Tuesday, 31 August 2010


Didn't have a chance to update the blog much on tour. WiFi wasn't everywhere and I couldn't be arsed. Who wants to go to a different country and sit on a computer?! American bands love all that on tour, they always bogged down with gadgets. We only get to to tour a tiny bit, so it never feels like a chore, it's usually fun most of the time, which is what it's meant to be.
ANYWAY, here's a brief rundown of what I remember from each gig. I've probably missed stuff out, and for the most part, it's not terribly interesting, as life on tour for us is pretty mundane, in that we're not getting mashed up and legging it around in our nack. We play with these kind of idiotic bands alot, and my tolerance for them is zero. I'd rather be boring than be a tit.
Good gig.  I worked till 7 then legged it to town. Left my bass at home so had to leg it back. Busy venue, punks, smellies, nutters, dolly birds and loads of old faces all out to play. My other band played and the guitar amp packed in. SSS played 10 new songs I think. Played for about 10 minutes too long, got a bit boring, but played alright. Friday night in town - always a bit mental. 

Adam, our driver, picked us up from our HQ on the Wednesday night and we made it to Dover in good time. Slept for most of the way down there, and true to form, we were all tucking into our lunch boxes before we'd even hit the M62. Liverpool bands - have you ever saved your butties till after the Rocket? Adam's van broke down the week before, so we're in a new Sprinter, which is cool, but the downside is that it hasn't been totally kitted out yet, so just 3 seats way in the back and not much in the way of home comforts. This means there's a bit of room on the deck to lie down and have a kip though, which is what I do most of the way through France and Belgium. The first gig on the mainland is supporting Slapshot. The venue is mid sized and on the edge of town, with nowhere that interesting to walk to. Infact, me and Pete tried to get off the industrial estate that the venue was on and couldn't figure it out. Dinner was good - big chunks of chicken, spuds, veg and thick gravy. Not much on the menu if you're a vegetarian, as Foxy and Dave are, but me and Pete filled our boots, and I got a stream of the Liverpool match on as we waited for showtime. The rest of the rider wasn't great, but we're not Bon Jovi, so who cares. The gig was ok. Not loads of people there, but we play to a good standard. The sound was pretty good and the venue well run. Liverpool won 2-0 too. After the gig we drove to the Hostel we were staying in, in some Hansel and Gretel village in the arse end of nowhere, about an hour and a half away from Hannover. The hostel was sound and we got some good kip.

 This was part of the Sucks n Summer Fest, which is a terrible name for a festival. Maybe it sounds better in a German accent or something. It's a good little setup, room for 1000-2000 or so, with lots of record and food stalls. It would have been better if it wasn't absolutely pissing down. We were on second or third I think, and there was a good amount of people watching, even though it was horrible weather. We were on quite early and were staying over, so had loads of time to mooch around. We were only 20k away from Colditz and I'm kicking myself that we didn't go. Gutted. We walked into Leisnig and saw the giant boot, which is what the town is famous for, it seems. It's not even that big. None of the bands did it for me, really. Euro hardcore and American reunion bands. What's the point? Best bit of the day was playing headers and vollies in the gym with a load of Euros and Americans, for about 2 hours. A good bit of excercise and I wish I could get to do that every day on tour. I'm bringing a ball next time.
We stayed in the gym bit, which I thought would be full of idiotic bands being loud, but it was sound. Got a cold shower in the morning. It was communal showers but I got in early. Dave got in later and thought he was going to get double teamed.

We headed south and just couldn't escape the rain. Pissed down for the entire drive, which must have been a nightmare for Adam to drive in. We get to the venue and it looks a bit like an ex-gallery. Lots of white. Nice, simple space and it was the last ever gig here. It's a headline gig, and I wasn't sure how it would go. Best rider of the tour - good, hot food and lots of snacks, drinks etc. We went for a little walk and I stumbled upon a great little non league style football ground. It was surrounded by a stream and flanked by hills and mountains, and looked striking under the floodlights. The team was SC Pinkafeld and I went in and caught the last 20 minutes. I think they got beat 2-0, with an exciting late goal from the visitors, who I thought were bottlers cos they just wouldn't push up for set peices. 2 men in the area for a corner? Get real. They won though, so what do I know.  www.scpinkafeld.at
ANYWAY, the gig was ok. Sacked the stage off and played on the floor, but the P.A wasn't great and Pete had problems with his amp, so had to borrow one. Played alright though and a few people were shouting for songs. Think the promotors lost a bit of money as there is confusion as there seems to be 2 booking agents for the Austrian gigs. It's a bit messy and not ideal, as someone is getting paid for doing not very much at all. We stay in a small hotel in the town and it's comfy. Good shower and some Euro food in the morning.

 The weather changed today and was glorious. Adam found out where there was a local lake and we headed for there. Everyone had a swim, but I found a spot in the shade and had a lie down. I wasn't feeling too great and the sun can really take it out of me. I suffer with Crohn's Disease, which can be a struggle sometimes on tour. I have to listen to my body and avoid overworking it and stress, which are two common things on any small tour like this. Some R&R in great weather does wonders though. After the swim it all goes wrong. To cut a long story short, Foxy did his ankle in skateboarding down a huge hill. He was going *very* fast. Adam found a Hospital on his Sat Nav, which was good cos we were really out in the sticks. We got there and thankfully it wasn't a closed GPs or a vets, but a good sized hospital. Foxy was in there for a few hours and the whole thing was much easier than I would have imagined, as he didn't have an E11 card or anything. It was a bit of a odd time as we were running through different options as we still had a week of tour left and hadn't really got enough money to pay for all of our expenses if we had to cancel the tour. Foxy said he could continue, and I was a bit doubtful, but we agreed to give the Vienna gig a go and see how it worked out. We got to the venue in time and it was a cool squat like bar on the outskirts of town, which there seems to be alot of in this part of the world. Foxy was struggling a bit with his one leg, but we actually played very well, certainly the tightest yet of the tour. Afterwards, there are more issues with the Austrian booker, but I stay clear and arse around with Dave on a bike with loads of seats, like the Goodies. There were no brakes and we didn't want to turn into Foxy part II and III, so we jibbed it off. We stayed with Thomas and his Mrs in thier amazing flat and they took us to get some better crutches for Foxy the next day. We had lunch and I went overboard and got a big stack of Flintstones style ribs. I shouldn't really eat meals that big, but as a treat once in a while, it's laffin. They were boss, but I didn't have the room to finish off the spuds below. Didn't have time for any Mozart or Schubert sights which I was gutted by.

This was just over the border from Austria so not a long drive. Another small squat-esq venue on the outskirts of town, and we got there just in time for a 30 minute blast of torrential rain as we were loading in. Went for a walk into town, which was around 40 odd minutes away. This weird sausage dog thing started following us, and I might be wrong here, but I don't think it had any pupils in it's eyes. I didn't double check and kept on walking. We found the castle and it looked impressive. The views from the top of it were amazing too, and we got to sit off for bit and catch our breath. Bratislava seems ok, and I'd like to come back again. Has a vibe similar to other Euro capitals, and reminds me of a dirtier Budapest, which in turn reminds me of a dirtier Paris. The food was pretty moody here and the toilet only had this weird sliding door with no lock. I'd just come to the end of a period of what I'll politely describe as 'tummy trouble', so I swerved the food. I had a glass of local cola, which tastes of anaseed. The other bands we played with were good and we played well. We stayed with some nice people in a flat in a tower block, and it got a bit more Eastern European here, which was good, as most of eveywhere else looked all the same. Early start in the morning for a decent drive to Berlin.
We played here on our first European tour, and we're in the same venue again, the Casseopia, which is in some area of Berlin than reminds me a lot of the Lower East Side in New York, loads of vintage clothes, cafe's, graffiti, punks, blah blah blah, you know the score. Like if Camden Town wasn't completely inhabited by morons. I wasn't holding much out for the gig, but it was really good. Sound was excellent and there was a good crowd with people who seemed happy we were playing! Food was excellent and we got to stay in a nice flat, with people I didn't meet. We spent most of the next day in Berlin. The others were waiting for some veggie cafe to open and Pete was having guitar problems so was looking for a guitar shop, so I got the train into the centre of Berlin and had a good look around. Nice, big city and I got to see some good exhibition on life in East Berlin before and after the wall came down. Eastern Europe is fascinating to me so this was really interesting. I had a look in a museum and a gallery, but didn't really have time to enjoy it too much as I had to go and meet the lads and make our way to Chemnitz. Whenever I think of Berlin, I think of the video to Kayleigh by Marillion, and the album Misplaced Childhood, which was recorded here. I listen to the album in the van on the way out of the city and make a mental note to learn more German the next time I am over here.

 I was looking forward to coming here and having a mooch, but we got here around 6pm, so not much chance to do that. We loading into the venue, Subway to Peter and it was cool. A small punk rock pub and really cool owner. It reminded me a bit of the pub in the Mexican Standoff shoot out in Inglourious Basterds. I can't remember what the food was, but I remember that it was good. Pete and myself did an interview for a local radio station that had some good questions, then we went for a wander. Chemnitz used to be called KarlMarxStadt up until the fall of the Iron Curtain. Most ex Eastern Bloc places are fairly Westernised now, and Chemnitz is no exception. There are always traces of how it used to be though, if you look for it. There is a bust of Karl Marx in the town and we went to look for it, although I think we walked in totally the wrong direction and all we saw were nice suburbs that looked a bit like home. We got back in time for the gig and we were the only band on, which is a little odd. We generally only play for 25-30 minutes, so we had to stretch it out a bit longer. I think it must be boring to watch us for any longer than that, but the gig was ok. The P.A looked feeble, but actually did an alright job. The owner was nice and gave us some shots of some home made concoction, which is a tradition there. Foxy and me don't drink, so we had lemonade shots instead. I'm glad of this, as Pete and Dave had some kind of garlic infused short. It smelled disgusting. The sleeping space was about 100 yards up the road, and was plastered with graffiti and tour posters of hundreds of bands who have passed through there. You know those kind of posters - big glossy ones, with a space at the bottom for the promotor to put thier gig details at the bottom. I hate those cheesy posters, but now that's us now, same as the rest. Bands pay through the nose to get those posters made too. 5:30am call for the morning, long drive on those crappy Czech roads.

 This gig was by far the biggest we've ever done, an outdoor festival called Brutal Assault. We got there early, as we were second on. The weather was amazing, and I was really looking forward to this one. Loads of funny people here and a fantastic setting of an old army base. The sun was sweltering, but of course there was a sea of black t-shirts. Some people trying to look miserable in corpse paint and leather keks too. Give us a smile, lad. There were two stages set up, and we were the first band on our particular stage, but with 15 minutes to go till our stage time, the hired backline and P.A was still being assembled. It was a bit worrying, and my fears were confirmed as they were telling us to go on before we had any kind of monitor mix. Now, we're not rock stars and we play through crap P.A's with no foldback all the time, but this was totally wrong. They'd patched it all incorrectly, so if I asked for more guitar, just drums would come through the monitors at ear splitting volume. It really would have made it impossible to play the set.  It took them about 30 minutes to fix this problem, with us on stage like lemons. We should have just walked off and waited, really, but we had no idea it would take that long. When they finally got the problem sorted, we got about 30 seconds into the first song, and some roadie went behind me and got caught in my lead and damaged it, and my bass cut out! The replacement lead they gave me also didn't work, so we had no idea what the problem was, and ended up replacing the entire set up - head, cab and bass. Still nothing! I got out one of my replacement leads and it worked! This put us back another 5 minutes or so, and to be honest, took the wind out of our sails a bit. It was hard to get into it after that as my mind was just on possible technical problems, rather than just playing music. I was pretty gutted, as this should have been the highlight of the tour, really, as there were somewhere between five and eight thousand people watching and we couldn't deliver, through no fault of our own. Tried to enjoy the rest of the day, and it was quite fun. Got to see a bit of Obituary play and then we left around 7pm, as we had a long overnight drive to get us to Ieper the next day. Wasn't really looking forward to this journey.

 This was a grueling drive to get us here. Not for us, as we watched Kick Ass then slept all night. Adam did a sterling job though, as he must have been driving for about 11 or 12 hours. Hats off. We had a walk into the town and checked out the Great War monument and enjoyed a Belgian waffle. Everyone stocked up on chocolates. We played late afternoon in the indoor marquee stage, which was good, as it started lashing it down outside, so lots of people came in to watch us. Possibly the best gig of the tour and it was good to get some of the frustrations of the previous day out. Spent most of the evening hanging out on the stall avoiding cheesy bands, and we sold a lot of merch here, including 3 or 4 skate decks. Later on, Pete and me went into town so we didn't have to watch Agnostic Front and had a decent meal. There was some mad free gig in the centre of town for all of the locals, maybe as a sweetener to them all for putting up with all of these hardcore idiots invading them every year. This gig was basically what looked like possible local radio or TV presenters and just normal people miming to bizzare songs, complete with dance moves. I could try and explain further, but if I say it was very European, then hopefully you'll get the picture. We got back and the gig was over, so we went to the hostel and got our heads down.

We caught the ferry at Calais and waved goodbye to the mainland. Got to Wales and it was like being back in Eastern Europe, but how it must have been in 1975. I like Newport on a Saturday, it's always just wild. The chippy over the road was closed so we went to the Indian next door. Ate too much food and felt like crap. Absolutely no learning curve whatsoever.
Our mates from Liverpool, the Cold Ones came down to play this, and they were on top form. The gig was good. Last time we played here, Dave was in hospital, so we played to a backing track of the drums and put a video of his head through the TV system. We loaded up and hit the road, as tour was over and it was back to reality with a bump. Back to work. I bet Kip Winger or Jani Lane doesn't have to do this.

Tour reading list
The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner City Neighbourhood by David Simon/Edward Burns
I tried reading the Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath again, but it didn't put me in the right frame of mind. Hard work, that.
The Liverpool Echo

Tour music list -
Marillion - 'Misplaced Childhood'.
Paul McCartney - 'McCartney II', 'Tug of War', 'Flowers in the Dirt'
The Streets - 'Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living', 'A Grand Don't Come for Free'
Franz Schubert - 'Death and the Maiden'
Debbie Gibson - 'Out of the Blue'
Guardian football podcast and loads of BBC World Service documentaries
Loads of other stuff that I can't remember


1 comment:

  1. Good read. I missed Newport, but there's always next time I guess.