Sunday, December 18, 2022


I wake up to find myself in some sort of sleeping capsule. The room is all white and sterile and has that Space Odyssey 2001 vibe about it. I’m on the top bunk. I don’t really remember the details of climbing up here in the first place. Maybe there weren’t that many details to remember. I’m most likely paraphrasing the fact that I was a little drunk when I climbed into this capsule at three am. The nip in my head would certainly suggest so. Once my phone alarm succeeds in piercing its way through the fog of sleep, the first thought that hits me, apart from confirming to myself that I am indeed desperate for a piss, is that I smell like a fucking ashtray.

I still go through the usual inner debate of whether I can sleep the piss away for about five minutes, but then I’m roused out of slumber by someone knocking at the door. Pigge is in the capsule below me, snoring like a horse. Gill is lying in the capsule opposite him, a hint of concern on his coupon. It’s Erik at the door, looking for an Iphone charger. Nobody here can help him though. He says he’s heading out for a walk for a while and we agree on a time to meet in the lobby of the hotel before searching for some breakfast.

I shower away the smell of cigarette smoke from last night’s bar, but it doesn’t really help when your clothes are still fucked. I pull my jeans and jacket on with a feeling of disgust and we head downstairs. Erik and Martin are waiting there for us, but there’s no sign of Paddan. Erik smirks, tells us that when he came back from his walk Paddan was still fast asleep, and when he left again he was sat on the pan looking sheepish. He looks in good enough spirits when he joins the rest of us in the lobby a few minutes later though.

It’s a nippy day and the sky looks as miserable as slapped arse. I have high hopes of finding some warm, cosy cafe with armchairs and sourdough cheese rolls and strong black coffee. I don’t have any particular place in mind, it’s more an image I have. We walk in the direction of the Meatpacking District, where last night's venue was, and where there are loads of trendy bars and restaurants. We find nothing that matches what I’m hoping for though. And the vegan options are strangely limited. I’ve been in Copenhagen loads of times, and past experiences have always been a success. But then I realise, there are seven of us and it ain’t that easy finding something everyone can concur on. We finally end up in some pub/restaurant place that looks sort of German in style. They have an omelette on the menu that looks half interesting, but it costs about 170 Swedish krona. It can’t be that fucking good. Most of them decide this place will do anyhow. I suspect the bar swayed it. Gill, Andy and I head to some bagel place across the street. It’s pretty bland, but it fills a hole.

We’re in no real rush to leave for Malmö today since we don’t have to be there until five and it's only a short trip across the bridge. We head over to some record shop that Erik has in mind, thinking we could leave a couple of records there. It’s a pretty nice shop, a lot of vinyl, a bit salty on the pricing, although I guess like everything else at the minute, records are expensive. The old hard rocker guy running the shop takes a couple of LP’s from us and gives Erik a receipt. Can’t imagine when we’re gonna get the cash on them, may as well have given them away to someone on the street.

Funnily enough, as we’re walking back towards the venue, some lady stops me and Gill, picking us off as we’d lagged behind the pack, and asks us if we’re in a band. She’s speaking English and we’re a little confused. She says she’s from Austria but could hear we were Scottish. She’d obviously heard Gill’s gabb. She says that her boyfriend was really into some Scottish band that was playing in town last night and wondered if it was us. She said that she could tell by looking at us that we were a band and that we looked really cool. We have a good laugh at that. We explain that we are indeed a band, but that it’s extremely doubtful that her boyfriend was one of the three paying customers at our gig last night. We have a good laugh at that, too. She seems really friendly and apologies for the confusion, saying that she will definitely check our band out and start following us online. We part ways and rejoin the rest of the group, who look as confused as we are.

We wander slowly back to the venue, passing some area that seems to have a lot of retro clothes shops, a couple of places selling cowboy boots enticing Martin and Erik in for a look, since that’s their thing. By the time we get back to the venue it’s two pm. We’d arranged to meet the sound engineer but some lady who works in the office on the other side of the courtyard lets us in. “Just the fact that this little venue has an office says it all”, muses Paddan. We pack the cars and head to the bridge.

We weren’t even sure if there was going to be a gig tonight until a couple of weeks ago. We’d originally planned to play a show in Gothenburg with our friends Blessings. But it had fallen through about a month ago and we’d been manically looking for a gig to replace it. Driving back and forth to play to ten people in Copenhagen would have been a bit of a piss take. Although I have driven longer to play to less people in a far bigger venue. I’m looking at you, Inverness. Ok, there were maybe about thirty people at this particular show in Inverness, but the place could have taken in around a thousand. Anyway… with the Gothenburg show caput, and with only a month to find something, we were struggling. It’s not that easy blagging a show for a band no one knows. And having seven in the band can apparently be a bit off putting. But then our dear friend Ronny Raw from Malmö put us in touch with some punk promoter he knew here, Rebecka. She was really cool and was going to put us on this crust punk show she had on the go, until the whole “seven” thing popped up. The place where she had that show on was way too small apparently. Shame, A\\VOID haven’t played with any crust bands so far. We have been playing with all kinds of different bands, though, something I’m enjoying, and it would have been fun for me and Andy to head back to our old scene with our new band. As it turned out, Rebecka hooked us up at a place called Grand, playing with some singer songwriter guy with a Welsh name. They’d pay us money for petrol to get back to Stockholm, and give us beer and food. Chuffed.

I was assuming from the look of the pictures I could find of the place that the venue was the bar of the Grand Hotel.

It wasn’t the Grand Hotel. Thankfully. Although I had been thinking that maybe we could have done a set of our mellower, quieter songs. Which could have been fun. Turns out the place was some posh restaurant that had a gig room to the side, simply separated by a moving wall, that turned into an electro disco afterwards. The whole vibe of the place was pretty cool though, kind of run down in a cosy kind of way. I had a feeling that it could be good. It was free entrance and apparently the restaurant side place always had a crowd in. So who knows, maybe some of them would head our way.

After loading in the gear we had about an hour to kill before soundcheck so we took a walk over to Rundgång Record Shop and hung out there for a while. I picked up a copy of the Scenery LP by Ryo Fukui that the We Release Jazz label put out. They’ve done some really nice represses of Seventies Japanese jazz and I was chuffed to pick this one up. Rundgång are known, in our circles, for having a bunch of great punk and hardcore records in stock, so wasn’t expecting to find this little gem. Bonus!

Soundcheck feels good and the overriding feeling among us is that we’re just happy to have a gig tonight. I’m determined to enjoy it, no matter how it turns out. Hopefully a few friends will turn up too. Dinner feels even better. We’re treated to a pretty decent bowl of tofu ramen as well as a pint of ale from the bar. It’s nice to be sat down, the seven of us together, enjoying a meal together. The music they’re playing in the place quickly goes from slightly amusing everyone to getting on our tits. It’s just some endless blues guitar noodling. It never seems to end. Erik and Martin are particularly aggrieved by it.

After dinner we head over to the hostel that Gill had booked. We put Gill on travel agent duties, and we all agree he’d done well with last night’s place in Copenhagen. Gill warns us in advance that he has a feeling tonight’s offering is going to quite the same level. We head over to the place on the other side of Folkets Park and find that Gill’s suspicion was on the nose. The hostel looks pretty run down from the outside, not in the cosy way, and isn’t much better inside. It’s pretty cold out, though, so it’s just nice to get inside. And then we’re accosted by the woman running the place, who spends the next twenty or so minutes bombarding us with smarmy comments, switching continuously between English and Swedish. It’s all very confusing. She keeps making reference to Gill and how he has his own room in another place, that has a bed for him and a special friend of his choice. We don’t know what the fuck she’s talking about. It takes about fifteen minutes of faffing around to settle on that we’re seven people needing seven beds to sleep in, Gill repeatedly showing her the booking and pointing out, “Seven”. She keeps banging on about another place for Gill and his special friend. I can’t tell if she’s taking the pure piss or if it’s just that all the lights aren’t on. It finally works out that Gill, and his special friend (Pigge) will be staying at an apartment somewhere else, whilst the rest of us will split up into two rooms here. Relieved to have the finally sorted we pay up and assume we’ll be handed the keys, but the woman insists on taking us to the rooms and unlocking for us, presenting the place and giving it the once around.

There isn’t much to present. The room I’m sharing with Andy is cold and dank, the wallpaper is the colour of stale piss. It said on the website that the rooms had cable, which I assumed meant cable TV. But it was just a loose cable hanging from the wall. So… the room had a cable. Which Gill points out is technically not false marketing. We check out Erik, Paddan and Martin’s room down the hall and it’s even worse. The only windows they have are two slats up by the ceiling. At least they have a TV. They look chuffed with that. Not that you’d want to spend any real amount of time here watching the thing. Strangely enough, the hostel seems to be full of guests who are just sitting around in the public rooms, not really doing much. Andy and I head back to our room to lie down and chill out for a while. Andy tries to sleep, but it’s not really happening. I lie and read my book for a bit, but that’s not really happening either.

A couple of hours later we decide to head into town and find a bar to hang out at for a while since we’re not playing until the kitchen closes around ten, and it’s only eight. Erik has already headed off to hang out with his sister for a drink since she lives down here, but we bump into them and join them for a beer. Gill and Pigge walk by the place too, and in the space of a few minutes the six of us have crashed Erik’s quality time with his sister. Gill and Pigge have a good laugh about the hostel and tell us their apartment is pretty good.

We get back to Grand around nine thirty and find the restaurant buzzing. We sit down for a beer before it’s time for the gig. Erik has a few friends coming, Edvin from Morbus Chron and a few of his gang, some other people. Ronnie Raw turns up just before we play too. It’s always great to see him. Ronnie and I became good friends after he drove Victims on tour in Europe years ago. He goes way back with Andy and the rest. Just him being here is enough to lift me for the gig, since it’s always a buzz playing to people you have a lot of respect for. Another old friend of ours from back home is here too, Kurt from Sewergrooves. He’s having a weekend in Copenhagen with his girlfriend and thought he’d pop over. As well as that lot, there are perhaps another twenty or so people in the room when we play. And I really enjoy it. It feels like it sounds really good, and there are even a couple of people I don’t recognise standing in front of the stage, dancing. Funnily enough, they’re both on their own, either side of the stage. Sort of look depressed, the two of them, gently swaying to our music. One of them is the young guy who looks like the actor William Spetz, the other is a girl who looks a bit like a younger version of Julie Cruise.

We seem to get a good reaction and I’m pretty buzzed after the show. That kind of buzz where you feel like it’s job done, good gig, now let’s have a beer. We have some beer tickets in our pockets to cash in. We hang out with Ronnie for a while afterwards, who tells us he’s never been to this place before and by the look of the young trendy crowd coming in, I can see why. The music in the restaurant part of the place is in full flow, playing loads of dance hits. There are two young hipster girls in the stage room who have filled out the dancefloor already. Spetz is still there, on his own, dancing away. Kind of feels like the DJ girls have missed the fact that the Welsh bloke is tuning up his acoustic guitar.

I head back out to the entrance of the restaurant where Pigge is stood with our merch. As Andy and I are saying bye to Ronnie, who has had enough, he had just come straight from work to be fair, a young group of girls approach Pigge. For a split second both Pigge and I are shocked, hardly believing these girls want to buy our record. My head even manages to start wondering into a “Fuck this band really has the potential to reach out across some boundaries” passage of thought. Turns out though that the girls thought Pigge was the wardrobe, and they’re actually trying to pass him their coats.

I watch the Welsh bloke for a while. He’s actually from Gothenburg and his artist name is his Swedish name spelt backwards. He actually starts rabbiting on about that between songs in what is some pretty painful patter. I turn around to find Pigge’s eyes burning a whole in the back of my head, a look of horror on his face. I feel equal parts bad for the guy, since the room is pretty empty, barring his girlfriend and Spetz, who is still dancing, a few others at the back, and equal parts admiration. It takes a lot of guts to sit there on your own with your guitar playing shoegazey folk music, when it’s obvious the DJ girls are just waiting to get on with the party again. It takes a lot of guts just performing on your own, full stop. Turns out that he normally has a band with him, but they couldn’t make it or something, so he decided to try it out on his own. Just for that I watch him to the end. Even if it’s not my thing. We probably weren’t his thing either.

Afterwards we hang around in the restaurant/bar, which is just as buzzing as the dancefloor/stage room is by this point. Can’t say I’m buzzing all that much myself, though. Tiredness from last night is catching up on me. Feels like it is with most of us. We plough on with a couple of beers all the same. Free beer never gets old. And besides, Pigge has been stuck at the merch table with some guy gabbing in his ear for the last hour or so. Can’t really tell if Pigge is welcoming of this or not. We leave him to it.

Pigge finally joins us after shaking the guy off, and tells us what a pain in the ass he was. Martin is holding court and in the midst of some insane story from when he and Jenny were on holiday in New Orleans and were given a present that they assumed was sea salt but turned out to be methamphetamine. Somebody had left it in a package in their room with Martin’s name on it. They didn’t realise what it was until they took it all the way home to Sweden and seasoned their soup with it. Fucked up. They handed it in to the police in Sweden, shocked as fuck. Nothing else came of it though, the police just took it off their hands and told them well done for handing it in. How fucked up is that?

With that banger we decide to call it a night. We’re all tired and ready to hit the hay, until Gill and Pigge decide to stick around and polish the beer tickets off. And then Erik, Paddan and Martin decide to do the same. So it’s just me and Andy then. We get back to the hostel, starving, and so head off for some famous Malmö falafel. You really can’t fail in this city. We take some cheap looking place that looks like a franchise, but it’s all we can find in the vicinity of the hostel, and it’s out of this world. Fresh mint. Just that little detail makes all the difference. And the falafel is fresh and crispy and just to die for. We notice a couple of drunk punks sat on the other side of the joint and assume they must have been to that other gig we might have played. Wonder how that would have been if we’d played it.

When we get back to the hostel we find that Erik, Paddan and Martin are back. We ponder the idea of polishing off Martin’s whisky and chilling out in their room, watching their TV. Of course, the TV has no channels available. And that as a sign, we decide to call it a night. Leaving a thoroughly depressed Paddan behind us.

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Well hello again, Copenhagen!

It’s a long old way to Copenhagen from Stockholm. Especially when you understand there is a very real risk that you’ll be playing to pretty much nobody. That’s always a risk when you’re in an underground DIY band I guess. Even more so when you’re totally new and nobody has heard of you. But unless you’re Iron Maiden or something there is always a chance the gig will be a bum turnout.. I wonder what they would consider a bum turnout? Copenhagen, though, feels like it’s a bigger risk than most places. We played what turned out to be the last ever Victims show here. We didn’t know it at the time, of course, but it ended up being a depressingly poetic sortie. “This is the End. That was the end.” There were maybe thirty people there. I’ll be amazed if we get half that amount tonight.

Despite the pessimistic forecast as we pulled away from the practice space at eight this morning, I was still chuffed to be heading off with the guys for a few days. These would be our first shows with A\\VOID outside of Stockholm, and I was determined to enjoy the couple of days away no matter how many people we played to. It’s obviously a pretty expensive hit rate, but even if we only manage to reach out to a couple of people then it would be worth it. We had most of the money for the trip covered from the few Stockholm shows we’d played anyway. This is what starting a band from scratch looks like when you’re totally on your own. The difference now; I guess, is that I’m 44 years old. It’s easier when you’re eighteen years old. Still love it, though.

It was a bit of a bummer to have to travel down in two separate cars. Being in a seven piece band is something new to me, and on this first trip to fields afar it became apparent that travelling together in one van was not all that easy to sort out. It worked out cheaper to travel in two of our own cars than to hire a van big enough to house the lot of us and our gear. Funnily enough, the two companies fell into a pretty natural divide: Me, Pigge, Gill and Andy in one car. Paddan; Erik and Martin in the other. The tames vs. the party boys.

We made it down to Helsingborg in about six hours without incident. Paddan’s car were already there ahead of us, and had even found time to stop at a Metallica museum here in Helsingborg, being that this is where Cliff died. Paddan admits that it wasn’t all that though. Just a few pictures and stuff. We took a short ferry trip across the water to Denmark. It only takes about fifteen minutes and they open the duty free at precisely the halfway point, leaving the party boys with seven and half minutes to buy booze. I noticed there was a full on restaurant onboard, with a load of old people sitting there drinking, obviously just floating back and forth over the strait, enjoying the views of the industrial ports on either side of the water.

An hour or so later we were in Copenhagen. The venue was in the middle of town in the Meat packing village, at some club called Råhuset. It was a nice little venue, very neat and tidy and looked to have a quality sound system and all, but it didn’t look like the kind of place anyone would hang out in unless they were specifically here to see the bands. Although maybe that was just the Copenhagen heebie-jeebies colouring my judgement…

It’s always great to see Ryan anyway. He’s there sorting the Fotocrime merch out as we arrive and me and Andy are greeted with big hugs, followed not long thereafter with questions on Victims’ breakup. Ryan has been a friend to Victims for many years. It’s nice to be able to talk to him about it. One of the other guys in Fotocrime, at least helping out on this tour, is a French guy called Nico. He has a band called Bleakness that Victims was supposed to play some shows in France with, right before the pandemic hit. We mailed back and forth a bit around then and it’s nice to finally meet him in person. For me it’s also a little extra special since Nico played in this great screamo band called Amanda Woodward way back, a band that both Jen and I loved. I never do this shit normally, but I force myself to ask him for a pic with us so I can send it to Jen, just for the crack. Whilst the rest of our lot head off to some pub after soundcheck, Andy and I hang out with Ryan and Nico in the dressing room and reminisce over the old days. As middle aged punks like us are in the habit of doing.

Erik, the self appointed ringleader of the booze brigade, comes marching back to the venue in high spirits just as the first band are playing, raving about some bar down the road they found with some character behind the bar who wants our record. I get the feeling Erik has more or less forced it on him, though. They’d arrived back at the venue on my command since, as expected, there were very few people in the venue as the local support band, Writhe, were about to start. I count a grand total of three. Plus the sound engineer guy and two dudes behind the bar. And the three Fotocrime guys…I guess the good thing about playing with A\\VOID is that you get a bonus crowd of at least seven! This small place would look okay with around thirty people in it, and we’re maybe halfway there. Even if only three of them are actually paying customers.

Anyway, Erik is happy as Larry after finding the pub, saying we have to go back there after the gig. The others straggle in shortly after him and I can see straight away that Paddan and Martin have had a couple. But I can’t help feeling like fucking off the “no beer before gig rule” myself, since on these occasions I can’t help wondering what does it matter. So I grab a draught Pale Ale and enjoy Writhe, who are more than a pleasant surprise with their noisy indie rock. The beer goes straight to my head.

Which becomes noticeable as we do a quick line check before we play. I’m not sure who first brought the subject up, but Paddan and I started joking about the Bad News song “Warriors of Genghis Khan.” I can’t help myself and start farting around playing the riff to it, which amuses Paddan and I a lot more than it does Andy, who is sat behind his drums looking stern and shaking his head at me. We get on with things shortly thereafter and the gig goes pretty well. Another company of three have arrived, some people who are friends with Erik (guestlist), and they take a seat just off to the side of the floor space where Erik and I do our thing. Martin is in a particularly jazzy mood tonight and fleshes out the gaps between most of the songs with some dystopian saxophone drones. Seems like Savage got feeling tonight and he ends up being the star of the show. Paddan was off for a walk with his bass a couple of times during the set, at one point playing a different song to the rest of us, and he knows I know, since I gave him a look a couple of times. He’s a phenomenal musician, but seems like a couple of shots of Jager got the better of him tonight. Pigge is in my ear right after the gig, laughing about it. “Paddan was off on his bike a couple of times there!”

Andy is in my other ear shortly after, telling me off for farting around before the gig. He tells me that we should be completely quiet before we start the set and there is no place for fucking around, no matter how small the crowd is. I feel a little scorned, mainly because I know he’s right. The few people in the room seemed to like the gig all the same. And it was fun to play for Ryan and Nico, if nothing else. One of the three older guys who’d arrived, the ones nobody knew, actually bought an LP. They left after we played, and shouted over to us on the way, exclaiming that they thought we were great! Feels kind of like they just stumbled into the place and we got lucky. Some other big guy who had come on his own also bought a record, as well as the Writhe guitarist. This is our first show since we got the vinyl of the first album, and despite everything, I’m chuffed to have three of them sold in Copenhagen. Good hit rate considering the crowd numbers.

Despite the very low crowd, it was basically just A\\VOID and Writhe by this point, Fotocrime played a nice show. They had these really cool stage lights that had Erik immediately buzzing about how we have to get something similar. I just stood there, enjoying a couple of beers and admiring their professionalism. No whining, no fucking around before their set playing joke riffs, they got on with the job and played. These guys have been around so long, they’ve done it all before, and just like us, played the whole spectrum of gigs, from less than ten to arena support slots and festivals in front of thousands. This was their first night of a three week European tour, I hope this is the bum show, out of the way early.

After the gig I hung out at the bar with Gill, chatting to the two lads behind the bar about their superb tapped beer and the state of shows at the minute. The younger of the two tells me that there are just too many shows going on right now, that the tidal wave after the pandemic is now having an adverse effect, especially now that everything is getting so fucking expensive. This place seems to be one of the state sponsored set ups, where they get cultural grant money, for better or worse. Worse for us, I guess, since they guarantee money but not a crowd. The young guy is really nice anyway, he’s from Latvia and tells me how much easier life is here. I tell him that I’ve been to Riga and really enjoyed it. “Nice city, for sure, if you’re a tourist. Sucks to live there!” I wonder how many places you can say that about?

After saying goodbye to the Fotocrime guys and wishing them better luck with the rest of the tour, we head over to Erik’s favourite new bar, which is a classic Copenhagen place; small and full of smoke. Apparently the law in Denmark is that if a bar is LESS than a certain amount of square metres you’re allowed to smoke in it. If the place is too big, no smoke. Which is obviously mental. Doesn’t stop me enjoying the place, nonetheless. Even if it stings the eyes a bit. The bartender guy who Erik latched on to earlier is obviously intent on being the focus of everyone in the bar, since he keeps making a lot of noise. Every now and again he’ll scratch the music to a dead stop and start shouting instructions at people, or giving loud updates on the state of play, which whilst at first I find slightly amusing, quickly starts getting on my tits. Erik, Paddan and Martin are lined up at the bar talking to some strangers and all three of them are looking like they’re heading to the other side, although Martin looks like he’s got it together more than the other pair. Gill joins them, obviously wanting in on the action. Andy and I retire to a quieter table near the doorway like a couple of old men and chat over a beer, our backs enjoying the rest. We’re joined a while later by the Writhe guitarist, who seems like a really nice sort, and we get talking about venues and gigs in Copenhagen and why is it always so fucking hard to get a crowd here? Oliver, his name, tells us that it is a pretty incestious DIY scene here, and unless you’re super hyped it’s hard to get a crowd if you’re not from around here. Which doesn’t really explain why nobody came to see them. They were really good and all.

What I figured for a couple of quiet beers after the show turns into more than that. Erik is shouting almost as much as the bartender guy, Paddan is looking hazy as fuck, Martin seems to keep control now matter how many beers he sinks, and he’s finished off that hip flask of whisky he bought on the boat, although by the look of Paddan he’s helped him out quite a bit. The shocker though, is Gill, who is stood at the bar smoking a fag. This has me in stitches as it’s so unexpected. Old Triathlon Man himself! He must have tucked a good few away. By this time Andy and I have caught up a little ourselves, I’m on to my third or fourth Tuborg, and we’re back at the bar among the rest of the crowd. Paddan then taps my shoulder and laughingly points at Pigge who is sat at the table behind us in the company of Oliver and a couple of others. “Why is Pigge so old all of a sudden?” laughs Paddan. Pigge does indeed look like he’s suddenly aged about fifteen years. Hair all over the place, skin as white as a ghost and eyes popping out. He looks like he’s in the middle of some drunken lecture. This keeps me and Paddan amused for the next fifteen minutes or so. Shit, Pigge is old. He turned 50 this year. 50! Andy isn’t actually that far behind him, Paddan neither. In fact, at 40, Gill is the youngster among us. The Tuborg suddenly has a bitter aftertaste…

It’s around three am by the time that bar closes and we’re back at the hotel. Inexplicably, most of us, myself included, stay up for another beer at the bar there.. I’m even questioning myself as I drink the thing, knowing it’s a mistake. A pretty tasty mistake, but a mistake nonetheless.

I’m certainly not going to feel any younger in the morning.

Monday, March 21, 2022

Goodnight Copenhagen and Farewell

“It’s up. It’s down again…” I grew up with Fawlty Towers. Me and my family watched it all the time when we were kids. The scene with Basil and the painting is still one of the classics my sister and I reference when we’re gagging together. It’s starting to feel like that with this fucking pandemic. I know it’s not a laughing matter, but still. It’s off. It’s on again. Although maybe ever thinking it was off was pretty naive. But two months ago it felt like we were finally emerging from this shit. “Do you not think people were tired of the war in 1943?” I read some doctor saying in the paper the other day. And yeah, totally. I guess we’re spoiled. It was still a huge fucking downer when Omicron popped up though. All of a sudden I was back to manically checking the various news apps on my phone every thirty minutes. Even though I kept telling myself not to.

This was the third gig we’d booked since all restrictions were initially dropped. The first was at Kafé 44 in Stockholm in October. When we said yes to that gig the restrictions were still in place, it was supposed to be a maximum of fifty people in attendance. It ended up packed since they’d dropped everything by that point. It was a blast. The second show was in Göteborg last week, but we had to cancel since Andy was as sick as a dog. He’d tested negative but was still way too weak to sit in a car back and forth to Göteborg and play a gig, covid or not. The third gig was this one tonight in Copenhagen. The offer for it had come in just days after most governments in Europe had dropped all restrictions. It was supposed to be us and Wolfbrigade, but the Wolves had to drop out. Something about someone’s kitchen being renovated… Fuck knows... Thankfully our mates in Massgrav could jump on board instead. Then a couple of weeks before the show Denmark started tightening things up since cases were back on the rise and all of a sudden everything felt very unstable again... As much as I fully respect the rules, and am humble before those who know a lot more about their shit than I do, it still felt pretty fucking absurd to have to put a face mask on halfway across the bridge to Denmark, considering we’d been sat on the same train with the same people for five hours without one. I could see the look of disdain in Jon’s eyes on the opposite side of the table, peering at me from above his cloth mask.

We arrived at the central station in Copenhagen and it hit me that this was the first time I’d been outside of Sweden in just under two years. I was actually abroad. In another country. Even if Denmark is kinda like Scotland to England. Same, same, they just talk funny. And drink more. The guy who had booked the gig met us in the arrivals hall. We decided we’d take a coffee whilst we waited for the Massgrav guys to arrive, since they were on the train after ours. The booker, this young, stocky bloke who looked like he was more into Madball than Victims, wasn’t much of a talker. He sat and looked at his phone most of the time. I tried kicking things along with the usual, asking how he thought the show would be tonight etc. He told us it was Christmas-lunch holiday weekend in Denmark, and that tomorrow, Saturday was the big day. I asked him if that was a good thing or a bad thing, in relation to the gig. I thought that maybe if it was a big holiday weekend then the Danes might be out in high spirits tonight. “So, so,” was all he said. It didn’t fill me with confidence. We sat around at the cafe for a while, going back and forth to the counter, farting around putting face masks on and taking them off again when back at the table, making me realise that we really hadn’t felt anything of the pandemic’s effects back in Sweden, where face masks have basically been scorned.

After a while Johan and I wandered off to the hotel to check ourselves in, thinking we’d save the guaranteed farting around at the end of the night. It was only a ten minute walk, some budget nondescript, grey hotel. We did indeed get the expected look of confusion on the receptionist's face as she looked through the system for our names. It truly is a ball ache going through this routine at 2 am, so happy we got it out of the way now. The Massgrav guys had arrived by the time we got back to the station. Cheeky grins on every one of their faces. Another guarantee cashed in.

If the promoter’s “So, so” comment had knocked my confidence a little, it was now being well and truly drained by each passing station we passed on the commuter train. It felt like we were heading out of the city into the middle of nowhere. Our friend Will, who lives in the city, a true punk connoisseur, had also been in touch asking where the fuck the venue was. By the time we arrived at the place, some cultural centre/gig venue, we’d basically accepted our fate. It was all very new and shiny, and the PA looked banging, but there were tall tables dotted about the large dance floor which I was absolutely certain there would be no need to shift during the evening. The place was obviously supported by government cultural funding and it was obvious that if Wolfbrigade had still been on the bill then the outlook would have been a bit different. Still, the fridge was stocked with quality Danish beer from the superb TÖ brewery, and they had arranged some decent vegan food for us.

We sat about in the small dressing room with nothing to do except eating crisps and stare at the beer, toying with the idea of having maybe one before the show. There was fuck all else to do. I sat and chatted to one of the guys from the local band that was supporting. They’d been on their own tour with another band that was playing tonight too. They seemed really nice, but all this did was make me think about the fact that we’d have to wait things out even longer. Nothing worse than knowing you’re gonna be playing a show to a small crowd and having the night dragged out.

At least we had company. Both Will and our old mate Mackan from Disfear turned up. I spent most of the night in the back room hanging out talking about life and how its been these last couple of years. Will spent most of the night in the bar with a friend of his he’d brought along, and by the time Massgrav were about to start he’d already gotten a bit sauced. I recognised myself in that. Being a sleep deprived parent to a baby and going out for a couple of beers usually produces a consistent result. Will was talking in my ear about how it was a shame we were playing here, and even though it was in a suburb not too far from the city, it was still way off (in a scene sense) and felt like a waste. All that being said, though, Copenhagen has never been a stronghold for Victims. It says a lot that the last time the band played here was thirteen years ago, right before I joined the band.

It was, as always, great fun watching Massgrav. Norse constantly taking the piss between songs, speaking in English and explaining that Danish is in fact not the same language as Swedish, hence the English. He also explained how Stockholm was the capital city of Scandinavia. He explained this a couple of times during their set. It was probably only the Victims gang that found this internal joke amusing. They were tight as a duck’s arse as always, and blasted the shit out of the stage, even if there were only a couple of enthusiastic punks fist pumping in front of them, whilst the rest of the crowd of thirty stood around, me included, a little further back. Felt like I had to contribute to filling the space out a little. I couldn’t help but think of Norse and the effort this shit takes. He was getting up for a train around 6 am since he had to be back in Stockholm for a work thing around midday tomorrow. They could have easily, understandably declined this show. Ola and Fenok had planned a weekend of it in Copenhagen though, maybe that had more to do with it. Still, nothing but respect for Norse. It's a lot of hassle for a pretty cack gig.

And so it was. Nice big stage, sounded amazing, felt like a struggle. Most of the small crowd that was in attendance seemed relatively enthusiastic, with one or two down the front headbanging gleefully. But my amp kept cutting out the whole time, which didn’t help with the whole energy. We got through the show, but it didn’t feel like much more than just getting through it. We didn’t even finish with This is the End, which caused a stir among the Massgrav crew. It was probably one of only two or three times we haven’t played it during the nearly thirteen years I’ve been in the band. Ola asked if it was, in fact, even allowed.

After the gig I went over to the merch for a bit, and sold a couple of things. There was one guy, some proper crust punk, from Portugal. He was so happy we’d played. He said that he was here on holiday and was supposed to have gone home already, but changed his flight when he saw that we were playing. He tells me he’s been raving to his friends about it back home and asked if it was ok to get a photo that he could send back to the gang in Portugal. It’s moments like this that really make you give you some perspective. Here is this guy, here on his own, coming to this out of the way gig with only a few other people, and he’s absolutely delighted. I tell him that I hope we’ll make it to Portugal next year, that an Iberian tour is something we’ve been talking about for a while. I hope that it will be more fun than this. “Nooo man! This was amazing! Victims is my favourite band, I can’t believe I got to see you whilst I was here!” It’s a funny old world…

After the show the promoter is nowhere to be seen. It’s no hassle as far as being paid goes, since he’d already deposited the money a few days ago. Which, funnily enough, I always take to be a bad sign. But we were stuck out here with a few stragglers and a pretty sauced Will, with nobody to help us with a cab. The sound guy says he doesn’t know what the crack is and hasn’t seen him. He tried calling him but got no answer. There are no cabs around these parts either, apparently. After parting ways with Will and promising to come back to Copenhagen again and play in a more “punk venue” next time, we ended up lugging the gear with us back on the commuter train. Our spirits were soon picked up by Fenok laughing at Ola, who looked ridiculous with his face mask on since his long beard was shooting out all over the place and the mask looked like a little plaster stuck on to it. Fenok laughed for about twenty minutes, obviously feeling the effects of a few beers, but his laugh was really contagious. I pissed myself when Ola muttered that they should change the name of the band to “Maskkrav.”

There was a group of young Swedish girls on the same train as us. Making a lot of noise and obviously very drunk. When they spotted us they approached and started asking us questions, filming us at the same time, like some interview situation. I didn’t really get what was going on but Fenok was approachable. They asked him what we were doing here and he told them we had played a gig. “Ahhh cool! What’s the name of the band?” They obviously had no idea about the musical world we belonged to. Fenok, straight as an arrow, “Massgrav and Victims” he informed them. The girl looked pretty confused. I thought it was absolutely hilarious. Fenok didn’t get it. By the time we got back to the central station one of the girls fell right out of the opening door, flat on her face to the platform. I felt like an old, worried parent, looking at the state of them. And then I remembered that I’ve been in that exact same state on many occasions. Still brought a solid reminder that my kid could be in this very state in about eight years time. Fucking terrifying. Thankfully the girl in question seemed ok, and slightly embarrassed, pulled herself up and dusted herself off.

We ended up back at the hotel, dumped the gear in the rooms and then took a beer in the sterile bar/lobby area. Norse had obviously gone to bed since he was catching a train in about four hours. Poor bugger. I’d been looking forward to this point of the night since the first band had taken to the stage, but it turned out to be a bit of an anticlimax. I love hotel bars, something that has definitely transpired with age, but this wasn’t the cosy picture I had imagined. Felt more like a bus station than a bar. Fenok was chuffed enough, and Ola too. They had a full day and evening in Copenhagen planned for tomorrow. Jeppe was nowhere to be seen. He’d gone off in search of food and Jon assured us that he would be gone all night if needs be.

After a large bottle of beer, we trudged off to our rooms. We had a pretty comfortable day tomorrow at least, our train home wasn’t until around midday. Jon and I, sharing a room as usual, lay in bed watching the film Drive for a while before giving up and hitting the lights.

The next morning we went up to the breakfast restaurant in the hotel, but the place was as depressing as the bar. We hadn’t paid for breakfast, and there didn’t seem to be anyone checking room numbers, and for a while we were thinking of just taking some food and fucking off. But then some staff member cottoned on to us and sent us down to the reception to pay. We made the decision that the food wasn’t worth paying for and left for the station instead, back to the same cafe as yesterday. The train journey home was a more subdued affair than on the way down, with the odd discussion about what gigs we would look at next year and when to record the new record. Johan jumped off in Linköping and we agreed we’d meet up early in the new year to finish writing the new record. We had around seven songs and heading to the studio sometime during the spring didn’t seem all that ambitious.

As it turned out, this would be the last show we played with the band. We didn’t practice in January, it was closer to March when that would become an actuality again, since we had a festival in Belgium booked. The one that had been postponed since 2020. The one I’d so looked forward to playing, to walking out on that stage knowing that that would mean the pandemic was over, or at least that the worst of it would be behind us.

And that was that. Twenty five years of Victims and it’s over. Almost thirteen for me. I feel sad that it’s over in some ways, but I’m also incredibly grateful that I’ve got to play with the guys and travel all over the world. I’ve had an amazing time and my life has been so enriched by the experiences I’ve had with the guys. I don’t know if we’ll ever play again. It’s certainly not going to be actual for the foreseeable future. It’s nothing I’m thinking of now. I started writing this blog around the same time I joined Victims, just after having put Raging Speedhorn to bed. I’m not sure if I’ll carry on. We’ll see. I probably will. I have to find things to write about in that case.

My life looks a lot different now to how it did when I started this blog back in 2009. I’m a parent for one thing. I quit my job and went back to university and got a degree. I got a new job in social work, which I love. But all that said, I’m not quite done with music yet. I still have the inspiration to write and play. Whether that will ever be on the level it was with Raging Speedhorn or Victims, we’ll have to wait and see. It feels doubtful right now, but as my dad always said to me, and I know find myself repeating to myself on a regular basis, “You never know what’s around the corner. One door closes, another opens.”