Tour Story: European Tour 1999
This is the story of the Mumble & Peg '99 summer tour of Germany as told
by Matt Lebofsky.
- Ninewood said that the work shirts (i.e. old button-down short-sleeve
deals with random name and company patches) sold like hotcakes during
their European tour, so we printed a bunch exclusively for our tour. When
we got them we found half of them were fucked up - they forgot to print
the black background screen. A lot of dealing with the t-shirt manufacturer
ensued, and they agreed to reprint a bunch and ship them to Germany. What
a hassle, especially since we ended up only selling about a third of them.
This is only a short example of the last-minute crap we had to deal with
right before leaving for Europe.
- Virginia hauled the three of us to the airport in Jenya's car. Our flight
was delayed two hours. We were flying MartinAir, which miraculously flies
directly from Oakland to Amsterdam. Despite being nice and early, there
was a long check-in line, and we were carrying a ton of equipment. Luckily,
they didn't seem to mind the size/weight of our luggage (drum parts, guitars,
concessions, keyboards, clothes), and we also scored the three adjacent
was painfully long, aggravated by the hard seats which eventually made
my ass throb, and the poor selection of food. I shouldn't have ordered
the beef. The computerized display showing our position in the sky was
at first intriguing, then a novelty, then rather irritating, and finally
a form of extreme torture. We watched Jackie Chan's "Rush Hour" on a 3"
digital display in front of us. Failed to sleep a wink. Motion sickness,
sleep deprivation, and mild starvation ruled the final hour or so of the
- Landed soundly and rushed off the plane. Long wait for the baggage,
a little bit of an awkward moment as the claims checkers were a little
upset that we had no forms stating we intended our music equipment to
return to the U.S. Past the claims area we met Holger, who we will be
spending the next five weeks with. In Holger's Mercedes tour van I quickly
examined his CD collection - King Crimson, Codeine, Joni Mitchell, Long
Fin Killie.. Phew. We're in good shape with this guy. He could've been
a punk-ska nutcase for all we knew.
Out of Holland
and into Germany and eventually to Muenster where Holger lives. We're
to be staying at his house for the next couple of days as we recover from
jet lag. His tall and friendly housemate Andreas made us dinner of delicious
salad and a dish containing eggplant, mushrooms, and cheese (editor's
note: Matt can't stand any of these foodstuffs, but severe hunger and
politeness prevailed). Long chat and beer at the kitchen table evolved
into Erik playing the classic 1982 Vectrex Minestorm video game in the
guestroom. Supposedly God Speed you Black Emperor stayed here recently
and were all over Minestorm as well.
- None of us slept so well, being off schedule by 9 hours. Jenya and I
embarked on our own into the rainy town, exchanging money at the local
Sparkasse and getting bread and eggs as the outdoor market. Jenya actually
speaks enough German to get by. I only know a few words. Holger speaks
English rather well and spoils me into thinking everybody does, but when
confronted with phrases like "mit senf?" I panicked and froze (editor's
note: that means "with mustard?"). Eventually my German got a little better.
and lots of good bread and things to spread on said bread for breakfast.
I learned to really enjoy this standard German breakfast. With the day
off, Erik, Jenya and I hit the town on foot - churches hundreds of years
old, stores in beautiful old buildings. Entered our first record store
and Erik has never been the same since. I'll state now that he spent hundreds
and hundreds of dollars on vinyl during the course of this tour. Got home
and laid down to relax and next thing we know we all napped for three
hours. Jet lag city!
Holger availed to us the use of his practice space. After setting up Holger
headed off, and during the first song a lamp in the room fell, knocking
another lamp over and blowing all the fuses in the room, leaving us in
the dark. By some lucky miracle the room next door shared the same breaker
and that band happened to be in and they helped us find the fuse box and
get back on track. However, during the next song we discovered the piece-of-shit
Alesis Nanopiano sound module I bought just for this tour craps out at
random. That's no good.
and brought us back home. Up late discussing music, culture, school, etc.
with Holger. Suddenly it was 4:00am and we headed to bed. We then realized
we were still wide awake and got back up to watch videotaped episodes
of the Simpsons dubbed in German. The voices were all different and disturbing,
but we all have every line memorized so it only added a whole new dimension
of enjoyment to the show.
- Slept until 2:00pm - Still jet lagged. More bread/spread for breakfast,
and then hit the town to deal with my lack of working sound module. Holger
used up a favor from a music store friend to loan me a more stable Yamaha
unit for free. Practiced again at Holger's space for three hours, Jenya
concocted a late dinner, and we went to bed early. Got up at 4:00am and
were hardly able to get back to bed. Shit.
- The tour begins. Our early asses were up forever before Holger woke
and we hit the road for Koln (or as the French say, "Cologne"). Autobahn
traffic slowed us down, and once we got into the city Holger had to drive
in circles to get a reference point, and then ask various people on the
street how to get where we needed to go. Turns out this is how we dealt
with finding clubs in every town.
was the Underground, and reminded me of Emo's in Austin. We quickly claimed
four beds in the guest accommodation area. Things were harried as this
was Saturday night and ten bands were playing as part of a central showcase
for this huge annual music festival in Koln. To add to the panic, the
P.A. for one of the two stages was stolen last night. Because of that
soundcheck was delayed and eventually cancelled, meaning we got to play
with completely foreign amps and drums tonight with nary a moment to test
the equipment beforehand.
arrived, along with our backline and his helpful assistant, Kai. Torsten's
the guy who booked this entire tour for us, so he was keen on making sure
we started okay. And then came Arne, the brains behind the Noisolution
record label which released our CD. Also making an appearance was Ingo
(a.k.a. Ritchie of Ritchie Records) who spent a couple weeks hanging out
in the Bay Area only a month ago, so it was nice to see a friendly face.
At any rate it became a real band/label/booker/tour manager meeting-of-the-minds
before the music started happening.
we were given chili and only chili. Erik doused it with enough Tabasco
sauce that it became hallucinogenic. Erik then required a beverage, and
those who know Erik know he demands his beverages to contain mostly ice,
which just doesn't happen in this part of the world. Instead, his pleads
for "ice," which phonetically is the same as the German word for ice cream,
only made matters worse.
the last of five bands to play on the step-child second stage. The first
three bands were actually fairly interesting, all in different indie-rock
sort of way. In would have been perfect to play then, but there was still
another band, Colt, and they were terrible - young and indulgent and poorly
performed energy rock that went on and on and ended in a swell of feedback
bullshit. Great - we had to follow that.
So we quickly
set up all flustered and hurried and played our first show of the tour.
A quick seven song set. Thanks to perfect timing, the other stage in the
club had Steakknife (the big buzz band of the night) performing at exactly
the same time as our set, so the crowd thinned considerably. However,
those who remained seemed to like it. After our set I had difficulty breaking
down since the assholes from Colt kept stepping over me to sneak to the
cooler and steal all the free beer so the guys from Steakknife couldn't
It was a
big party at the club after the music ended and I wasn't very tired so
I floated around like a zombie not understanding any of the conversations
happening before me. Eventually Torsten, Kai, Holger, Arne, Erik, Jenya,
and I ended up in a circle shootin' the breeze. While standing there I
got my ass pinched twice, but the culprit remained anonymous.
- Got up just in time for the free breakfast downstairs. One thing I must
say about touring in Europe vs. America is that in Europe venues have
the common courtesy to feed you dinner, grant you infinite supplies of
alcohol and snacks, give you a place to sleep, and then send you off with
a nice breakfast in the morning. Plus they even pay you.
out and since we were ahead of schedule we headed into the center of Koln
to see the millions of tourists flocking around the amazingly huge old
church. Wandered around town, checking out some random public choral performance
of early classical works, and eventually settling in at an ice cream shop.
Germans know their ice cream (and their bread, for that matter). Once
fed, we headed to Minden.
the right address after getting lost, asking for directions, etc., but
there was no sign of a music venue (called "FKK") - only a huge and seemingly
abandoned building - and eerie bells chimed in the distance. We soon discovered
this was indeed the right place, and the venue itself was up four stories.
From this point on in the tour, everywhere we had to go was on the goddamn
top story. Really.
there was an elevator. Loaded in and slowly set up. We were provided with
a huge guest room teeming with many sugary treats, an endless flow of
orange juice and beer, and a bottle of scotch. As sort of a half-joke
we told Torsten that we'd require a bottle of scotch at every show. Suprisingly
a good number of venues complied, God bless their hearts. We also had
a long ass time to set up and really get acquainted with the foreign equipment.
Then we were served baked spaghetti for dinner (editor's note: Matt also
refuses to eat tomatoes unless under duress).
a way-too-long set, not really certain how to handle being the only band
on the bill, so the show lacked momentum. However, towards the end a woman
in the tiny audience yelled, "Label." At first Erik thought she said,
"Mabel," since we were just introducing ourselves onstage and he thought
she was in turn introducing herself. Jenya and I understood what she really
meant: A bona-fide request for one of the tunes from our new CD. This
being our first ever request from a total stranger, we giddily launched
into the major-chord-fest that is "Label."
set all the others got drunk, but I didn't drink so much since I ate too
much candy and my tummy hurt. Holger and Erik got in a long and depressing
discussion about all things long and depressing. We all headed to bed
around 4:00am knowing full well we had to get up in six hours.
- To Berlin! Our show tonight was around dinnertime on some random stage
among several as part of a huge outdoor festival. We drove 400km from
Minden to Berlin, arriving at 5:00pm. We were once again lost upon getting
into town, and very late as we were supposed to start at 6:00. After finding
the festival, parking was impossible. Jenya grabbed her sticks, Erik his
guitar, and I just took my bass as we stormed through the crowd to our
drums and amps were already there. All we did was plug in and play. Strains
of Boston and Journey spewed from the PA right up until we started our
seven song set. Not much a response came from the hundreds of people who
passed by the stage, some of them resting on their way toward elsewhere.
One drunk motorcycle chick kept screaming "lauter!" After our short set
the emcee of this event interviewed me about the new CD for the crowd.
"Give it up for Mumble & Peg!" (clap.. clap.. clap..). So that was that.
Holger meanwhile has been parked illegally and we followed him 20 blocks
back to the van carrying our crap.
we are in Berlin. For the next ten days we only have one show. The original
plan for this expanse of time was for us to record, for free, in the well-equipped
studio in cahoots with the Noisolution label. For the longest time we
thought this would be the highlight of the tour but at the last minute
we were bumped in favor of the goth-joke-metal band In Extremo who needed
the week to work on an emergency remix Sisters of Mercy cover tune, "This
Corrosion." That means we had an enforced ten day vacation upon us with
no plans except wander around town and try to ignore the millions of In
Extremo posters glued to every conceivable flat surface.
On the other
hand, several of our Oakland pals (Nils, Dawn, Dan, Carla) happened to
be in town at this exact time for various reasons, most notably since
they were performing with Ink Boat as part of an international Butoh dance
festival. However, we had no idea when exactly they'd get to town, where
they'd be staying, or even where they'd be performing. For those who just
don't know, Berlin is an enormous place with millions of people.
who lives in old East Berlin, was still in Koln this evening, we were
slated to stay with his friend, Ralf. On the way to Ralf's pad Erik nearly
hit his head on the roof of the van when, by complete random chance, he
spotted Dawn walking down the sidewalk. We lept from the van and had a
jubilant reunion in the street. Yay! Turns out Dawn was heading to meet
somebody who lived across the street from Ralf.
back on the plan, we had dinner with Ralf and his mate Jacquelin. Damn
nice people. Awesome vegetarian dinner. Friendly chat. Dawn showed us
on a map an approximate location where they were staying, where Ink Boat
would be performing, and a stream of random digits which may very well
be somebody's phone number.
evening walking around with Holger. Old East Berlin is turning into the
hip part of town. Down cobblestone sidewalks to a random pub where we
downed a double round of Kilkenny's over the din of street musicians making
the rounds and our own philosophical discourse. On the way back, Holger
pointed out the key for survival in Berlin: Turkish food stands which
serve cheap but filling and rather tasty food, most notably a meat sandwich
delightfully called Doner Kebap. We all lived on Doner Kebap for the next
week or so.
over at Ralf's as well but would be leaving back to Muenster in the morning.
- More breads, spread, and personal cutting boards for breakfast. Ralf
was keen on taking the band out and about. He showed us how to ride public
transit for free (which we eventually stopped doing once we realized it
was illegal) all the way to Alexander Platz. Big mall. Bought a map. Best
10 marks spent all trip. Ralf showed us around the Platz and all the architectural
feats new and old, then he left us to find our way back ourselves.
any better, we hiked all the way down the Unter Der Linden Strasse, all
the way to Brandenburg gate, and through it (which was impossible 10 years
ago), and eventually to the wonderful traffic circle surrounding the Tower
of Victory. We were way the fuck out now, but we figured out how to get
the public transit back to Ralf's with minimal extra walking.
stuff and now it was time to head for Arne's. On the way we went to check
out the theatre where Ink Boat would perform to see if we could get more
info on our friends' whereabouts. The only person we recognized was Butoh
Bob, also from the Bay Area. He recognized us and was shocked that we
flew all the way to Germany to see him perform. As if. Everybody else
was at dinner. Left a note and continued on our way.
was also on the top story of his respective building. Nice top story place.
Met Arne and his mate Gundula. Gracious hosts. The evening was simple:
beer, conversation, and eventually sleep.
- We had our cutting board breakfast alone as Arne already headed out
to the Noisolution office. We decided to go hang out at Arne's office
today, so we walked there (about a mile away on foot). Got on Forsterstrasse
and realized only then we left the exact address (and phone #) on a piece
of paper back at the house.
you dear readers (and myself) the details of the next three hours. We
were within one fucking block of Arne's office all this time and couldn't
fucking find it for the life of us. We waltzed into wrong buildings, scaring
the hell out of non-English speaking residents. We then walked way out
of the way to find a pay phone. Walked further out of the way to find
a phone card so we could use the pay phone. Called Kai at Amadis to get
Arne's address. Misunderstood Kai's directions and walked all the way
back and still didn't find it.
Erik stayed in that neighborhood to check out some record stores. Jen
and I headed by train to Potsdamer Platz since the young Berliners were
all raving about it. With all the new construction around town I imagine
it must be a very exciting area, but to a couple of jaded Americans it's
just another mall. By foot we headed slowly back home through the Tiergarden,
passing several naked male sunbathers en route. Stopped in the Room of
Silence. Hit the Altes Museum but it was closed due to renovation. Hit
the big Dom, and tried to go up in the Space Needle but the line was too
back at Arne's around 8:00pm (he got lost on the walk back). Per Arne's
recommendation we hit the nearby "Korner" bar for food. Not feeling very
decisive, all three of us got currywurst mit pommes frites. Yummy and
- Morning started just like yesterday. Except this time we found Arne's
office no problem. There I finally got to check my e-mail (didn't get
much worth mentioning). Arne gave us the tour of the office. Lots of cool
semi-related companies working there doing promotion, distribution, recording,
and various record labels all together on one floor. Cool.
headed to the Hamburger Bahnhof to check out some modern art. Closed due
to renovation. Boy life was getting repetitive. With no better plan we
hauled ass across town to go to the Zoo. Elephants, zebras, kangaroos,
elk, buffalo, seals, penguins, flamingoes, and pandas up the ass. Sat
on a bench and slurped down a bratwurst mit senf in front of all the caged
from all these days of walk-walk-walking, we hit home. Actually we went
to the "Korner" again for dinner. Feeling completely over-meated, I opted
for the house salad, which arrived with two pork chops on top. Always
with the pig meat.
caught his soccer matches on TV he took us around town. First we hit the
old East Berlin airport, which is the biggest building in Europe. Beautiful
in its big cement blocky-ness. Then we hit all the current hot spots around
town. Sat outside his friend's bar "Apotheke" drinking free beers and
watching two street dogs humping. Then hit Tacheles, another hotbed of
hipness creeping with tourists. Art squats and shit. Hit Alexander Platz
again to find the not- so-obvious but really cool empty white room below
the street (visible through glass) as a memorial to all the books burnt
by the nazis.
- Fruhstuck (pronounced "Froo-shtook" - means "breakfast"). Then called
Dan to make plans to meet and hang out nearby. Met he and Carla two train
stops down. Nice to see familiar faces with strangely shaven scalps. Spent
the afternoon wandering around a couple blocks going to record and clothing
stores, sitting around cafes exchanging Europe travel stories, and eating
lunch at an Indian joint.
And oh yeah..
we actually had a show tonight. Remember we're on tour and shit? Arne
met us back at his pad and drove us to the Roter Salon where we to meet
up with Kai and our equipment. On the way Arne was already making excuses
about the not-so-great promotion, and the rain, cushioning the blow for
the potentially lame audience tonight. Loaded all our shit up a flight
Nils appeared. The whole gang (me, Jen, Erik, Nils, Arne, Kai, Torsten,
Torsten's pregnant girlfriend Yvette, and the guy from the Roter Salon)
went out for Chinese food. It was weird in its non-American preparation.
Arne's food contained two pieces of porcelain ("Biting some food.. Losing
tonight was pretty good and we actually played tightly considering the
lack of recent practice. Too bad nobody was there to see it. I got plastered
drunk on Jager and beer afterward. Nils took a bunch of pictures of the
show, but during the small party afterwards the camera, left on the concessions
table, got stolen. This was distressing since we knew every person in
the entire place by name. Dammit.
I was shitfaced
and being obnoxious back at Arne's flat, hugging his life-sized William
Shatner cardboard figure, and accidentally dumping a whole tray of condiments
out of the fridge onto the floor in a very loud fashion.
- Hungover. Cutting board Fruhstuck. Dire need of coffee. Not much of
a plan today. Back to Arne's office to check e-mail and listen to more
apologies about last night. More record shops. Felafel sandwich. On the
way home stopped in some Turkish grocery stores for dinner supplies. Erik
and Jen made nutty salads back at Arne's while I sat on his couch and
moped. There was to be a barbecue tonight, but Gundula was working late,
Torsten couldn't make it, and it started raining.
the barbecue on the deck. Ended up being a nice mellow evening. Ralf came
over. Ate yummy pork chops, salads, breads, zucchinis, sausages, beer..
Discussed CMJ and NYC with Gundula, the band Trio and various politics
with Ralf and Arne. Last night's drunken binge made it an early night
for me tonight.
- Fruhstuck. Plans today were for me and Erik to go see a soccer game
(while Jen and Gundula went museuming and shopping). Arne enlisted me
and Erik to help move his friend Pete into his new apartment before heading
to the game. We were told it would be quick and not up any stairs. We
arrived finding ourselves facing more than a moving truck's worth of boxes
and heavy furniture (including a fridge and a washer still full of water).
And the new apartment was on the fifth floor. And you had to walk through
a large courtyard to get there.
a large team of people about an hour to get all this shit upstairs. You're
welcome, Pete. By the end my shirt was thoroughly soaked with sweat and
my muscles were stiff and twitching. After that bout of extreme exercise,
Erik, Arne, and Arne's friend Ali headed on to a cafe to relax and kill
time before heading to the stadium.
mayhem in the parking lot. Beer, bratwurst, singing, and showing off your
team colors. It was Berlin vs. Bremen today. Met some more of Arne's friends
before entering, including two Brits, Trevor and Spencer, who wondered
what the 'ell two Americans were doing at a blasted German soccer game.
Inside the old-school stadium we hit our seats and the crowds were singing
various songs. Erik and I pretended to sing along lest we appear on the
jumbovision screen with our dumb-ass American mouths' shut and looking
had songs and random actions for every anomalous event during the game.
It wasn't much of a game, though. Berlin scored early, Bremen scored late.
The crowd was dealt a disappointing tie, and 90 minutes later thousands
of bummed Berliners sulked all the way back to their homes.
father was coming to town tonight, so we had to clear outta there. Packed
up and Arne drove us and all our crap to the Orph Theatre for the Ink
Boat show tonight. We got our tix and hid our luggage behind the refreshments
table. Hung out with Nils and Dawn before the show. Hungry, Jen and I
went to get some quick doner kebap (sharf, ohne tomaten).
many audience members than seats. Had to sit on the floor at the foot
of the performance area. First half was a chilling solo dance piece by
a bald Swiss dude with great music accompaniment (voice and noise/drone
cello). Second half was Ink Boat. Delightfully funny piece featuring lots
of Dan's homemade instruments and Shinichi's mastery, ending with a crushing
vocal duet between Nils and Carla. Shmoozed after the show waiting for
Torsten to come get our lame asses. During the wait some dog approached
and nearly peed on Erik's luggage.
into Torsten's wagon and headed to his soon-to-be-ex flat in Potsdam.
He and Yvette hadn't entirely moved out yet so there was still furniture,
a stocked kitchen, and a television. Potsdam is 45 minutes out of Berlin
and not as interesting.
- It was Sunday. Potsdam is closed on Sundays. So instead of having a
day off with nothing to do, we had a day off trapped in a dead town with
nothing to do. A cafe was open so we killed time there. Erik couldn't
deal and watched German MTV all day, which was presenting him with Bloodhound
Gang's "Bad Touch" video once an hour. This song had a long way before
becoming a hit in the U.S. as much as 9 months later.
I figured out the Potsdam bus system and headed halfway to Berlin, that
being Dahlem, and hiked 1.5 kilometers to the university art museum there.
It was closed like all the other museums, but its collection had recently
moved to Potsdamer Platz. What the fuck?! Despite being late in the day
we headed all the way back to Berlin to get some fucking art godammit!
By the time
we got there we had 60 minutes to see the entire collection. At least
it was something. Hungry and tired we took the bus to the Tacheles district
for a real dinner. Hit the big Indian restaurant there. Food is so damn
cheap and we were so damn hungry we ordered too damn much. They even gave
us an extra salad by mistake. We took two full doggy bags all the way
back to Potsdam (a 45 minute train ride).
from being a couch potato all day, gladly dug into our leftover food and
we all continued to watch TV to round out this wonderful day.
- Still Potsdamned. The town was more hoppin' on Monday. Another whole
day ahead of is. Made a trip to the local tourist centerpiece, that being
the huge Schloss Sanssoucci. A huge friggin' castle and courtyards aplenty,
fountains, long tree-lined trails.. But the castle interior was closed
on Mondays. We must be cursed.
in town we bought eggs and biershinken sausages for dinner. Why biershinken
and not bratwurst? Well, I wanted to try something different. Ended up
being a bad idea. More TV to pass the hours. Bored out of our respective
gourds, we hit a pay phone and called Dren at his office. We took turns
shooting the shit. No big news on that side of the planet but it was incredibly
fulfilling to touch base.
around checking out the night life. Actually quite a few bars. We hit
the nicest looking one and got Guinesses to gulp down while discussing
our bright future after Potsdam. Went to get doner kebap but the doner
was looking pretty hurtin', so we got felafel which ended up being microwaved
and was hurtin' even more. Bad idea.
- What passes for entertainment in these dark days? Sitting at a cafe,
watching a big dog take a dump on the sidewalk across the way, and then
watching several locals planting their brightly colored shoes square into
the shitpile's warm, gushy center. For one last hurrah the three of us
headed into Berlin one last time. Hit more stores at Alexander Platz.
Erik was into finding the Hard Rock cafe. With an actual goal we pieced
together clues which led us to the widely overrated establishment. First
time I ever set foot into a Hard Rock cafe anywhere. Erik bought a shirt
for Virginia and we headed to other various parts of town. Bored and miserable
we went back to Potsdam around dinnertime.
took us out to dinner at his favorite place, which turns out was the same
place we all selected at random last night. Good food, over which we actually
talked about plans for the remaining part of the tour. Oh yeah. That's
right. We're on tour. Without warning a fellow restaurant patron exiting
on bicycle incorrectly navigated past our table, spilling out onto it,
but somehow only succeeding in knocking over a single candle. Better luck
Got up at a decent time and Holger was asleep on the living room floor.
I never thought I'd be so happy to see his unshaven morning face. Washed
up, went out for coffee with the gang. Brought ingredients home for fruhstuck.
Torsten arrived and we headed to the stage/lighting company where all
our equipment was stowed all this time. Then to the Amadis office where
we checked e-mail, went over our notes, and picked up our recently shipped
extra set of t-shirts. And that was that. Said goodbye to Arne and Torsten
and headed BACK ON TOUR.
to Halle was relatively short, arriving at the club "Objekt 5" quite on
time. Nice small town. Beautiful club. Outdoor garden. Amazing food prepared
for us. We took a nice long soundcheck to make up for all our time off.
Way too much time to kill but that's how tours are. At least we had a
show upon us. Jen sketched outside what would be the formative ideas for
the cover of our split 7" with Fuck later this year.
we actually had a nice sized crowd. Played a single long set. What we
lacked in tightness was more than made up for with energy from not playing
in so long. And there were actual people dancing around during the louder/faster
numbers. They even clamored for encores. I think we almost went on a little
too long. Afterward some kid wearing a Nirvana t- shirt said we should
have played even more. Nevertheless we didn't sell much stuff.
that night we were put in a youth rehab turned hostel/hotel. We had the
entire top floor to ourselves (of course the top floor). A huge lounge
area, 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms - all for us. We brought some beers from
the club and sat around shooting the shit until retiring to our rooms.
I was the first one up. As Jen was in the shower an older man who spoke
nary a word of English came into the lounge area and piece by piece set
up our breakfast table - toaster, bread, coffee, cheeses, meats, yogurts,
jams, butter, nutella.. Oh yeah.
country drive and we were in Leipzig. Plenty early, so we hit the main
part of town. Holger took this time to be alone, buy some more black jeans,
and scope out all the pretty young foreign language students at the University.
The rest of us wandered around near the University as well. I bought some
picks from a music store. Jen found a camera shop and it was like pulling
teeth asking them which camera was better in very broken English. While
inspecting one potential purchase she dropped it on the floor. Guess we'll
buy that one. It was perfectly alright, but the salespeople were sufficiently
annoyed at us random Americans confusing the hell out of them for so long.
Hung out near the church where Bach used to play some regular gigs. Somehow
we got lost finding our way back to the van. Hot and thirsty and without
any easier option we actually hit a McDonalds for a beverage and a place
to pee. Erik actually got a drink with ice in it for once.
Holger arrived at the van and we began our quest to find the club. There
was a movie house upstairs which meant we had to load in early and soundcheck
fast, and then wait around for hours and hours until the movie let out
before we could play. In other words, we couldn't make any noise between
7:30pm and midnight. Lots of time to kill. Same old story.
I took a long walk around the ex-East German town. Very bleak and same-y
looking buildings. Empty streets. Found a spielplatz and we swung on swings,
slid down slides, got nauseous on the merry-go-round, and nearly died
on the stand-on-a-slippery-barrel contraption. Back at the club we and
Christopher the soundguy went to dinner at a hip restaurant nearby. I
got a roasted pepper and potato dish, excited about a non-meat option,
but it ended up not being very exciting at all. Christopher, who went
to high school in Oregon, told us he used to be a musician (a violinist,
in fact) until the day a friend ask him to do some parts on an album and
after the very painful recording session he hasn't played since.
the club by 10:00, waiting forever in the tiny green room with bowls of
M&M's, wine, soda, and a 9wood sticker up on the wall. Finally we were
on. An okay set - we actually worked in "Wrecked." Not many people hung
out near the stage except some chicks rooting for Jen. Seconds after our
last note the blaring disco/80s mix party started, and everyone left.
our shit after pounding some beers. We left our shit at the club and walked
to our sleeping place. It was a nearby apartment (4 blocks away and 4
flights of stairs up) actually owned by the club for the express purpose
of band hospitality. I can't imagine that ever happening in the U.S..
I was pretty
drunk and didn't notice Jen and Erik already slipped off to bed. Meanwhile
Holger and I stayed up a long ass while discussing vague politics, various
sciences and musicks, and eventually computers. Next thing I know it is
5:30am and the sun is rising. Time for bed and I was still drunk. Ugh.
Peeled myself out of bed around 11:00. Showered in a big bathroom with
a big open window such that everyone in town could easily see my ass and
penis. Ate fruhstuck. Ow my head. Walked back to the club and loaded out
shit out. Bye to the Christopher and the booker (whose name I forget).
It was a
long ass road to Babenhausen. I crashed in the back with my head near
the speakers on the floor. Holger needed many caffeine refuelings. Arrived
in town kinda late. Found the "BDP Jugendcafe" which was a student-union
looking building overrun with many, many young people (seemingly from
the ages of 16 to 23). They were all very cool and excitable, and it was
like the town gave them this place to play and put on shows just to keep
them out of trouble. Load in was down a long flight of stairs. Though
it was illegal per club rules they snuck in some scotch for us per our
rider. Babenhausen = house of babies.
be an opening band, a trio of cute young men called "Sunyard" (or was
it "Soulyard?") playing cute young songs. As they soundchecked we ate
our pasta dinner in the kiddy kitchen. More cheese to suffer through.
at 9:30. Curfew was at midnight. Soulyard played their pop tunes with
endearing English lyrics. Our set was fairly short and weak. A nice number
of people were there, but we didn't sell much stuff, but one of the club
guys later bought 3 of our t-shirts. Jen was happy with the show. I was
starting to get bummed out with the general sloppiness and lack of professional
integrity. Typical mid-tour mood swing for me.
we stayed at the BDP house which was a nice big apartment containing about
10 of the kids from the club. We stayed up a bit as the huge table of
people listened with rapt attention to the drunken ramblings of Erik.
I hit the sack.
Breakfast at the big kiddie table. Didn't bother with a shower. Thanks
and goodbyes to that scene and hit the road again. Another long drive
as we headed into Belgium. Uneventful trip. Border crossing was almost
Liege it was like pulling teeth to find the club. Weird streets, impossible
to locate street signs, lame directions from various pedestrians. As time
progressed in this tour I came to realize that Europeans in general are
as bad as I am at giving directions. Eventually we found the club.
is run by an older couple, Jean-Michel and Michelle, and is a rock club
as well as a small record shop and distributor. At some point I browsed
the shop and bought an Ex double CD for the equivalent of $8 (thanks to
multiple ridiculous exchange rates in my favor). As we loaded in Michelle
told us they were housing "refugees" and we should keep the doors closed
at all times. I didn't think much of this at first.
in consisted of gingerly lugging our shit down a stairwell of tiny, slippery,
and very steep stairs. According the Holger this was quite consistent
with fucked up Belgian architecture. When faced with loading my bass cabinet
down those stairs Holger said to me something which I repeat on appropriate
occasions to this day: "Don't think - Just do." Once loaded onto the stage
we had a nice, thorough soundcheck from the soundguy who looked a lot
fed big bowls of veggie foods. Meanwhile the opening band soundchecked.
A trio of a dude and two women, all with a dizzying array of musical toys.
Promising. In the green room there was a sign saying more about the "refugees"
and how the club feared "fascist or cop attacks which could be devastating."
Huh? This sign made Jen pretty upset about being there. Were these people
paranoid fuckups or would there really be a sudden, pointless, violent
time in our room upstairs (full of bunk beds). The bathroom had a shower
that really wasn't separate from the rest of the bathroom. Just a drain
in the floor. Back downstairs where we looked at a wall of scary 70's
single covers. Watched the opening band get good and sloppy drunk on vodka
and become very loud and annoying French speakers. They put on jumpsuits
and makeup and hit the stage. A long set of silly improv indulgence, of
the cute and untalented and timid variety.
ended up being a real rocker, and we even played "Hangman." Due to the
response of the crowd (and the even greater response from Holger) this
most unlikely song became a staple in our set for the rest of the tour.
Played way too many encores since one drunk guy begged us to continue.
Finally Erik ended with an a capella "Lazarus" which shut them up.
out as the opening band kept getting in our way. Of the three people in
that band to give me a big wet kiss on the cheek it was the dude, with
his stubbly, sweaty face and everything. Jen and I were both starting
to feel the onset of General Tour Illness (GTI). Eventually we crept upstairs,
got in our respective bunks and slept. No crazed packed of skinheads broke
down our door or anything like that.
Fruhstuck was coffee, chunks torn from a big round hunk of Belgian bread
and smeared with a minimal selection of spreads. The general consensus
was to get the fuck outta dodge. Loaded our equipment out of the basement
and up those terrible stairs. Once again we had a long trip ahead of us,
back into Germany and almost all the way to Bavaria.
is a totally tiny and quaint town. Not very hard to find the club ("Klampfe")
which was in the hub of town - an all cobblestone pedestrian mall with
mom & pop stores galore. Loaded in. Tiny bar. Small PA with no soundman.
Met the unnaturally redheaded barkeep, Tina, who lived upstairs (where
we'd be staying) and sang backup parts on Jud's famous "unplugged" EP.
up on stage only to realize it wouldn't work (due to various factors)
unless Erik and I swapped sides, so we did. One of the other bar women
whose name I forget came with us in the van to show us the way to the
next village and to the house of Helga, the woman who ran the club and
was making us dinner with her hubby.
house was totally cool in the old school tiny German village sort-of way
- parts of the house were over 300 years old. We had dinner of pasta and
salad. Jenya and I also had tea since we were feeling kind of crappy.
Sat around the big table and chatted. Good people.
the club. Not much of a turnout. Plus our pay tonight was only door money
which amounted to nothing. Not much of a response from the audience except
during our quietest number ("Focal Point") there was a brief brawl between
two drunk patrons. My back was turned to the audience as my keyboard was
resting on my bass amp so I missed all the action. Sounds of a rowdy foosball
game (which they call "kicker") from the next room overpowered us at some
a bummer, but on the flipside it was much better than a day off. We got
fed, given a place to sleep. Tina had a cute cat named Felix which brought
us dead mice during the night. Her housemate, Rene, had a Sony Playstation
with every game except Pa-rappa the Rapper. We played some kick boxing
game well into the night. Topping all that this house, of all houses in
cities big and villages small, was the first that had an internet connection,
and it was an ISDN line of all things. I finally got to check my e-mail
and even had the bandwidth to write e-mails back.
had the next day off and Munich was on the way to the next gig, Jen called
her old high school pal, Paul, at the very last minute to say that she
was in Germany and ask if she and her band could crash at his tiny pad
tomorrow night. Kinda awkward as Jen hasn't spoken to him since staying
at that very pad with Giant Ant Farm under very similar circumstances.
Plus Paul's a doctor now and very busy. However he's a moonchild like
me and willing to always help out a friend.
It got pretty
late pretty fast, maybe due to all the little bottles of Jager.
Felt pretty shitty, but not completely sick. Damn GTI. For fruhstuck we
ate in Tina's kitchen the usual solids and fluids. Tina presented these
foods one by one, each with some minor commentary, the best of which was
"Many birds united in salami." We still use this phrase in regular conversation.
Did a load of laundry which came out all green.
It was slow
getting on the road. Erik and Holger disappeared to the bank. Jen and
I wandered around town stopping in various stores for road supplies. Eventually
met back at the eis shop adjacent to the club. Loaded out.
to Munich was long, even longer thanks to traffic. We stopped for overpriced
dinner at a reststop. Jen was freaking out, and rightfully so, having
called Paul last minute, and here we were already running late. Plus the
directions to his place were shitty so we didn't arrive until 11:30.
was very gracious. I heard stories about him from Jen so it was nice to
meet him. We gathered around his kitchen table which quickly became cluttered
with wine bottles and filling ashtrays. Paul needed to get up at 7:00am
but stayed up past 12:00.. 1:00.. Pleasantries and old-time stories. Erik
had the right idea and crashed to sleep on the floor in the den.
It was soon
2:00am and things were getting ugly. Holger is a bad drunk, the kind where
the personality changes and emotions from left field are plopped onto
your lap. Of all nights for this to happen at its worst.. I leave out
the grim details - more or less he picked a fight with Paul about being
a doctor based on his own traumatic experience. Talk about making an awkward
night even awkwarder. My only defense was to keep quiet and sneak off
sure what happened after that. I believe, in rightful protection of her
friend, Jen made sure Holger knew he was totally belligerent and out of
line. The air may have been cleared, but not after inconveniencing and
probably completely offending her friend who she hadn't seen in years.
Well, these freakouts are typical in the middle of long tours.
Didn't get much sleep which did wonders for the healing process of my
GTI. Paul already left for work, but there was a pall over breakfast.
Holger got bread and we used Paul's spread. Did dishes. Erik left a nice
note and some CDs. Hit the road.
our passports but we didn't need them to cross the border. Austria had
a vastly different and beautiful landscape. Tall mountains that never
ended. Lots of tunnels. Long tunnels. Lots of tolls for the long tunnels.
Stopping for coffee I discovered Austrians generally don't like Germans
fair-sized city of Graz, we had a hard time finding our way. Finally one
pedestrian who knew the way hopped into the van and helped us navigate
towards the venue. Another downstairs venue. There was a Big Austrian
Guy running the show, who I'll refer to as BAG.
kind of a bullshit gig. Real bullshit. Tuesday night. The stage was in
the back of the bar which was skinny and long. The stage was completely
covered in tile and nobody working there understood the concept that we
needed a carpet or else the drum kit would slide all over the place. It
was like pulling teeth to get somebody to procure a rug for Jenya. Soundcheck
was delayed because of this, and during all this time we were deafened
by bad 80's butt-metal. We ate dinner in the meantime. Weinershnitzel
with pepper sauce.
soundchecked and then had to quickly go on and play two whole sets. Nobody
cared since there was no cover. Lots of blank stares and occasional silences
between songs. Once we stopped, the butt metal began as well as the dart
game right by the stage. We seemed to piss off these local dart champions
as we dared to unload in front of their game.
we got put up in a three star hotel a few blocks away called "the Three
Ravens." Carried our bags down the silent streets, checked in, and headed
upstairs to our rooms.
This was pretty much a lost day. Got up early, had breakfast in the hotel
lobby (a free buffet). Jenya and I got down there first and the hotel
staff made us move to another table - we're not sure why. Erik and Holger
arrived. Food and coffee and sitting around as Holger called Torsten to
book us a motel near Munich. Meanwhile watched the hilariously stupid
end of the Ralph Macchio classic, "Crossroads," dubbed in German.
On the road
back into Germany and into Munich. With our day off we did nothing really.
Lots of traffic getting into town, so we got to our Etap one-star Hotel
(located in the boonies near some factories or warehouses) kinda around
dinnertime. We had dirty laundry up the ass so we first drove around trying
to find a laundromat. Asked various pedestrians but nobody helped. We
confused one kid who didn't know what a laundromat was. Fuck this.
killed the evening going to a Thai restaurant with the slowest service
in the world. When we got our table it was warm so we decided to sit outside.
By the time we got served the sun had set and it was windy and cold. Food
was a little expensive, but actually pretty good. This cured mine and
Jenya's Thai food withdrawal.
Etap. Hung in the "bar" - really just people buying bottles of beer from
a vending machine and loitering in the parking lot watching mice bounce
around between cars.
in the hotel was identical. We had two of them. Everything was pink and
white and plastic. The bathrooms had a shower with no door, but there
was a squeegee to gather water across the floor and down the drain. Quaint.
After showering I was wandering around the room all nekkid and the cleaning
guy entered - I dropped behind the bed and he left. Jeez.
We all drove
to the center of Munich where we found a washsalon. We loaded in, figured
out the system. One machine turned 6 DM into one wash token, as well as
dispensing single servings of bleach and fabric softener. We went out
go find fruhstuck.
At a nearby
cafe we all ordered the same egg/potato/toast breakfast. It took a long
time to prepare, but they compensated us by making extra potatoes. Being
in the Bavarian part of Germany, we got a basket of pretzels with our
I went back to deal with the clothes. We didn't have enough change. Finding
change was a chore. The jeweler next door didn't have change. Two other
nearby stores refused to give us change. Finally a beverage store coughed
up the coins and we were back in business.
We all killed
time on this main strip, mostly hanging out in some music store trying
everything but buying nothing. After 30 minutes the clothes were still
wet (too many jeans).
the next couple of hours in the hub of Munich. Jenya and I separated from
the other two and hung out mostly in the antique toy museum, which was
totally cool since it was in this skinny tower up many spirally stairs.
Little rooms were off the stairwell containing various exhibits, the most
fascinating being a Barbie-through-the-ages with so many damn Barbie variants
I almost peed my pants.
Rosenheim - a short jaunt. Holger knew the club, "Vetternwirtschaft,"
having played there with Porf. The woman who ran the place, Andrea, was
a tall bass player and computer nerd and very hospitable. Cool club. Neat
metal sculptures in the parking lot. Got fruit and other treats. There
was an opening band that arrived called "Natalie Flanders" who were friends
in and began setting up. The sound guy was really clueless, being kinda
new to the game. He didn't know what a "snare" was. We also came to find
the PA wasn't set up properly - a nest of wires behind the mixing desk,
none coming from the amp. Holger superceded the soundguy and tried to
rectify the situation, but since it was such spaghetti we moved the amp
right on stage and plugged the mike right into it. No direct for the bass
or keyboards, no miked drums, etc.
Flanders played - cool indie rock stuff, but the room was unventilated
and quite hot so I couldn't stay inside. We then set up and played our
loud rock set in the wet heat. Mild reaction from the crowd. Sold a couple
things. Hung out a long while afterward as we were staying with Andrea
and she had to attend to things.
out, then went with Andrea to her hip apartment, of course on the top
floor of her building. We had four floor mattresses in the back room where
the computer and stereo were situated. We stayed up a bit in her kitchen,
admiring the three-story cat ramp nailed to the side of the house, listening
to an Attwenger Duo CD. Erik crashed first. Jenya and I soon went to bed
were right by our head, and the Attwenger Duo's final track lulled us
to sleep. We were about to completely doze off went Andrea came in and
started a Neubauten CD. Good God. We put in ear plugs.
- Woke up with several bees buzzing around our room. Yet another breads
and spreads breakfast. I checked my e-mail on Andrea's computer. Slow
going getting the crew ready to leave. With our free afternoon we headed
in Andrea's tiny convertible. Good day for that. However once into town
we realized it was 1:00pm, not 11:00am like we thought. That gave us about
20 minutes to enjoy downtown Rosenheim. Still headed to the CD store but
didn't do much else except meet at a cafe. So much for sightseeing and
hangin' at the Bavarian Oktoberfest (yeah, it's September).
Andrea's pad, loaded out, said schuess and hit the long road for Austria.
It began raining as the afternoon grew old and the mountains grew large.
For a short stretch of road Holger picked up a green-dreaded hippiechick
and her pup at a gas station and we took her 80 silent kilometers down
the road. Her dog sat dutifully silent beneath her legs during that stretch.
was easy. During the long stretch of highway we were suddenly flagged
down to have a pop car inspection. They do that around these parts - stop
motorists to check to make sure their emissions were within spec. Fair
enough, except these Austrian state workers didn't know from German cars
(it was a Mercedes van, after all), so it took fucking forever for the
three stooges to hook up the pipes and wires to get their readings. Of
course we were fine, but they broke the hood as they forced it closed.
Holger shouted, "asshole!" and got out of the driver's seat to fix it
(a common problem, I guess). He muttered some angry words at the inspectors
and we headed back on the road.
Lustenau and began the usual hunt-for-the-club. This club was "Culture
Factor Y" and was another one of those big warehouses converted into a
full-on haven for the children to hang out, put on shows, etc.
around the back using a huge outdoor lift, and then inside using a huge
indoor lift. Had sandwiches/drinks waiting for us in the green room. After
setting up we had to deal with a taped interview with a college radio
type. It was short and painless, except for the part where we answered
two sets. Good guarantee, which seems to mean nobody cared and nobody
came. We seasoned the first set with "Broken" and during so my bass fried
for some reason - all loud notes were cracklin'. Erik played a solo version
of "Birthday" as I replaced the battery. Still cracklin'. Was it my bass?
The amp? The pedal? PA? Cable? Oh, fuck. During set break I removed the
stomp box from the equation. Things were a little better but it began
happening again towards the end. Erik broke a string. We got the worst
reception ever for "Doing Spending Time." We plowed through "Hangman"
and called it quits. So much for our two Austrian gigs.
problem turned out to be a combination of a loose jack on my bass, but
moreso the transformer for my amp was right on the stage and getting wobbled
a little too much by certain bass frequencies (which we tried desperately
to fix during soundcheck but couldn't thanks to all these big exposed
pipes up near the ceiling).
I hit our complimentary bottle of scotch in the green room pretty hard.
Lame show. Slow load out. Erik took the big sandwich which we barely touched
plus side this evening was we got a four star hotel this time around.
A fucking nice place. Jen and I had room #1. This was on the first floor!
Inside the room was a full bathroom, a couch, and TV with pornographic
ads, a mini wet-bar, etc. We hung in Holger and Erik's room a bit, out
on their porch with a better view. Then sleep.
- We got up incredibly early for our complementary breakfast. Though the
food was good it was questionable as to whether or not it was worth losing
the much-needed sleep. Check out of our rooms and headed off the Basel!
border was literally yards away from the hotel. We heard the Swiss crossing
would be the worst, with a good possibility the crossing guards would
go through our shit and tax us for potential commercial sales items. However,
we were waved on though after they quickly scanned our passports.
On the way
we took a brief detour to the big lake. Clear, blue, and quiet. We sat
in the sun on the polished rocks. Erik revealed his Cape Cod roots when
he expertly skimmed rocks upon the still water. A brief, relaxing squat.
Then back in the van.
Got to Basel
in the late afternoon and to the club, "Hirscheneck." It was located on
the corner of a hip little street with outdoor seating. Met Michael who
was managing the whole shebang, and he quickly set us up with salad and
drinks which we ate in the open air. I soon learned that the Swiss really
know their food preparation. Even the salad was exciting.
was downstairs from the bar/restaurant, and the accommodations were two
flights up very rickety stairs (some rooms with well-used mattresses covering
the floor and some Ninewood stickers on the windows).
to kill I went off to walk about town by myself for once. Didn't go very
far. I sat on a bench in the middle of a less occupied quad and wrote
in my journal, then headed down to the Rhine river and traveled back in
When I made
it back to the club I found Hannes had already arrived (Hannes was in
Giant Ant Farm with Jenya until the band broke up and he moved back to
his Swiss homeland). Long time no see, and it was especially nice to see
a familiar face as always. We chatted about how easy it is to make a living
as a musician in Europe as opposed to America, and about the upcoming
art exhibit featuring well-preserved corpses cut open and positioned as
sculptures. Had a great dinner of pasta and respective fixins.
Pretty bad show. We learned later that Ninewood had a hard time here as
well. It was bad only because nobody came. It was a nice stage, an okay
sound situation, and we played as well as we could to the less-than-10
paying customers. It was the usual set, and afterward everyone left the
performance area as I sat on the stage alone, watching the mirrorball
reflections dance around me, listening to half of the Idaho debut CD.
we didn't have to haul equipment until tomorrow. Left the shit on the
stage and milled about as Holger suffered through the token manning of
the concessions stand. Hannes had an early day tomorrow, but decided to
hang out and spend the night here anyway. We took a stash of alcohol up
to our rooms, had some drinks and laughs and hit the hay hard.
- Hannes already left by the time we all got up with a note in his place.
We slowly made our way downstairs for breakfast. We were the only people
there who looked, and probably smelled, like we slept there the previous
evening. Delicious yum-yum food.
We had some
extra time before having to get on the road, so we tried to find our way
to that art exhibit with the dead bodies, but after asking various people
at the supposed locale we found it wasn't going to open until the next
day, and it was already "sold out." Oh, well.
On the road
back into Germany. Our next stop was Freiburg, home of Ritchie Records
and Flight 13 (who distributes all the Vaccination Records titles on this
side of the world). In fact, we were going to spend the next couple of
days with Ingo and his girlfriend, Heike, and their roommates which we
barely saw during our entire stay.
we headed on up to Ingo's place and loaded in. Nice house. We were actually
interviewed by some local dude for his local zine. A tape interview. It
was kind of silly, and included us listening to various random songs and
saying what we thought about them before we knew exactly who they were.
You know the drill.
We did have
a show to play tonight, at the Swamp up the way, where everybody knew
Ingo and it was all chummy. However, it was a tiny little cafe/bar type
place and we had to play very quietly. Usually this is a bummer but we
enjoyed whipping out the quiet tunes we haven't played all tour. And about
20 paying customers actually showed up - the bar was apologizing for the
bad turnout, but it was the best turnout in like a week. At any rate a
nice mellow Sunday show and now we had two days off.
to the pad and had a mellow evening to wind down. Well, mellow except
for Holger, who drank a bit and got a bit obnoxious. During a lull in
conversation he slammed his fist down on a cutting board, startling me
and Jenya, and shouted, "Good old rock! Nothing beats that!" Jenya responded
with, "What the fuck is your problem?" This simmered down into chat about
Holger's last three long-term relationships.
- Ingo headed off to work at the Flight 13 record store, and we all caught
up with him there once we woke up, washed up, and got our shit together.
Cool store. Erik, of course, began his methodic sifting through vinyl.
I bought a few CDs myself, including Motorpsycho's "Trust Us" and Alboth's
"Amor Fati." I also got to surf the web/check e-mail.
headed into town for a bit, which was real old school. All the cities
we've been to have had old-ass churches, but the one in this town was
almost 1000 years old (if I remember correctly). In the busy hub of town
I got a bratwurst mit senf und zwiebeln. I've been getting a bratwurst
in every town, and this one pretty much pushed me to the limit.
I saw it
at all the ice cream shops around the country, but I finally had to get
it for myself. What did I have to get? Spaghetti Eis. That's right. There's
this silly ice cream dish served everywhere that looks like spaghetti
and sauce, but it's just vanilla ice cream strands with strawberry topping
and coconut "parmesan cheese." Damn that was good.
I also went on this ridiculously difficult quest for eye drops. Trying
to explain "eye drops" to someone through a rather thick language barrier
is more difficult than you could possibly imagine. This ate up the remainder
of our afternoon and we hit the train back to Ingo's flat.
we barbecued, which was pleasant as hell. A nice, cool night. A nice backyard.
Good company - Ingo and Heike were gracious hosts. Kinda returning the
favor when Ingo stayed downstairs with Dren and Lorrie just a couple months
ago in Oakland and we showed him around town. Anyway, lots of yummy pork,
beer, etc. Food, folks, and fun. Night fell and we worked our way back
- Another day off in Freiburg. This time Ingo had most of the day off,
so we took the train to a different part of town. Hit a comic book store,
a record store.. Back to the same hub of town as yesterday, this time
we made it to an outdoor cafe which served Schwarzwalderkierschtort (a.k.a
black forest cake). I've heard that shit was good around these parts,
and it was indeed yummy but it was no match for spaghetti eis. Found Holger
hanging at the edge of the activity at some crafty stands looking to buy
the perfect black square ring.
it was during this outing Holger and Erik stopped at the local Sparkasse
to turn some foreign money into German money. Holger actually put Erik
in charge of exchanging all our Belgian francs for marks. We found out
two days later that the sneaky bank used the French franc exchange rate
- a difference of hundreds of marks in their favor. According to Holger
this kind of bullshit happens all the time to touring musicians. He was
able to get Sparkasse to cough up the dough at a later date. But anyway..
round at the Flight 13 store. More record sifting and e-mail checking.
Then back to the flat. Dinner tonight was simpler - pasta and salad. Activity
for the evening was a nice long walk in the dark back streets of the town
past some major bridge construction to this hideaway bar.
the whole town was there. Cool club, serving some mixed drink special
of which we ordered six or seven for us all, and we sat outside at a table
all the way in the back away from the dance music and bar mayhem. It was
so dark I didn't realize I was right at the edge of a huge lake until
halfway into our visit. More discussion about music and the differences
between Germany and the various cities in the U.S.
A long walk
back and mellow out before bed. Back on the road again tomorrow. Sigh.
- Bye to Ingo and Heike and on the road back into Switzerland. A short
drive expanded by a long time at a rest stop mall where we all lost each
other. Into the town of Winterthur and finding the club "Kuz Gaswerk."
Another kiddie-run club, sorta.
was downstairs, loaded in and set up. Kind of a chore moving things around
behind the stage to find outlets that worked and reached our equipment.
We knew fairly quickly this was going to be a lame gig. The soundkid kept
aiming the bass drum mike backwards despite our suggestions otherwise.
was great. Upstairs was a kitchen with an older cook and he made a delicious
pasta meal with breads and salads and drink. The band and the younguns
who ran the show sat around the table and ate away. Yum. Then it was showtime.
there. Even less than our previous lowest attendance. But there was quality.
One of the guys who did show up was a total freakazoid denim-wearing metal
dude who kept looking at our picture on the poster and at us on stage
as if he couldn't believe we were the same people. He liked the loud stuff.
A pretty forgettable show but we got paid quite well, thank you.
accommodations were kinda weird. We had some rooms in this nearby hotel
which used to be, or at least seemed like it used to be army barracks.
Even the bedding was dark green like camouflage. And there were no separate
bathrooms in the room - we had to share one down the hall. Early bedtime
because we had a long drive tomorrow.
- Jenya and I got up to find Erik and Holger already split. Did they aim
for the free breakfast downstairs? Well, I checked it out and they weren't
there. So we packed up our shit and went outside to look for them, getting
locked out in the process. It was cold and rainy, so we had to run with
our bags all the way around the building to the front to find some shelter
and wait for them. They arrived shortly, having gone out for coffee. This
pissed of Jenya since she desperately needed coffee herself.
On our way out of town we hit another coffee shop. This also afforded
us the time to shop for a certain confection Holger told us about called,
"Negro Kisses." We three Americans were floored that such a food existed,
especially in this part of the world, but sure enough they did. Huge chocolate
covered cream puffs with such a terrible name. Yeesh.
we headed 420 kilometers to Traunstein, back in the Bavarian parts of
Germany. A great little town. Probably all the same houses there since
1600. The club itself looked like an old barn hundreds of years old. Oddly
enough it had some linux machines in there and I surfed away to my heart's
content during some down time.
By the way,
the club was called "Festung." Since we weren't far from Munich Jenya
called her friend Paul and he gave the social thing another chance. The
band and Holger sat outside and got served a delicious rice and vegetable
concoction which I ate gallons of. Paul arrived, and Holger tried to act
on his best behavior while he was around. Talked for a while. Paul's a
nice guy. I think we have almost the same birthday.
around for the first couple of songs but left early having to drive two
hours back home and everything. And guess what? This ended up being a
sleeper hit of a show. The room was small, but it was packed. And people
were actually interested. And they even came up to complement me after
the show. And there was great music being played by the bartender before
and after our set. That was a nice morale boost.
upstairs in the bar owner's house (he lived right above the club). Stayed
up a little too late but what are you gonna do?
- Woke up and walked down to the club, where we were served breakfast.
Pretzels and other breads and spreads. We left quickly. Today we had a
600 kilometer drive ahead of us. Oy.
On the road
to Dresden we made pretty good time. Hit the club ("Scheune") still in
the daylight hours. We loaded in using a tiny little lift that disappeared
up from the basement and reappeared right next to the stage. Cool. Then
Jenya and I went to take a walk.
streets with cobblestone sidewalks. The cobblestone was grouted with dog
poop. Blocks and blocks of walking, under a tunnel where we actually saw
our poster up on the wall (Wow! Actual promotion!), and past a weird outdoor
group karate performance. Eventually back.
actually kind of out of it, possibly due to slight food poisoning. This
was not good news, but not terribly surprising considering all the raw
pork dishes he proudly ate as we three squeamish Americans sat by and
gasped. He did make it through dinner, which was Indian style served down
in the attached restaurant. We sat at a table on what used to be the stage
where Jenya performed when Giant Ant Farm was out here years ago. Supposedly
they don't have shows in the restaurant anymore, which is too bad since
we had to play the big stage upstairs.
I took a
walk by myself around the block. Dark streets at this point in the night.
I needed the crisp air and scary feeling of being alone in a city where
nobody speaks my language to amp me up for what will be a terrible show.
a show. This audience space could accept hundreds of young rockers. Instead
there was a void barely filled by about five paying customers, a bunch
of non paying types, and Holger turning green by the concessions stand.
We opened with "Outside October" which we played rather quietly. Maybe
too quietly as the unexpected loud noises from the smoke machine scared
the shit out of us as it started coughing and spewing forth smelly fog,
enveloping poor Jenya and her entire drum kit before I had a chance to
save her. It was so fucking Spinal Tap.
equipment on the stage and headed to our rooms downstairs. Holger was
pretty much done for the night. A little bit of drinking and then retiring
to our respective bunks. One more show to go. Why do all the big city
- Holger threw up all night but was better in the morning. Still, he didn't
eat our free breakfast, which was various selections from a nice American-style
egg brunch menu served at tables outside. And we didn't have a very long
this moment to point out it was now Saturday morning and you should pay
attention to how little sleep I get during the next three or four days.
show was in Singwitz. This town is so small it isn't on maps or roadsigns
and is usually referred to as "Bei Bautzen" as it's by the town of Bautzen.
Oddly enough this show also had our biggest guarantee.
maps were no help, it was hard to find the place. The sheer nothingness
of this town was rather disturbing, especially as we approached it the
houses were either nonexistent or under construction. Feeling lost, we
nearly wet ourselves when we saw four big piles of rocks right next to
the road (this is a Blair Witch Project reference). The club itself was
a huge nondescript structure completely shrouded by corrugated metal.
surprised we were when we entered and there was a lovely stage, a good
sound system, many nice tables and chairs. There was even a clean green
room, but not a lot of food. Once again Jenya and I took a pre-show walk.
The street ended in more construction and up a hill. A beautiful sunset
over wind blown fields of tall grass. On the walk back it got real dark
and frightening. This was diffused when some guy pulled up and asked us
for directions. In broken German Jen described the road ahead would eventually
end in an impasse. The man said then said the German equivalent of "shit."
up being one of our best shows. Maybe it was the relief from being at
the end of this long tour. Maybe it was the fact the sound was good and
quiet so we could hear what everyone was doing. Maybe it was because it
seemed like the entire population of this town actually showed up and
were amazingly enthusiastic. We had many encores, the final of which was
Erik doing a solo rendition of his new song which would eventually become
"Paddock." So the final moments of our German tour I spent drinking a
and Arne were to come to this show and send us off in grand fashion, but
Arne couldn't make it after all. Torsten did come, of course, since we
had all his borrowed equipment and Holger had all the tour money. As we
wound down Holger and Torsten went over all their books and everything
was in order. Holger handed us a fat wad of cash for all the t-shirts
and records we sold. Awright!
up the packing and loaded it into Torsten's van. I breathed a sigh of
relief that that huge, buzzing transformer never did electrocute me after
all. Goodbye, T.
So now all
that was left was to get on a plane back to the U.S. on Monday morning.
However, we needed to drive as many as 800 kilometers to get from Amsterdam
from here. So we decided to drive through the night to Holger's place
in Muenster. Holger was still not 100%, so Jenya actually took over the
driving. I sat in the front seat, wide awake. I can't sleep in cars unlessly
crashing around 5:00am, and needed to rest. Holger was still in no condition
to drive. Erik was unwilling to drive, as was I. So we stopped at a rest
stop. Erik and Holger continued to sleep in the back. Jenya dozed right
there in the driver's seat. I was stuck.
point I might as well start calling it the next day..
- Killed time buying a hot chocolate from a vending machine and looking
at all the weird candy and trinkets in the rest stop shop. Eventually
had to pee out the liquid. That killed a couple of minutes. Walked back
and forth and back and forth. Bought a gumball. I kept checking on Jenya
every half hour which pissed her off as she just wanted to sleep.
later we were back on the road again. I got a spot in the back and tried
to sleep but couldn't. Ugh. We arrived in Muenster around noontime. It
was like returning home, being back at Holger's pad which we stayed at
during the first days of this journey. Reunited with his cute cat that
drank directly out of the faucet. In a daze we all napped.
Got up as
the sun was setting about five hours later. Ugh. Holger and us went to
the supermarket to get groceries with which to make our final real meal
together. Mostly an egg and sausage concoction. Went back to the pad,
cooked it up, and ate it up. Oh yeah.
all our musical equipment in airport check-in formation. We didn't lose
as much of the t-shirts as we had hoped. Yet we had 1000 marks' worth
of records and multiple bottles of afri-cola to take back. So there was
lots of cramming.
To the airport!
Our flight was early Monday morning, but it made sense to leave tonight
and just stay up the in the airport as opposed to trying to get back to
sleep now and get up early and drive through morning traffic. Oy. So we
left Muenster around 11:00pm and headed to the Amsterdam airport.
was oddly exhilarating.. The sense that our long travels were reaching
a final coda. The cool, dark night air. Or maybe the blasting techno music
Holger pulled out at this late hour. Once again, I didn't sleep in during
and joined us for the first hour or so in the airport. It was now 2:00am.
Our flight left at 7:00am. We all bought token meals at the airport McDonald's.
Same old sugar beef no matter what country you're in. Quaint chat about
what's next in our lives on our respective sides of the planet.
was done, the hour was late, and the conversation was drying up, and so
Holger chose this moment to exchange farewells. He said, "I really don't
like long goodbyes." And so we fulfilled his wish, shook hands, waved,
and he disappeared. Insert metaphor here.
Now we had about four hours to kill before getting on an eleven hour flight.
We hit the cafe. I struggled to write in my journal but couldn't keep
my thoughts straight. Browsed at some of the airport mall stores. Climbed
up to an indoor patio deck where I had fantasies about spraying bullets
into the crowd below.
we figured we might as well find where we were supposed to check our luggage
in. I was kinda nervous anyway about our check-ins being overweight and
wanted to get this over with. We were quite shocked to find that hundreds
of people were already waiting at the MartinAir lines. Of course, we picked
the slowest of six queues.
reached the front they weighed the pieces that would actually fit through
their check-in entryway. I think we were a couple pounds over but they
didn't bother to charge us for it - not worth the trouble. The remaining
pieces, like my bass guitar, keyboard, Erik's guitar and Jenya's drum
case had to be brought to the over-sized check-in area.
I dealt with this. We placed the pieces on the conveyor belt, which suddenly
began moving, carrying the objects towards the gateway into the void.
Eight feet later the belt stopped. This wasn't cool since my our cases
were on the thin sides (i.e. ready to topple over any second) and we didn't
have a chance to lower their center of gravity before they were dragged
out of our reach. Erik took it upon himself to climb up on the conveyor
to reposition the cases on their flat sides.
conveyor started again. Two attendants were there, but neither seemed
to have control of anything. Anyway, Erik nearly fell over on his ass,
as he was standing on it when it began moving again. And then the gateway
opened, revealing a long, steep passageway heading downward into hell.
Erik lept off the conveyor for dear life, no sooner than the drum case,
positioned perpendicularly to the motion, entered to hole and began tumbling
down the slope with alarming speed. I could only stand and stare and watch
it accelerate. The gateway closed before I could see its final resting
place hundreds of yards in the distance.
to the staff but due to colossal indifference on their part not much could
be done except hope everything was okay and wait to see how it ended up
upon arrival. Great.
Now we had
two more hours to kill. I wrenched my brain to stay awake. We found our
way to the gate. Jenya had the right idea - she crashed to sleep on the
ground. Despite having more or less been up two days straight I felt I
should force myself to stay up so I might have the chance of sleeping
on the plane. Once again, I'll consider this day over at this point though
I didn't go to sleep.
- Finally boarded the aircraft - the tiny tube that would contain me for
half a solar day. Erik sat in a different aisle away from Jenya and I,
which allowed us all the get extra seats to stretch out a bit. This didn't
help. My ass already hurt from sitting around the airport. I braced myself
for a hellish eternity of forgetful movies and food that was both bland
and scary. We took off without incident.
And I couldn't
sleep the entire trip. Hell. I did nothing but stare and wait and pray
for distraction. There was very little of that. A couple trips to the
bathroom. Two meals. A conversation with same weird dude, also from Oakland,
who was a old-school rock n' roller. The only pleasing part of the entire
trip was the clear skies over Greenland, seeing massive, cold, blank hills
where nothing green could grow, eventually to be enveloped in solid ice
which evolved into a jigsaw puzzle of icebergs floating in the clear ocean.
up the journey the crew came around to hand out some yummy-looking pop
tarts. However warm and inviting, Jenya and I nearly barfed when we found
the tarts to be filled with runny, unidentifyable meat.
the little monitor and the animated plane advancing one pixel every five
minutes as we headed down over Canada - lots of farms in huge, square
lots, each one slightly different shade of clay. Suddenly the northern
Rockies exploded up from the earth. I was so happy to see Montana beneath
me. I was effectively back in America.
later we approached the airport and landed soundly. Going through customs
in Oakland was hardly as exciting as in Amsterdam. And it took a shitload
longer, if only because our luggage was the last to arrive. We watched
hundreds of people speed through customs with their bags, trunks, and
even cages with live animals, all before we even saw any of our stuff.
eventually arrived and seemed fine, except the drum case, as was no surprise.
It had a giant dent in the side, and one of the castor wheels was completely
useless, rendering it impossible to steer. Since we were the last through
customs, the tired staff took once glance at our collective heap of crap,
checked our passports and waved us through.
up complaining to MartinAir about this, but they made it impossible for
us to do anything about it. Example: We had to bring this drum case to
a registered luggage expert for an estimate of the damage. Fucking whatever.
arrived in Jenya's car. Hooray! We threw all our shit in, and headed back
to their house where my car was parked this entire time. It needed a jump
to get started and then I headed home.
Due to time
zone difference, it was still only noon this same day. For the record,
I now was awake 62 of the last 67 hours, and still considering staying
awake until night fell to help me get back on schedule. Jenya was smart
and had a little nap. I talked to housemates, hallucinated while taking
a long shower, watched "Naked Lunch" on video, ate dinner, and finally..