Transmission 10.04.2008 – TOUR JOURNAL
9.5.2008 1048 Mannheim, Germany
I’m finally unclenched. We’re kicking back at Ralph’s flat. Yesterday was spent trying to stay awake, picking up supplies and changing money. We had dinner at Juz, the local community center where for 2 Euros, you can get a vegan meal and a drink. Anodyne played their first European show here in the basement of this building a few years ago. I remember getting off of the plane, meeting Ralf Boch and driving back to his place, passing out on a couch and playing the show. A handful of people were there.
After dinner we went back to the flat and watched “Get Thrashed” this documentary about the thrash scene of the 80’s. It did a good job of tackling such an ambitious project. There was old footage of Anthrax, Vio-lence, Kreator, Metallica, Exodus and most of the main players of the era as well as some obscure bands. There were also current interviews with a lot of the guys from back in the day peppered with clips of bands like Municiapal Waste, Lamb of God and Slipknot. Dave was on camera for a minute.
Our travel plan was ridiculous. Basically Carson and I were in transit for over 24 hours. Relapse had us booked out of Newark to Chicago where we had a 4-hour layover. We then shipped out to Frankfurt. Andrew, on the other hand, was booked on a direct flight from Newark to Frankfurt on Luftansa.
April was cool enough to drive us to the airport. Carson and I disembarked at 1100 but Andrew had to kick back for about 4 hours. He arrived a few hours before us in Frankfurt. Brother Ralph Schmidt was there to pick us up.
It was great seeing Ralph and I’m looking forward to getting into these dates. Planks are a solid band and I can’t think of anyone else that I’d rather be on the road with.
In a few minutes, we’re heading out to Planks’ rehearsal space in the basement of Juz to work out the gear and rehears before shipping out to Trainspotting Fest.
9.06.2008 Schweinfurt, Germany
Things were going too smoothly. The plan was to head over to Juz and check out the gear, run the set and hit the road. When I opened my guitar case, I discovered that the head stock on my les paul was cracked. There was a slip of paper in the case, declaring that it had been inspected. The strings had been slacked prior to the flight so the only possible answer is that some dipshit, $6/hour security person had dropped my guitar and just put it back into the case. Ralph was cool enough to loan me his epiphone for the tour. He made a call to this kid from the band Trainwreck to ask him, on my behalf, if he would let me use his Gibson SG for the tour. Apparently the guy said it would be cool and I’m just waiting for him to show up.
I’m stressed out; it’s always strange when you play on someone else’s gear. At this point, the only things that are mine are the effects pedals I brought. I’m lucky that Ralph is cool enough to loan me his gear, but it’s a big adjustment. To add to the anxiety, we had to stop at this appliance store on the way out here to pick up a converter. It set me back 55 Euros.
I’m kicking back here at the Fest. There’s a vegan barbecue set up outside. There are a lot of kids wearing tee shirts with bands that they are far too young to have seen. My good friend Michael is here. I haven’t seen him since Anodyne played here. He made the trip in a tricked-out van with a sleeping area in the back.
Waiting to play.
9.07.2008 Groningen, Netherlands
It’s sometime after 0330. I’m kicking back in the sleeping quarters in the back of Vera, the venue that we played in earlier. I have my own room. It’s painted red with this really intense “up the workers” commie artwork. I have the small television tuned to the Dutch news. Beautiful European women deliver the news in a language that I can’t understand.
The last two days have been filled with anxiety.
Yesterday’s show at Trainspotting was an ordeal. The guitarist guy from Trainwreck didn’t come through, which is understandable, since I don’t think that I would loan my guitar to a complete stranger. It was the way that he did it that bummed me out. He went from hero to arch-villain within a matter of minutes. He wanted to watch me play first before he would decide whether or not he was going to loan me the guitar. I told him that I play hard and that I’ll sweat all over his guitar and it he had a problem with that he shouldn’t loan it to me. He tried to engage me with some more dialogue but I wasn’t really into his thing.
Planks rocked, and then it was our turn to play. I plugged everything in. When I switched on the brand new voltage converter, it shutdown all of the power in the room. The stage went black and all of the music stopped. We plugged it into another receptacle and that seemed to solve the problem. For some reason, none of my effects worked. The lights were on but the signal was completely dry.
The set was painful. I felt restrained the whole time because I was wondering if something else would fail. I was concentrating more on how the amps sounded then on really kicking it. When we were done playing, we loaded out and I sat in the van for the Trainwreck set.
I talked to this kid from Leipzig for a while. He told me that he was really into Anodyne and had wished that he had seen us play. I am always surprised when someone tells me something like this because it was such an uphill battle being in that band. Our tours were never big and we never really sold a lot of records when you put it up against bands like Coalesce or Converge.
Tonight was much better. All of the gear worked and I was able to hit it hard. It was satisfying to play hard after such a “non-set” last night. Planks played well both nights, but I felt like they really hit their stride tonight. From here on out, I think the shows will be good as far as playing goes.
Planks: what a solid bunch of guys. We’re using their gear; they’re doing all of the driving putting up with our American savagery.
It just dawned on me that I played this venue when Otis toured with Foetus and Barkmarket back in the mid-nineties. I saw a poster for the show earlier. It feels like that was 200 years ago.
9.08.2008 Antwerp, Belgium
Up until about a week ago, tonight was a day off so having any show at all was a big help. Timer, this local band, set the show up at this youth center. It was a small show but they managed to scrape up 40 Euros for the bands. Both bands I felt played really well tonight.
We ran into this guy that worked at the venue with a Kill Your Idols tattoo on his calf. I shot some video of him propping Gary and Paul. If I can ever figure out Final Cut Pro, I’ll post the video someday.
We’re staying with the guy named Sten at his parents’ flat. He’s promoting our show in Ghent later on in the tour and happened to be in town. He brought us to this killer Schwarma place down the street. In a few hours we wake up and head to the ferry.
9.09.2008 London, UK
Another dreamless night. I just woke up on Matt’s couch to the smell of cooking food. Everyone is still asleep.
Black Horse is on board. Nine people in the van.
Last night went really well. It was a packed house and everyone that ended up playing, played well. I was finally able to get Ralph’s guitar rig do what I wanted to. I sometimes wonder if all of the anguish that I feel regarding my elusive “tone” is even worth it. How many people truly care? This is a stupid train of thought so I am going to abandon it.
Matt is THE MAN. He’s one of those truly reliable people in this world. We’re kicking back at his place on the outskirts of the city. He helped us load, he helped us sell merch, he let us all stay here at his pad. He’s an outstanding guy.
I’m at the club; Bristol looks like a tough town. We loaded in and I wandered around for a bit. There is a massage parlor next to the venue. A small sign indicates that no appointment was necessary. The building was painted black. I didn’t see anyone go in or out. I thought about the women that most likely worked inside and wondered what the pay was like. I imagine that there are a lot of really frustrated guys in Bristol looked for the variety of relief that was offered behind the doors of that place. I wonder how long of a shift the women worked in there. Did they clock in for an 8-hour tour with a lunch break and 10 minute coffee break?
I wandered up the street a bit to a convenience store and bought 2 liters of water. The area was dropping off pretty quickly so I doubled back to the club.
I met Kunal Nandi, the man Behind Super-Fi Records. He put out a lot of great UK hardcore records over the years; he and I have been trading for a few years. He is also tonight’s show promoter.
9.10.2008 Bristol, UK
I just woke up. I slept in Kunal’s office.
The show was an ordeal last night. Whenever I stepped up to the microphone, I was shocked. White light flashed before my eyes and electrical current shot through my body. I was sure that everyone had seen the white light. It lit up the whole room. This happened about three times before a breaker was tripped and all of the stage power went down. The bright, white-hot light filled the room each time. Apparently, this happens when 220 V current gets shot through you.
There were only about 5 people at the show, but that’s not what bummed me out. It’s never about that for me. I was bummed because I couldn’t fully go for it during the set. I was in a quiet mood for the rest of the night. When we got back to Kunal’s flat, my mood improved a bit when I started going through his distro.
9.11.2008 Leicester, UK
I feel redeemed after last night’s show. Duane from Diet Pills did the show at his practice space. The venue had fallen through and in an attempt to recover the night; Duane made an executive decision to do the show anyway. It was a brutal load in up what seemed to be an endless number of stairs, down a hallway past a few rehearsal rooms and into a 12 ft x 12 foot space. It reminded me of the shows that Anodyne would typically play on tour.
I could see that some of the member of the tour were a little bummed out on the show, but I feel that nights like this are what make you a real band. I’ve always been of the opinion that you can do a show anywhere, that as soon as you set up you gear and start playing you have a show. That mentality most likely developed from playing 8 years of basement shows.
A handful of people showed up, mostly Duane’s mates. Everyone played well. It was the first Diet Pills show. What a great band; I was totally blown away by them, super heavy like Noothgrush or Eyehategod with a David Yow-esque lead singer. Brilliant. I later learned that Duane was the guitarist in Hangover Heart Attack, an awesome UK power violence band. Midlands Duane.
Diet Pills is playing with us tonight down in Nottingham should be a good show.
It’s almost impossible to get a good cup of coffee in the UK.
I don’t feel like I prepared myself enough for this tour. I don’t feel like I’m in good enough condition to reach the level that I want to hit every night. I didn’t devote enough time to conditioning and I can really feel it when we get to the middle of the set.
9.12.2008 Leeds, UK
I’m sitting in a café, drinking a double espresso and eating a peach Danish. It’s raining out; the others are walking around the downtown section of Leeds. I broke off and ended up here. Leeds is a college town; tonight’s show is going down at this place close to the campus. The Horror are also playing. That’s all I know. There is some time to kill before we meet up with the promoter. School is still out but there are a lot of young people walking about. I feel extremely out of place among all of these good-looking young people in their new clothes.
Nottingham was great last night. Diet Pills played their second show last night and kicked my ass once again. They’re 2 for 2 with the killer show score. They’re also really good people.
We played hard and a ton of people came out. Andy from Army of Flying Robots/Dead in the Woods was the promoter; really cool guy. I’ve always dug Army or Flying Robots and I’m looking forward to hearing his new outfit, Dead in the Woods, when we play with them in a few days.
The one downside was that I got shocked a few times off of the microphone. There must be something amiss with the electrical setup; maybe the series of transformers and adaptors have something to do with it. I saw the white light a few times, but this time around, I knew that I was the only one who could see it.
Coffee number 2 is up. It’s a little better. The people that own this place are Turkish, so they have more of a handle on coffee. They don’t seem to mind me hanging out here, which is a relief because it’s pouring outside. The café is getting busier, I think work has let out and people are starting to wander in. It’s time to go.
9.13.2008 Edinburgh, Scotland
It’s sitting in a Starbucks near the venue. I’m pretty much given up on trying to drink coffee at one of the local spots so here I am.
There are a lot of beautiful women in this city. They all have pale skin and light eyes. I stepped into a bank this morning to change some money and this striking woman entered as I was leaving. She was about as tall as I am, dressed all in black and had skin as white as a statue.
Leeds was a strange scene. Apparently, there was no promotion. I talked to a kid at the show and he said that there weren’t any flyers. He found out about the gig through the Tombs MySpace. We played well to a handful or people. Normally, I don’t stress out about attendance but we are sinking deeper into a financial hole so there is a bit of discussion going on among the ranks.
The playing has been solid every night. I had a bad time at Trainspotting Fest and in Bristol but that’s behind me now. I’ve been getting shocked pretty much every night but I’m learning how to maneuver around the mic and brace myself when the inevitable electrical charge hits. I’m trying to avoid direct contact, but sometimes, you’re in the moment and you can’t help it.
There is a subtle rift developing between the Germans and some of the other members of the travel group. We’re all crammed into the same vehicle and I think that nerves are a little raw. I’m neutral ground, trying to keep everything cool for the duration.
I’m going to spend as much time alone as I can for the rest of the tour. It keeps my thoughts straight. I feel like when I’m in a group of people, my inputs tend to be filtered through whatever trip everyone else is on. I want to experience things alone; there is a certain beauty to discovering something when you’re on your own.
Each night I observe the Germans in their meticulous, rigid precision. The gear is set up exactly the same way each night and the lighting is always perfect.
I feel beat right now. I was up late last night watching a Sheer Terror documentary with Steve, the bassist from the Horror. We crashed at his flat. I had a lot of trouble sleeping. We were awake by 0700 and shipped out.
Today reminds me of a typical show that Anodyne would have played on tour. There are 8 bands on the bill, the show is starting late and we are going on last. The Process is playing so it will be good to see Jamie and crew.
9.13.2008 Bradford, UK
We’re playing at this venue reminds me of a European squat. It has a really nice PA system, vegan restaurant attached and a vaguely political vibe. I’m excited to see Dead in the Woods play. I’m sitting in the vegan restaurant/zine library. This place has been going for a really long time judging by the flyers posted on the wall.
Last night was decent. The Process were awesome. I got a chance to hang out with Jamie and meet the rest of the guys in the band. He ordered me to come with him so he can introduce me to Scottish cuisine. I ate this thing called haggis. I’d rather not go into what it’s made out of.
Due to time constraints, we had to cut our set down. We blasted through the fast songs and called it a night. I think we played well; we’re kind of at that point where you set up and the set is a natural extension of your day. Just turn on the switch and go. People seemed to be into it.
Andrew has been doing an outstanding job filling in. We got the news that Justin couldn’t pull it together 9 days before the tour started. Andrew basically learned our set in that time and has been killing it every night.
After the show we crashed with Steve the promoter. I watched “They Live” with Andrew and Ralph.
We had a 4-hour ride today through some of the most beautiful countryside I’ve ever seen. I watched a herd of sheep haul ass across this amazingly picturesque green field. Apparently, we were on some kind of short cut to avoid tolls or something.
Dead in the Woods is sound checking. They sound brutal.
9.15.2008 Newport, Wales
Morale is pretty low. We’re in the hole and the routing of the tour is kind of random. It appears that there is some kind of silent war being waged in the band. I’m maintaining my neutral status.
Last night’s show was kind of a bust. We played well to a handful of people. I’m keeping a positive attitude about all of this. This is our first time here and we’re playing way too many shows in the UK. We’re reaching a group of people that wouldn’t have had a chance to see us. The financial issue will sort itself out.
A really funny thing happened tonight. The Subhumans are scheduled to play the same venue a couple of days from now. These punker guys showed up tonight: leather jackets, charged up hair etc wanting to know when the Subhumans were playing. Someone had to break it to them that it was the wrong night. They were really cool about it and hung out. Their attitude was that there was nothing else better to do; if they didn’t hang out at the show they would be standing around in a field drinking cider.
9.16.2008 London, UK
We’re back in London, kicking back at the venue. Koresh, a local band, is setting up and checking. Chasms, the hipster London band, dropped off the bill and Koresh filled in with almost no advance notice. The place is kind of cramped and it doesn’t seem like they do a lot of loud shows here, but I’m thinking that the place may fill up.
Andrew and I went out to eat and find a Western Union. We came upon a shop that had the Western Union signage all over the windows and had a small Western Union placard outside. The guy behind the counter told Andrew that they don’t do Western Union and directed him to another shop down the street. When we got there, the dude at the store indicated to Andrew that the machine was broken.
We lost track of the number of turns we took to get back to the venue. We just knew the name of the street: Copenhagen Street. Luckily, we ran into this nice English girl that was on her way to Copenhagen Street. We tailed her back to the club.
I just read in the paper that a group of teenage Satanists murdered and at three schoolmates over in Russia. The ringleader, this 17 year old kid, was a former choir boy and claimed that he turned to God but that wasn’t making him any money so he turned to Satan and thing began looking up. They stabbed their victims 666 times and ate their flesh.
On the way down from Wales, I read in the Guardian that the US and the UK are in financial chaos. The Lehman Brothers are bankrupt and it’s doubtful that the employee’s salaries will be paid on Friday.
9.17.2008 Somewhere in France
We’re driving through France after hitting a gas station. The restroom was out of order and the proprietor eyed me curiously. I had the distant hope that there would be coffee but the only provisions available were automotive supplies and a magazine rack filled with stroke mags. The lights were out in the rear of the store. The guy at the counter kept glancing at me. I started feeling really uncomfortable and bailed. After the van was fueled up we departed and the shopkeeper clocked us malevolently as we drove away.
The show last night was small but really cool. Matt did a good job getting the word out to people. It was tight up on the small stage but everyone managed to play well. It was Black Horse’s last show with the tour; they fly back to the States in a day or so. I’m glad they had a decent last show.
We shipped out for the ferry at 1300. It was pretty uneventful except for us not remembering where we parked the van in the hold and frantically trying to locate it. It was tense. We were holding up all of these people from leaving. I purchased this paperback about cults at the Duty-Free shop at the ferry station. It was on the half-price, true crime rack.
9.19.2008 The Highway
We just left Lille. Milemarker’s “Three Point Throwing Star” is playing. This song always makes me think about waking up on Robin Morasco’s floor in Oakland. This song was playing and I could smell coffee brewing in the kitchen. What a wonderful, wonderful lady. When we left Oakland, she gave me this disc to take with me on our travels.
We hit a supermarket on the way out of town for supplies. I ate a nice breakfast of bread, cheese and fruit. The six of us sat outside of the van on the curb. This old French guy walked by and said, ”Bon Appétit.”
The show was small last night. When we rolled into town, I had pretty low expectations. It was another last minute show that was booked a week or so before we left. I’m just happy that they were cool enough to let us play and feed us. Some kids showed up and we kicked the show off. There were the usual gear issues but we worked through them. I’m looking forward to getting back to my equipment.
We just crossed over into Belgium.
I talked with this girl named Alex after the show. She was really nice. I was really defensive at first because I know that the French aren’t very fond of the US (or the Germans for that matter). I found that she was pretty sincere. It was nice to talk to someone outside of the crew.
There are only two shows left on this tour. When we get back to the States, it will be autumn.
We arrived about three hours ago. Gent is a beautiful town filled with beautiful people. Most people walk or ride bikes here. The women, regardless of their age, are beautiful, fit and fashionably dressed.
I went into a café and had the most delicious cup of coffee that I’d had in weeks. I spoke a combination of French, German and English to the beautiful woman that worked at the bar. She told me to have a seat and her colleague would bring me the coffee. It was a Hemingway moment: sitting alone in a café, the late afternoon sun washing the streets in cold autumn light. I could hear people conversing in French and German. It was comforting to sit there alone and not understand a word anyone was saying.
9.20.2008 Aachen, Germany
Tonight is the last show. We’re playing at this place that used to be a bomb shelter in WWII. Ralph’s lady friend, Jenni, cooked a massive vegan meal for everyone. She speaks English without and accident and reminds me of one of those girls that lived in New Brunswick in the 90’s, wrote zines and volunteered at Bikes Not Bombs.
The show in Gent was cool. The bill was pretty intense: Planks, Agents of Abhorrence and this really heavy band called Potop from Macedonia. I talked to Ivan, the singer for a while and traded him some BBR releases for the Potop full length and a split with Burmese. The Agents guys shared their backline with us.
9.21.2008 Frankfurt Airport
The show was a hard road for me last night. More gear issues had me preoccupied with technical issues instead of focusing on hitting it. It was a drag ending the tour on a bad note. I recognized some people from the last time I was in Europe with Anodyne but didn’t say anything to anyone. I just wanted to get on a plane and leave.
The Planks guys dropped us off at the airport around 1100. Everyone was pretty bummed out. The tour lost about 900 Euros. This was one for the books. We had to dig into the merch money to square up the van expenses.
The last thing to do is get on the plane, go home and gear up for the next one.