Transmission 12.09.2009 – European Tour Journal 2009
11.04.2009 Montreal, QC 17:16
We’re at the airport in Montreal waiting to board the plane to Frankfurt. The last few days have been stressful. It’s like this all the time when we leave for tour but its worse when we go to Europe. We’re going to be gone for a pretty long stretch this time around.
I dropped the van off at my parents’ place last night and rode the Metro North back into the city. I was back in Greenpoint by about 21:15 or so. As I walked over the Pulaski Bridge I was thinking about how nice it would be to have a Kombucha Botanic No 9 or No 3 to kick back with. I went into the corner store in time to see this guy buy the entire stock of the two flavors that I liked. He had about 12 bottles captured in the crook of his arm and was talking on his mobile phone as he cashed out. Defeated, I left.
It cost us $675.00 to carry our extra bags of gear and merchandise on the plane. Originally, the woman at the ticketing counter said it was going to cost us $1,100.00. Andrew called Thomas, the dude that drove us out to the airport back, and he relieved me of my back-up guitar. I’ll have to be diligent about changing strings every other night.
I watched one and a half episodes of the HBO series “Hung” on the short flight from La Guardia to Montreal. It features Thomas “The Punisher” Jane as, from what I can tell, a guy with a large penis that is engaged in being a male prostitute.
11.05.2009 Frankfurt, Germany 17:50
We arrived in Frankfurt at 08:00 this morning. We had a hard time finding transportation to the hotel, but finally this Indian cab driver offered to haul us and all of our gear. He asked where we were from and, when I told him we were from New York City, he was very firm in declaring that he is Hindu, not Muslim and that we don’t have to worry about having any trouble with him.
We crashed for a few hours with the television on. My dreams were colored by German-speaking talk show hosts and really bad American pop music.
We hiked up to the town to exchange some currency and pick up some supplies at the grocery store. At the bank, I realized how worthless the US Dollar is; depressing. It’s dark outside now; during our foray into the town, there was a lot of cloud cover casting this gray pallor over the city. It felt so still out on the streets, just blocks of austere, immaculate buildings and very few people. The air is clean and cold and as I look out the window, I can’t see a single person anywhere.
Tonight is going to be low key. We’re changing strings, sorting out merch and re-organizing. At some point, there will be some food and an early rack time.
11.06.2009 Karlsruhe, Germany 20:28
Tonight is the first night of the tour. Ondra picked us up this morning at 11:00 and we had a few hours to kill before picking Buried Inside up at the airport. They had done a run of shows in Russia and flew in today.
Carson had to sort out some issues with his base, so we located a shop in Frankfurt. This guy named Peter Coura owned it and he was really cool to us; he didn’t charge Carson for the work he did and hooked us up with free coffee. Aside from repairs, he custom builds guitars, basses, pedals and amps. He also looked a little like Charles Bukowski.
Buried Inside’s flight landed at 15:30 we spent a few hours at the airport kicking back. I found it interesting that the Frankfurt Airport had a porno shop onsite called Beate Uhse; I was informed by Ondra that she was a famous German porn actress that now owns a chain of sex shops.
Everyone seems cool, this tour should be smooth, and hopefully the shows are good. Tonight looks like it’s going to be a long night.
11.07.2009 Mol, Belgium 18:21
We’re playing in a town called Mol tonight. I dozed of for a few hours on the way in today and woke up as we were rolling into town. It’s so green here and everyone rides bikes. It’s so completely different than where I live. The venue seems cool; it’s a typical European style diy venue with a kitchen and bar. The promoter made us a decent meal and now we’re digging in for a few hours. The doors open in an hour or so.
Last night was okay for a first show. We played well, but I felt a little uncomfortable at first because I hadn’t really had any time to work with the gear. All in all, there weren’t any major disasters. It seemed like a solid set. After the show I talked to this French kid named Nick that wants to move to the US. He claimed to be a “New Christian.” Whatever, people have their beliefs and who am I to judge. At this point, I can’t get behind any kind of religion except the religion of self-reliance and discipline. Deep down, I think everyone knows that religion is just a machine that was set up by the ruling class to control people. Religion is war. Anyway, it was cool talking to Nick, I hope to see him again some day and continue our conversation.
11.08.2009 Plymouth, UK 20:29
We were on the road at 06:30 this morning and hit the ferry from Calais to Dover at 10:30. Dealing with border control was a breeze this time because we were all legal and permitted. The last time was sketchy because we rolled in without any documentation and told the Border Control Officers we were tourists. The ride was long today, I faded in and out of sleep and had strange dreams about the living dead and people that I grew up with dying and haunting me.
Last night in Mol was small but I’ll take it. Its better being out here doing something productive then being at home swimming in anxiety and tension. The playing last night was much, much better than the first night in Karlsruhe. From here on out, I think we’ll be okay.
The venue tonight is in a bus station. It’s totally dead outside. The neighborhood is filled with bars each with 2 or 3 people inside drinking glass after glass of liquor. It is soul-deadeningly depressive out there. There are chain stores and empty streets everywhere. This what I remember the UK to be: miles of driving through beautiful countryside to play in an empty town.
11.09.2009 Norwich, UK 2320
I had a dream last night that I murdered and dismembered this woman that I marginally know from back in New York. When I woke up I was filled with anxiety of the murder that I thought I had committed. Slowly I realized that I was in England and couldn’t have possibly killed anyone.
The show in Plymouth was small but the few people that came out were really cool. I met a lot of nice folks at the show. I met this guy named Matt Coffey from Australia. He had some really nice things to say about us and it meant a lot to me. It’s hard to know if what you do is making an impact on anyone; the best thing to do is just keep pushing forward and do your best.
We crashed with this dude named Dave, another outstanding Brit.
We drove all day to get here. Tonight was a combination of two touring packages, Buried Inside / Tombs and Rise and Fall / Iron Age. The show was pretty well attended but most people were there for the Rise and Fall / Iron Age trip. We played well and hopefully some people were into it.
The men’s room at the venue was tripped out. There was a water closet station and then a tiled floor room with a trough and rain on one side meant for your to piss into.
I did some pushups and ab work; now it’s time to enjoy the first cup of coffee from my portable French Press mug. On the road today, we stopped at a service station and I wasted 3 pounds on completely undrinkable coffee.
11.11.2009 London, UK 10:17
The show in Sheffield was pretty weak attendance-wise. Luckily, Dead in the Woods guys showed up because there would have been about 4 people there. The promoter didn’t bother to book a local band so it was just us and Buried Inside. Originally I tried to get Dead in the Woods on the show, but the promoter wasn’t into it. That would have been a good show.
The venue was a huge cavernous place with many hallways and dark passages. It was cold and dark with a tiny heater in our backstage room. There’s something really depressing about these English towns. It’s as if they’re designed to destroy your will; I suppose you have to stay low to the ground and work through all of this. It’s a weird vibe in the UK. I really dig the people I know here but there’s this relentlessly depressing energy permeating everything.
On the way to Sheffield, we drove past these two American style diners on the highway. For a second, I missed the States. It’s hard to get food late at night over here. It was about 2 and a half hours to London and the drive felt really long. We reached the city at about 0230; we split up in two groups and crashed with Carson’s friends. Ondra crashed in the van. I can’t even begin to express how much I admire his relentlessness when it comes to making these drives. He wakes up and he’s ready to kick it, no bullshit.
Travelling on the highway in the UK is intense largely because I’m not accustomed to the drivers being on the other side of the road. The other phenomenon is the proliferation of rotaries. Everywhere we travelled, we hit rotaries, usually more than one feeding into the other into another. It was confusing.
11.12.2009 Athens, Greece 20:46
I’m hanging out in the hotel room near the venue; the promoter booked four rooms for us. I have the window open and I can hear people moving about, speaking in different languages. There’s a real wild vibe in this part of the world, unlike the UK and Germany. It feels like things are about to get loose in Athens. There are dudes on motorcycles weaving in and out of traffic, olive-skinned ladies talking on mobile phones and young street kids roaming around.
It’s been one long day. The show last night in London was great. A ton of people showed up and we met up with the Rise and Fall / Iron Age camp again. This time I was able to catch all of Iron Age’s set. What a killer band and totally chill dudes. It was a good show from start to finish. I think we played really well last night. We’re pretty much locking into the mode at this point.
After the show, we loaded out and tried to get some sleep before our 05:00 hr wake up was upon us. I wasn’t able to sleep at all because I was anxious about not waking up in time I would kind of lightly doze off for a few minutes and compulsively check my watch. We picked up the other guys and shipped out to the airport. It wasn’t Heathrow, the legit airport in London; it was Gatwick, this kind of low rent airport where Easy Flight flies out of. Yeah, Easy Flight. We boarded this plane that had a sort of “first come-first serve” program. It took us about an hour to clear security. They thoroughly searched out carry-on bags and patted us down. Then we took a bus to the airstrip and walked onto the plane. We loaded on and strapped in. Despite that fact that I got next to no sleep last night, I couldn’t sleep at all on the flight to Athens. You had to pay for the coffee and water. I threw down 2 Euros for a cup halfway filled with coffee.
John , one of the guys that works with the promoter, met us at the airport with a van and we drove to check into the hotel. I started stressing out about tomorrow’s tickets to Italy and the possibility that we’ll be lacking a power converter at the venue. I checked the tour book and found a sheet with Greek writing on it and the e ticket for the flights we just took. I shot a message to Marco asking about the e ticket for Italy.
We checked into the hotel and had about 30 minutes to kill before meeting up with these writers at a coffee shop for an interview. From the interview we went directly to the venue for sound check to discover that there wasn’t a power converter but John immediately went on a mission to secure one.
We plugged in the converter and burned it up. John went out to get another one with a higher wattage and everything is okay at this point. Oh yeah, it turned out that the sheet of paper with the Greek writing on it was out e ticket for the flight to Italy.
After sound check, Anna, the promoter, brought us this intense home cooked meal of Greek Food. I had a sampling of everything.
I’m waiting to play. My visit to Athens so far consists of the airport and about three blocks outside the venue.
I’m beat. The show was great; we played well and people were really cool to us. You can’t really ask for more than that. The singer from the opening band brought me a bag containing most of the records that I played on in my lifetime and asked me to sign them. I was blown away by that to the point that I sat in the backstage room and just kind of tripped out for a while. It was powerful; knowing that all of the time and sacrifice that went into playing on those records and working in those bands actually meant something to someone.
I settled up with the promoter and the reality that even though the show was good and everyone had a great time, we did not break even and the promoter lost money. Yeah, being a TM is a dirty job. I didn’t share that with anyone else because everyone was stoked about the night and gad to be out of England.
We have to be downstairs to meet John at 06:30 to go to the airport catch our flight to Italy where Ondra is meeting us. From there we drive to Switzerland.
11.13.2009 Lausanne, Switzerland 18:21
We started the day out by almost missing out flight out of Athens. Our man, John, overslept so, for a hot minute, I thought we weren’t going to make it. I was literally the last person to board the plane. This time around, we flew on a legit airline with assigned seating and complementary food and beverages.
When my alarm went off at 06:00, I felt like my body had been stretched in a rack and broken. Some of the Buried Inside guys are sick and I think due to the lack of sleep and stress, I’ve contracted whatever illness they have. I feel weak and my body hurts; if I move too fast, I get a wave of dizziness. Ondra picked us up at the airport in Milan and we drove to Lausanne. I slept most of the way up in the loft. I was in a deep, black out sleep and didn’t move except when we hit rest stops. Suddenly, we were at the venue in the middle of this beautiful city. I’m sitting in the backstage area, drinking water, coffee and eating some chow. I need to shake this sickness because it’s unacceptable for me to be compromised on this tour.
We loaded in and sound checked. The venue appears to be run by a crew of attractive women that chain-smoke cigarettes. The sound engineer is this really nice lady that has a political rap collective.
My head is killing me. Hopefully, I can pull through the set.
11.14.2009 Toulouse, France 19:10
I slept all day in the loft during the drive here. I don’t remember much except the sound of the engine. I feel a little better than I did yesterday but I’m still not fit.
Somehow I played the set and crashed afterward. The crowd was cool and polite like the Swiss usually are. They were quiet during the set and clapped when we were finished.
The promoter put us up in a nice hotel and I slept for a few hours. We hit the road at 08:30.
I have low expectation for tonight’s show. It was a last minute type of situation because the show in Paris fell through. The promoter is cool but the vibe at the venue doesn’t seem right. We’ll see.
My gut feeling about tonight was dead on. Originally we were scheduled to play Paris but the show fell through so the booking agent put us in Toulouse. It was a room filled with really not-into-it people that didn’t have too much of an idea on what they were being subjected to. It’s better than a day off I suppose. I ate and slept on the couch for a while trying to conserve my strength for the set. I felt like my playing was a little looser tonight. My voice is shot at this point because whatever sickness I have is settled in my lungs. We dropped Gossamer from the set until I can get healthier.
I felt like the promoter didn’t have his shit together. When Buried Inside finished up their set there was a big rush to get us out so people can come in and disco dance. The sound guy said, “you have to leave now!” I walked away from him without answering. If the promoter wanted everything wrapped up at a certain time, he should have scheduled the show better or maybe not demanded that Buried Inside do an encore. The promoter wanted to stay and “make party” but we all really wanted to get some rest at the hotel. We waited around for about an hour for him to get sorted out.
We waited outside for the promoter to pull it together. I watched the place become overrun with drunk college age kids. The scene was like this Spring Break trip where kids were drinking in the streets and pissing in corners. Some of the guys from the tour were engaging a small group of savage college kids in conversation; at one point one of the drunken kids tried to get in the van but was ejected. It was time to leave.
The place we’re staying at reminds me of a hotel that we would book if we were on tour in the states and paying for it ourselves: total low rent operation. The toilets are communal. I went into one and noticed the beginnings of a glory hole.
I should get some rest.
11.16.2009 Madrid, Spain 17:26
We’re all loaded in, sound checked, the merchandise is set up; waiting to go to dinner with the promoter at nearby restaurant. I slept for part of the ride from Barcelona. We drove through some amazing countryside. It looked like one huge scene out of a Sergio Leone film complete with rolling hills and endless expanses of blue sky.
I feel a little better today, but I’m still going to stay in idle mode until it’s time to play. My voice felt a lot better during sound check. Last night was kind of a struggle; my energy levels were low and I felt my voice cracking. My chest was filled with fluid and it was hard to get full breaths.
The shows have been small and promoters have to be losing money on this tour. For us, we get the same money regardless, but it may make it harder for us next time we come through. Someone thought it was a good idea to put two bands that shouldn’t be headlining out on a European tour together. My job is to show up and play so I’ll focus on that.
We stayed in a hostel outside of the city. It was a dorm style setup where we all slept in one big room with bunk beds. Clean sheets and towels were extra so we just brought in our sleeping bags. We were out of there by 09:00.
They’re playing an odd mix of music at the venue. So far I’ve heard AC/DC, Aerosmith, The Cult, Madonna and some kind of Spanish boy group.
11.17.2009 Madrid, Spain 21:42
Tonight’s show in Lisbon, Portugal was cancelled. Apparently, during the Storm of Light / Minsk show last night, the venue was shutdown due to noise disruption. I got the text at around 05:00 this morning telling us that the show was off.
The show was good last night as far as playing and delivering a solid performance to the people that showed up, however, because I am also responsible for the tour management side of this operation, I had to listen to the promoter tell me how he’s losing money on all of our shows in Spain. On one hand, I can relate but on the other he should have booked the show in a smaller venue with less overhead. This is our first real European Tour and my opinion is that neither band is in the position to headline a tour. Nonetheless, it’s hard to play a good set and go from feeling positive to having some guy tell you that not enough people showed up, the cost for the room is too high etc. Regardless, it blows my mind that we can play to an almost full venue in Spain and people know who we are, own the records and buy merch.
We spent the day wandering around Madrid. I rolled with Nick, Ondra and Tweedy for most of it. It was a day of killing time. The highlight of the day was seeing this heavy-set street performer dressed up as Spiderman. I dropped a Euro in his jar and he took some photos with me and some of the various guys on the tour. The Buried Inside guys are cool, except this dude that’s filling in on second guitar. He’s been wearing my nerves down since the first day of the tour. He’s a fill-in, a substitute for someone who was a full-time member and creative contributor. Apparently, he was a full-time member several years ago. We had words today in the van and I still feel wound up about it.
We’re staying at the same hotel chain that we stayed in Toulouse. I believe it’s called F1. This time around, I didn’t see any glory holes in the showers.
11.18.2009 Porto, Portugal 19:43
We’re playing on a boat tonight anchored at a dock in this beautiful harbor in the waterfront town of Porto. This is my first time in Portugal. When we drove in, we passed all of these students coming home from class but Ondra made a turn down this street that took us past a really intense looking slum. A large group of people were standing around these project-looking buildings eyeing the van balefully. It looked like a really heavy neighborhood for about 4 blocks and then we were out of it.
We’re all loaded in. I’m sitting upstairs in the bar area of the boat, the show is happening downstairs. From where I’m sitting there’s a great panoramic view of the harbor. Most of the others are walking around the small waterfront.
Most of the people on this tour haven’t been on tour a lot. Everyone bailed without squaring away their gear so the local bands had to deal with working around their clutter. The gear that I’m using is squared away and staged in the backroom. The only exception is Andrew and Mike, the drummers, their gear was set up and their cases were neatly packed next to the stage.
I was texting Aaron Harris earlier today. Isis and Dalek are headed to Italy today. I miss those guys and I wish it could have worked out that we toured Europe with them. I have the feeling that this tour was put together with bad intel; the shows should have been booked in smaller venues with lower overhead expenses. We’re here, we have a mission and the only thing left is to follow through with it.
Apparently, there is a really important soccer game going on tonight, so the show is starting at 22:00.
11.19.2009 Bilbao, Spain 20:01
I don’t remember much of last night’s set. The show started late due to a Soccer game; Portugal won and apparently are going to the World Cup. The promoter from the Lisbon show was there last night to pay us our guarantee for the show that was cancelled. The contract is set up so that if the promoter cancels the show within a certain window of time, he still has to pay the guarantee.
Basically, he was just a kid that wanted to book some bands that he liked, didn’t plan it well and ran into trouble with the law. He drove all the way to Porto and paid us; I could see in his eyes that he was uncomfortable talking with me and felt like he had let us down. It was hard taking the cash from him, but we’re working with an extremely narrow margin on this tour and if I didn’t collect we run the risk on not making our expenses.
We slept at this hotel in the downtown area. It was this really old building that looks like it was built in the early part of the 20th century. I ended up on my own. Once I closed the door it was as if all of the tension had drained out of me and I felt relaxed. Being around a large group of people had been wearing me down a little and it was great to sit alone in a room for a while.
We were on the road at 08:00 and drove all day to get here. At this point, it’s the routines and the playing that is keeping me going. I feel tired and worn out. We have a lot more hard travel to do before this is all over.
We’re playing in the smaller room of a huge venue tonight. A huge indie rock band is playing downstairs; one side of the room that our show is in is glass so you can actually see the stage.
11.20.2009 Lyon, France 21:03
We drove almost 10 hours to get here. I slipped in and out of sleep all morning in the front seat of the van. The countryside passed by and I would wake up staring down at my lap. At this point, it doesn’t even matter where we are, it’s just an exercise in getting the set played, settling with the promoter, getting food and making sure we have the overnight accommodations sorted out. I’m certainly looking forward to getting back to Germany where you know what to expect; the shows go off on time, the food arrives on time and you can enjoy the German reliability. Nothing against the southern countries, but they run a little looser and when you’re a long way from home, it creates a great deal of anxiety after a few nights.
Last night was another night where I don’t really remember much about playing. I remember everyone was smoking hash and standing really far away from the stage. I guess they didn’t like us very much. The whole room smelled like drugs after our set. Through the glass wall you can see about a thousand people down at the Budweiser-sponsored musical event. I retired to the back room and sat there quietly until it was time to leave.
We slept at the promoter’s place. My alarm sounded at 07:10, I got up and we shipped out by 08:00.
Tonight’s promoter was late, so for a few moments it looked bad. The venue is down this dark alley behind a warehouse so there was a real heavy vibe until it he called in and indicated that he had car issues and would be about 30 minutes late. Tonight, we’re in the type of venue that the whole tour should have been booked into; a room that holds about 100 people with a small sound system. We ate well tonight; some kind of curry and rice, noodles, apple crisp. I feel ready to play.
I’m checking out the fill-in sitting on the couch next to Steve and thinking about how he was so hell-bent on squeezing the guarantee out o the promoter from Lisbon. He was just a kid that wanted to book some bands he liked into his hometown and the scene got heavy. He did what he had to do; he made the drive out to Porto and gave us the money with no questions asked. He was a man about it and somehow came up with the completely unreasonable amount of money that Marco managed to get out of him. I really would love to smack the fill-in right now that would make me happy; it would have erased the hours we spent driving. At the end of all of this he goes back and has a story or two to tell about his vacation in Europe filling in with his friends’ band. It’s lightweight.
The set went really well tonight. My voice is still a little rough from being sick but it feels a lot better than it has for a while. The sound guy was one of those bare minimum guys, for example, he didn’t mic the guitar cabinets or snare drum. I thought that was odd even for a small room. Andrew asked him to set up a mic on the snare drum; I figured that I could roll without being mic’ed. It felt good to play tonight and people were cool which always surprises me about France. This young girl was going nuts in the front tonight. It was a little distracting but I’m glad she had fun.
This place reminds me a little of Stalag 13 in Philly except that it’s not nearly as disgusting and the neighborhood isn’t as sketchy. I’m ready for sleep. I wonder what kind of suicide drive we have in store for us tomorrow.
11.21.2009 Lyon, France 08:14
The show was cool; a handful of people showed up but I feel like we played really well. After our set, I met this dude that reminded me of Ralph Schmidt; tall, dark-haired, and in command of a vast amount of information about music; French Ralph.
After the show, Etienne, the promoter led us to one of his friend’s place so we can sleep. We watched a Thin Lizzy live video and I drifted off. This morning I talked to the dude that lived there for a while; he spoke mainly French so I was forced to brutalize his language with my limited knowledge of French. He had a killer record collection, mostly doom and rock music. At one point he showed me signed copies of the first two St Vitus LP’s.
11.22.2009 Vicenza, Italy 11:45
I woke up about an hour ago and took a shower and went back to my bunk. The travel and lack of sleep over the last few days has been draining so it was good to be in a hotel with a shower and time to rest in the morning.
The show last night was really good. The Secret played and blew my mind really nice guys on top of being a killer band. Mike, the guitar player reminds me of Ralph Schmidt of Planks, so within two days we met French Ralph and Italian Ralph.
We played well and people were cool. These two guys drove up from Southern Italy for the show, the trip was something like 1500 km, a brutal ride to see a couple of bands play. There was a definite language barrier but I talked to them for a while. Hell, I can’t speak a word of Italian and these guys were doing a pretty impressive job of getting the ideas across in English.
On top of it all, the food was amazing; really simple but delicious. Basically it was macaroni; vegetables, capers, olives and olive oil, but the combination of flavors coupled with the fact that I hadn’t eaten anything all day made it an outstanding meal. You can’t really front on Italy when it comes to food.
We only have about 2 hours to go today.
We arrived early and checking into the hotel; I had plans to work on the accounting but ended up on the bed and staring at the television for an hour. A talk show is on; the Italian TV host could be saying anything, her words pass right through me.
We stopped at an Autogrill on the way here for chow and coffee. The Autogrill is one of the most intense on-the-road dining experiences that you can have. It’s a combination pizza/sandwich shop/café/deli and the food is high quality. The Italians are unbeatable when it comes to cuisine.
Carson has lost his hat, tour laminate and sleeping bag so far.
11.23.2009 Munich, Germany 18:32
We’re back in Germany, at the venue; Buried Inside is sound checking. I’m sitting alone sleeping quarters and dining area. I have a fresh cup of coffee and I just finished counting out the money that I’m going to pay Marco from Avocado. That’s one expense that will be paid in full after today. The guys from Navigator were here at exactly 16:30 to look at the guitar cabinet that wasn’t working; you have to admire German efficiency.
The show in Milan was good, though as usual, I had the pleasure of talking to the promoter and confirming that the show didn’t break even. My voice is still a little jacked up from being sick so I had a tougher time than normal singing. It’s a strange position to be in knowing that our expenses are covered and the promoters are going in the red by doing the shows but I suppose its part of the business. They can lose money on a Buried Inside / Tombs show and make money when Converge or some huge metal core band comes through.
The Italians do not mess around when it comes to food. The meal at the venue last night was unreal. First, fruit, salad and bread came out and then a huge pasta Putanesca was served with more bread, an assortment of cheese, and this squash, potato dish. I was quite a meal. After everyone ate, this dude shouted “Who wants coffee!!” and several cups of espresso were produced.
It turned out that Isis’s drivers were staying at the same hotel that we were booked into. Ondra was tight with them so they came to the show. Isis is rolling in three sprinters; two for personnel and one for merchandise. They’re flying out to Athens and the drivers are kicking it at the hotel.
We woke up and hit the free breakfast at the hotel; a huge spread of eggs, salami, cheese, fruit, assorted bread, coffee, juice, sausages…as I said earlier, the Italians take food very seriously.
We drove across Switzerland, through the Alps to get here. The landscape was beautiful, but the most impressive thing that I experienced was the modular stainless steel water closets. All in one, you can do your thing, wash your hands and have them air dried. It is the pinnacle of European efficiency.
I’m at that point where I’m either tired or hungry all the time.
11.24.2009 Munich, Germany 10:50
I’ve been awake for about an hour, drinking the bitter German coffee, squaring away my gear. After the show we retired to the sleeping area that was part of the venue. It was like a home away from home, there was a kitchen, shower, and laundry, room with couches and three rooms with bunks. W hung out for a while and crashed.
The show last nigh was good. I felt like we played really well, for me it was the personal best that I’ve played in over a week. I feel pretty good and my voice is pretty much back to normal. Marco from Avocado came to show and I paid him his fee and we discussed the tour and related business for a while. He brought up some ideas for 2010, one of which was a tour with Gates of Slumber and Lair of the Minotaur. It sounded good to me; being out with McCash and Fouts again would be awesome but it is going to interfere with some other touring plans that we have in the works.
I just got some intel that Tombs was Number 8 on the Decibel Top Ten Records of 2009. That’s cool and I’m grateful that the Decibel guys think highly of us, but I find it hard to really get excited about things like that. It’s good for the band, but ultimately it doesn’t mean anything in the way of getting more people to the shows. I hate to be a drag, but that’s the way I feel about it.
11.24.2009 Vienna, Austria 23:51 Hr
I’ve played here before back in the 90’s when Otis toured with Foetus and Barkmarket. It’s like this rock multiplex with three different shows going on each night. I’m sitting in the band room sleeping quarters. There’s graffiti all over the walls. I always trip out when I see old graffiti from past tours from people that I know.
The set went well despite some minor issues with the power and a broken string. The sound system was awesome and I was able to hear everything on stage really well. That’s always good for my voice f I don’t have to scream at the top of my lungs; I can control voice better and not blow it out.
We did a video interview earlier with the Stormbringer guys. It was kind of a follow up because I did an email interview with them earlier this year right around the time Winter Hours was released.
It’s a routine day on tour. I could be anywhere, but I happen to be in Vienna.
11.25.2009 Ljublana, Slovenia 18:20
I played in this city several years ago when Anodyne toured Europe. Back then, Slovenia was just about to join the European Union and there was a fairly grim vibe in the air. Things seem a little better these days. When I was here last time, we slept in a bomb shelter, locked from the outside, with about 2 inches of water on the floor. This place is a lot more together.
This young lady from the local television station did a really quick interview with us and Buried Inside. The questions were on the level of “How does Metal fit into society?” that kind of thing.
11.26.2009 Nurnberg, Germany 21:00
I’m sitting in the venue watching people wander in. I couldn’t stay awake on the ride over here from Slovenia. I sat in the front seat of the van, drifting in and out of sleep. At one point, we were driving through a tunnel that seemed to go on forever.
The show last night was really good. We played well and people seemed to enjoy it. The guys from the Secret showed up so that was an added bonus. Earlier on, both bands did a short interview with a local television station. It seemed like a long wait before we got to play; I hung around the venue the whole time.
I walked around the city earlier in an attempt to replace my broken headphones. So far, I have no luck. Nurnberg is a historic city; Hitler used to deliver his speeches here during the Third Reich years. As I walked around the downtown area, I must have seen about four Starbucks, a Pizza Hut, Burger King and pretty much every other chain store you can think of. I actually got lost; none of the streets are perpendicular so I fell into the old tourist dilemma of thinking that you can make three left hand turns to double back. I was wrong. After a while, the onslaught of chain stores and kebab stands all looked the same and I began to doubt my instincts; was I just making a big circle? Would I ever be able to get back to the venue? I tried calling, but no on has their mobile phones on. I was too humiliated to call Ondra, so I just soldiered on and eventually found my way back.
It was good to be on my own away from everyone. I really like Nick and Tweedy but there’s one dude that I can do without. His vibe is that of a tourist; I get the feeling that this whole thing is a vacation for him instead of a mission like it is for me. I endure his monologues day in and day out.
I’m looking forward to playing hard tonight.
It’s good to be back in Germany. When we rolled up to the venue, some dudes that worked with the promoter were waiting for us to help park the van. They then led us up to the backstage area where food, beer, soft drinks, coffee, and various snacks were deployed. Load in and sound check started promptly at 17:30. I wish every night was like this.
11.27.2009 Berlin, Germany 18:55
I’m hanging out at the venue waiting for dinner. I walked around the neighborhood earlier on and found Bis Auf’s Messer, the record store that my friend Robert is part owner of. He wasn’t around but I spent some time checking out his stock. I could have dropped a small fortune there. I wandered around and shot some photos of the buildings. The place we’re playing at is part of a larger compound of buildings that were squatted and improved so a lot of the exteriors have that “post war” look. I kicked it back at the coffee shop attached to the skate shop and enjoyed a hot espresso.
East Berlin has this really sad vibe. The buildings look tired and worn out. This part of the city was once communist; we drove past the former location of Check Point Charlie to get here and it made me think about all heaviness that Germany has gone through over the last half of the 20th Century. Outside of Bis Auf’s Messers, a girl smiled at me as she parked her bike. It’s likely that her grandfather was a Nazi.
The moon is almost three quarters full. It was the time of day when people were coming home from work, it’s Friday, so most people have plans with family, friends. It’s just another stop for me on this endless trail; this kind of life separates you a little from people, sometimes I admire people that fall into these routines and live their lives, but I know what happens when I try to live like that. The day-in / day-out tip closes in on me like in the Joy Division song “Digital.”
Last night in Nurnberg was cool. The show was small, I’m sure the promoter lost money, but we played well and I felt good about our set. Afterward, we stayed with this guy named Sebastian and his girlfriend. Their place was immaculate and they had mattresses set up for everyone. Sebastian had one of the most intense record collections that I’ve ever seen; he had stuff that I didn’t even know existed. Andrew told him that his Morbid Angel 7-in box set was awesome and Sebastian’s response was “yes, it is.”
11.28.2009 Berlin, Germany 02:07
The show tonight was good; we played well and people seemed to dig it. Attendance-wise, it was one of the better dates on the tour. I try not to let that kind of thing matter to me, but it matters to the promoters, booking agent and the label. I want to keep on doing this for as long as I can, so it’s important that people show up.
After the set, we checked into this hostel nearby. Everyone else is out at a bar; I walked around the neighborhood and hit a kebab joint for some food. I hadn’t eaten anything substantial all day. When dinner was being served, I had to meet this guy for an interview so I only was able to secure a small portion of food. The interview was one of the more interesting ones that I’ve done because we didn’t really talk about the record or any of the standard questions that usually get asked. We talked about black metal, National Socialism, the environment, Darwinism and the infamous Wolves in the Throne Room interview where the Germans misunderstood them and decided that they were fascists. After touring with those guys, I can say that Wolves in the Throne Room are the furthest thing from fascists. I did my best to clear it up.
Tomorrow is early; we have to be in the road at 07:00 to make the ferry to Denmark.
Berlin, late night, is a beautiful, haunting place. Nothing seems to close, which is unusual for Europe, the clubs stay open late into the night. I saw women with severe Weimar Republic style haircuts walking with equally severe men on their way to some secret location to embrace whatever the night had in store for them. I felt like a ghost haunting the streets, unseen and un-noticed, observing. The moon was huge in the sky and the old, East German buildings looked even sadder.
11.28.2009 Copenhagen, Denmark 19:20
I’m sitting back in the band room. It was a long day. We were on the road before 07:00 and caught the 10:30 ferry across the Baltic. I slept on and off in the front seat of the van for most of the day, slumped over and completely uncomfortable.
Dinner is happening soon; doors are within an hour.
The next few days are going to be brutal for travel.
Tonight was a small but cool show.
The opening band, Whelm, was great. They reminded me of Disembowelment with a kind of Neurosis vibe. They incorporated mandolin and some weird-looking stand up bass into their sound. Aside from being a killer band, they’re really cool people. In a lot of ways they’re better than both Tombs and Buried Inside, but we get to tour Europe and put out records and they have to work twice as hard as us to get noticed. It makes me feel very fortunate to be able to do this.
The road for the next couple of days will be intense.
11.29.2009 Sandviken, Sweden 18:29
It’s been a long day. We were on the road at 07:00; I ended up getting a room to myself last night so it was really nice to be alone, away from all of the pointless conversations that I’ve had to witness all day in the van. It felt like it was time to wake up as soon as my head hit the pillow; I logged in a whopping four hours of sleep last night. Furthermore, I couldn’t find my way out of the labyrinth of hallways from my room to the reception area.
We took a ferry from Denmark to Sweden; the 08:10 ferry on a Sunday isn’t very profitable apparently, there were only a handful of retirement age people on the ferry eating breakfast and drinking small cups of espresso. I exchanged some US dollars for Swedish Kronor, secured a cup of coffee and checked out the old couples sitting together, chatting. I admired the fact that they were able to somehow get through their lives together and enjoy their “golden years” together in apparent happiness. It made me feel lonely.
We drove all day to get here. I slipped in and out of sleep in the front seat of the van. Sleeping while sitting upright is not cutting it anymore. I thought about this kid I talked to last night at the show as we were on our way out. He was 22 years old and told me that he was into Anodyne and Versoma and that he read Everythingwentblack regularly. He was too young to have caught Anodyne on their European tour. I’m happy that people are still discovering the band, because as I’ve said before, it wasn’t easy being in that band. We were always the odd band on a lot of bills and it seemed like every tour was an uphill battle. I don’t regret anything I’ve done in that band and I think that all of our material still stands up, but sometimes it’s hard to talk to people about those days.
I’m looking forward to the show tonight. Gadget is playing; I watched their sound check earlier and I’m stoked to see their set. This venue, Kungen, is really cool; there’s tons of fliers for past shows. Entombed, Dismember, Disfear and a ton of other sick bands have played here over the years.
11.30.2009 Ferry to Finland 18:57
The show last night in Sandviken was small but cool. I dug the whole trip of playing at Kungen, everyone was really nice and the food was great and ample amounts were provided. It had this kind of punk rock clubhouse vibe with a hang out room with a video tape player and a huge collection of vhs tapes. After the show we watched “The Eraser”, one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s classics from the 90’s.
It was good meeting Rikard and the guys from Gadget. They played a ripping set. One of the more interesting things I discovered is that Rikard also uses the Boss Heavy Metal Pedal like all of the classic Swedish Death Metal guys. I may have to investigate using these pedals in the future.
I finally picked up a set of headphones on the way to the ferry.
The journey to Finland will take 16 hours. We’ve been on the ferry for about 2 hours and I’m already bored out of my mind. The van is parked on some lower deck with the other vehicles and everyone is divided up into 4 man cabins. There are 12 levels on this boat with discos, restaurants, gambling, spas, saunas and all kinds of places to get wasted and party. I took a stroll around and found a place to get on the internet via an actual computer terminal. I did some BBR work and checked my email. The Gadget dudes warned me that the ferry up to Finland is a booze cruise and a lot of people just travel on the ferry to party and just head back to Sweden. I’m going to try and avoid people as much as possible for the rest of this trip
I listened to Six Organs of Admittance and went over some of the tour finances, counted up the money and now I’m pretty much out of things to do. I’ve got the Leviathan demo playing in my headset. I’m looking forward to checking out Helsinki tomorrow. We’ll be in town by morning, Ondra is going to take us to a record store that a friend of his owns.
I went up to the deck earlier. It was intense looking out into the blackness and not seeing any lights or signs of civilization. I had Darkthrone. Transylvanian Hunger” playing on my headphones and I hung out up there until I got too cold and had to go back inside. For the first time in weeks, I felt like I really experienced something. There were land masses barely visible in the darkness, I could almost make out the details of trees and rocks as the ferry passed by. I tried to imagine what it would be like to be crouching in the blackness on one of those islands observing this lit up man-made machine slicing through the cold waters, approaching and then slowly disappearing into the night. At times, I caught a the most subtle hint of pine trees. There were no stars in the sky, just a dome of clouds diffusing the moonlight. I was alone on the deck. Everyone was downstairs hitting the casino and getting wasted. What a waste of time. The air was crisp and clean and I felt like completely detached. Apparently, there’s some kind of college trip going on. Tweedy filled me in on it. There’s a legion of these college-age kids wandering around getting hammered, wearing these coveralls. My objective is to stay as far away as I can.
12.01.2009 Helsinki, Finland 23:45
I played the worst set of the tour tonight. It was so anticlimactic to travel all this way and suck. It was a culmination of a series of minor failures that resulted in the poorly executed set; I’m only speaking for myself. Maybe it was the fatigue, the lack of monitors, or the fact that Andrew was completely obscured by the smoke machine, but I was a hair odd on all of the changes. He whole set didn’t feel right from the second I walked out on stage.
Buried Inside is getting ready to play. After their set, we get paid, load out and kick it at the hotel for a couple of hours before heading down to the ferry at 06:00 for another day of travel. I feel worn out and would love to shower and sleep, but that’s not in the cards.
We arrived in Helsinki this morning and headed over to the a record store owned by the dude from Endstand. It was packed with a lot of really cool records, but most of the stuff I can find in the states for normal prices. We cruised downtown to kill the five hours before load in time. Ondra had trouble finding a legit parking spot. Carson and I broke out looking for this record store called Music Hunter; completely by change, we found it. I was totally blown away by the selection of killer vinyl they had. I picked up this Horna lp that I haven’t seen before. There were many things that I wanted, but I wanted to pick something “local” up, hence the Horna record.
12.02.2009 Ferry to Stockholm 15:44
After the show last night we checked into this self-service hotel for a few hours before leaving for the ferry. We had to be up and on the road by 04:45 so it was pointless to try and sleep. Andrew, Carson and I shared a room and kicked back in the bunks watching a Finnish music video channel. There was a video where pop singer Rihanna is stranded in the desert and Justin Timberlake drives up on a motorcycle, like a predator, he circles her as she lip-synchs the words to the song. Eventually he takes her on the hood of the car under the blazing desert sun. One of my favorite videos is the Lady Gaga video that we watched. She’s a very interesting-looking lady, too bad her music is complete bullshit.
After several European pop videos, the “rock band” Kings of Leon were up with a mostly live performance video cut with the crazy tour antics and scene of the band kicking back with chicks. I suppose there are people out there that buy into this band, but to me, it seems like these guys should have broke up about ten years ago and resumed their careers as graphic designers.
We boarded the ferry at around 08:00 and we’ve been travelling back to Sweden all day. I slept solidly until about 15:00, went down to the cafeteria, bought some food and coffee, hung out until a gang of college age kids showed up and started making a spectacle of themselves. We have about 2 more hours until we land, then its 16 or 17 hour trip to Rotterdam. Ondra is an iron man driver; I don’t know how he does it.
For the record, after observing the level of animalistic debauchery that Scandinavian college kids are capable of, the European opinion that Americans are savages doesn’t hold any weight with me.
12.03.2009 Rotterdam, Netherlands 17:07
The total travel time to get here was 36 hours; we boarded three ferries and travelled through five countries. During the late night shift, I posted up in the loft. We were in Germany about 60 kilometers from the border with the Netherlands when I noticed that my foot was being nudged. The German police were leading us to a weigh station, Ondra had warned us that the Germans were cracking down on bands overloading the sprinters; we were clearly overweight. The cop weighed us and we were hit with a 120 euro fine plus a 9 euro fee to use the scale. Furthermore, we were prohibited from travelling on the German highway overloaded as we were. The cop dropped all of this intel on us, abruptly said “Bye” and walked away. We ditched half of the gear and the dudes in Buried Inside behind a warehouse nearby. The plan was for Ondra to drive us across the Netherlands border where we would load the gear out; he would then double back to pick up the others and rendezvous with us. It was a total waste of time; the Germans extorted their cash out of us and nothing was solved. The funniest thing was that the fine was due on the spot, in cash. It’s not like the States where they write you a ticket and you have a window of time to pay it.
We drove across the border to a carpool lot, loaded out the gear and waited. It looked like rain, but luckily it held up. About an hour and a half later the van showed up and we were on our way. The Germans had added about three hours to our already long, long “day.”
Since we arrived in The Netherlands, I’ve seen a lot of these peculiar Christmas decorations depicting Santa Claus with this extreme black stereotype of a black person’s face: big red lips, golden hoop earrings, big smile. It’s vaguely disturbing because of the nonchalance in which it’s displayed. For example, I walked into a gas station and the first thing I saw is a cut-out of this black faced, red-lipped caricature of a black person along side advertisements for Coca-Cola and cigarettes.
I dozed in the front seat with my headphones on. I caught bits and pieces of my playlist: Death in June “To Drown a Rose”, Leviathan Slaveship demo, parts of Six Organs of Admittance.
When we got to Rotterdam, we did the load in and everyone kind of dispersed. Buried Inside is doing their sound check. Most of those guys are cool, but there’s this one dude that gets under my skin. Ironically, he’s not actually in the band, just filling in for this one tour. To him, this is all a vacation, it’s time away from some job back home and after it’s all over, he can tell his buddies about his “rock and roll experience” playing in Europe. This is our fifth tour this year and when we get back, we’ll be preparing for the next one coming up in April. It’s a test of my discipline to not smack him every time he opens his mouth to ask he about door times or when the beer is going to arrive.
Earlier on, I went down to the street in search of coffee. There was a Korean bakery on the corner, next to where the van is parked. I dig Korean baked goods, usually made with rice flour. When I asked if they had coffee, the lady at the shop cheerfully indicated the shop across the street. I checked it out, the same story, go next door for coffee. Finally, I noticed this place with a sign that read “Coffee Shop” and there was a huge green pot leaf next to it. I aborted my mission to find coffee.
12.04.2009 Rotterdam, Netherlands 12:30
We’re hanging out in the café of the hostel we stayed at last night waiting for Buried Inside to finish doing their tourism trip. The show last night was small but I’ll take it over not playing; the only drag was that everyone was a little burned out from the 30 plus hours of travel. It felt a little surreal playing last night; another lonely European night on the road. The venue was this huge entertainment complex. In addition to our show in the basement, there was a reggae show in the larger hall. Attendance looked kind of sparse for that show as well.
We ate dinner at the café attached to the venue. One the way out, I caught a visual of an oil painting of Buried Inside hanging on the wall.
We met Jeroen from Relapse’s European office. It was nice to put a face to the name of someone that I’d been working with for the last year. We’re going to stop by the office on the way out of here to the next city.
It’s kind of nice sitting here in the empty room. I can hear the two women that run the hostel working behind the bar speaking Dutch to each other. Earlier on Carson and I ordered coffee. One of the women produced a rectangular wooden plate with an espresso, a short glass of water, slice of hard ginger bread, a small milk and sugar. It’s the little things in life that make living bearable sometimes.
Today is Friday; somewhere in this town, someone is looking at the clock in anticipation of leaving work for the weekend.
Nijmegen, Netherlands 18:00
We arrived in the city at about 15:30 and weren’t expected at the venue until 18:00 hr. Carson and I walked around town for a few hours; I saw this young boy wearing black face and a kinky wig similar to the racist Christmas imagery that I’ve been observing. We walked by this bakery that had a Christmas cookie display in the window and alongside the typical seasonal cookies were these cookies that looked like tiny black faces.
We dropped by hew venue to see if anyone was around so maybe we could load in early. Nobody was around so we checked out this bar next to the club ad hung around for a while. The owner, Case, was this really cool hippy-type guy that was really into music. There was a ton of old vintage gear lying around, a full backline and PA System. He was a sound engineer and touring bassist so he knew what the score was when he saw us walk in.
Carson asked him about the black-faced kids and vaguely offensive Christmas ornaments. Case replied, “oh, that’s Black Pete.” Black Pete is a tradition in the Netherlands that dates back to the Medieval times. He accompanies Santa Claus on his journey and distributes candy. According to the story, Black Pete is from Morocco though I would be hard-pressed to find anyone native to Morocco named “Pete.”
12.06.2009 Bielefeld, Germany 18:27
It feels like Eastern Germany because it’s cold and dark. Ralph Planks is hanging out. I asked him about Black Pete and he said he’s not familiar with it. I mentioned that he was from Morocco and we both questioned how a Moroccan would end up in the Netherlands. Ondra added that most likely Black Pete was a slave.
The show last night was good; we played well and people seemed to be into it. A group of Air Force MP’s came to the show and hung out. They said that it was good for morale when US bands came through and that they like to come out and show support. One guy told me that this was the first show that he’d ever been to and that he had a great time. He told me that he was 20 years old and that he’s already been deployed to Iraq, after a couple of beers he confided that he was a virgin and that he’d like to find a nice Dutch girl to hang out with, but he didn’t know how to talk to women. That was really intense; he had already been to Iraq and potentially could have been killed before having sex or having been to see a band play live.
The Air Force guys asked us if we would hang out after the set. Carson and I met them at Case’s bar after loading out and checking into our hostel. They were surprised that we showed up, which seemed odd to me because I was really looking forward to kicking back with those guys. I spent most of the night talking to this guy named Chuck. He told me the story of how he heard about Tombs. He was hanging out with one of his buddies in the woods around a campfire tripping on mushrooms. They were listening to Cult of Luna’s album “Salvation” and when it was over the “Winter Hours” came on. He told me they tripped their asses off out in the woods and listened to the entire record. During the following days, he told me that he bought our other records.
He told me that he had been in the Netherlands for two years and he was going back to the States in February. I gave him my email and said we should stay in touch; I told him that it was really cool hanging out with him and that I hope to see him again in the States at some point. You could tell that he was ready to leave Europe and that maybe he was over the whole military trip.
We hung out at Cases’ bar until after 05:00
We’re playing with the mighty Crowskin tonight. I have pretty much all of their material except this brand new 7-in that’s limited to like 200; most likely, all copies are gone by now. My old pen pal Florian Geyer from Potsdam is the guitarist in Crowskin. I didn’t know that he was in the band until I saw him walk through the backstage door and the fact that Florian is part of the band makes me them even more now. Florian was also in this great German band called Chainbreaker; he gave me a copy of their demo a few years ago when Anodyne played in Potsdam.
12.07.2009 Toronto, Canada 16:35
I don’t remember much about the set last night; I think we pulled it off. After Buried Inside played, we broke everything down, I got cashed out by the promoter and I did the final cash settlement with Buried Inside and Ondra. We left the venue at about 03:00 and drove straight the the Frankfurt Airport. Ondra dropped us off at 06:30 and that was that. The tour is over and the last thing to do is get home in one piece.
I had Slowdive playing in the headset as the van tore across the German highway. My eyes were barely opened and I felt my body relax because I knew it was over. The travel was particularly rough on this tour and it had taken its toll on everyone. I felt like the overall vibe was that everyone was anxious to get home. I’m not sure what the Buried Inside guys have in the works, but we have a couple of shows booked stateside and then we’re going to shutdown for the final weeks of the year. Downtime gives me anxiety because that means that I don’t have band practice to go to. When the first of the years hits we will work on more new material and prepare for the spring touring.
The morning crawled by at a snail’s pace. We checked out bags and gear in, paid the overage fines and dug in. Buried Inside’s flight left a few hours earlier than ours so we said our goodbyes and they shipped out. They thanked me for taking care of the TM responsibilities and that went a long way with me because it’s a thankless job and nobody really sees the work unless something goes wrong.
The flight across the Atlantic went by smoothly. The only downer was that the in-flight movie selection was pretty weak, which was surprising because Lufthansa usually goes the extra mile for their customers’ comfort. The flight was full; there was a large group of high school aged Canadian girls wearing matching red jackets with the Canadian maple leaf emblazoned across the back. It must have been some kind of sports team; it make me think about the Buried Inside guys and my sleep-deprived mind painted a picture of those guys wearing matching jackets with “Canada” printed across the back. Honestly, I never really think about Canada unless I’m listening to Rush or April Wine; Bison BC are Canadian. For the last month I endured this bizarre brand of Canadian Nationalism where I would constantly be reminded of the perceived shortcomings of the US. It got on my nerves and made me want to wear a cowboy hat and drive a Humvee. It brought out the worst in me.
The only thing left is to get on the plane. We already cleared US Customs when we de-planed. If all goes well, we’ll be touching down at 19:50.
This entry was posted on December 9, 2009 at 21:56 and is filed under Uncategorized with tags Black Metal Tombs Relapse, Mike Hill European Tours. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.