We’re sitting at the terminal, waiting to board. I like to get to the airport early, I’ll sit at the gate all day rather than be late. There’s always that nagging anxiety that somehow we won’t be able to get on the plane, even though everything is on the up-and-up with us these days.
We drove out to Ozone Park in the van, parked in front of the Delaney family’s house and took a car service to the airport; it was the same procedure that we used to fly out to L.A. a couple of months ago for the Scion Show. I woke up around 07:30 going over the items on my to-do list in my head, before we shipped out. I had to swing by the Shirts and Destroy shop to pick up a box of merch before heading over to the practice space to meet the rest of the guys.
Soon we’ll be in the air, inside of a metal tank that somehow flies through the air over the Atlantic Ocean. It’ll be a short run, shows every night, bread, cheese and bubbly water.
I’m somewhere over the Atlantic. We had some turbulence so the fasten seatbelts sign was on for a while and they suspended service until things cooled. I have the dreaded middle seat, as a matter of fact all four of us are in the middle position. The lady next to me wasn’t going to let me out to the bathroom because the “Fasten Seat Belt” sign was on.
I blasted through the interview I did with Will for the War on 45 site. I haven’t been able to get the time to sit down and do the transcription. Will is a good friend so there’s a personal component to this.
The curtain between “Business Class” and Coach are drawn. We’re heathens back here in Coach. It’s a long flight, maybe we will wage a war for territory against Business Class and take their extra leg room and higher-quality, complimentary pillows.
4.13.2012 Saarbrucken, Germany 19:47
We’re at the venue waiting to play. I didn’t sleep at all last night on the plane; I can never get to sleep on these overnights. We met up with Ben and the Hierophant guys at the airport and drove 6 hours to get here. I faded in and out during the ride. I drank some coffee, ate and now I feel pretty good.
We got a chance to run through the gear; I’m always stressed out until I can sort out my gear. We’re using Hierophant’s backline so there’s a bit of a learning curve. Everything seems in order so I can settle down..
We’re checked-in at the hotel. My hours are all turned upside down and I feel delirious, there is a sense of unreality that I’m working with. Then goal is to get as much rest as possible tonight.
European tour syndrome was in full effect tonight. The van pulled up behind the venue, we loaded in and I hung out backstage for the whole night. As we drove away, I saw that this really cool town square was about a block away; pretty much all I saw of Saarbruken was the venue, the alley and the hotel. We’re shipping out tomorrow at around 11:00 for Roadburn.
We played well tonight; I was able to more or less pull off singing “Passageways” and “Silent World”. It was the first time we played them live, ever. It was a small turnout but I’ll take it. I talked to some kids that had seen Anodyne back in 2004. One of them was Taibe the lighting guy for Llynch, the band we toured with on our only European tour. Was it really 8 years ago? Time flies on broken wings. We’re all going to die out here someday.
I’m thinking back to how fucked things were for me on the last European tour. I was going through a pretty intense upheaval and I felt distracted. It made me focus on the playing more because that was the only solace I had. The long drives in the van, the hours spent inside of my head were like walking through Hell. We’re only here for a handful of days; I feel better, I can focus on doing my job this time around and enjoy the trip.
4.15.2012 Tilburg, Netherlands 08:27
I’m sitting in the breakfast room of the hotel, I just finished off a plate of food, now I’m drinking the bitter, Dutch coffee. We got in about 02:30, I sat up and read a few more pages of “A Fighter’s Mind” by Dan Sheridan before falling asleep. I just finished reading “A Fighter’s Heart”, his first book, on the morning that we shipped out. It some of the best writing on combat sports that I’ve ever read.
The Netherlands is such a relaxed, chilled-out place, it’s almost ironic that some of the top kick-boxers are based out of here. Everyone seems high all the time in this country.
Playing Roadburn was probably the coolest experience we’ve ever had. The whole thing ran like clockwork, everyone was polite and totally cool. Walter, the point man behind the whole operation, made sure to stop by and say hello to everyone, which added a nice personal touch. I ran into a lot of friends: Ralph Schmidt, his fiancé Dani, Josh Graham, The Pelican guys, Dave Clark, Jamie Thomson and the Process guys. Pip, Relapse, Joeren and Juggalo Bob, English Matt just to name few. Tom G. Warrior was hanging out in the backstage; I approached him and asked for a photo, which is something that I never do, but I have to admit that I was in awe. He’s such a larger-than-life icon in the metal world; Celtic Frost and Hellhammer have been such huge influences on what we do in Tombs. He was cool and didn’t mind how awkward I felt asking. It made the whole voyage to Europe worthwhile in my book. Fan moment number 2 happened hours later at the end of the night. We were getting ready to load our gear out and I saw Away from Voivod walk by; I said to Dan, “that’s Away from Voivod”, he must have heard me because he turned around, smiled and said, “you’re the guys from Tombs!” He then went into saying how he dug our set. I was floored! Voivod has been one of my favorite bands for most of my life. I started listening to them shortly after I discovered metal back when I was in high school.
In addition to all of this, we played a set in this venue that used to be a church; there were stained glass windows, a high, vaulted ceiling, very gothic; the room was deep and mostly constructed of wood and plaster so it had a really warm sound. We were playing during the same time slot as Sleep and Necros Christos so I didn’t expect much of a turn out. I was pleasantly surprised to see the room pretty much full when we started the set. We played well; aside from “Silent World” and “Passageways”, we’ve been playing these songs for over a year, so at this point there shouldn’t be any surprises. Orion is holding it down, this is only about his 6th show with us, so I imagine playing a set at Roadburn with us must be a trip for him.
Today, It’s back to Germany. I’m not sure how far of a drive it is. We’re driving around in Ben’s van. It’s the same vehicle we used on the tour with The Secret last summer. Sitting in the van brings back all of heavy memories of the brutal drives, exhaustion and the turmoil that I was in during that last run. That’s part of the past now, I’m over it and I’m doing everything I can do to make sure I never go through something like that again.
Coffee Cup Number 3, I’m settling in. One of the only downside of being on the road is not being able to train. There are different people in music, sometimes the ego aspect of this trip gets to me, not to say that there aren’t egos in Jiu Jitsu, but the intensity of the physical commitment seems to keep a lot of that in check. It’s a different set of rules out here; I’m trying to roll with the positive vibe that I picked up with training.
My favorite set of the day was Oranssi Pazuzu, the tripped-out black metal band from Finland. They went on right before us and I was mesmerized by their set. I only have mp3 files of their music. At least in the states, it’s hard to find physical copies of their material.
Onward to Bremen today.
Bremen, Germany 16:45We just finished sound-checking; Hierophant is doing their thing on stage, getting sounds. Morser is playing tonight; my mind is totally blown; I never thought that I would have a chance to see them, let alone play a show with them. I didn’t even realize that they were still active.
I dozed off in the van listening to the new Blut Aus Nord record; it somehow seemed appropriate for the bleak Germany countryside. One thing that I’ll never get used to is the requirement to pay for use of the rest rooms on the road through most of Europe.
17:44I took a cruise around the neighborhood; we’re across from the bus station, there’s a large cobblestone square lined with kebab joints, porno books shops and newsstands. I’m instantly reminded of the German film Christiane F featuring Natja Brunckhorst and that killer David Bowie sound track. There’s a version of the song “Heroes” called “Helden” where Bowie sings in German. I saw that movie on VHS when I was in high school and it blew my mind. I know that film was shot in Berlin, but there’s a stark vibe here that makes me thing of drug addicts, hookers and male hustlers. At night, when the businesses shut down, I bet it gets seedy around here. I make these observations and I wonder how much of it is influenced by my state of mind, how much of perception is colored by mood and emotional state.
It’s cold in the backstage room; I’m wearing my jacket. I bought a falafel at one of the myriad of Middle Eastern eateries in the area. I can hear Morser downstairs sound-checking. I’m really looking forward to seeing them play.
4.16.2012 Bremen, Germany 00:24We’re at the hostel; I’m staying in a room with Dan and some of the other Hierophant guys. We have at least a six hour drive tomorrow to get to the next stop; I can’t remember where it is, I just know that we have a six hour drive.
Tonight was cool; it was a small show but everyone we met was really nice. I felt like we played well. Riggs told me that a girl cried because we were out of small shirts.
Morser did not let me down; I never thought that I would get the chance to see them…ever. They were cool guys and we traded shirts with them; I picked up their latest record; I can’t wait to get back to my room at home to listen to it.
I should hit the rack. It’s cold, I’m wearing a hoody and I have a blanket pulled up over me.
Karlsruhe, Germany 18:08We arrived at the venue about an hour ago. It was a long, cold ride south from Bremen. At times, it was sleeting; I slept on and off. Pelican is sound-checking. It’s great seeing those guys; Roadburn was so chaotic that I didn’t get much of an opportunity to hang out with them. Also Brother Ralph Schmidt is scheduled to make an appearance tonight as well.
It costs 0.75 Euro. You buy a ticket, you enter a turnstile do your thing in the Men’s room and then you get a credit to buy something in the shop. I’ll never get used to this. Dan hopped the turnstile today; I know that if I tried that, I would get caught.
Black Shape of Nexus is also playing tonight. This tour has been cool for seeing bands that I never thought I would see: Black Shape of Nexus, Oranssi Pazuzu and Morser.
4.17.2912 Schweinfurt, Germany 17:48I feel drained today. We didn’t have a very long drive from Karlsruhe to Schweinfurt, but I feel empty. We played here on our first European tour; I remember it being a drag so maybe I’m anticipating a bad time tonight. It’s just us and Hierophant tonight, alone in this big, cold building. I’m sitting in the upstairs sleeping quarters. There’s band graffiti all over the walls; it seems like every available space is covered with band names, declaration of sexual prowess or poorly rendered penises.
It was great hanging out with the Pelican guys last night; we have two more shows with them at the end of the week. This tour feels like it has gone on for too long already, but I don’t really have that much going on at home except for training. It feels like a grind right now; there is no specific goal except to play shows, make some money to pay off our various expenses and fly home.
Last night was cool; Dallas is filling in for Laurent. Damn, what a great player he is! Black Shape of Nexus were awesome. I picked up their new double LP. I had been in touch with Malte, their singer over the past few months, it was nice to meet him in person. I have been into their music for the past few years. I spoke with Ralf, the guitarist/recordist of the band. He told me that he’s a DIY devotee, that if he doesn’t know how to do something, he does whatever it takes to learn it. I’ve been thinking about that statement all day.
Germans: distant, reticent and opinionated. They will tell you exactly what they don’t like about you, your music or your choice of songs for the set list. Every tour has too many dates in Germany. It’s a heavy place; even when the sun shines here, it seems like the clouds are doing everything they can to suppress the light. A German told Dan that I look like a criminal.
I finished reading Dan Sheridan’s book, “The Fighter’s Mind.” It gave me a lot to think about. When I get back, I’m going to apply some of the things I learned from the book into my training. There were awesome sections with Renzo Gracie and Marcelo Garcia. In Marcelo’s chapter, he addressed the concept of being the best. Jiu Jitsu people want to put the spotlight on him and his response is that he’s love Jiu Jitsu more than anyone else and that’s why he is successful. That can be applied to pretty much anything; you have to love it more than anyone that may be a potential competitor if you want to be successful.
I’m thinking about bands, people that play music and all of the lightweight trips they are on. I’m thinking about people that you’ve known for years that look at you pretend that they have no idea who you are. People like that should try some kind of intense physical training, something that will break down their ego and make them realize that they are not the best, that there is always another level to go to. True humbleness is such a relief and the only place I really experience that is in Jiu Jitsu and other martial arts.
We should draw a good 6 or 7 people tonight.
4.18.2012 Schweinfurt, Germany 02:35I was pretty much on the money with tonight’s attendance. I don’t care, I played as hard as I did at Roadburn. I’m a machine, I turn on the switch and you get the same thing every time. I don’t have the program to go half way. However showed up got a good show and that’s all that matters to me.
We hung out in the upstairs crash pad. I ate some of the leftovers from dinner. I took a shower; some dude from another band wrote about how many loads he shot in the shower. There’s a mind-numbing sameness to all of this. Loneliness, sexual frustration, boredom, these are the things that mutate us on the road.
There’s a long drive to Prague tomorrow.
4.18.2012 Prague, Czech Republic 18:35I had difficulty sleeping last night, couldn’t wind down. I saw that the sun was coming up and decided that getting sleep was not going to happen. We were on the road at 09:00 and I slept for most of the drive cranking a bunch of early Metallica that I had on my iPod; mostly “Ride the Lightining” and “…And Justice for All.”
We got to the club in the afternoon and checked out some of the city. I’ve been to Prague in the past, but there is a lot of the city I haven’t seen. I have a feeling that tonight will be one of those nights. I haven’t seen any promotion for the show anywhere and the venue seems more like place where people would drink Absinthe and listen to house music.The show is in this dungeon-like room below a bar. It’s just us and Hierophant tonight. It could go either way.
Some of the most beautiful women in the world live in Eastern Europe. It was like admiring rare flowers in a garden today. As I get older, it’s enough for me to just admire a woman’s beauty and not try to creep up on them. It comes with maturity I suppose.
I feel exhausted. I want to play the set and get on with it.
4.19.2012 Munich, Germany 19:12I’m sitting in the sleeping quarters above the venue. The last time I was here, my whole life got turned upside down. I made sure that I got the same bunk that I was in on that night.. I remember the fruitless attempts at sleep that night, the feeling that I had just stepped into a dark hole.
Tonight will be different.
I can’t remember much about the show in Prague. I remember waking up this morning and driving back into Germany.
Junius is on the bill tonight. It’s cool seeing those guys.
I just had dinner with Larry and the other Pelican guys. I was in a really bad mood until I had some food and took a shower now I feel relaxed and ready to kick it. We’ll see about the crowd. I don’t think the average Pelican fan really feels what we’re doing. I don’t care: I play as hard as I can and drive away to the next show. I love the dudes in Pelican so it’s enough to be here and hang with them, watch them play and. Did I mention how much ass Dallas is kicking? I have to see his band Swan King play next time they’re in New York. Their record is great, but the word is that it pales next to the live show.
We had a nice chicken curry and rice dish; Trevor said the vegetarian version was better. Maybe I’ll try it later.
21:11The set is over, I’m ready to pack up and get the fuck out of here. I’m in that mindset tonight. This place feels bad to me, there are ghosts haunting me. I think about how I felt last time I was here and I want to get off the boat. I feel like such a failure.
Do the soundguys get paid here? The front-of-house man did all he could to ignore all of my requests for the vocal monitor. I can roll with pretty much any situation, but in a professional venue like this, with professional gear, they should be able to get it right. Maybe he was doing that German thing; I don’t know. It borderline ruined my performance, I feel like I pushed my voice too hard and didn’t have any control. Stuff like that matters in a place where people can actual hear what you’re trying to do.
I wish I could pull my head out of my ass and loosen up. It was such a heavy trip when I was here a few months ago. I’m kicking back in the same bunk, trying to meditate on the emotions I had. I can feel it manifest, hanging over me like a black cloud. I will do battle with it; I will make war on it and by morning it will be broken.
Loneliness and hard times are nothing to me. I will eviscerate loneliness. I’ll take it down into the pit where I live and choke it out. My life is made up of brief moments of light but in reality I know that these depths are where I belong because I destroy every relationship that I’ve ever been in. I’m the depression machine tonight. My soul is a drain; depression rides on my back forever. I want to go to nowhere. I want to walk until I disappear; life seems like a secret wrapped in a secret to me sometimes.
Tonight there will be the party-thing after the show. I want to be alone in this bunk, walking down the corridors of memory and hard times, swinging on a hinge.
By the way, I tried the vegetarian curry; Trevor was right.
4.20.2012 Berlin, Germany 17:57We got in about an hour ago. I slept pretty much the entire ride. When I woke up I played “Come Reap” by Devil’s Blood as we sat in traffic. It’s Friday night. This is the first time that I’ve been in Berlin without it being cold and raining. It’s sunny and pleasant out, there are people wandering around and I may take a walk before things kick off. Pelican are sound checking now.
I’m trying to shake the negative feelings, the heavy thoughts. The Munich / Berlin run carries a lot of baggage for me from the last time I was here. I was dealing with a lot of issues back home. The last few days have been hard, but I have to remember that a lot has changed in my life. The last time was so heavy; I felt like my life had bottomed out. I remember playing the set, loading up and driving all night to catch a ferry up to Scandinavia.
The tour is almost over; one more date after tonight and then we fly back home.
It’s odd playing with Pelican without Laurent. Dallas is killing it so there hasn’t been any compromises as far as the band’s performance goes. It would have been awesome to be out on the road again with Laurent.
We did a podcast after the show last night. It started out with total chaos but toward the end, we got some good conversation in as the drunk people began to fall out. It was down to me, Joe Martinez, Trevor and Mike. We were up until after 05:00 talking. Joe suggested some reading material for me:
Michael Cremo – Forbidden Archeology
Jim Mars – Alien Agenda
Jill Bolty Taylor – The Ted Conference
22:27Pelican is playing. Our set was a little sloppy, but I felt like we had good energy. We played hard, it sounded bad on stage; threw me off a little. Tonight is the last show with Pelican, they fly up to Finland and we continue on with Hierophant to Brussels. Tomorrow is the last day. The tour was short but I’ll take it. The Hierophant guys were cool; great road partners. Today, in the van, we were listening to a recording of their new material. It sounded heavy, sort of His Hero is Gone-esque; I’d like to get a copy of it.
We have a long ride tomorrow. The show will be over early so we can get some sleep before we get into the long haul across Germany. I’ll be glad to get out of these places. It won’t be so hard for me next time around.
4.21.2012 Brussels, Germany 19:41Tonight’s the last show. We’re playing in this place that holds 600; the promoter says presales have been slow, so I’m expecting a big empty room. They have a great sound system and the room looks as if it was designed for real bands to play in; this place has probably seen better days. The neighborhood looks rundown and sketchy.
We drove all day. I had my iPod on, playing various podcasts, “Black coffee Blues 1 and 2” and dozing off. At one point, we passed a sign for Hannover and I remembered that the Scorpions formed there. It wouldn’t be a proper European tour for us without at least one brutal drive. At least this time around, we didn’t have any ferries.
I find touring in Europe to be more draining than in the states. Maybe it’s the isolation, the detachment. No matter how many times I come over here, I will always feel like an alien. I spend the days wrapped up in my jacket, sitting in the back of the van with my headphones on until we stop at a fuel station to get diesel, piss and get coffee. The time we spend in each city is fleeting; it’s rare that I have time to wander around the city at all. That’s the number, one day at a time, one kilometer at a time.
Tomorrow night, I’ll be home again.
4.22.2012 Amsterdam, Netherlands Airport 14:28We’re waiting at the gate; the flight doesn’t leave until 17:45.
The show was cool last night; I met a bunch of really nice people. This amazing band called Daggers opened the show; I picked up their LP after the show. They had that sort of European sound similar to Amen Ra, Breach and Celeste. There’s a hardcore element tempered with this kind of artsy vibe. You can tell these dudes probably have Neurosis records along with His Hero is Gone.
We checked into the hostel and hung out in Hierophant’s room; it was the last night of tour and the vibe was loose. There must have been some kind of high school class trip because the floor that the Italians were on was filled with rowdy youngsters, yelling and raising hell in the hallways. The question I had was where was the supervision?
We all hit the rack around 01:00; it was a short run from Brussels to the airport but everyone was tired; I know we were all looking forward to getting on the plane. At about 02:30, I noticed that I wasn’t asleep anymore and that there was this alarm sounding off. It could only be one thing, but we were all trying to convince ourselves that it was something else. Logic ultimately prevailed and we exited down the emergency stairs.
We met up with the Italians; Ben looked furious. The high school trip was also assembled outside. Apparently, someone had discharged a fire extinguisher on first floor, the same floor that the high school kids were located on. We spotted this one kid looking nervous, kind of shuffling around, looking guilty. He was the reason why none of us were asleep.
Orion braced the kid up and asked him why he set off the fire extinguisher. Apparently, the kid challenged him to a fight in the morning. Kids these days are growing up without the fear of getting an ass-kicking and I feel that this is a negative thing. Getting your ass kicked when you’re coming up is a positive thing, but the weakness of parents is turning a whole generation into douchebags.
After a while, we went back into the lobby. Some dude was going off, yelling in French. I think he was on to the concept that one of the high school kids was behind the whole fire extinguisher situation, and he was going to get to the bottom of it. We made our way over to the elevators; suddenly words were being exchanged between us and a group of 14-year-old males. This kid was stepping up to the elevator, speaking French and taking an aggressive posture, making eye contact with me. Yeah, a 14-year-old kid was moving on me to fight! Of course nothing happened, an adult stepped in to cool everything off. Why did he let it get to that point? Didn’t he realize that a 14-year old kid was moving on a grown man?
We’re kicking it, bored but all checked in. Dealing with international travel always stresses me out. We always have extra bags and it seems almost arbitrary how much they charge us. That’s all behind us now; the only thing left is to get on the plane, post up for the 7 plus hour flight and go home.