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Guitar technician reporting from the tourbus....

Friday, 31 October 2008

A bit of a low ebb day today. Mick's sick, the weather's gloomy and everyone's feeling a little road-weary. Still, only three more shows and we're back in the uk. Lausanne is a lovely town though. Had a walk down to Lake Geneva on arrival and took some breathtakingly crappy photos, the best of which is shown above. We spent yesterday evening parked up without power at Zurich airport - not a fun situation, and after a few Budvars in a weird bar tempers became a bit frayed, resulting in driver Lloyd ordering those involved to their bunks. We were stopped at the border coming into Switzerland by police wanting to know how much merchandise (shirts, cd's, etc) we were carrying, as they can levy a tax on it. Cue International Mick once again, who did a fine job explaining that the bus was carrying a down-on-their-luck christian folk band and gave them a couple of tee shirts which pacified them quite nicely. Second driver Andrew has flown back home (taking the ten euros he owed me with him, the bastard). Sound check is almost over then dinner will be served. I'm starving.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Managed to walk about ten kilometers over the past couple of days, firstly with Jay around the centre of Vienna - full of huge beautiful old buildings and boring rude people (according to Les), and secondly in Budapest with Mick and second driver Andrew on an epic trek to purchase one roll of much-needed insulation tape which almost resulted in our being attacked by a pair of frisky yapping dogs, a situation ably diffused by Dr. Mick Dolittle who gave them the names Goulash and Schnitzel and sent them on their way with tails wagging. In other news, Danny dyed his hair a vivid shade of reddish-purple while in Austria, prompting a complete stranger on a tram to inform him that though he seemed a nice enough person he looked like a complete tosser. It's so refreshingly different to London where conversation between strangers on public transport is strictly verboten.

Breaking news: a second periodical containing photographs of semi-naked men has been found secreted in Mick's drum cases while setting up in Budapest today. Many suspect a prankster is at work. More information will follow...

Monday, 27 October 2008

A day off in Vienna. Made an effort to get up early this morning and was richly rewarded with beautiful alpine scenery on the drive from the grade-A shit hole that is Rome. We've just had a slap-up dinner at Frauline Miggins' and in the process have learned, through his correct usage of the word "goodzie" to describe the quality of his meal, that International Mick can converse in the local Austrian tongue as fluently as that of anywhere we've visited so far. I haven't been so impressed since the "sondwach" he ordered in Bochum all those gigs ago. In other news, Vincent's shoes fell apart the other day and this is causing him some concern, though on the upside he is providing much important data for those researching the correlation between flip-flop wearing and string-breakage during performances.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

The Rolling Stone in Milan  - a breath of fresh air after yesterday. In fact the entire New Age Club in Treviso would fit on the stage here. Dinner was excellent. Currently only the Z7 in Pratteln has a higher rating catering-wise in my opinion. Matt, our esteemed front-of-house operative and full time Gimli look-alike was so pissed during soundcheck yesterday (at three in the afternoon you understand) that he spent at least a minute laughing maniacally through the pa system and then proceeded to make a general nuisance of himself for the next couple of hours. To get Matt pissed all one needs to do is show him a teaspoon of red wine mixed with Sprite (his second favourite drink). Apparently the night before he'd been knocking back vodka down the Traveller's, no doubt egged on by the usual suspects. They know who they are. We're officially more than halfway through the tour now and everyone is looking forward to a rest in Vienna in a couple of days time. Hopefully Matt will have sobered up by then. We've had one day off in the last eighteen. Blimey. In other news, Hull City 3, West Brom 0! Second driver Andrew is deeply upset at Newcastle losing to Sunderland. I hope it doesn't affect his driving.

Our drum tech Mick, who is rightly proud of his work. Photo from the Rolling Stone in Milan.

Friday, 24 October 2008

A bit tired today. We're near Treviso in Italy in a club in the middle of a nondescript industrial estate (a lot of them are like that and it's frustrating because you're kind of stuck with nothing really to do). The stage is tiny and the dressing room is graffiti-ridden and brutally lit. Still, the weather was nice today and Les finally got his electronic compass working so at least we now know which direction we're facing. Last night in Pratteln was good - a huge venue with a great atmosphere and excellent helpful staff. We took a trip to the local music shop to find the counter manned by a chap from Hull. He's the second one so far - there was one working behind a bar in Copenhagen. We get everywhere.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Some Polish ducks in Krakow

Poked my head out of the top of the bus on the way to Warsaw...

Feeding the ducks

What an insane couple of days. I have a vague memory of being in Copenhagen yesterday where half the town was closed because it was Sunday. After the gig we had to load up as quickly as possible for the mammoth drive to Warsaw. We set off at about 1 am and arrived at 9.40 in the evening to find a cold crowd waiting to get into the venue. The bus was stopped by the police on the way and the drivers were fined for a couple of minor indiscretions - probably a bit of beer money for some bored coppers. We unloaded and set up for the gig in a record-breaking 45 minutes, though I've insisted this should not be used as some kind of benchmark. The place was packed - the first time on this tour I've seen adoring, autograph-hunting fans (and a mosh pit to boot), and it was a good show considering the circumstances. I said to Les that we'd be okay if no-one breaks any strings, so Vinnie broke two in the first song. After the gig it's customary for Mick and I to distribute picks and set lists and whatever to the front row of the audience, and it's often difficult to decide which of them to hand the potential ebayables to. A favoured technique is to hold a set list aloft and then let it waft downwards and watch the ensuing clamour. Another is the scattering of picks. It really is like feeding ducks, and you often get the impression you've made someone's day. Oh yeah, Hull City are third in the Premier League and still one place above Arsenal. It does make me chuckle. Krakow tomorrow..

Sunday, 19 October 2008

So that's Germany done with for the time being (until Munich in a few days). We've just finished loading out at the Markthalle in Hamburg and tomorrow morning we're heading for Copenhagen (with a ferry crossing thrown in for good measure). It turned out Mick the drum tech had torn a muscle in three places and was pretty much of the opinion that he'd be going home, until he payed a hundred euros to a local doctor who strapped him up and gave him an injection which set him in the road to recovery. In fact he was shifting flight cases later that same day. To be honest I couldn't imagine being on this tour without Micky Reed. Good news there then. In other news, Junn artfully stole a jar of Masai sauce from the Columbia Club in Berlin last night and it's making load-out sandwiches a much more pleasurable experience. Also, Jamie has some new shoes and Matt is eating raw root ginger for some reason. It's a quiet night down the Travellers'....

Friday, 17 October 2008

We're at the Columbia Club in former east Berlin today, next door to the Columbia Hall where "Disturbed" are playing very American metal. It's a shame we're far from the city centre as Berlin is one city I wouldn't have minded having a look around. Maybe next time. Unfortunately I've succumbed to "bunk flu" over the last couple of days which is a real pain as loud noises are making my head hurt - certainly not ideal in this job. Hopefully it'll clear up quickly and won't spread to the others, although Demians sound guy Junn is already showing the early symptoms. Just down the road there's parked a big blue double-decker coach with a trailer which looks pretty much exactly the same as ours - the only difference is that theirs has "StarRiders" written on it and ours has "Jayline". I imagine it's like Father Dick Byrne's Rugged Island parish in Father Ted where there's an alter-ego/nemesis for each of us. You know what?  I really really hate their guitar tech and I haven't even met him yet.  A new driver is being flown in this evening as Lloyd is due a couple of days off and we have a monumental drive (seventeen hours) to Warsaw approaching after the Copenhagen gig on Sunday. Apparently it's touch and go if we'll make it at all, and if we do it may be a case of slinging the gear on the stage with little or no soundcheck, otherwise known as "Festival Style".

I've just had a quick look from behind the stage while Demians are playing and the place looks pretty packed. Cool.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Finally a day off. We're sitting in a restaurant by a stream in Erfurt waiting for massive steaks to be delivered to our tables while drinking fine Bitburger ale. Drum tech Mick has picked up a football injury this morning while warming up for Anathema Rovers for the forthcoming friendly against Sporting Demians, and so is confined to his bunk.  Sound man Matt's moustache is giving much cause for debate in the Travellers' Arms (next door to Lloyd's Lounge on the lower deck of the bus). More information will follow.....

(Left to right: Nicolas, John, Jay, Les, Vinnie, Antoine (front) and half of me at the back).

Monday, 13 October 2008

Woke up in Bochum this morning feeling hungry so decided to find breakfast, which was conveniently located next to the bus in the form of a mobile sandwich stall. Due to a complete lack of communication between myself and the stall owner my breakfast ended up being leg of lamb and chips, which though very nice, is a bit of a step up from the bacon sandwich I really wanted. We're in the venue now - a huge place with a dressing room that's larger than some entire clubs. Excellent hospitality. The Germans really look after us. The photo is of the hospitality area at the Matrix in Bochum.

By the way, if anybody is reading this please don't forget to leave a comment. They lock you up here for talking to yourself, you know.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Left The Netherlands last night after four successful shows (one being in Belgium) then drove through the night to wake up in Germany and this wonderful view. On the left is Demians bassist Antoine and on the right is drummer Gael. Got to clean the bus now....

Thursday, 9 October 2008

...waiting to change over from the support act (Demians, who are very good) for the second gig, this time in Den Bosch. The first one went pretty well - no hitches to speak of. During the night somebody broke tour bus rule number one and left un petit poo in the lavatory. No-one has owned up to it yet but we'll soon get to the bottom of it. Our esteemed driver and spiritual advisor Lloyd has informed us that the on-board toilet is no longer under his jurisdiction.  After the gig we're driving to Antwerp for the night as we can't get external power for the bus here. Apparently we'll be in the old town near canals. Should be nice for a late evening beer or two.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Someone trying to find their bike in Utrecht.

Utrecht, Netherlands.

8th October, 1332 - Parked up waiting to load in. Walked through what must be the world's largest train/bus station to find a city where everyone either owns a shop, works in a shop or is currently shopping. No sign of recession here. Jamie (bass) arrived which is not surprising as Utrecht is where he lives. Just waiting for Vinnie (vocals and guitar) and we have a band.

...and we're off, slowly...

7th October, 1735 (that's the time, not the year) - stuck in a traffic jam on the M62 heading towards Hull to catch the ferry. There's been an accident apparently - hope no-one was hurt. The coach is great - very comfortable, lots of fridges and cupboards and tvs and cubby-holes and countless examples of novel utilisation of limited space. My bunk happens to be just my size - any smaller and I'd have been struggling. It's got curtains and a little light and a power socket. Very homely indeed. All in all it feels like we're heading off on a very expensive and elaborate caravanning holiday (except without the smell of calor gas). I'll probably have a bald spot by the end of it, though, the amount of times I've banged my head in the past hour. Les (keyboards and tour manager) spotted "Pure Pussy: Lesbian Special" among the myriad dvds that are provided for our entertainment (not to mention two hard drives packed full of movies as well). Either he has some form of porn radar (he was quite far away) or he recognised his name buried within the title and was drawn to it. Danny (guitar) has expressed an interest in watching it. There's only six of us on the bus today so it feels very luxurious. Best not get too used to it - as of tomorrow evening there'll be fourteen.