is gone for a while. I know everything will work out in the end, but I’m not the best at dealing with setbacks in the immediacy. My first reaction is always emotional where as Jen is more logical and analytical, even if she is pissed off.

Anyway, we get into Budapest about an hour before load in and to add to my current mood it’s grey, cold and raining. We’ve been speaking since before the tour about going to an outdoor thermal bath here in Budapest but scheduling has gone against us somehow. I’m sure it would be fucking magical sitting in a hot bath right now, but I agree with Andy in that going after we’re done with soundcheck would just sink us completely and we’d be so relaxed that playing the show would be a real struggle. Then there are thoughts of maybe going in the morning with the Svalbard guys but we decide to try and make the most out of Vienna tomorrow, since it’s one of those beautiful cities that we’ve all been to numerous times and yet never seen anything of it. We load in and go for a quick walk around the park opposite the venue. We played here last summer and it was around thirty eight degrees, it’s quite the contrast today.

The venue is a massive complex, full of different rooms and bars, as well as three stages, of which thankfully we’re on the smallest. It’s like a huge military bunker inside, and the dressing room and catering is two long corridors away from where we’re playing. So everything kind of feels disconnected somehow. Svalbard in their room, Zoli is kind of off and about having to deal with work stuff. And then it’s his last day with us today since he has to stay home and sort work stuff out before he goes out with Tribulation and Ghost. Everything just kind of feels like a Sunday. When we’re done with soundcheck Andy and I head out for another walk around the block because the only other choice is sitting in the dressing room bored, sniffing the food cooking next door and getting hungrier and hungrier.

When we get back dinner is ready. The catering staff here are really cool people, really seem to love their job. They made a skull shaped cake for us with Victims and Svalbard written on it. Really sweet. Dinner is great too. A good meal certainly can lift the spirits. As well as game of Yahtzee with a couple of Svalbard friends, of course…

It’s a strange show tonight. There are plenty of people in for a Tuesday night show, must be eighty or ninety or so, and although far from being packed, the room is still filled out enough to create and atmosphere in. The sound is really big as well, it’s a proper professional set up. We have a bit of a meeting with Zoli about plans for next year but I catch the second half of Svalbard’s set. It sounds really huge and I really enjoy watching them from behind the merch table.

Since the bar is in another room at the end of the corridor from the main entrance, the room is as good as empty when we set up, and it takes a while for the crowd to filter back in as we get started. It doesn't start well. I fall off the stage first song and barely save myself from going arse over tit. Big fucking scrape down the calf as I miss my footing. Almost fall right into Alex is stood up front watching us. Feel like a right knob. Everyone is back by the time we’re into the second or third song. With the crowd filled back out, I start to get into the gig and feel pretty good on stage. It’s maybe the first time on this tour that it’s felt really easy playing. But then it kind of takes a dip again when a gang begins moshing and the rest of the crowd step back and to the sides, leaving that hole in the middle of the room I’ve seen so many times. On top of that there is some pony-tailed lad that seems to be having some sort of alcohol induced psychosis, over in front of Jon. He’s standing shouting at himself and anyone else around him. At first I think he’s really into the gig but I soon understand it’s something else. I say something across the stage during one break and he immediately jumps on it pretty aggressively “What did you say?!” “Love you,” I say in a slightly too sarcastic tone. I ignore him for the rest of the gig but see him being ushered out by a friend at the end of the set. The moshers all line up at the end for high fives and handshakes, and there is some cool old lady punk smiling widely, “I’m getting too old for this!” she jokes. “Me too!” I reply and give her a hug. Weird gig somehow, can’t really put my finger on it. I guess it was just a bit flat, but that could have been to do with the crowd’s caution around the moshers. “They had a good time at least,” jokes Johan.

Afterwards I join Mark and Serena in their dressing room for a chilled out drink, discussing the gig and agreeing that it was a little strange. We’re going to pack then van tonight and leave it here, since the venue is in a securely gated compound and the hostel we have is in the middle of town. Zoli and his girlfriend wants us to join them for a shot of some Hungarian plum moonshine. We meet by the bar and Zoli proudly lines them up. I get the feeling he’s a bit sad about leaving us. I really can’t do shots but on giving it a sniff it doesn’t seem to bad. It tastes wretched, of course. Zoli is chuffed though.

We load out the vans and try to work out the crack with the hostel. It’s called the Hive Party Hostel. Liam then shares with us the weirdest fucking “Sleeping Story” I’ve ever heard. All bands have “Sleeping Stories”, and I’ve some belters myself, but this was something else. Apparently they played Amsterdam and the promoter put them up with some guy she knew. But from the get go it felt off. He was making grunting sounds at Serena before they even left, which they had to tell him off for, and then when they got to his place he went into full psychotic mode, off his tits on coke, carrying an axe around. He was demanding the guys all took a sniff with him, and their polite attempt at a refusal just seemed to push him further into the rage. The mad bastard sat around sniffing coke off the fucking axe and shouting insanities, making a bee-line for Serena and obviously making her very nervous. They decide to just get down for some sleep and get the fuck out first thing in the morning. A couple of hours later they’re awoken by the terror of the bloke kicking the door open, axe in one hand, torch shining a light in their eyes with the other hand, and shouts something about the toilet being broken and not flushing it if they need to use it. To top things off they found him in the morning sat watching porn at full volume on his laptop. What a fucking scene!

The joint tonight isn’t anywhere near that level, but it’s not great. Can’t claim false advertising though, there certainly is a party going on. The rooms encircle a courtyard with a disco below and the shit music is blasting. As we make our way into the rooms Johan and I wonder if they are soundproofed.


Apparently the disco is on until two, another hour away. Alex mentions some rock bar nearby that we could go to for a beer. Sounds better than lying here listening to this piss. Serena and Liam come along whilst Jon and Mark hang out for a smoke and a meditation session. We can’t find the rock bar and just as it’s starting to feel useless since it’s already one-thirty I’m suddenly being frisked by a big bouncer bloke. I’m not even sure if we’re supposed to be going in to the place he’s bouncing, but apparently we are. It’s actually a cool place, though, like some indoor market full of different bars. We get a round of draught beers in and find an alcove like room and sit down for a chat. One beer turns into two and three am. It was nice sitting with the guys though, and worth the sacrifice of sleep. Maybe. Liam tells me that he thought it was funny that I described Mark as a really mild mannered guy, telling me there’s a darker, road-ragey side to him. Hard to imagine. We’ve all got our dark sides, though. Liam asks us who has the temperaments in Victims. After some consideration I say that Jon and I are certainly the emotional ones. Johan offers that he and Andy are the grumpy ones. I guess that’s true, but thankfully those sides of us show themselves rarely.

By the time I get into bed it’s three-fifteen and we’re supposed to meeting Zoli for breakfast at nine. I text him telling him to make it ten instead. Hopefully we’ll still make it in good time to Vienna tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019


I slept pretty well apart from waking up at one point covered in sweat, literally dripping through it. Can’t be getting night sweats at this age already? DO men even get night sweats? No, it was the sun blasting through the huge, curtainless ground level window behind my head. I managed to drift back off, once the sweat that had turned to ice, after kicking the covers off, thawed a little.

The alarm was set for coffee and sightseeing this morning. Mark had just brewed a pot so we sat there enjoying a mug of java whilst I waited for the shower to become available. When I was clean and ready to go, Jon came walking out looking like the back end of a bus. “Morning Jon.” “Morning”. “Are you coming into town?” “No.” Didn’t even break stride, just walked into the toilet, did a piss and went back to bed. Zoli had work to do so it was just Johan, Andy and I that went off exploring. It’s not that often that we play cities I’ve never been to previously, but strangely enough Dresden was one of them. It was one of the things I was most looking forward to at the start of the tour.

We took the thirty minute walk into town. It was a grey morning but the air was just the right side of brisk. We stopped for a quick cup of coffee and a sarnie at some nondescript place just before the river across from the old town and then made our way over one of the bridges. The view from the river was quite something. It looks like the set from a gothic film, all black stone churches and grande architecture. We stood there looking at the almost overbearing buildings for a while. The ominous history of this city made me feel heavy hearted. Even though the old buildings are black due to being constructed of sandstone, it paints a picture of fire and ashes, an almost tangible image of the hell on earth the British firebombs created here. And, of course, once you walk through the inital facade you end up in an area of sterile, soulless modern buildings, which makes things even more eerie because it hammers home the fact that they really did destroy the whole fucking city. What a horrible fucking thing.

My main mission was the Bombing Memorial and walked in search of it as the other guys checked out a Lego shop in the shopping gallery. There was a church on the other side of the huge open square but I couldn’t find the memorial. After much head scratching looking at Google Maps, I happened upon it almost haphazardly. It was simply just a modest little plaque in the cobblestones. Fitting, somehow.

We all met back up, the three of us having had the morning gut shuffle as a result of the earlier coffee. Andy said he’d had to run from the Lego store as it hit him like a ton of bricks, and had a bit of a sweaty panic on since the shopping gallery was huge. When we were all back together Andy said he’d actually went inside the church I’d walked around whilst looking for the memorial, and that they’d had a photo exhibition of before, during and after the bombing, whilst some string quartet played music. I can not believe I missed that due to having my head stuck in Google Maps. I wanted to go back but we were pressed for time. Fucking bummer.

We took the tram back to the venue where Jon and Zoli were waiting for us and after loading out Johan drove the two hours to Prague. We arrived with about an hour to spare and Zoli took us to another one of his long string of vegan restaurant tips, some place called Moment in a part of town I’d never been to. In contrast to Dresden, it feels like we’ve been to Prague every summer for the last six or seven years, due to playing one of the many Czech festivals every year. As much as I love Prague, it wasn’t on our list of sightseeing priorities this tour. The drive to Budapest tomorrow is about seven hours, and with the curfew on the show tonight being ten pm, we’re playing with the idea of booking a hotel somewhere along the way, maybe drive a couple of hours tonight if we can get out of here by eleven. It feels strange to blow of Prague really, but the 007 club is up on this huge hill on the edge of town, and then the band apartment is on the outskirts on the other side of the city, but there is no safe parking there, and the recommended safe parking spot is actually in the centre, meaning a lot of faffing around after the gig. Feels easier just to drive a couple of hours and break up the journey since we won’t get much chance to do Prague tonight anyway.

The food at Moment is great anyway. Vegan fried cheese and hand cut fries. Fucking banging. Jon is not impressed though. Zoli had made him an offer, that if he tried it and honestly didn’t like it, then he would buy Jon three cans of Monster energy drinks, Lewis Hamilton edition. One of Jon’s current obsessions. Three cans of Hamilton, it was. Jon managed about half of it before lifting the remains of it on to my plate, which I happily gobbled up. It was a bit gluey in consistency, to be fair, but it tasted great, and the vegan tartar sauce was wonderful, as well as the chips. Reminded me of my mum’s, who always made the world’s best chips. The service was not quite up to the same standard as the food, though. Which annoyed Zoli. “Assholes!” It doesn’t take much to wind up in Zoli’s Asshole Book to be honest, but this time he had a point. The young woman at the till taking payment had a face like a bag of wasps. She was not impressed with Zoli’s babbling, or the fact that as he was paying he then asked for a slice of chocolate and apple cake, and then when she banged in the new amount Zoli had his back to her and dancing at us. I winked at Zoli and told him to watch my British charm in action, totally hamming up the confidence, knowing that if I pulled it off Zoli would be furious. No dice. She was indeed a miserable bastard.

We drove over to the 007. Last time I played here was actually with Zoli in 2007 on the Speedhorn, Bridge to Solace tour where we first met. He likes to point out that the night we played here was the night Liverpool got beat by Milan in the European Cup Final and he found me outside the venue, sat on a fence, sobbing. I debate that I was sobbing, but he insists. I’d had a few drinks I guess… I’m not totally confident in my denial of his story. Funny to be back here with him, anyway. We get all nostalgic about it.

The drive up to the venue is pretty cool. It snakes up the huge hill, giving amazing vistas of the entire city, and then when you get to the top you meet a huge, open roofed stadium that was intended as an arena for all sorts of things but, aside from communist rallies in the days of the Iron Curtain, seems pretty much to have been unused since. On the way up the hill there are all these big houses which look like they cost a fortune and then all of a sudden you’re in a project of student housing which is block after block of concrete grey high rises. The venue itself, is legendary, though. One of the best DIY spots around, and small enough that fifty people would make a good evening of it. Zoli tells me they’ve already done eighty and are expecting well over a hundred. It’s going to a good night.

It all starts with a bit of work, though. Nothing quite as boring as actually having to do some work on tour. The input jack on my amp fell inside the amp last night, leaving Johan and I, mostly Johan, although I feel my lamp work was an integral part of the operation, exploring all options of how to get thing back out. The amp casing is more secure than fucking Fort Knox so we end up fishing it out through the tiny hole that has been left in the front of the amp. It’s beyond tedious. Like Mission Impossible. One of the punks that work here even gets involved, the three of us having lengthy discussions about tactical alternatives. After an hour of this shit we finally get it back in action. By the time we’re done and I’ve restrung my SG, the doors are opening. By the time Svalbard go on an hour later the place is pretty much packed. I attempt to watch them but can’t get anywhere near the stage, and the ceiling us so low in the place that the view is just completely blocked. They sound great anyway. And the crowd seem to be well into them. Almost to the point where I think this one could be entirely theirs tonight.

I’m sat in the side stage room waiting for the Svalbard guys to pack up. Just as Serena walks in I go to congratulate her on a great show and my attention is caught by Jon’s pale spotty arse in the corner, changing his kecks for the show. He’s been sleeping all night and seems to be in a bit of a daze.

Gratefully, there is still enthusiasm enough left for us guys too. It hits me that this is a really good package, the two of us. Really compliment each other well. The sound on stage is a bit chaotic on the cramped stage with the roof right above your head. I can barely hear anything Andy and it’s one of those shows that you have to make your way through on energy alone. I’m a bit plink/plonky in the beginning, and the songs are all going a little too fast, but I settle in about halfway through and get to enjoying it as much as the crowd seem to be. I spend most of the gig on a block right on the edge of the stage, no intention of being Slash or anything, it’s just there’s a fan blowing down from the ceiling right in that spot and it’s lovely and cooling. But then as we play Scars at the end of the set I noticed two of the punks gathering together and before I know it two of them have picked me up and launched me into the crowd. I’m being passed around on a sea of hands, almost pressed up to the ceiling for what seems like an age. In the beginning I try to continue playing the song but there’s no chance. I assume that they’re going to pass me back to the stage but every time I start dropping down they lift me back up. It’s fucking crazy. I catch Andy’s glance and see his concern, but I’m give him a smile and let him know it’s okay. In truth, I’m shitting myself. That concrete floor looks hard from up here. In the end I manage to take my guitar off and hand it off and they finally deliver me back to the stage. Way too old for that shit! It’s a fun ending to the gig though.

It’s a quick load out tonight. Zoli is banging on about driving into the city to grab a Beyond Burger but I want to get going since I’m doing the drive. I’m incredibly thirsty for one of the cold cans of Gambrinus in the fridge and want to get the hotel as soon as possible and crack one open. Worst choice of city on this tour to skip an aftershow beer in lew of a drive. Svalbard have decided to join us too, since they had a whole day of Prague anyway, and Liam is really intent on us all going together to this outdoor spa in Budapest we’ve been talking about. The drive takes a little longer than two hours, and it’s repeatedly slowed down by roadworks. The hotel is decent though. Just on the outskirts of Brno. Another city I’d really like to see someday. Maybe next time.

Everyone is pretty knackered when we pull in around one am, but I'm in need of a beer and a wind down, so whilst most people go to bed, Zoli and Jon come up to mine and Johan’s room, having been chased out of theirs by Andy. We sit on the bed and play a couple of rounds of Yahtzee. Every time Jon throws a double three he comments on how it is a curse that follows him around. He says that he first began noticing it months ago, that even his regular Yahtzee friends at home noticed it. He tells us that at one point it got too much and he had to stop playing for a few months. Not to encourage Jon in this nonsense, but he throws an eerie amount of Double Threes, shaking his head and mumbling to himself every single time.

Monday, October 28, 2019


I woke up in the Germany Vegas hotel room, foggy and confused, by Jon shuffling about the room getting dressed to go out. I looked at the clock on my phone. It said it was eight am.,but I felt like I’d had more rest than six hours. And then I realised the time had moved to winter time and we’d gained an hour back. Jon looked at me on the way out, “Proves my point about circular time exactly,” he says, continuing on from the weird conversation he was having with me/himself last night. He was off to the market with Helene for a few hours. I wished him well and went about enjoying a couple of hours relaxing on my own in the hotel room.

He got busted on the tram without a ticket and ended up with a sixty euro fine.

After breakfast in the enormous lobby area we dumped the bags in the van and went for some coffee and scones at some cool little cafe just round the corner from the hotel. Heike and Colin lived right nearby, as well as our friend Jobst from the bands Nothing and Munster, so we met up with everyone and hung out for an hour or so. It was nice seeing Jobst since he couldn’t make the show last night. We understand of course, he’s old like us and has two kids, and sometimes it’s hard to work things out. It has been nice being able to hang and socialise with friends these first few days, have to take advantage when you get the chance, there’s always a long drive lurking around the corner, it feels like.

I drove all the way to Dresden today, happy that it came in at the two hours as advertised. We got to the venue about a half hour before load in time, but the place was about a thirty minute walk from the old town and we have time in the morning to check the city out, so end up just hanging around in the backstage room drinking mug after mug of coffee and nibbling at the various vegan snacks on the table in the backstage room. Once again, the room feels a little bit on the large size tonight. I’m a bit confused though, since I’m sure Jen told me she played this place with Misdemeanor a couple of times back in the day and that it was a cool little place and they had really good shows here. But then a while later a friend of Zoli’s turns up, a guy who actually booked Victims years ago, and he tells me that the venue did used to be a lot smaller but they got a cultural grant from the government and built it out a bit. Typical. Sunday shows can be hard, I know myself that draggin my ass out to a Sunday show at home is a rarity. Would have been nice with a smaller room, all the same. As if to compound the Sunday feeling, Alex the promoter, a big German guy with a big smile, greets us, and tells us that he booked our show at Zoro in Leipzig five or six years ago. It stokes good memories, we played with our friends Moloch and Thou and the place was packed. Alex then laughs a little, slightest tinge of nerves in his voice, “I guess it won’t be like that tonight.”

After soundcheck Johan and I sit in the backstage room and watch the Liverpool Spurs game on his tablet, my neck straining nervously as the Mighty Reds come from behind to win 2-1. With that taken care of we nosh on with some dinner, and then get down to the all important business of Yahtzee. Serena and Zoli join in, neither having really played before, so Jon happily guides them through the match, advising them what moves to play, huffing and puffing as he critiques my every move, which then spurs me to ham it up completely. My first throw I get two sixes and a five. Jon insists you should always go for Yahtzee, but I defy him and throw the last hand for a full house. Jon shakes his head incredulously, as a five and a six bounce up and give him a huge whoop! He’s proper annoyed, “It was still an amatuer move!” The rest of the game goes shit for me, but I still get a kick out of winding Jon up. Zoli, after on game, is totally hooked. He stumbles upon a bit of beginner’s luck and after that he wants to play again. Jon has found a Yahtzee disciple.

The local band start playing, and from the first few notes Jon concludes, “They sound like a band that is going to play for a very, very long time.” They don’t really, though. A modest half an hour or so. Germany used to be famous for having local opening bands that would play an hour set and then encores. There are over a hundred people in the place by the time they’ve finished and all of a sudden it doesn’t feel too bad. Alex is a little relieved since we’d only done around thirty pre-sales. A hundred or so on a Sunday night is about as much as we can hope for, and it looks pretty good when Svalbard are playing, and they get a good response too. Heike and Colin made the trip over for this show too since Heike’s parents live close by and they could babysit for them. I sit with them in the bar room and talk about Dresden, the guys giving me good sightseeing tips for tomorrow.

I’m feeling good and ready to play by the time Svalbard are done. Always gives you a little push when you think it’s gonna be a bit of a stinker and then there ends up being quite a few more people that it originally seemed it would be. As we’re waiting in the dressing room the Svalbard guys to pack down, Jon asks us if we’ve seen this Marvel film that has some sort of Hitler character in it, or something. I don’t really catch it, but Johan and Andy jump on it straight away. “What, like, Superhitler?” “Spiderhitler? Awesome concept!”

It’s a really fun show playing wise, and the crowd are having a decent enough dance of it. It’s easily the best on stage sound of the tour so far, and it feels like it’s almost at the point where the songs are playing themselves. There is one guy grunting a lot between songs, shouting “Hallelujah!” and “We love you! We need you!” Bit weird, but okay. He looks chuffed as fuck, anyway. Jon seems to be doing some sort of ballet dance thing between songs at the minute, which just adds to the bare feet thing. Fuck knows. Anyway, all in all, a very, very decent Sunday show. As I’m packing up my gear afterwards some big crust punk with a mohawk beckons me to him and starts shouting German at me. I tell him I can’t understand and he just shakes his head and says, “No English! Singer!” I happily oblige and find Johan and smirking, tell him his presence is required. I check it out as I’m packing the rest of my gear up and hear them saying something along the lines of “Best singer!” Johan thanks them, Mohawk has a mate now, who seems to be translating his German into more German. It all ends with them giving Johan a pair of snazzy sunglasses and insisting he wear them. He looks like a right tit. He walks around with them on top of his head for a good while afterwards though.

I get chatting with Mark the Svalbard drummer once I’ve dried off and gotten myself a cold beer. He asks about my dad, since he thought it was great how he came to the show last night. We make a nice connection, although a sorry one, since we both have parents that have passed away. We stand chatting about that stuff for a while. I really like him, a real mild, easy going chap. We’ve made a really good connection with the Svalbard guys very early on, it feels like.

Liam has had a couple of beers after the show, first time I’ve seen him a but tipsy. He comes up with the great idea of trading in all the beer tokens and taking a crate back to the apartment. He’s making a few saucy remarks, obviously taking the piss. Serena starts laughing at him, and Liam says he’s going to go all out Tommy Lee. “Tommy Liam!” I chirp in, well chuffed with myself. Serena and I decide we’re gonna make that name stick. When we get to the place, it’s one of those typical German style squat/apartments, although I guess it isn’t squatted. But it’s rough and ready, a couple of rooms with hand crafted bunk beds made out of thick pieces of wood. There is a shower and towels, though, and most of the beds have quilts and pillows. Of course, I left my sleeping bag in the van and the bed I’ve been alloted is bare, but Johan gives me his since he has his bag. Going back to the van would have been a pain in the ass. Andy laughs, saying that it’s typical of me to forget the sleeping bag, since I used to have a bad habit of not bringing one with me, and now even the one I have was given to me as a birthday present from Andy and Johan, and then I leave it in the van. Liam has done the same thing, it turns out, but he can’t be arsed going back either and says he’ll sleep in his clothes.

This all leads to a conversation about sleeping bags as we’re sat around a long table in the front room whilst some of the gang play Yahtzee. Alex Svalbard tells us that he had once had this sleeping bag that had been left somewhere for a couple of years, he’d forgotten about it I guess. And then this one night they played in Bristol and were staying at Liam’s and the sleeping bag had turned up. When he went to remove it from it’s holder bag, though, it was no longer a sleeping bag and was now a scuba diving costume, the body suit you wear under the wetsuit. We all piss ourselves laughing as he says, dumbfounded, that he ended up just wearing that and sleeping in it. I’m laughing so hard it hurts my stomach. I don’t know why, but it tickled the shit out of me.

We sit up until around two thirty, the Yahtzee gang, now including a very enthusiastic and equally serious Zoli, at one end of the table, Andy, Liam, Serena and I at the other. Serena and I get talking about studying and it turns out she’s a kindred spirit, psychology and sociology major. We sit there talking about our favourites theorists and the stuff we are working on at the minute. She is in the first year of her PHD, and she’s interested to hear about how it’s going with my soon to be completed Bachelors. It’s been another nice day, and a really good end to the night.

Sunday, October 27, 2019


I could get used to this crack. Seven hours of solid sleep, minus one piss break, in a decent bed. Zoli was already lying awake in bed looking at his phone when I arose from slumber. I asked him if he slept okay, he told me it was fine apart from the fact that every time Andy moved around in the bunk above him flakes of concrete from the wall behind him fell on his head. Otherwise, everyone slept well last night. It’s nice to wake up on tour feeling normal. The back wasn’t even as bad as I expected. Bonus.

We were all booked in for brunch at some vegan place that Zoli has been raving about, and Feddi is meeting us there. We had a couple of hours to kill, though, so the Victims guys got showered and sorted and went for a stroll around the area. On the way to the van to dump the bags we saw a slew of drunk Hamburgers staggering around the streets like zombies. Must have been a heavy payday Friday! We passed a couple of blokes who were struggling to stand, looked like a right pair of wideos, I could swear they were gonna start shit with us when we walked by them but they didn’t notice us until about three minutes later when they then began shouting at us… “HALLÅ!!! HALLÅ!!!!” We just laughed and carried on.

We grabbed some very decent coffee to go and went for a wander around the backstreets of St. Pauli without any real plan, but somehow ended up on the Reeperbahn. It must be fucking magnetic or something, you always seem to end up here in this city, intention or not. It’s pretty fucking miserable really, hungover tourist and sadness. I’m walking with Jon and I ask him what he felt about last night’s show. “One of the best shows we ever played,” he says, totally serious. He never fails to amuse me. We turned off soon enough and back into the nicer, quieter streets of St. Pauli where we bumped into Feddi on his bike with his young boy in the box on the back, half asleep. He said they’ve just been to some gymnastic park, enjoying the fresh air. It is indeed unusually pleasant weather for this time of year. There are still plenty of people taking their coffees at tables outside the cafes everywhere. A very nice change from home right now. We asked Feddi if there were any record shops around he was happy to show us, so we walked along with him having a nice chat along the way. The little record shop was really cool, with some very happy looking old guy with a moustache and a cheesy smile keeping the shop, and there were piles of records everywhere, but it was far too expensive for our tastes. There were some hardcore punk and metal records in there that I’d bought once upon a time for like, five euros, that were now going for thirty or forty, When did this happen really? And how much is my fucking record collection worth?

We met up with Zoli and the Svalbards at the cafe. I love the fact Zoli gets very excited about good food places. He was buzzing around like a small kid, telling everyone the crack and giving tips. Of course, all the staff recognised his big mug and all. He told me he’d been here every time he’s been through on tour. It was a cool, rustic little place with a vegan buffet and coffee for €16, which was a bit steep, but the food was great, and they did freshly made scrambled tofu to order, which was the dog’s baws. There was a slight communication miss, though. Liam Svalbard ended up mincing down a piece of pork salami, believing that everything was vegan. Which was kinda how I’d translated the message and all, but then when I’d seen the buffet I figured there was no fucking way they were making Roquefort look that realistic. The ham slices had eventually stirred Liam’s suspicion but it was too late. Gutted. Jon was chuffed, though, when he heard that Serena is a meat eater like him. He was sat next to her enthusing away as he does. I warned Alex their bass player next to me that our guitarist was probably going to freak Serena out soon. I heard Jon saying to her that the only thing he refuses to eat is fish. I leant over and asked why that was and he replied stone cold, “Fish fuck in the sea.” Only Jon…

Apart from the slight mishap, brunch was a roarin success. After thanking Feddi again for his help and hospitality we made our way back to the van to get going towards Berlin. I’d drive the first hour and a half, Johan the second. Except, we should have learned by now, that you can never trust the autobahn. When it works it’s great, when it’s SCHTAU it sucks. It wasn’t even SCHTAU today, it was just fucking closed for twenty five kilometers, turning our three hour journey into a six hour one. It was pitch black by the time we arrived at the venue, two and a half hours late. The venue people were cool about it, though, and very relaxed, which always helps.

The first thing that hit me when we loaded the gear in was, shit, this venue is too big. It was a cool place, though. Seemed to be some old cinema or something, and there were myriad rooms and alcoves with stone walls, an outer courtyard with bar, another cosy little bar out front completely disconnected from the music room and even a little cinema room. I wish they had places like this at home. Zoli is chuffed, tells me they’ve sold over a hundred tickets in advance. Even then though, it would take twice that to fill the room out properly. Anyway, being late we decide that Svalbard should soundcheck and we can just linecheck later. There are only the two bands tonight and we’re using the same set up and backline pretty much. I’m happy to skip it and relax for a while, we have a few different friends coming tonight and most importantly, my dad is making an appearance. Zoli thought I was joking when I told him my old man was coming to the Berlin and Vienna shows. I’m really chuffed, I don’t see him as much as I’d like, but he’s making the most of his retirement and always travelling all over the place on his own, and he since he’d never been to either Berlin or Vienna he thought he’d kill two birds with one stone and spend a few days in each whilst catching a couple of Victims shows. Really cool.

“Gareth? Gareth?” That never changes, though. Dad has a habit of calling and then when you answer he’s busy doing something else. I hear him talking to some random German and he’s obviously looking for directions to the club. “Been walking back and forth like a tit, boy! Can’t find the place.” Obviously he hasn’t put the address into his GPS on his phone, he’s just walking about asking people in his Welsh/Corby accent. I figure out he’s by the Ostkreuz station which is just around the corner, so go to meet him. It’s great to see him. Plus, he has a book delivery for me, and a war protest poster from Vietnam that he picked up for me when he was there earlier in the year.

We walk back to the venue and after taking him in to say hello to everyone we go to the cosy bar at the front for a beer. I’m driving after the gig to the hotel tonight, but I can have the one with my old man. Especially when he’s buying. On the way I bump into another couple of friends who we’d arranged to meet tonight, Colin and Heike who we know from the States and the Another Breath crew, so we all sit down for a beer and a chat. Shortly afterwards we’re joined by the rest of the Victims guys and Jon’s dear friend Helene and her friend, who both live here. Helene put on an amazing show for us here at Kastanjenkeller years back. Probably one of the most fun shows I ever played. It’s magic having this little get together with everyone.

The place is a fucking maze, though. Going back and forth a couple of times, I get lost. Three times I end up in that little cinema room, and then when I finally find my way back to the bar I end up walking through a door that leads behind the actual bar and get bawled out by the bartender.

After sitting around chatting for an hour or so, over a very nice cold pint of pilsner, we head back into the gig room to see Svalbard. I’m pretty amazed when I see how many people are in the place, it’s pretty packed. Zoli is by the merch smiling profoundly. Apparently they’ve done over two hundred and thirty tickets. The place is buzzing and Svalbard get a really good reaction. My dad is stood at the back by the door to the merch room where I’m stood for Zoli for a while, “These are alright these ain’t they?” he chirps. They are a really good band, really good at what they do. And as a bonus, really nice people. It’s going to be a fun few days hanging out with these guys.

The punks filter out of the room for some well needed air after the Svalbard set and we get to work. My dad cracks up at some crust punk guy who has taken a spot on the floor, lying down with his hands behind his head looking at the stage, waiting for us. “Not a bit of a poseur,” dad says with a broad smile on his coupon. Dad loves a poseur, Totally laps them up.

The show tonight puts the rustiness of last nights show in perspective. It’s always the same with first shows. Even if it felt okay last night, tonight is so much better and so much tighter. We have a great time during the gig, I love seeing my dad stood against the side wall near the front with a big smile on his face, watching us and cracking up at the crowd moshing and crowd surfing. There are a lot of smiling, dancing punks down the front which always gives you that extra bit of energy. At one point Jon removes a pair of sunglasses from some punter and wears them for a song, chuffed as fuck. The only downer for him is that his guitar strap snaps off or something, but his old friend Breeder is on hand to help him out. It’s a proper banger and we’re all chuffed afterwards. Dad comes up to me as I’m wrapping my leads up and gives me a big smile, “No wonder your back is fucking knackered,” he laughs. He tells me he’s gonna shoot the crow, his words, since he’s been walking around all day taking photos of stuff and needs a kip. I tell him I’ll see him in Vienna.

Some young guys get talking to me afterwards, a guy called Lukas originally from DC. He wants to ask me about my guitar pedals, he says the guitar sound was immense. I’m not all into the pedal talk, but happily talk to him about other things, and we stay there and chat for a while. Really sweet guy. I love meeting new people, always have time for a chat. We do really well on merch tonight and even get a percentage break on the door, on top of the guarantee. Not often that happens. This just keeps adding to Zoli’s levels of chuffed. What a great night it’s been, meeting up with more friends again and a brilliant show. I have half a bottle of cold beer and then we pack a couple to take with us back to the hotel. The weird thing is, though, the promoter has booked us into this four star hotel, but it’s the only show on the tour that Svalbard don’t have accommodation which feels a bit embarrassing. We could have happily taken some cheaper place where everyone could have stayed.

When we’ve packed the van we go on a food hunt before heading off. Apparently there are places over by the Ostkreuz station so we head over there. The station is buzzing with Saturday night drunks and ravers, and we have to make our way through the concourse to the other side and through the rabble. There is indeed a cosy little area on the other side of the station and we find a little sit-down falafel place. The guy behind the counter seems less than happy to see us, though, he just stands there shaking his head as the nine of us order food. We sit outside at some tables and have a blather whilst we wait. I really appreciate the fact that it’s only day two and already it feels like we’re mixing well with the Svalbard guys. The food is worth the grumpy attitude anyway, really nice, fresh grub. When we’re done we make to go and Zoli starts complaining at us, saying he was thinking of getting another falafel wrap. Greedy sod. “Come on guys, it’s Saturday night in Berlin!” We walk off and he begrudgingly follows suit. The thing is, years back, of course we would have gone drinking until the early hours, but if I was out at one-thirty back home these days I would be falling asleep already. One-thirty in Berlin is more than a good enough innings, I reckon.

We walk back through the station and Serena and Jon make a stop at some bakery kiosk. As we wait around for them Serena comes up to us, half smiling, half shocked, and says some rude German woman had just barged behind her in the queue and then just shouted her order over her shoulder, leaving Serena speechless. I comment that I guess she must have been wasted, Serena has a different reflection in it though, “She was just a fucking cunt!” laughing about it all the same. Andy cracks up, “Love the Brits”.

The hotel we’re staying at us fucking ridiculous. It’s Germany, or maybe someone said Europe’s, largest hotel. It literally has thousands of rooms and we’re staying in the second wing of four, I think. It’s total Las Vegas. Pristine, huge and shiny, and somehow still tacky. The lobby has a huge glass ceiling about seven stories up, and there are bars and restaurants strewn about the place. It looks more like Central Station than a hotel. We dump our bags and decide on a nightcap before bed. There is some other band at the bar who we try to avoid, since one of the guys is wearing black metal clothes and has a man bun. Obviously a wretched person. I jest, of course. Zoli is curious, though, he always wants to know who’s who. We leave him to it as we take our beers to one of the sofas. Zoli joins us soon after and tells us they’re actually nice guys. I’m sure they are. We just couldn’t be bothered with band talk.

Jon heads up before us, since he’s intent on making it to this market in the morning. I’m not far behind him, though. I’m more than ready for bed. The one beer was perfect. I walk into our room and Jon is sat meditating on the bed, full on yoga style. I apologise for barging in and disturbing him and his eyes burst open, “That weed I got from Breeder was a real upper! I’m fucking buzzing!” and then he starts banging on about circular time for a while. I don’t really keep track with what he’s talking about, I just leave him chatting away whilst I nod off to sleep in the bed beside him.


It’s a bit of a novelty, looking forward to going on tour and sleeping in a real bed. For the past six weeks I’ve been on the floor at my mother in law’s small apartment whilst our place gets replumbed. If everything goes according to schedule, we should be able to move back home when I get back from this tour in ten days.

I’ve been looking forward to this tour for a while, first time we’ve been out for a longer stretch in a few years. Last time we did more than three or four shows was on the west coast in the US in 2016. It will be an interesting marker of where we’re at to see how us old guys with bad backs fare. The drives aren’t too bad, and the shows are all pretty early, which the fact that it pleases everyone immensely shows how old and boring we are. Fuck me. We are a middle aged Svenne banan punk band in every aspect.

The only real big journey’s are the two bookending the tour. Stockholm to Hamburg, Eindhoven to Stockholm. And it’s only myself and Johan with a driving license. We split the first journey in two, though, leaving Stockholm after work yesterday and crashing at a hotel on the outskirts of Malmö just before the bridge. We got there without incident. It took about six and a half hours including the mandatory stop for dinner at Max’s. The hotel was a pretty nice Best Western right next to the Malmö Arena, where there seemed to be a big expo or something going on. After driving all evening I could have happily taken a night cap, but the bar was firmly closed. All that was left were a few pissed up businessmen and a deserted table with a couple of half drunk bottles of wine. Andy said when he’d gone in to check us in there was some woman who was pissed as a fart and had walked into a pillar. Swedes on business trips...

Had a really good sleep anyway. Oh for a real bed. There was a bit of contention as to who was sleeping where, or maybe that was just in my tired paranoid mind. But I really wanted one half of the double bed as opposed to the shabby looking bunk bed. Andy went to get into the bottom bunk but was too long for it. Johan took it in the end and I crawled under the sheets and enjoyed every second of it, even Andy snoring beside me like a horse didn’t bother me. Funny thing is the big bastard woke up in the morning and asked who was snoring, complaining that it woke him up. Woke himself up.

After breakfast at the hotel, which was included, but was in a big grey room overlooking the ice rink of the arena. Andy pointed out the pissed up woman from last night, looking surprisingly bright with her cup of coffee. The journey down through Denmark to Hamburg only took about five hours and was pretty easy. It was windy as fuck on the bridge though, a couple of times I had to fight the gusts pulling us off to the sea. I assumed with the wind being the way it was that the ferry from Rödby to Puttgarden was going to be a bumpy ride, but it was fine. It’s only a short stretch I guess. We only had time for a coffee and the one game of Yahtzee before we were off again. Jon has this proper big case for his Yahtzee kit, for some reason is has ASS BOY written on in huge letters. Jon marked us up on the scoresheet as JPT (Johan på toan), BRX (Brexit) and TOK. I love the humble self-image he has of himself. I felt a bit bad as we were sat there playing, I had one crap hand that meant me being forced to scratch the small straight and fuming, I called the dice a bunch of cunts, not noticing the old couple and their grandchild beside us. It’s Jon’s fault, he encourages everyone to take Yahtzee very seriously.

We got to the venue in Hamburg about an hour early, having foregone lunch on the way from Puttgården due to the veggie options at the one dinner we found being french fries. This is a new venue for us here, we’ve pretty much always played the Hafenklang.and it seemed to cause a few hurt feelings that we weren’t playing there this time. It’s a bit of a shame, they’ve always taken such great care of us. I don’t really know why we ended up at this place this time around, but it looked pretty cool all the same. A smallish room, with cosy setting, sofas and shit, dotted about the back, and still very punk, in the basement underneath a hip little bar. There was nothing to do for the next hour anyway so we decided to go for a walk and stretch the old pegs, but we’d only walked two minutes when Zoli phoned. He was stood outside the venue with two boxed of our merch. It’s pretty fun how Zoli and I toured together twelve years ago and then apart from a couple of glancing moments, hadn’t really seen each other since then. And then last year we met him at a show in Budapest and now he’s our booker, and for the first few shows on this run, the tour manager. Not that we really need tour managing, but fun to have him along all the same.

We have to work out what to do with the merch, since two minutes ago the staff in the bar above the club said they didn’t know much about our gig. But now there’s this old guy there, who apparently is running a techno club directly after out show. Seems pretty friendly. Zoli gets chopping with him and he tells us that we can take the merch downstairs, that the sound engineer is down there. “Thanks Techno Man” Zoli chortles and we trudge downstairs. We get talking to the sound engineer and he tells us he’s going to be a while so we can still go for a wander. I ask him if we’ll be able to leave the gear in the club tonight, hoping obviously that we don’t have to have it in the van overnight, and that Johan and I will be able to have a drink after the show. He tells us that the techno club starts at midnight and it finishes at six pm the day after. “Drug abusers, you know?” So I guess we’re not leaving the stuff in the club…I then notice a ridiculously high drum riser on the stage, it’s like, shoulder height. We ask the guy if that is really where the drums are supposed to go. “Yes,” he says without a blink. I laugh and tell him that’s not going to happen.

It’s nice to see another part of Hamburg for a change, instead of the usual meandering around the Reeperbahn. We’re on the outskirts of St Pauli on the other end, it’s a nice little area full of coffee shops and bars, small shops, and a couple of old assed churches. When we get back to the venue we soundcheck, which seems to scupper the sound engineer’s plans, since he was hoping we’d just go for linecheck, being the first show of the tour and all. It’s just as well we did because soundcheck throws up a few niggly technical issues. It’s gets a bit fucking strange when Svalbard soundcheck and Serena the singer is asking for more vocals in her monitor, and the sound guy tells her to sing louder. What the fuck…

The Svalbard people seem friendly. I don’t really know much about them apart from they’re from the UK and they once did a cover of This is the End on a compilation record back in the day. They’re going to be out with us for eight of the nine shows of this tour. Just from the brief bit of chat around the vegan pizza the promoter sorted us out with, I can tell we’re going to get along just fine. Still one of the things I love the most about touring is making new friends and meeting old ones. And on that point, both our old friend Daniel Haffenklang, who always used to book us there, and our dear, beloved Stachel, texts me and asks about going for a beer. We arrange to go to some bar that sells good stuff that Stachel knows about. Text Daniel the place and ask him if he needs a guestlist, suspecting that he won’t since he knows everyone in Hamburg. He tells me he’s sorted. Zoli then tells me that it was Daniel that booked this show for us tonight… which I guess explains why we’re not playing Haffenklang. I knew Daniel ahd left there but not that he’d started here. Although he has now since finished here too…

Stachel and his girlfriend and another friend of there’s arrive outside the venue where we’re waiting for them. It’s so great to see him. One of my favourite people on the planet. It’s been far too long since we hung out. They have been living on Gran Canaria and then Mallorca for a couple of years. Anyway, it’s great to see him. His cheeky face is exactly the same as ever. “Garrrrry!” His tone hasn’t changed, either. We go to a hip little beer abr five minutes away, Stachel is very enthusiastic about good ale, and he loves bringing friends to good places. He kindly treats us all to a round. I wasn’t going to drink before the show, but I spot and ale that is only 3,9% which Stachel tells me is really good. Johan and Andy go for one too. Funnily enough, we all say afterwards how it went straight up to our heads. My ears go a fuzzy warm about halfway through the pint. Ridiculous. It’s great chatting and catching up with everyone, and soon enough, Daniel arrives too. Couldn’t ask for a better start to the tour.

Zoli’s good friends, The Cold, are opening the show tonight and Andy, Johan and I feel we should go and support them. The fact the stage times have all been pushed back suggests that the walk up is slow. I’m surprised when we get there to find the room pretty well filled out. I enjoy their set as well. Svalbard are good, too. They have a bit of an epic, black metal tinged punk thing going on with Envy-style parts going on. The sound is really good out front, and a lot of people seem to be in to them. I get the feeling that they’re going to pull a few people on this tour.

Our show feels okay. It starts well enough, there are over a hundred people in the room and it feels like a good attendance in this room, I have plenty of energy to begin with, spurred on a little by Stachel’s presence up front, his huge smile glowing as ever. But the energy kind of fades a little somewhere along the way. There isn’t a whole lot of movement from the crowd, it’s all arms folded and nods. There are barely any crust punks here tonight, either. I don’t know if that’s a Haffenkland issue. There is the usual crescent of empty space in front of the stage, with everyone else cramming at the back, and as we’re playing Errors Jon decides to fill that space and comes flying over to my side of the stage on the dancefloor in front of me, he comes sliding across on his fucking knees to play the harmony break with me in the middle of the song, chuffed as fuck he is. Proper cheesy rock moment gone wrong. Only thing is, he totally misses the notes and it sounds as sour as fuck.Things perk up a bit when we get to My Eyes, about half way through, and as I’m wondering what’s keeping Jon from starting the intro riff I notice him steadying himself on the ridiculous drum riser, right up above Andy. He stands there like a rock God, rocking out the intro riff. I crack up at the sight of it. Then when he gets to the end of the intro Andy has to wait to kick in the drum start because Jon needs time climbing back down again. Fucking nonsense.

We kind of plough through the rest, the crowd starting to make the first tentative signs of movement for a couple of the old songs. But there is the odd miss from Andy here and there, I manage to pull my lead out of my pedal a couple of times, and then during one break I look up and see Johan looking stressed, his hair is sticking out into wide flanks either side of his head, as he walks about the stage asking if anyone has seen his ear plug. I daren’t let him see, so I turn away and laugh my ass off. For some reason, the sight of him, with his wild hair, just cracks me up. It hits me how old and pathetic we must look.

By the time we get to the end of the normal set, it feels pretty clear we’re not doing any encores. It’s been a typical first show on tour, had that vibe all over it. And besides, the sound guy put the music on as soon as we finished. There is one guy in a Wolfbrigade t-shirt though, who was looking chuffed all through the gig, who comes up to me as I’m packing my leads away and asks if everything is okay. I assure him it is. He seems disappointed we didn’t play longer, tells me he drove three hundred and fifty kilometers to see us. Feel a bit bad about that. I was feeling a bit down on the gig by the end of it to be honest, but I didn’t mean to show it. I don’t know why I felt that way really, it was a perfectly acceptable gig.

We sold a bunch of merch after the show anyway, so I guess people were into it. Jon had said before the last song about how when he used to go to shows he used to do this thing called “moshing” but he guessed Germany had missed that boat. To be honest, though, I can’t remember the last time I saw Jon moshing at a gig...Not like any of us old sods do that anymore, if the truth is told. When I go to gigs, ninety percent of them time, I’m an arms-folded nodder.

There are a pair of older punk guys insisting they buy whoever isn’t driving a shot. I lie and tell him I’m driving. “Okay, where is Johan!?” he shouts enthusiastically. That puts me on the spot. I canät think of anything else than to tell him Johan is driving, too. He’s not buying that though, and goes off in search of him. The fact is, Johan said he could drive the van to the sleeping place tonight, and I would take tomorrow. It’s all irrelevant though, since neither of us would likely end up drinking more than one at any rate.

The techno club people are soon chasing us out. Techno Man has now changed his tune and all. I’m stood talking to Zoli at the merch who is packing up, and he storms over fuming at him, complaining about the fact that we haven’t taken our backdrop down yet. “If you don’t get rid of this RUBBISH I will take it down and burn it” That gets Zoli going straight away and the two of them end up in a bit of a row. It ends with Zoli shouting, “I don’t like you anymore Techno Man! What happened to that mellow guy we met this afternoon? Bring that guy back!” Techno Man seems to be offended by the actual backdrop, too. “I hate this shit with skulls and crossbones!” Zoli points out it’s only skulls, no bones. Fucking nonsense. Fuck knows what Techno Man’s problem is.

With help from Stachel and crew, we load out into the street whilst Johan goes to get the van. Jon is nowhere to be fucking seen though, apparently he bumped into some hippie woman from the techno fest and is nowing getting a tarot card reading. Great fucking timing. Load out doesn’t take long though thanks to help from everyone else, but Zoli still finds time to wind up a couple of German women who are wanting to get into the techno club. They obviously don’t appreciate his charm. I have a couple of beer tickets left, so head into the hipster bar and trade them for a couple of bottles of Becks for the sleeping place and give one to Zoli. After a lot of hugging, we say goodbye to our dear friends and then head off for some vegan kebab that Feddie, the singer from The Cold leads us to. We park up the van in some park next to a church, or some kind of tower anyway. When I get out of the van I find Jon stood up against the bricks of the tower with his arms outstretched embracing it, starting up at the sky. Leave him to it.

The vegan kebab is fucking great. I go for a box of kebab and french fries, Feddi is helping the entire Victims/Svalbard crew translate their orders. Both Liam and Serena from Svalbard told me they’d seen Speedhorn back in the day. Liam told me that the singer in his old band had been in our first video as part of the crowd. I asked him who that was and he told me his name was Merv. “Fuck me” Big Feet Merv?! Small world!” I laughed. We all stand around on the busy street noshing it down and making satisfied groans. Andy joyfully observes that it’s not even one am yet and we don’t have to leave until the afternoon tomorrow. We’re staying at a band apartment, which Zoli received the address for, but also a picture of the door since there were a few doors to the same address. They’d told him to look for the monkey. There was obviously a bit of farting about, and we tried four or five doors before realising that the picture of the door we’d received was on the opposite side of the street from the address we’d been given. It wasn’t much bar a couple of rooms with bunks and a shower. But it was warm and it was quiet.and that’s all we needed. We sat up for a while with the Svalbard guys drinking that beer and having a chat and then went to bed.

Zoli gets into his bottom bunk and groans about the hard mattress, saying he’s going to wake up looking like Nordberg from Naked Gun. Tickles me.

It’s a luxury not having to set the alarm in the morning.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Punk Rock: exploring extremism and politics within subculture

I'm in the early stages of writing my bachelor thesis in psychology. This is what they call the home straight, the final stretch, as it were. It's been five years of full-time study, part-time/sometimes full-time work, dropping off and picking up from nursery/school, and playing gigs and recording records. I'm still working on that fucking book, too. Actually, I'm not really working on it anymore, my part is done, I'm waiting to see what's going to happen with it, more like.

Anyway, what I'm slowly getting around to is this. These last five years of studying have been a great journey, one I never thought I would take when I was stuck working in a warehouse in Corby twenty-two years ago, dreaming of full-time touring with a band. I was convinced then that I'd never go back to education, such had the misery of senior school been. So to have ended up studying a degree in behavioural science in a second language, in another land, really feels quite remarkably absurd. I've loved almost every second of it, though. Funny how much "easier" studying is, when you're "genuinely" interested. I've always been pretty good at relating the reading material and applying the theories I've studied to my own background and areas of interest. Looking back over some of the papers I've written, I thought about how some of the things I've worked on might be of interest to those who read or share an interest in the stuff I write on this forum, Punk Rock and Coffee.

The main intention with this site has been to share accounts of life in a band on the road, both current and previous. But looking back over it, I appreciate that it's also a kind of chronicle of my life and my perceptions of it. Always with a fair hint of mischief, of course. As touring has become less frequent, as life becomes more hectic, the amount of tour diaries aren't of the same quantity they once were. So I thought that in the abscence of that, I would share a couple of articles/papers I've written over the last five years. This main piece was a long essay I wrote as the final exam piece of my A-level course in social sciences at community college here in Stockholm. The module was titled "A history of racism" and we were given free reign to write about anything within that context. I chose to write about punk rock and look at aspects of extremism within it, especially those within the nazi punk scene. I wanted to try to make an understanding of how young people can fall into such an ideology within a subculture that is renowned for being predominantly left-wing. This was written almost three years ago, and is far too long to share on this platform, but for anyone who is interested you can read it right via the link at the bottom. The primary source of the material came from an interview I did with a former member of the nazi punk movement in Sweden. I may write an article based purely on that interview here in the future. The writing is fairly meandering at times (go figure), but I was pleased with the overall results.

You can read it here, translated to English from the original Swedish text, if you so wish:

Punk Rock: exploring extremism and politics within subculture

Next up will be some more tour diaries, from an actual "tour" that is longer than three days. We'll be heading out with Victims, with Svalbard from the UK in support, around Europe at the end of October. Really looking forward to it, even if I am going to have to work on my bachelor thesis on the road. A little, anyway. But then, it's not like we're still paryting like it's 2009.