Friday, November 1, 2019


The first thing I had to accomplish when waking up was how to navigate my way down from the eight foot high bunk bed I was in. And I was only on the second bunk of a tower of three. The top bunk was simply fucking lethal. I sat there trying to work out how to twist my body around the thick wooden ladder without destroying my back for ages, and then I spotted Johan lying on his bottom bunk, looking up at me laughing. The thing with being last to bed is that the best beds get taken.

The big friendly promoter had left us a bunch of breakfast materials in the little kitchen outside the sleeping room, and after a quick shower in the freezing cold bathroom, I enjoyed a cup of filter coffee that Jon had made. I was relieved to find that this place provided clean towels, too. At the hostel in Budapest yesterday there were none, and disappointingly, I’d realised that I’d misplaced the towel I’d bought with me somewhere along the road. I first tried drying myself off with the pillowcase but that just pushed the water around, and ended up using paper hand towels from the dispenser on the wall. Proper fucking rubbish.

We decided that we’d spend a couple of hours looking around the shopping mall before leaving for Munich, since the end of the tour was in sight and we needed to get something for our kids before going home. Can’t go away from the kids on tour and come home empty handed, it’s just part of the deal. The shopping mall in the old gas tower was pretty spectacular from the outside, but on the inside it was dying. It’s glory days were obviously long behind it and bankruptcy was in the post. Strange place. And a little depressing. Kind of wished we’d just taken the metro back into the city centre instead. There was an outlet store opposite the venue that, although equally depressing on the interior, was a bit more of a success on the kids present front. And the middle aged woman serving at the counter was chuffed as shit for some reason. She giggled the whole time we dealt with her, which cheered me up a good deal.

The drive to Munich was, not for the first time in my life, somewhat of a disappointment. The scenery along this highway can be quite amazing, with the Alps off on the horizons along stretches of it, but today it was so foggy and grey for the most part that you couldn’t see any of it. And then Liam texted from up ahead and said there was a big accident and a long detour. We managed to pull off the autobahn just in time, it would have been a nightmare getting stuck in it, but the parallel country lane we ended up on seemed to be infinite. I was very relieved to finally get back on the main road. Johan drove the last bit of the way into Munich and I sat there in the back of the van looking at the rush hour traffic we were crawling through, about an hour late for load in, and contemplating our losses. I really like the city of Munich, I was here a lot in the early days of touring and always had a great time, but today, we would be seeing nothing of it. It was always a tradition to go to the famous beer hall with the giant pretzels and beers and the oompah band, the one that was the infamous venue of Hitler’s beer hall putsch. I was a bit gutted that the tradition would be broken today. I hope I donät have to wait another eight years for the next opportunity. It kind of felt like we could have left earlier this morning and had a couple of hours here instead since we didn’t really do any more of Vienna this morning, anyway. Oh well. Win some, lose some.

Liam texts saying they’ve just arrived and apparently the promoter is panicking a bit over our lateness, but when I meet the guy as we jump out of the van he is nothing but a broad, beaming smile. We’re a bit rushed, but it’s only us and Svalbard tonight, so the guys soundcheck and we sort our merch out. The slightly depressed feeling I had upon arrival, I think we’re all suffering a bit from weariness today, you can sense it in the tone in the van, dispersed as soon as I saw the room. It was small and we were playing on the floor. All of sudden I could feel the buzz again. From the sounds the promoter was making, it was going to sell out tonight, too. The tiredness was forgotten, rubbed out, just like that.

We had dinner in the house next door, this place, Sunny Red, is part of the whole Feirewerk cultural park. There were already people queuing up to get in, which felt promising. When we were here eight years ago, we played in the larger Orange Hall with Municipal Waste, but tonight there is a brass orchestra playing there, which means they’re taking the band apartment and we’re in some hostel a few kilometers away. Shame, since the apartment here was really nice. Still, the in house catering is banging and the vegan lasagne they’d made for us was absolutely beautiful.

It was another early show tonight, Svalbard on just after nine and everything done by ten-thirty. I went back over to our venue and found the room pretty packed already. The promoter told us there was only three tickets left on the door. From tired and slightly down to happy and buzzing in the space of an hour or so. On top of that, my really old friend Micha was just turning up. I met her through touring with Speedhorn back in the very early days, and we’ve been friends ever since. She’s one of the sweetest people you could meet, and always so happy and positive. When she comes walking through the door we laugh and embrace in a big bear hug. We haven’t seen each other since I was here last time, which sucks. But we stay in touch with each other and tell all about how it’s going with our families, etc. Micha met her husband Markus at a Speedhorn show in Essen in 2007, which is quite a thing. She was there to hang out with us and he was there to see Carnivore I guess. Still, just another nice little detail to add to our story. It was so great to see her. Her friend, although looking maybe a bit unsure of the cultural experience she was about to endure, was also really friendly, and we stood around talking about our kids and life in general. I only wish I had more time to catch up properly.

The show was by far the best of the tour so far. Berlin was great since it was a big venue and pretty full, and all the shows have been good, not a stinker anywhere in sight, but you just can’t beat a floor show for atmosphere. It kind of just runs itself. And when you’re playing in the crowd it just gives you a massive buzz. Although my body is starting to scream for home and getting back into some sore of exercise routine, the thirty odd minutes we played tonight just flew by, and I spent the entire time dancing around the space I had, singing along with the crowd at all the usual parts. Jon still went ahead with the barefoot routine, credit it to him. I noticed that part of his routine is that he takes them off during my long guitar intro at the start of the set. He knows what he’s doing. Cracked up yesterday when Liam told me that Jon had said to him at one of the gigs that the sub bass vibrating through the stage had given him an outer body experience and he felt he was being abducted by aliens. He’s on another plane from the rest of us sometimes. Love him to bits.

We don’t bother doing the mandatory break between set and encore, it would be silly to wade through the crowd, just to come back, so we blast through the quartet of old bangers and then call it a day, Jon encouraging everyone to take ahold of their lovers beside them and have a dance to This is The End. I’m floating after the gig for a while, and have a great time at the merch stall, selling and socialising. Johan is buzzing, too. He’d seemed a but quiet all day, but he’s now smiling like a toddler on Christmas morning as he fetches us a couple of beers. We aren’t moving the van anywhere tonight. It’s safer here than by the hostel, anyway, according to the happy promoter, who is telling me that the night was “Absolutely, kick ass amazing!” Chuffed.

Being All Hallows Eve, it’s a national holiday tomorrow, and we’re warned that the traffic on the autobahn is going to be a bit of a mare. It’s a six hour drive if all goes smoothly, so that’s my already wafer thin plan of getting up early and heading into the city for a quick walk around firmly quashed. The venue closes as soon as we’ve loaded the van and there are no bars open around here. Some other friends of ours, Claudia and Harry, who know Jon from Sayadina days, and were also big Speedhorn fans and came to the anniversary show last year, tell us there are some Halloween parties going on in town if we want a drink, but the thought of the drive tomorrow has put a bit of a cold wet flannel on things.

We’re told there is a bar at the hostel, but that turns out to be a disco in the basement and doesn’t entice in the slightest. Otherwise we’re just on a big long, faceless avenue, and the only thing in the immediate vicinity is a garage and a McDonalds. Johan and I head to the garage to get come crisps and I pick myself up a pretzel. We’re sharing an eight bunk room with Svalbard tonight, although Serena wisely takes her own room, since she knows the snore orchestra will keep her awake all night. We all sit around for a while and munch on snacks and enjoy an accompanying beer, although, the beer isn’t as enjoyable as the beautiful Pils I had directly after the show, the first one is always the best. The pretzel is the saltiest thing I’ve ever eaten, I can almost feel my liver shrivelling as it goes down. I give half of it to Serena who somehow manages to finish it off before agreeing it was indeed bizarrely salty.

Liam literally lies down on his bunk and begins to snore. I actually wonder if he’s joking, but Alex assures me he’s not. Sounds like a horse up there. And with that we decide it’s time for bed, and one after one, the snores join the choir. Serena made the right choice, sorting out her own room.

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