And here we go......
Day 0, what does that mean? Let me explain. Despite being unafraid of noise, bears, dachshunds and stuff like that, I am afraid of flying. Really afraid. This means that I have to travel on land or over the sea, which means the journey takes longer. I don't have any problem with this, as I was doing Leeds to Stockholm problem earlier this year. Today's journey was to Hamburg and was a lot of fun. Except for the toilet on the Brussels to Hamburg leg, which looked like summat from an H-block protest. It opens up the Megabus v National Express debate again, as Eurolines is a Nat Ex company. You could smell the shitter when they opened the luggage areas…..not pleasant.
Right, this is where it actually starts. I am now at Tim's (bassist in die Infantillerie) and we are discussing a split release of my last set at NoiseCafe and Haender og Taender's. Nice work. We get soaked getting the stuff into the venue, which is one of many in a squat called Gaengeviertel, which is bang in the middle of a load of very expensive blocks in Mitte. We get served some really good home-cooked food (note to UK promoters ;-)) and await the masses. Because this gig is part of the Blurred Edges Festival (16 days of music in Hamburg), we've already got paid. Up front. Before the soundcheck has even begun. This will pay towards our hired vehicle and its drinks for the next 2 and a half weeks. As Rob Galloway would say, rock'n'roll. Anyway, the gig. Both die Infantillerie and Interstellar Nightmare play incredible sets, putting no pressure on me as tonight's headliner at all. The set of (very nice) bastards. My set is ok, some bits I really like, some bits I've got no fucking idea about at all. I am told after that the bits I had no idea about (my words) were really interesting. I then proceed to sell some merchandise. I don't fully understand what is going on as money is exchanged for goods. We have a beer on the way back and sit inside a gap between shops while it pisses down again with lovely warm rain. Band camaraderie is on full blast already. I like Germans.
Here are some pictures for your eyes -
Here are some pictures for your eyes -
Die Infantillerie in action
Your trusty scribe
The tour van has arrived and it becomes obvious fairly quickly that it's going to be a tight squeeze to get all the kit, merchandise and us in it. But some genius swapping and changing around means we can get in. We need to sell a shitload of goodies though if we're going to survive for 2 more weeks. Off to the East! Back in the DDR und alles ist wunderbar! Got some shots of Helmstadt which is on the old border and a great but blurred shot of the checkpoint on the main road. Collected the Interstellar Nightmare LPs which are very very black, and got to Zoro, a squat in Leipzig late, but in time to unpack what was needed and soundcheck, eat, all that sort of stuff. Good mix of acts tonight from Hamburg, France, Italy, Iceland. Not been a massively noisy festival so far, but it is a noise and weird music festival, so that's ok. Interstellar Nightmare play a blinder to a packed area and me and Tim think up ideas for tomorrow's LoS v die Infantillerie soundclash special. Should be good fun. Bed at 3.15am and plenty of merch sold to pay towards van and diesel.
told you it was blurry
Wake up woolly, but ok. Can't find either my camera or (moulded) ear plugs. Bugger. Luckily after a decent walk in the sunshine, we return and Maria (one of the organisers), has found them amongst a crate of records that were tidied up at the end of the night. Mint. Me and Tim and Buddel have now decided what we are going to do. Tonight will show if we've got any clue what we're doing. Which we have haters! As it happens, our set was the loudest by a mile and received the most complaints about the loudness, despite the fact that there is a sound engineer at the venue. I think it's his job to decide the overall levels. Anyway, we combined forces and I rambled over die Infantillerie's music in 6 different languages, with the beauty of "Dank U well, go kvaell" as a brilliant couplet in the last song, not that I knew it was the last one. That probably makes me a genius. Probably. Falling asleep on the merch stand means bed early at 3am. I forgot to mention, another ace vegan meal and free beers, which might explain the bit above. Merch update - 6 LoS t-shirts have gone already. Sehr gut!!
Pictures - featuring smiling punters (note)
Pictures - featuring smiling punters (note)
The big journey to Freiburg, which is nearly not in Germany, so we're doing a big trip of over 650km with a van full of people and kit. All is well amongst the touring party, and INs drummer Henner has brought a home-made cheesecake, which is great. Early night tonight above the venue we would have been playing in if the dibble weren't mithering the owner. It's a real shame as it is tiny and would have been full up with about 7 or 8 people in it as well as us. There's only one photo for today, as there'd be no point putting anything else up, such is its majesty.
The student was a bit quiet to say the least, but quality made up for quantity. Shorter sets because we had to be all done by 2230. It was all good fun, some payment, but the merch score was very circular. Some more pictures for you
Am getting lots of ideas for the next LoS LP. Pretty much all of the titles are sorted out now, so no doubt the LP will write itself for when I can't be arsed on my return in 3 weeks.....we are now in France in Bourg en Bresse and the very sound promoter Vivian, who is also a psychiatric nurse, has told us that we will be doing 3 shows tomorrow. Yes, 3. Nice. 1 for the violent patients, and a longer one for the less violent ones in the afternoon and then a 5 band gig in the garage under his flat. We have all discussed what to do for the hospital gig and have decided that we'll form a 5 piece band called "Bitte Wenden", which Mr Neil will appreciate. Before I forget, big thanks to Simon for helping us out and trying to put the gig on and for the ace sleeping quarters. I leave you with some photos
this activity is clearly insane. What are they thinking of?
These crisps are the official sponsors (now) of this tour. Xtreme chili indeed, muthaflipppers...
Beautiful day today, so an early stroll into town to check it out. The metal/punk record shop remains elusive to us all, so we come back and prepare for the debut of Bitte Wenden at the hospital this afternoon. We played to 2 different sets of patients, for 10 mins and 25 mins, and both were really enjoyable. I'd read research about how extreme frequencies/noise can help some patients become more sociable and open to strangers, and the evidence was there to see this afternoon. I feel really privileged to get the chance to play there. Vivian clearly has a passion for what he is doing and has support from hospital authorities to put gigs on once a month. In a cynical, shit world, an old man is happy. Some piccies for your enjoyment -
By the way, there are lizards skipping about the undergrowth here and tonight's gig is quite literally a garage gig. It's a gig in a garage. Ace. More later.
It's now later. The gig in the garage is a brilliant idea and worked a treat. I found out why my levels are so variable, shit cable action, so new stuff to be bought. Ta to Kristian from IN for helping me out with spare stuff. Incidentally, they were fucking incendiary this eve, and Henner left a lot of his blood all over the kit. Die Infantillerie didn't let me down either. Funny, fast, loud and topped off with Tim putting his earplugs on after they'd finished, the scamp. Here are some more photos to prove that we are all alive and well and noisy.
We leave Bourg en Bresse with our bellies full of Camembert, baguettes and good feelings. Everyone is still buzzing off yesterday's events. I get my first try at driving a right hand drive vehicle that isn't automatic and it takes a bit of getting used to. I am an adaptable beast though and after the odd "Bitte Wenden" moment, we get to Nancy and to the old wine cellar Le Caveau, which is where we are playing tonight. Also with us are a band from Wycombe and another from Angiers. A massive thanks for the really ace food - lots of interesting vegan tarts and an apple crumble for fuck's sake - magnifique! There's a decent crowd and I'm first off and now I've sorted out levels, I'm really happy with the results from Henner's H4. Very good. I took some footage of die Infantillerie and end up getting involved with a contact mic in my mouth towards the end of the performance. It'll be on the web soon no doubt. Another crowd slaying performance. IN don't really let up on their performance either, building on last night's set, but less brutal, more cosmic. Yes, I did use the word cosmic there. We get a lovely late night walk back to the sound man's place in the freezing cold air, and crash out around 4am. Tomorrow is a day off before we travel to Paris.
It's a day off, have you forgotten already? It's 1 sentence above, get your shit together please. Oh go on then, here are some pictures, you desperate fools
I am starting to lose track of days here, such is the pace at which the tour is developing. It's currently - get up, shower, get arses in gear, find some food, go to the next place, play and do it all again. This is why I'm losing track of days. Never mind, it's good fun and never dull. Anyway, it's Friday, we're halfway through and we're in the 20e arrondissement in Paris for the gig at La Cantine, where there are 4 days of gigs in 4 days. We're the first night, and for the first time on the tour, it's just us lot and no-one else. The venue is also a cave, but much smaller than Nancy's, and so we have to turn down a bit. It seems unlikely that this will happen. In summary, everyone plays well, the crowd is small, but we now have a 6th member of the touring party to complicate packing the van - welcome back Bianca on free sax action. We sleep at a disused ceramics factory right on the edge of the city on the last train stop in the south west. An eerie place to sleep, with weird dreams a plenty. Cheers to Erik for putting us all up. But where are the pictures you say? They are here my chums -
We are all incredibly perky and head for the gig in Reims. After this gig, it's 5 on the bounce from Brussels onwards. Sort of. We're not sure where or when we're playing in Brussels yet. Day 11 or day 12. Perhaps. We get to Reims and and made the most welcome of all (I think French promoters are trying to outdo each other in being so ace, mercy beaucoup mes amis!). We are fed several times and are playing tonight in another cave, this one smaller than the previous in Paris. The mercy room is bigger. Anyway, a running order is settled on and IN get to perform first. I only see the encore as I'm merch monkey, but hearing wasn't a problem. It sounded massive. Massive, I tell you. I think my performance is my favourite so far, it's harsh and brutal, but with some slight ambience before the harsh and brutal again. Our companions in Amiens, Barbaros, are also on the bill this evening. Again I'm on merch and the crowd has swelled to around 35, which for the size of the room is more than plenty. They go down a stormer and that leaves DI to try and top Barbaros' performance with something special. Luckily tour manager Tim has a trick or 2 up his sleeve. Those tricks being me and Henner on vocals and the entire set being a request show. In no particular order, the songs murdered are as follows - "Lady in Red", "Winds of Change", "Words", "With or Without You", "I Believe I Can Fly" and some others that I sang, with a rough lack of emphasis on sang, but don't remember. There will be video footage of the first 15 mins available soon, not that you'll see much, but you will here an English bloke shouting in French, (bad) German und Englisch. The 20 or so people seem to enjoy it at any rate. Equipment and voices are in need of rest and recuperation, and so it's bed at 3.30am. Tata for now.
We (some of us) are awake around 11am and bearing up well. We might be off to Brussels today to play tomorrow, or we might stay here another day. We do stay until 8pm, just relaxing and discussing the night before and then head for Brussels and arrive about 11pm. Jean-Paul who is our host welcomes us with beers and food, but I am knackered so go to bed by midnight. More tomorrow.
We are playing in a venue called Student tonight (it has a huge window like the Blues Bar in Harrogate, and we're playing in that bit) and it is just us 3 acts again tonight. Which might mean more collaborations, or not. Me, Tim and Budel go for a long wander around where we are and find a top falafel house en route to wherever we are going. We eventually get back to a fine Moroccan feast and I get typing. These words that you are reading is the result of that typing. Admire my efforts. And look at the piccies below -
After some spectacularly almost southern European lounging about, we hit the hot and sticky road to Amiens, yes back to France for a couple of days. The drive is sweaty and annoying as fuck as lots of traffic and the heat seems to get to the brain of the Sat Nav and we end up taking the most bizarre of routes through tiny villages to finally arrive at 20h00, after some almost dangerous moving vehicle abandonment action for Hoonoo and Bianca as they search for the elusive conveniences in the undergrowth. The venue is a unit in a sort of industrial estate and is where we re-connect with Barbaros, as they play the final gig on their tour with us tonight. We are, once again, well fed and watered and the sets seem to work well. Sound is good, the layout of the venue is good and the promoters are all very kind to us (again, not a surprise). Some merch is sold, we get paid, everyone seems happy and we get to our beds for 4am. Tomorrow is the short drive (~160km) to Lille and we're now into the final stages of the tour, which is a shame. Oh, I almost forgot bat fans, I saw a 10cm wingspan pipistrel bat last night outside the venue. First bat spot of the tour. Some pictures are included below (not of the bat sadly) -
When you view this page, there might be an image missing, because the coding is shit. It's not me being shit. It's the coding. Which is why the text isn't the same font and size as the stuff I'm typing now. Rubbish.
Awake at 10am and raring to go to Lille. No-one else is up of course as I am always up first - wish I could sleep for longer…….bad sleeper. The road to Lille is easy enough and we arrive early and raring to go. Tonight's venue is another cave and a chance for some big sounds. Really big. We make a decision to have a DI karaoke at the end, so IN get to go first. They are massive and the increasing number of punters come downstairs to see what is going on. Something huge is going on. Encores are requested and merch is sold, with IN racing ahead with CD sales. Tough to follow for yours truly, but a big echoey venue might just do the trick. It does. Possibly the best set I've done all tour, and nearly my face. DIs karaoke is not quite as much fun for us as in Reims, but the crowd love it, and we do a "this is the last song" about 7 times. 40 mins of fun to end the evening, some beers, wine and to sleep in the venue's library, cos we are cultured. More action below -
Amsterdam bound. And at the same place. Occii is the most bizarre squat venue I have ever seen. Amazing design, massive space, huge PA and all that. The best food on tour by a mile, and Carmel comes to visit us for a couple of hours for a good catchup. Very good. I am first up amongst us and so when the question comes from the sound man "louder?", I say "yes". And repeat again. It is a fucking loud set, I'm impressed at how loud it is. 8 minutes in, Hooloo comes and sticks a thumbs-up in my face. I blast the crowd with SPL and it seems to work. The attention to detail isn't there sound-wise, but the brutality is. The promoter then announces that everything has to be done by midnight. It's 2310 and there are 3 acts to perform. I can't see it all being done in 50 mins. Maybe it's a sneaky plan to get everyone to play the most vicious sets of their lives. If so, it worked a treat as both die Infantillerie and Interstellar Nightmare produce the most punishing music on the tour, by some distance. The main act is also massive soundwise, 1 bloke rapping, although no idea what about as the backing racket drowns any details out. Earplugs are thanked for their help. And now just a 45min walk through Vondelpark and to bed at 4am ish. The last gig calls us from down the road…….
It's a tiny journey south to Leiden and the final gig with 3 acts, as I miss the Oldenburg gig to travel to Barcelona. The squat we're playing in is right next to the train station and the room is small and so should provide some opportunities for noise making. It's just us again, but with extra birthday girl Flo action, she will do a massive set of French accordion tunes later on. We are fed a massive meal and after a snooze or 2, we are ready to go. DI are as loud as usual (except for Amsterdam) and provide the fun and can kicking. My set is loud, less brutal and more detailed. IN finish it off. Flo then plays for an hour with Gallic passion, and my passion for typing this blog is waning, so I'll leave you with some pictures -
The final words
So what have we learnt from the past 16 days? A few things. Touring on the continent is tiring, fun, beer and food friendly, paid, and something I'm going to do again. I am now in Rotterdam and relaxing. Here endeth the tour diary, I hope you enjoyed reading it and hope bands are encouraged to get off our island and get expanding their minds.
LoS signing out