Sunday, 18 October 2009

Evile. Day 8.

It’s snowing! This time last week we were just setting out on tour, driving to Dover and now we are deep in the North of Finland and it’s fucking snowing! Not a bad way to start your Monday all in all. Wake up in a motor home with your clan, outside the venue you rocked last night, get ready and drive off through Finland to do it all again! Hell yeah that’s how we roll fuckers!

Then I fall asleep again, and when I wake, no more snow. Fuck. Snooze you lose. I stay in ‘bed’ drifting in and out of consciousness till I finally pull my lazy arse self up and get in to a fit state to clean up in yet another service station wash room. Get this, Lyall and me only go and spot a Moomin comic hidden amongst all the other crap on the magazine shelves. A genuine Finnish Moomin comic!

Back on the road, we enjoy the last of the Finnish scenery before driving through in to Sweden where suddenly it’s all doom and gloom and dead babies everywhere. Jokes blood, it looks the same as Finland did!

Lyall, Ben and me pull over and get out to take pictures of lakes ‘cause we’re well gay for tourist snaps and then scurry back in quick cause it’s fooking freezing.

Sweden is pretty fucking rad so far, and once again, just as I start to drift off, we reach the venue. We are an hour early to when they let us in so again, Lyall, Ben and me take ourselves off on a wander so we can get some fresh air and stretch our legs. Take in the sights and generally not be cooped up in the motor home. We bumped in to Victor from Entombed and he’s up for coming for a run with me, which is cool cause the lack of exercise is doing my head in.

L.G had stuck his head in the driver’s window when we pulled up and had asked us for a ciggie, still not on top of that whole quit smoking thing huh. He points which way we should go for a wander and once parked that’s just what we do.

Mike just died.

I was in the middle of writing this in the dressing room when….I don’t know how to write this yet.

We are going home.

Mastodon’s ‘Crack the sky’ album is playing through the ipod. We are somewhere in Sweden, making our way from pretty far north back down again.

I keep drifting in and out of napping dozes. Last time I was awake, less than an hour ago, there was no music. I don’t know if that was because we weren’t ready for music. To have an artist propel us in to their story. To be suggested how to feel, what to think about.

None of us know how to feel or what to think about and at the same time we are feeling so much and thinking about everything.

This motor home, this small and claustrophobic space feels so unbearably empty. Stiflingly heavy. The silence will not quieten down so that you can hear yourself think. So you can try and attempt to register what the fuck has happened. But maybe that’s a good thing for now. Maybe that’s your head not letting you compute because it knows that you can’t handle the conclusion.

And so the numbness is bombed repeatedly by raw emotions, and these bombed repeatedly with numbness throughout every waking hour. Waves of awareness at what has happened hit you and you can see it in each persons eyes. Raw and red. Stinging from tears and insomnia and emotion and pain and shock.

This motor home feels like it’s stuck in this one time. Like we have been reliving this day for weeks. The same roads that led us through spectacular scenery a mere week ago now seem monotonous and never ending. This journey home where none of look like we want to go anyway.

Nine hours of this. Lyall drove us through nine hours like this. The first part was the worst. The burning absolute fucking agonising pain of leaving Mike behind. Trying to control the tears but they run free when they please. Everyone is exhausted. Just gone midnight we pull in to a service station to sleep. The absolute emotional exhaustion is a blanket over the whole motor home.

Wednesday. I think it’s Wednesday. The tour seems a million miles away. A million years away. There’s a gentle, subdued and eerie calm about us today. Texts are coming through but I’m loathed to pass on messages of condolence. No one has talked much yet. Mike and thoughts of Mike are being kept within each of us individually.

It’s like we need respite for a bit, ‘cause we know that if we vocalise anything to do with Mike, the rawness will come screaming back. There is an elephant in the motor home and no one is willing to point it out. Nobody needs to.

Two films, two books, god knows how many albums and a worryingly in depth and intense discussion over beer about tea and how to make the perfect cuppa, gets us through the day. We have made it to Denmark. Lyall drove us a further 11 hours away from the pain.

We have reminisced about mike. At some point today that became O.K. With trepidation. By the end there is laughter following silly stories about good times with Mike. We are massively relieved and at the same time pained to get on the ferry and leave Sweden. We stand on the deck and watch it disappear and say goodbye to him.

I get news from Victor that two major Swedish newspapers have covered it. The headline for one is ‘Rock star dies on tour’. He is going to keep it for us so that we can pass it on to his family. Word has come through of all the coverage, that a fund has been set up. I feel like this helps in some small way.

Tonight we will spend in a trucker’s lay by. I would usually say that it’s a perfect location for a horror movie but we are already in one.

We are nearly home now. In Holland. I can’t wait to get out of this fucking motor home and at the same time I can’t face the daunting task of being at home. Apart from knowing that the wound that we have done our best to dress while it heals, will be ripped and torn opened again when we have to face the reality of normal life and everyone in it, where as so far we have been cocooned together away from all that, there’s also the mammoth task that I for one am in no state to handle. I left everything I had in London frozen, safe in the knowledge that I’d be gone for a couple of months. Now what?

The guys feel like they have lost a limb that they can never get back. I feel like I’ve had my insides ripped out and stuffed back in and nothing sits right. How can anything else matter? How can anything else possibly matter right now?

Of course Mike can answer that. He already has. Mike died out on the road. On tour doing something he loved.

Mike and me were chatting earlier in the week about touring and how you cannot describe it to people who haven’t experienced it. We were banging on about how much we love going on tour, how much we love being on tour.

Mike didn’t die on the sofa, in front of the T.V watching some one else’s life playing out while talking about what he wants to do, what he’s going to do. He died while he was experiencing his own adventure. He was out there, chasing his dreams, he knew that they won’t come to you while you waste your life away doing nothing about them.

What happened to Mike could’ve happened to him while he was at home doing nothing. But he wasn’t. He was about to play a rocking fucking gig, on a European tour with his band, his mates, his brothers and he was living his dream.

I guess what I mean is that you don’t know when your time is going to be up, and I for one am going to do my damnedest to make sure that I’m as rocking as Mike when it’s my turn. As cruel as it sounds people, tick tock, tick tock.

We just reached Dover. God I wished it was the 24th of November and there was six of us.

R.IP. Mike. x

Evile. Day 7.

And….we’re back people. Not gonna lie, just had a bit of a gathering round our gaff, the ol’ motor home with some of the crew and Entombed guys. Just how we roll…what!?

Tonight fucking rocked. Yes sir it surely did. Bad side though, I think I have a bit of a crush on some one on this tour and that’s a big ol’ fat no NO! Good luck me with that one eh.

Sold enough, drank enough, head banged enough, chatted enough….and so on and so forth. As I said, tonight was fucking A. Last night in Finland, land of the Moomins too, so I’m glad it was able to leave an impression, lord knows last night was wank.

The drive to the venue had been particularly mundane. No snow, just rain. There had been lovely snowy vistas apparently but it was proper early and I had still been asleep. Fail.

You know the score by now right? Service station stop, shit, shower ( baby wipes ) brush teeth and coffee. Thing is, the washrooms in Finland are badass. The toilet cubicles have little showers in them, they are always clean and that’s because people seem to look after their facilities better than us Brits. Bit more respect for each other. I have been trying to remember not to litter, to put my fag ends in the ashtrays outside and that, cause that is what people do here. It’s dead odd.

Also, I’m doing well on the ol’ food intake so far. It’s really easy when you’re on the road to eat utter shit all the time. Especially if you’re with men. They can, for the most part eat whatever they want, faster metabolisms, us girls cannot keep up with this if we don’t want to get all wobbly fat fucker on ourselves with volcano’s all over our faces.

Worryingly enough, I’m actually eating better on this tour than I do at home. I eat a couple of pieces of fruit a day, always found backstage, which I cannot afford at home. A proper meal at night, at home I get something worse cause I’m working at the pub so it’s shit from Sainsbury’s or some other crap dependent on how I’ve done on tips. Other than that it’s nuts and ham sandwiches. Sometimes crisp sandwiches. Score. I reckon if it wasn’t for my obscene alcohol intake every night, I’d definitely be losing weight on this tour!

The venue tonight is in Oulu, and in our tour book, it has the biggest capacity. 2500. It’s a massive warehouse type thing outside and when we walk in we are greeted by a fucking massive stage in a huge space. Wow. There’s a heavy, black curtain down the far end that cuts off the whole room. Behind that is another stage, the little runt brother of the big macho one. We will be playing on the runt one. Ouch. Apparently if it was a weekend night then the bigger stage would be getting used but Sundays are never busy enough.

It’s an early start tonight so rush rush time. I dump the merch stuff at the stand and go sit on the Evile equipment to finish writing up my blog, send emails and all the rest. The equipment keeps being taken from under me and soon I’m crossed legged on the floor with my laptop on a box in front. Dressing rooms give you cabin fever, and after the motor home I need space, lots of space. Tom, my merch buddy comes by and ruffles my head and says Hi to us all, I’m so chuffed I get to work with this dude every night.

We find our dressing room and once I’ve got my fucking writing out the way I head in there. I wrote on my own in the venue while Amon Amarth sound checked so I could concentrate, rather than get distracted in the dressing room pissing about with the guys.

I’m really running low on time now, I get dressed, make up on, hair brushed and shovel some food down in light speed time. The merch stand gets set up, we got more space tonight and it looks fucking sick. Evile are on the table again but actually it doesn’t matter, it looks great all laid out and I think it would get lost if it was up on the wall with the other two bands stuff.
Enough time for a quick smoke and sit down back stage in the loading area, where there are loads of old sofa’s against the walls running the length of the ramp while Evile finish up sound check and Bam….doors open time.

While I was setting up the last of the merch stand, the dude from Apocalyptica who plays the cello comes over and has a browse over the Evile stuff. He has been guest starring on the last three nights during the Amon Amarth set cause he was on one of they’re albums or something. He only fucking buys both albums! No shit, I was like I’m pretty sure you can just have them, and he was like I’m pretty sure I should pay for them though and I was like your call dude. What a fucking legend!. The guys were proper stoked.

So, I have already sold by the time the first of the customers comes up. Good times. Olle, the drummer from Entombed, Victor the bassist and some one else who I’m mot sure of hang out for a while with us, getting a t-shirt for their mate and we cajole Victor in to doing a beer run for us. Poor Tom is parched over here. We laugh cause it looks like it went straight over his head. Bless him he only comes back with two beers a bit later on.

Allow me to introduce you to some one though. Miss Beer Nazi. Seems you can’t have alcohol near the front door or some fucking shit, Finnish policy. Ooh I think I smell a jobs worth. So Victor has to turn around and go back. Me and Tom are well bummed out. Fuck that bitch though man. ( The venue crew informs me later when I’m banging on about it that she’s actually a very nice girl. I’m sure she is but she was a fucking cock to us and needs to drop the ‘tude. You ain’t Demi Moore in G.I Jane love. I could kick you in to next week easily.)

Like I said though. Fuck that. I got Lyall to go back stage, empty some water bottles and fill them up with my Raspberry Vodka and lemonade and bring them over to us. Safe blood, Tom and me got wasted right in front of Miss Beer Nazi all night long, Ha!

We are selling more tonight. Lots of hooded sweats and beanie hats for Tom and L.P’s and all sorts for me. Me and Tom, of course are having the (your mum)* time our lives. Well not the time of our lives but we’re having quite a good fucking laugh.

The Evile boys get proper bummed out during their show, apparently the immediate audience were totally non moving, non reactionary which is weird cause for the rest of the night they are asked for a whole bunch of autographs and pictures. Go figure.

The gig is over and the packing up is under way. Everyone is chilled and cool, ‘cept Mike who is feeling ropey. I help pack up the merch stand with Tom, who has a much greater amount to do than me with my two boxes. Then I piss about. Yeah, just piss about really. Get a ride on the trolley off one of the venue crew and shenanigans of that sort.

I’m pretty fucking drunk I reckon. I’m inviting whoever I walk past back to the motor home for drinks and then completely forget and after mincing around outside having a ciggie with some of the crew, am quite shocked to open up the motor home door to find people in it!

We got Victor from Entombed, Steve the stage manager, the soundman Paul and Amon Amarth’ drum tech! Full house!

Drinks all round, we’re having a fucking blast. Stories are being spewed out left, right and centre. Just as we are about to continue with more drinks…… bus call. Can you Adam and fucking Eve it?! Jeez time flies when your having fun eh. The guys all hop off and over on to they’re bus and before you know it they are gone and it’s just us left. Ho hum.

*Ben wrote that. Let me explain. Not much to explain really but he has reminded me of something I have forgotten to add so far. Your mum jokes. All over the fucking shop on this tour. We are all over them like a rash. See what he did? I turn my back for 5 minutes and he’s written it on me blog the cheeky begger.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Evile. Day 6.

When I wake up, the motor home is pulling in to a service station and I rake myself together and stumble out bleary eyed with the rest of the band. We slope off to the washrooms to clean up, brush teeth, baby wipe wash and the like. Top up on petrol, bread and ham and back on the road.

Finland is just so fucking beautiful toady. The sun is out even though is freezing and the scenery makes you sure a grizzly bear will scamper across the road at some point. Don’t think that will happen since it’s not bear Country but you still expect it. There are warning signs for Moose but we never spotted any. L.J from Entombed assures me we will definitely see reindeer at some point, and probably hit one. Errmm…nice.

The other bands are already at the venue by the time we pull up. It’s a massive hall that looks like a run down disused school in the middle of nowhere. We are feeling more and more like we are in Black Metal land.

The venue is fucking sweet, massive with a phat stage and loads of seating and tables dotted about the place. Members of bands and crew are scattered about doing their things and chilling out, killing time. It is split in to two parts with crowd barriers. One has the bar within its enclave and is for the adults, the other has the stage in it and is for anyone without a drink. All ages gig. Interesting set up.

I can’t help noting the set ups of the venues we visit cause I have worked in live music venues for years and am always intrigued to see how other places rock it. Bit of a fucking geeky thing to do but you never know when you might find a cracking idea you can take back home and claim as your own eh!

Victor, bassist from Entombed is walking in from his their bus when we arrive so hellos all round and he shows us in. Hello’s and hugs to the rest of the people we have gotten to know a bit so far and it’s straight down to the business of unloading all the gear.

Me and Tom, my merch buddy are at the other end of the hall to the stage. Looks like I’ll be getting table space only again tonight, no worries, it looked pretty sweet last night so I know I can do it.

Steve the stage manager is stage left fiddling with technical stuff and shows me wa blow with that. Amon Amarth have stage left and Entombed and Evile have stage right. He tells me where our dressing room is, also sharing with Entombed, poor lads!

First task, as always is getting online on the wi-fi and answering emails, sending reports and figures and writing to the familia to let them know I haven’t been gang raped yet, I’m in one piece and that all is well. I think we are all really aware that we are sharing with the mighty Entombed and so no one looks massively relaxed at first.

Our dressing room is up some precarious steel stairs stage left, fuck I bet I end up stacking it on these bad boys. The room has windows over looking the stage with curtains across. Later on I will be peeking through them watching a bit of Entombed without realising that the singer from Amon Amarth is next to me doing the same. We are still not chatting freely with the AA massive. They are the lions and we are the cubs type thing.

Entombed are fucking blinding blokes. Tonight I get a chance to chat with them a bit more and they are a proper laid back and easy going bunch.

Dinner is burrito’s or tortilla or cheeseburgers and chips. My burrito is the best one I’ve ever had, not a fan of Mexican food , find it too rich so probably this was a really shit one. Wash them down with a beer and sweet as a nut it’s wash time.

Seriously feeling like a right scum fuck toady. The shower has no door so I take over the whole locker room making sure everyone knows I’m in and that it’s out of bounds till I’m done. Matt is the nearest to it, pissing about on his guitar so I double check with him that he’ll make sure no one goes in. Victor lends me his hair band, the one bloody thing I forgot and I’m good to go.

That shower was like heaven. I did not ever want to leave it. Running short on time though so bish bash bosh it and crack on with making myself up so I don’t look and feel like I been living in a motor home for the past week.

Merch stand is set up pretty much the same as the night before, sound checks out the way and it’s doors open time. Bigger capacity tonight and after doing so well last night I’m feeling kinda cocky.

Fucking shouldn’t have. Check this out. I sold nothing for the first hour. I literally wanted to kill myself. I’m selling Entombed and Amon Amarth but no Evile. Finally after an eternity of pain, I start selling. By the end of the night I have nearly reached the labels target, thank fuck but I’m hoping and praying that this will be the worst sales night or we are screwed and I’m going to have to go on the game.

There are a whole lot of absolutely wasted Finns coming in and Tom my merch buddy is looking pretty strained too so there’s nowt else to do but pull out the vodka and beer. By the time Entombed come on stage we are both merry and taking the piss out of the idiot drunks who keep falling about the stand and trying to barter prices down.

I skive off the stand a whole bunch cause there is nothing to do, no one at it for huge periods of time, and go for smokes out the dressing room window, drink, watch the bands and check my emails, but generally skive, it’s just too depressing.

Evile leave the stage after they’re set to the crowd chanting ‘more more more’. Fuckin A. I get a lot of creepy drunk men asking me if I want to come have a drink with them, jeez, it’s like being behind the bar for fucks sake. I wouldn’t mind but they’re not fucking buying anything, just wasting my time. Buggers.

The staff there are fucking genius, and after all is packed up I hang around and smoke with them, people are so friendly when your out on the road and not from around their parts. Tonight we were very definitely in Black Metal land. As the kids walked past I wondered which ones have burnt down churches and have serial killer tendencies. Quite a fun game as it goes. I’m pretty sure I nailed it on a few of them.

Me and Tom have for sure bonded now. He is a fucking winner and I’m well chuffed I get to hang with him every night. My new drinking partner.

I got to chat with Alex form Entombed tonight for the first time too. The fucking coolest guy. We chatted about family and tattoo’s and travelling, he has this kind of quiet Shaolin monk vibe going on. All wise and knowing but with smiley eyes. He seems kinda unapproachable on meeting, but he is proper fucking laid back and helpful and totally has time for us Evile minions.

L.J is also a number one legend. He is just the fucking sweetest guy. Well chatty and friendly. He’s quitting smoking so isn’t buying them and now and again will pop up on the scrounge for one, all apologetic like. Funny as fuck. I got to meet the drummer too, who’s name I can’t spell, Ollu or Olli? Well funny guy. And Victor, although not reliable for a beer run, is the sweetest guy. Tom and me pull him up on his hair. It’s fucking long man! We are standing at the merch table deep in conversation about it for far too long before catching ourselves, laughing at how gay we are and shrugging it off with shuffling feet and drinks to mouths.

Basically a really cool group of mother fuckers, which is sweet cause all this can be a bit daunting.

It’s pissing it down with rain, I have no idea how all those people got there, and how the hell they all got home but its lights out and off to the motor home. Ol is already in bunk, Matt and Mike are making sarnies and Ben is stomping around cursing, trying to get his broke arse phone to work. Lyall is chatting away and all is as it should be as we get ourselves tucked in, gas heater on, ready for another much needed sleep, all be it cold before we do it all again tomorrow.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Evile. Day 5. Part 2.

A whole lot of fucking waiting around now folks. We all make the most of the free wi-fi but then that’s done and boring, there’s only so long you can stay on facefuck banging on about how you’re in Helsinki. I send my merch info and post my blogs from the last couple of days and generally just sit behind my laptop watching all the goings on. Oh and I’m drinking. Good times. Amon Amarth eating, Amon Amarth chatting, Amon Amarth watching DVD’s on their laptops. Entombed eating, Entombed chatting. Entombed watching DVD’s on their laptops.
Outside I had met a few more people, one of whom is Steve, the stage manager and guitar tech. Small world time, I know him from years back when I was a bouncer at The Devonshire Arms, and more recently the Big Red. Diamond fella is Steve. Had a catch up, turns out like so many of our British men, he found himself a gorgeous Swedish girlfriend and moved over there.

So Amon Amarth and Entombed will know that I was a bouncer, this helps in my bid to get taken seriously as one of the crew and not a groupie, since I am the only girl on this get up.
My merch buddy for the tour will be Tom, from Sweden. Previously done merch for Machine Head and that level of players so I’m excited to see what I can learn of this dude and also nervous to make a good impression. I go and introduce myself to him and explain that he is the Jedi to my Padawan self. I think he thinks I’m a fucking lunatic. We are gonna get on just fine you’ll see.

Again, I cannot set up Evile merch until Tome has finished setting up Amon Amarth’s and Entombed. So it’s more fucking hanging around which means, more drinking. We finally get to hit up the buffet, by which time we are fucking starving. Rice, chicken, salad and bread . I pile my plate up high and go up the balcony with a beer to watch Entombed sound check while I eat my dinner. Not a fucking bad way to live eh!? The chicken is the most amazing thing I have eaten in a long time and Entombed are sick.

I ask Steve if he can point me in the right direction for a Dentist when we get to Sweden and he calls the Amon Amarth singer over, who has apparently just been himself. This is getting twilight zone stylee. Does a visit to the Dentist with Amon Amarth await me? What la fuck?

I fuck off outside for a tab and to collect myself and then set up the merch stand. Evile have to sell at the same price as the other two bands, which is a bit nerve racking. There is no wall space left for me to hang t-shirts so I present everything as best I can on one of the long tables. Evile sound check and by the time they have finished, doors are open and there are loads of people buying merch and waiting to get in to the gig area.

In the short space of time before Evile play, I pass both the labels daily sales target and mine!. Holy fuck, what a fucking relief. I’m also helping Tom with sales of the other 2 bands, since I’m not going to get all arsey when a customer asks for that and not Evile stuff. That makes no sense to me. Every merch stand I’ve shared before, this is how I’ve rolled. You help each other out for an efficient night with maximum sales for all.

Tom seems perplexed by this, so maybe that’s not the way on a tour of this scale but I’m grass roots so whatever, that’s how it is rolling and by the end of the night he an I have shared booze and the bonding is done. We are brothers in merch arms. We fucking ruled that night and I know that for Evile we surpassed our sales target 3 fold. SWEET! Still, don’t count your chickens too soon or something, I’m not going to assume that every night will be this good.

All the bands rocked the fuck out of that Finnish venue and the mood was ace by the end of the night. Everyone was drunk and happy. Mike more so than the rest. Mike managed to cane his entire bottle of vodka, what a fucking legend.

At some point during the night, Tom and me are sell sell sell all over the shizzle when down the stairs in front of us saunters Mike, who starts jigging away like he’s Christopher bloody Walken in the Fat Boy Slim video, a cheeky little glint in his eye. Right up to us he comes, and smiles at us both, pointy finger dancing about on the spot “ I’m dunk” Yeah you are!. No shit Sherlock! Ha! Fucking legend. He amuses us for a bit then swaggers off elsewhere to bring joy and festivities in to the heart of others. Funny drunk Mike.

A couple of hours later, one by one I get reports of the rest of the band that , yes indeed, Mike is drunk. So drunk that he has passed out in the dressing room after puking down himself and is rolling around on the floor. Then an ironing board fell on top off him and he just lay there laughing his arse off along with the other guys who were watching the whole sorry affair. Bless. What a bunch of fucking losers, you gotta love it.

We pack up and I hang back to help Tom clear up. There are random drunk as fuck Finnish people dotted around the venue. Finnish people like a drink man, very funny bunch. I’m quite drunk myself by now and we debate going to a rock bar round the corner.

It is fucking freezing, so we pour in to the motor home parked outside behind the other bands night liner and put the gas heater on while we figure out what we are doing. Ben is drunk *and has already gone off to the bar with a bunch of people. Ol has gone to bunk and Mike is passed out cold in the front seat. Apparently he had opened the door earlier to be sick but fell out instead. Win.

We get a knock on the door and it’s Steve. In the end we didn’t go out. We sat there prompting Steve for tales from the road, the man has worked with everyone. We heard about Anthrax and Slayer and all sorts. Suddenly I’m feeling drowsy, either a contented tiredness or too many painkillers on copious amounts of booze. No matter, I’m done for. A quick ciggie outside and time to make up the bed.

We all nestle in with our gas heater on and sleep. It is 4.30 in the fucking morning people. Gods honest truth I thought it was about 1.30. That’s how fucking amazing tonight has been.

* Ben: “ I wasn’t fuckin’ drunk!”

Evile. Day 5. Part 1.

I don’t think anyone slept well on the majestic Galaxy. The pillow we each had disappeared under any weight and the bunks were well uncomfortable. This is coming form a bunch of people who have just spent the last week sleeping in a motor home you know! Of course it didn’t matter all that much, we had to be up and out by 6 AM and in our vehicles waiting to pull out.

Finland. Land of crazy Metal heads and expensive booze. And Moomins most importantly. I bet Moomins fucking love Metal. They must do, probably black metal or some such kind. A Moomin mosh pit. Now there’s a thing to see. I might get that tattooed on me next time I’m drunk.

Sorry, I digress. We are now in Finland. Ol is asleep, shockingly, Mike has taken himself off to Matt’s bunk and Lyall is at the wheel. Matt, Ben and me are chewing the cud.

We reach an interesting conundrum and a realisation that none of us ever thought of. After talking about having sisters and brothers and how much you used to fight when you were younger it comes to our attention that sister hitting is really the only acceptable form of physical violence towards women.

Like, if you were to say “oh yeah me and my sister had a massive fight and I chucked my drink over her so she kicked me in the nads, so I jumped her and Chinese burned the fuck out of that bitch and wacked her upside her stupid fucking head”, you wouldn’t be shocked and like ‘what the fuck ’ at all right? But if you were like “ oh yeah me mum slapped me cause I was rude to her so I slapped her about a bit”. Not o.k. Same goes for “I beat my girlfriend / daughter / Nan / any woman. But your sis’ is o.k. Weird.

We all sit there with furrowed brows thinking this through for a while before committing to standing by such an outlandish claim, but I think we are all quite confident that for some bizarre reason it is indeed o.k. to be physically violent towards a woman as long as she is your sister.

Even more shocking than this sudden realisation is Matt has a can of cider. It is 7 AM ish and Matt and Mike are drinking cider. Wonders never cease. God I’m fucking proud.

After this I take me self off to bed. Ha! Not because I was so shocked and outraged by the sister-beating thing, was just feeling a bit sleepy is all and have a big night ahead.

I tried the bunk above the drivers seat and found it surprisingly comfortable, like being in a little tree house. It had always looked well claustrophobic but now I’m pissed I can’t sleep up there all the time. The boys are all still talking and fucking about with music. We had gone through all of the Bill Hicks that Lyall had on his ipod in Sweden and were back on to random song changing. I stretched out with my Lester Bangs book and after a couple of pages gave up and shut my eyes.

When I woke we were parked outside the venue in Helsinki and the guys were getting their stuff together to go for a wander. Ben needed a new drum skin and all of them wanted to bask in the glory of unbearably hot women everywhere. I was all snug in my bunk so fucked it off and left them to they’re boy time.

When they got back I was over the whole bunk thing and itching to get out with cabin fever setting in so off we went back out to a Metal shop they had found with a signed copy of the new C.D to give to them and some flyers to litter the town with. Dunno why, tonight is sold out motherfuckers!

We bump in to the singer from Amon Amarth, who has just bought himself some bed linen for the night rider they are all on cause apparently the sheets are “scratchy”. Awesome.

After hanging out at the Metal shop for a bit, we stroll back to the venue to unload but see the pecking order has changed my friends. Evile are now opening not headlining, bottom of the ladder so to speak.

This means we cannot unload till the other two bands have, obviously Evile sound check is last and we cannot eat till they have eaten. We meet the tour manager, Wolfgang, who seems pretty cool and definitely knows his shit. He wants to know who is in charge and so Lyall goes off with him to see the dressing room and get the lowdown. We will not directly communicate anything to Wolfgang but will go through Lyall. This is to avoid confusion, not because he is a cock. He isn’t, this is just a really good level of organisation and professionalism. What a fucking winner. I already like him.

Our dressing room is the laundry room. Sweet, we get all our sweaty clothes and take the opportunity to do a bit of washing! The rider is lots of beer and a bottle of vodka for Mike, the bassist. Mike is going to get fucked up tonight. Hell yeah he is.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Evile. Day 4. Travel Day.

2 AM. We are still driving. Well, Lyall is. The ferry port is ahead of us, where the first of three ferry rides awaits us. I am going to try my hardest to describe to you the following hour but I’m not sure you will ever truly believe what Evile, Lyall and me experienced.

We had left Ol asleep in his bunk once we had been shuttled on to the ferry, got out and headed up for a wander. I was still dressed in my merch outfit, in hindsight not the best idea but it just didn’t cross my knackered mind to put some proper trousers on.

As soon as we get in to the main area of the ferry, where the food court is, we notice something. This boat is only carrying lone men. Truckers and the sorts. A whole lot of immigrants. There is a smattering of women with children. None of these people look Danish, where we are heading, or German, where we are leaving. They look like ghosts. And this is the ghost ship.

Nothing is open. Most seating areas are closed off. The ‘trucker lounge’ is open, with a tele'. Seriously, it is called the trucker lounge. Only truck drivers are allowed in it.

People are just standing around. Lone men. Turkish, Algerian, African, al sorts. They are suddenly roaming around in packs. And I am there, in my fucking shorts. I have high denier thick black tights on, you know the ones. Doesn’t matter. To these men, I have prostitute written all over me. I don’t think I even have that about me actually. I think I have dead in a ditch use my body as you will written all over me. I can see it in their eyes. I am a hole.

I know right, I’m being over dramatic. No. I hoped so, but no. I turn to the guys and they all have shock and fear on their faces too. We are walking down a corridor looking like rabbits in headlights. Really slowly. It’s like time has stood still. It’s that bit in the Western when the saloon doors open and everyone stops drinking and turns and stares at you. It’s the mother fucking Green Mile.

I had Lyall and Ben in front of me and Matt and Mike behind me, we had just come from upstairs where we were hoping to find some seats in a corner where we might be less conspicuous but alas all we found was ‘Rapist lounge’ with a bunch more dodgy lone men, some were bigger than me and I’m quite a length.

So back downstairs and along the corridor. I can’t believe we didn’t get mugged or attacked, seriously. It was proper laree. There we are at the end of this corridor of terror, and we have nowhere else to go. We aren’t allowed in the Motor home while the ferry is moving so for the next half hour we just stand there, with our backs to the wall shaking our heads in disbelief and cracking wise arse jokes and probably quite racist ones in hushed tones at each other, then sniggering under our breath. We debated the possibility that they were as petrified of us as we were of them, if they were just as startled and just as intrigued by us. But no, I'm afraid not. I have travelled a lot and seen a lot and I know a stand off when I see one. There was nothing nice about the vibe on that ferry. The Rape Ferry, as it shall be referred to forever more.

As we scarpered back to the motor home, looking over our shoulders, we joked about how Ol had slept right through it all. Then someone pointed out that they might have found him, he could be mutilated and violated in his bed, and it would all be our fault for leaving him alone on the Rape Ferry.

Of course when we got back in to the safety of the motor home, Ol was tucked up fast asleep and I hid behind the curtains till we were far, far away. We still speak of the Rape Ferry with fear in our voices today. Thank fuck we are not going the same way home.

Shortly after this and about half a dozen chain smoked ciggie’s later, I asked Matt if I could take his bunk for a couple of hours shut eye and took myself off to the bunks. When I woke we were stationary at a service station and everyone was asleep except Matt. I gave him his bed back and curled up on a seat till Lyall woke up. Freshened up in the ladies bathroom and threw some jeans and a hoody on. The climate had changed, we had finally reached Sweden.

The drive through Sweden went like this. I wrote thousands of words while sitting up front chain-smoking with Lyall. The others slept, played computer games or stared out the windows. Now and again I would do the same. The landscape of Sweden for the most part was trees. Miles upon miles of massive trees. We stopped a bunch of times, I had to shit 3 times that drive. 3 fucking times. Jeez. We grabbed a MacDonald’s, where Lyall and Ben met some random guy from Derby, who now lived in Sweden with his girlfriend.

Other than a massive choppy lake that we drove alongside for at least half an hour and reminded me of The Pacific Coast Highway, there really wasn’t anything notable of our Sweden drive. We got to the ferry port in good time and boarded the mother ship of all ferries, the Galaxy.

Now this is a fucking ferry. We park up, collect our overnight stuff and walk past a night liner to the stairs. We are not the only band on board. We suspect that Entombed and Amon Amarth may well be here somewhere too.

We have 2 cabins, 3 bunks in each. You can just about swing a cat in them so we are feeling spacious and posh. Well, I am anyway. After freshening up, Lyall, Ben and me get straight down to business. Duty Free. A fuck off bottle of raspberry vodka and a whole heap of tobacco later I’m good to go. The boys settle on a crate of cider and we all knock some back in our cabin before hunting out some grub.

Dinner tonight consists of over priced meatballs, sauce and smash. Not bad, will be hard to get drunk after this though. Dammit. Schoolboy error. Next is the hunt for Internet connection. Yawn. It is available in all public area bars so we set up and switch on. And wait. FOREVER. My fucking Spectrum was faster than this.

After a long and frustrating time I give up and go find the bogs to get rid of this bladder full I been sitting on for far too long. I walk past what looks like The Entombed massive and sure enough when I get back to where me and the guys are sitting, they are too. We all meet and introduce ourselves, mainly through the Bassist, Victor, who Evile know from previous tour days and before you know it we are kicking back chatting about the tour.

Parting ways due to an obscenely early start ahead of us, all seems well in the camp. Except my fucking mouth. My teeth on the left side feel dangerously like they are loose and once again, I am in fucking agony. Still, at least I have a litre bottle of Vodka and we aren’t on the Rape Ferry.

Evile. Day 3. Hamburg.

So we made it through the night people! No one got mutilated, tortured or chased around the desolate space that we called home for the night. Winners. No, we slept like babies and got up needing shits and net use. All but Matt, the singer got our shit together and headed up the road and round the corner to find a café and an internet café that we had been told was near by.

We stopped at a pharmacy and I stocked up on painkillers, Mike got some mouth gel for his outbreak of ulcers that were attacking him viciously and then crossed the road to the Internet café. It is exactly like the ones you find in Kentish Town and that. Some old Muslim dude pointed us to a couple of filthy desks and me and Ol set to on updating everyone with wa blow in the Evile camp. We made it swift cause the toilet really was number one priority.

On the walk back we talked of how Matt had better of got up and prettied up the motor home. Set the table for breakfast and be wearing a piny. Of course he wasn’t. The motor home is still not too smelly and messy though, it is only day 3 to be fair though eh.

We hit a service station and go about our business and then off we go, Hamburg just a 4 or 5 hour drive ahead of us. We all had little naps, Matt and me took turns sitting up front with Lyall, listened to music on the forces radio and before we knew it the docks of Hamburg were looming up ahead of us.

Lyall had been cursing the road we were on, saying how it was always congested and traffic jams ahoy cause of the docks and I didn’t really pay him much mind till I saw with my own eyes what he was banging on about.

Hamburg on entry is quite some fucking sight. Massive fuck off cranes on conveyer systems run the lengths of the docks. Gigantic fucking ships loaded with unbelievable amounts of container crates wait to be unloaded or loaded. Impressive railway lines and highways criss cross all over the shop and it all has this weird sort of grace about it.

I am just staring out the window with my mouth hanging open as we hit the Elb tunnel that cuts under the water and soon we are back out and within 10 minutes we are pulling up outside the Ballroom, the venue for tonight.

It’s a shame that we didn’t have any spare time, Hamburg is definitely a place that would be ace to have a wander round. As it was we were kinda late, so got straight to it, unloading and setting up for sound check.

Drone were already there and the singer was his usual obnoxious but charming self. My merch buddy, Costa was all set up so I cracked on did my thing while the band set up.

This place had the dressing room downstairs, which was fucking huge and had showering facilities so as soon as I had the merch stand done I grabbed my girlie shizzle from the motor home and waited till Lyall got done with his cleaning time.

Let me explain how the land lies at this point in the tour. Till this point it had been all about baby wipes and sinks at service stations. We have only been out 3 days now but you feel scabby proper fucking quickly when you’re on the road. On top of this we have a big ol’ drive ahead of us starting immediately after this gig, going through the night, right through the next day, the following night, till Friday. So everyone wants a shower. Next opportunity will hopefully be on the ferry from Sweden to Finland. But who knows.

So, while the guys sound check I get Lyall to put the door that was leaning against the wall, back in to the doorframe behind me and wash, shave and fake tan. By the time I get out I am refreshed and dressed in my slutty bar clothes, now slutty merch selling clothes and the guys have finished sound check.

Evile don’t fuck about when it comes to sound check. They bish bash bosh it. They all take turns showering and the rest of us hunker down around our laptops, making the most of the wi-fi. Loads of emails from the record label await us, interview times given for when we reach Helsinki and queries over merch sales.

One of the frustrating parts of touring is the incessant need to be online ALL THE FUCKING TIME. See, now days everyone has a blog to write for….daily. And, the record label expects updates on everything….daily.

Two things. First off, you don’t always get the luxury of wi-fi. Also, when you do get it, it’s when you are at the venue and therefore quite tied up with the job at hand, putting on the gig that you are there to do. It is hard to understand that when you’re at the other end and not on the tour.

Secondly, you are on a fucking tour man. It should be about scandalous debauched rock n roll living, not sitting around bent over your fucking laptop doing the ‘paper work’. I mean fuck. Seriously, by the time reports have been done and sent and updates made to this that and the other, you haven’t the fucking time to let loose and make some fucking legend stories that will follow the band for years to come! Still, here I am, writing. If I’ve just shattered any dreams and illusions don’t worry, I am also currently drinking. For the team eh.

Dinner tonight consists of pasta with tomato and basil sauce. There is a whole lot of plate and not so much pasta. I cooked better than this at Uni', and I can’t cook for SHIT. Who cooked this? Were they not aware that they were cooking for two metal bands and the crew, 6 people of which are relying on this as they’re only meal of the day before a long gig and an even longer fucking drive?

On with the show, empty stomachs or not. Doors open and a smattering of people come in. Bad ticket sales don’t dampen the metal spirit and the show kicks off strong. The owner of the club is not down with the smoking ban and so everyone is lighting up lie it’s the nineties. Hell yeah, I chain smoke all over the shop with my merch buddy, drinking and dancing and head banging.
Evile have a front row of head bangers tonight instead of a bunch of prom queens and so the set is filthy and raw and strong. I get some great footage on the camcorder, mainly cause some dude came introduced himself for filming all these big band names and pushed his assistant towards me who took the camera and went about getting crotch shots and close ups and all sorts. Genius.

She had said that from the side I look like Cyndi Lauper and he said that from the back I look like his mate Mike. I made him buy me a shot for that. Touché.

Lyall had taken himself off to bed after ‘dinner’ and as soon as the gig finished we started packing up and our promoter took him a coffee to wake him up. I came in just under the labels target so was bummed out but who was there bought something so what can you do?

There was a fella who had missed Evile play twice, once in Bradford 3 years ago when his car broke down and once when they were supporting and the whole gig had been cancelled. He was pretty fucking cool, bought some stuff, so when Mike came upstairs I introduced them and mike took him off to the dressing room to hang with the band for a bit. Of course they were for the most part busy on the laptops doing work, which probably killed the dream a bit for him. Ha!

All packed up, goodbyes done and off we go. Well, we get jammed down a one way cobbled street with a taxi coming our way but after that….whoosh, we are outta there. Other than Ol, we all stay up, drinking and chatting and pissing about. Me and Matt take turns playing D.J and generally the mood is one that we are all in this together, side by side. Lyall has to drive for two days and there is no way on gods earth any of us will see him sitting up front on his own for any of that. There’s one of the other beauties of touring for you. Comradeship.

Evile. Day 2. Osnabruck.

I hate to bang on about winey fucking ailments all the time but you have got to fucking know how much I am freaking out about my mouth here. It is fucking face splittingly killing me with pain. All I can think about is how I have to get through a little under a month before we are back on a weeks break and I can get it fixed.

Till then I am hoping that my heavy self-medication of hard liquor and painkillers wont do me too much long-term damage. We are driving to Osnabruck in North Germany and I am miserable. I am finishing this tour. I can’t believe its only day two and I ‘m already thinking that I might have to go home. I am not going home. Everyone is a bit frazzled after our bad sleep night and the band seem quietly subdued. Later I realise that this is nerves. Tonight they will play they’re first European headline gig and are quite rightly a tad dubious about the whole thing.

I take myself off to a bunk at the back for some sleep, I cannot keep my eyes open any longer. When I wake up…. I feel cool. I mean, I’m feeling kinda good here. I just slept a good couple of hours, proper good sleep. Nice little dream and everything. My mouth isn’t hurting so much. Fuck yeah bring it the fuck on, she’s back. I make an executive decision that along with painkillers and drink, a positive attitude will clear this right up. From this moment on I will tell myself that my mouth is getting better.

Welcome to The Bastard Club. I know right!? You have got to see this place, it’s like if Biker Grove was built by the Beastie Boys and Motorhead coming together with some Anarchist squatters and thought that they should give something back to the world by putting something together ‘for the kids’.

This is in my top favourite venues list along with The Bannermans in Edinburgh. It’s basically a massive old warehouse covered in graffiti. At the front is the foyer area, where you pay to get in. It’s like a little bus shelter, shack thing covered in old posters advertising bands playing there, stickers and more Graff. There is a gym bench against the wall facing out and in the corner, an old fucked up stuffed armchair with no legs. An upturned metal waste bin is where someone sits to take the money. There are some skaters scattered about having a smoke.
You walk through in to the gig area. The stage and merch corner is here. Other than this there are some old three-piece suites lying around that have seen better days and loads more posters and Graff. Up the stairs at the side is the bar. It runs the length of the room down one side. Down the other side is a Perspex wall with some tables and chairs. Through that window is a massive fuck off indoor skate park! Past the stage, through a door is that skate park, the toilets, a fuse ball table and some really fucking dodgy looking steep stairs. Up these is the dressing room. Again, everything is covered in old posters of bands who have played there, Punk, Metal, Hardcore, all sorts. And a ton more graffiti.

When we arrive there is a skateboarding lesson going on for little kids. Lines of little 5 year olds or something are taking turns to go down a ramp. We are all cooing over this until it is pointed out what a shame it is that kids cant just be kids but are now being pushed by their ‘cool’ parents in to doing shit like skate boarding when they look like they have only just learnt how to use a toilet.

The bar is laid out with stuff to make sarnies with and there is lovely German beer in the fridge. After a quick break and wander round we unload and start setting everything up for sound check.

I get my first look at our merch and go through it taking out stuff with Lyall to use for the night. I make up signs and a sales sheet and then tart myself up in a bid to not look like I’ve been in a motor home for the past 48 hours. Then I go and perv at the skaters who have taken over the park now lesson time has finished. Sweet.

The support band turns up and unloads too, Evile have met them before so there’s chatter and those who haven’t met are introducing themselves and shaking hands. Drone will support Evile tomorrow night in Hamburg too, and then one last time further along in the tour. After Evile sound check, hot food is put out along the bar. Dinnertime is rice and some kind of broth/stew thing. Dunno what it was but it tasted it well nice. We sit in the bar and watch the skaters flying up and down, up and down while bolting down our grub.

Some final bumming around, tweaking and finishing touches and doors are open. Drone play an awesome set, I seriously enjoyed like all but a couple of songs. They seemed proper tight, very lively and fun to watch. By the end of they’re set I was looking forward to watching them again at Hamburg. What a touch.

The singer was a right funny little fucker. Kept banging on a bout cocks and had his video camera out taking quite obvious shots of my cleavage, his eye level. Can’t blame him really, they are fantastic. He still got several slaps though. Think he may have enjoyed that too, can’t fucking win sometimes I tell you.

Evile merch is selling fucking brilliantly even before they have played which is sweet cause we still don’t have the new album with us.

They get up on stage and open with Infected Nation, a song from the new album and immediately a circle pit starts up. Everyone is fucking crazy for Evile from the start which is awesome cause they got they’re first 1 hour and 20 minute set to get through so need all the give back they can get.

Me and Lyall have a good laugh at the expense of some girls down the front who are just standing there swooning around and sweeping their hair back now and again looking thoroughly bored. They looked like they were at a fucking school dance waiting to be approached by some dude. Why do girls do that? Well I mean I know why, they want to catch the attention of the band in some really gash attempt at playing groupie. Girl if your arse is going down the front you need to get gnarly, get down with your bad self sister, no ones going to ask you backstage if you look like your standing waiting for the fucking bus love.

Merch is still selling and soon enough I’ve hit the record labels target that we have to meet if we are going to cover petrol and food expenses. My target is higher though so on we go!
Evile pull out all the stops and both them and the crowd are dripping in sweat going crazy at each other. Skaters wander through every now and then to get to the park and for a brief minute you can see them fall off they’re pedestals of cool as they crash down and get violated by some good old fucking thrash shenanigans. They collect themselves and saunter on looking slightly bemused.

The set finishes and the merch table picks up again. My target is met. Win. The guys chat to audience members and start packing up equipment. The European promoter helps us load up and we get it in the trailer quickly in the pissing rain then retreat back in to our motor home for the night. We are sleeping outside the venue and pushing off in the morning to Hamburg after locating an Internet café to check emails, send info and post blogs.

For now, we hunker down, knock back tasty German beers and watch a DVD of Big Train. I go outside for a ciggie and all is quiet and dark ‘cept for a little light on the outside of the warehouse. It’s still, raining and kinda creepy. There is laughter coming from inside the motor home, so I flick my stub, step up inside and tell the guys how we are prime candidates for a fucking blinding horror/ slasher movie scenario right about now.

“A Band a long way from home, an empty warehouse in an abandoned and disused waste land. They think it’s a safe place to sleep for the night. They were wrong. From the makers of “Not more Gore Porn 1,2 and 3” and award winning “Stuck in some Eastern block Country with some hot chicks who turn out to be chemically enhanced mutant robots” comes this Summers sickest horror to date. Petrol money will be the last thing on they’re mind by morning……if they make it that long…”

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Evile European tour. Day 1.

The petrol station where we have just pulled in to for the night is playing Gloria Estefan; The rhythm is going to get you. Oh Belgium. Belgium, Belgium, Belgium. It’s the little things like this that make touring the stuff of dreams I tell you. One of the joys of Europe is that the radio stations are stuck a decade behind, so little gems you haven’t heard or thought to ever listen to again crop up all the time. It’s a guilty pleasure for all of us. There is no pisser though. Which could prove problematic.

So let me explain. I’m here in Belgium with U.K thrash metal band, Evile. They are supporting Amon Amarth and Entombed for the next couple of months on a European tour and at the last minute, asked me to come along and sell some merch for them. Oh go on then.

First stop is North Germany, Osnabruck. The Bastard Club. So far we have got over the channel on the ol’ ferry from Dover to Calais and driven up to this random motorway petrol station that we find ourselves parked at right now.

The guys picked me up from Canterbury West train station where I travelled down to from London the night before so that I could catch up with me mum. She was so nervous for me all of Monday that I nearly had to slap her about the face and tell her to snap out of it, bless her cotton socks. Not gonna lie, I was bricking it slightly too. Quite a bit really. This is the longest I will have been away for and my first tour round Europe. Two things are crossing my mind.

First up, after many months of tooth pain, I thought it wise to get the offending fucker ripped out before being stuck in some corner of Europe in agony. Out came a wisdom tooth less than a week before we set out and by Monday, pick up day, I am in fucking agony. Shit. The dentist does some concentrated fluoride jobby that “should last you a couple of months” and I am assured that all will be well in me mouth.

But, more importantly than that I am going to get to see a fuck lot of Europe. In no particular order we will be hitting: France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Holland. Of course I will not see much of any of these places, such is the nature of touring but hey, it’s a damn sight better than never seeing them at all.

So. Mum has waved us off with sarnies and pop and soon we are on the ferry. Ol is trying not to puke, he doesn’t travel well it seems, sucks for him that all we will be doing is travelling for the next couple of months really eh! Ha! Still, although never finding his sea legs he does soldier through and the ‘vom’ count stays at nil.

Me, Ben the drummer and Lyall hit the duty free shop for booze and end up having to browse it for 20 minutes cause regulations won’t let you buy any plonk till your such and such and blah blah whatever type thing. Ben is musing over travel monopoly and I am musing over the fact of life that there is something about these types of shops that overpower your mind in to believing you need a fucking miniature bear on a key ring, or a piece of lavender and camomile soap. A fictional book on child abuse where the main character overcomes her/his past and is eventually capable of living a normal life. (Seriously, on the special offer books section by the till there were three of these types of books. What la fuck?)

These fucking shops are just filled with crap and I want to buy it all. I need perfume that is now €62 instead of €69. I need a travel gift pack of eau de toilettes. And I need cuddly fucking toys. Lots of them. Also I need country fudge and shortbread in fucking tins and tea towels with quirky images of bears and the Towers Of London on them. I need Polly pocket vets surgery and shopping malls and matchbox cars and a Harry Potter wand. No wait, I need some fucking liqueur, snap out of it girl, don’t fall for their whily selling techniques. They won in the end of course, I left with a ltre bottle of Malibu?!

Lyall, who is our driver and tour manager is an old touring buddy of mine in a sense. We worked together over the summer at a festival in East Germany. After checking on the band, we find the open deck where we sit on a bench chain smoking, me drinking Malibu out of the bottle as the lights of Dover move further and further in to the distance.

We catch up and talk about the months ahead and both admit to feeling quite melancholy, watching our homeland retreat in to the horizon, knowing that we won’t be seeing it for quite some time. Then we have another fag, I swig some more Malibu in a bid to numb my throbbing mouth pain and we forget all about England. I mean jeez, it’s still gonna fucking be there when we get back eh! Truth be told I can’t fucking wait to leave it.

I would say that I woke up Tuesday morning and then go on to tell the tale but I don’t think I ever properly went to sleep. The first of many firsts you see. Last night we had pitched up at a petrol station in Belgium and it was the first night sleeping in our trailer trash motor home. It’s fucking tiny. Five grown men and me. And I take up a lot of space.

Right, what we got? We have two single bunks at the back next to the ‘bathroom’. Then, in the middle is the kitchen area and opposite that is a table with seats that all needs to be dismantled and turned in to a double bed. Above the driving seat is another bunk that can be pulled out to make a double.

Ol and Matt, Evile’s guitarist and singer are getting the bunks at the back cause they always go to bed before everyone in the whole world probably. Lyall is above the driver’s seat and bizarrely, Mike the bassist is sleeping in the passenger seat. Apparently he sleeps sitting upright. There’s a lot of ‘Vietnam vet’ about Mike. Me and Ben top to tail in the middle bed, the one that used to be a table and chairs.

Lyall, Ben and me take ourselves off to a bench outside and drink for an hour or two and then call it a night. Between the absolute fucking throbbing agony that has now spread all up the left side of my face, the new surroundings and company and being paranoid that ill move around too much in my sleep, I barely get any sleep. You know the sort. Disjointed and unsatisfying where you’re not quite aware of if you did actually get any sleep or you were just trying to. Probably I was in and out every hour. The last couple of hours I’m literally just waiting for when it’s time to get up and have completely given up on sleep.

Finally we all get up and stagger off to use the restroom in the now open restaurant. Teeth are brushed, poo’s are had and coffee is bought and off we go. Next stop, Osnabruck, North Germany.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Evile video shoot. Infected Nations. Shepperton Studios. Warehouse 7.

Smoke. Lot’s of smoke. And a cube. A really big fucking cube. A big cube big enough to fit lots of smoke and a thrash metal band. Welcome to the Evile video shoot for their upcoming single Infected Nations off the new album by the same name.

An early meet at Waterloo station finds me running the length of it to make the 9.42 am train with Talita, Evile’s press officer, Julie, their manager and Tom roadie to the metal massive. I just make the train as it pulls out and by the time we hit Shepperton, the middle of nowhere I have pretty much woken up. I can’t complain though, Evile have been at the studio since 8.30 am. Ouch.

Studio F, where all the magic making is happening is basically a massive empty warehouse. In the middle, a 15 ft Perspex box has been erected, and inside that…Evile. There are 4 huge lamps beaming down from above the cube, with a camera mounted on a trolley, and one on a crane that swings about while Evile pretend to play, so as to catch different angles from all sides of the cube.

There are about a dozen people working behind these cameras, the director, the assistant, runners, grips and god knows. All studiously nit picking and pouring over every detail. Muttering amongst themselves whilst squinting into their lenses, pointing and agreeing and moving stuff, taping stuff and then squinting again.

When we arrive, Ben’s drum kit is being assembled inside the cube. He is busy gaffa taping the symbols to deaden and muffle their sound, and a studio hand is putting dead skins on his drums. The rest of the band, Ol, Matt and Mike are wandering around aimlessly plucking away on their guitars and bass, chatting and generally killing time till they are called for again.

We catch up briefly and then go sit at the side, out of the way and get ready to watch as the guys all walk into the box before another studio hand tapes up the opening behind them. Why? For the smoke! A smoke machine pumps in a blast of smoke and within seconds you cannot see the band at all. As the smoke clears, silhouettes appear, holding guitars, a bass and sitting behind an almighty drum kit. There are shadows of the guys all distorted from the lighting and the whole set up looks badass mother fucking ninja sex cool! Already I can’t wait to see the final cut and the thing hasn’t even been made yet.

There are many stops and starts, as goes with video shoots. The band start, the filming starts and then…cut. Something gets shuffled and it’s back to square one. Within an hour we all know the lyrics and riffs and beat. See, this still isn’t any hardship though, the song rocks, and as I said, the video is proper dark.

At noon we start getting calls from extra’s who are beginning to turn up to play the role of ghostly ghouls that will eventually end up hurling themselves in to the box at the end of the video after much zombie walking and banging around the shop.

Originally, Evile had asked their friends to do the extra work and initially had the full quota, but as it got closer and closer to the day people inevitably end up dropping out due to other commitments and so come the morning of the shoot we were in dire need of a handful more.

We ended up with the required fifteen which included a couple of U.K thrash band Mutant, the guitarist from Juggern0rt, a whole bunch of London based friends from facebook, Tom the roadie and me.

Our outfits for the day were massive black cloaks with huge hoods that had been borrowed from a Harry Potter film and black tights over our faces. Sweet! We soon all get in to it after some initial trepidation and could be found fucking about like monsters and zombies for about an hour, then we could be found sitting in the hallway outside the studio looking piss bored.

The extra’s were awesome, a few of them had books but for the most part they all just chilled out chatting with each other, about metal mainly and were total soldiers to the cause. No complaining or winging, fucking troopers the lot of them.

We had taken a break for lunch and hit the canteen, proper school dinner grub for all. So everyone is chatting away, shovelling food down their throats when it suddenly becomes apparent that a couple of the guy’s friends have managed to pick up a random stray on the way to the studios and have no idea who he is but are quite sure that he is not entirely compus mentus. So, off I go to investigate. Ha.

After some awkward silences instigated on my part, he leaves. Turns out he just tagged along, when I asked him what he was supposed to be doing that day he replied “drinking”. WTF. Care in the community at it’s finest. Freaks and food over, it’s back to the film set darlings.

More of the same really eh, that’s video shoots for you, lots of hanging around doing nothing, feeling a tad nervous for your upcoming ghoul debut but equally trying not to fall into a deep staring in to space coma. Eventually, it’s the turn of the ghouls. The Evile massive have been filmed from every angle and the video is in need of some ghostly figures creeping around with a menacing manner about them.

The director calls in two, then four and then all of us, she directs us to move slowly like zombies towards the box of Evile and then mock thump and bang on the Perspex walls but not too hard or the whole thing will collapse! We do this a couple of times, then get to shove our heads through cling film which is imitating the Perspex walls of the box. I got to head butt my bit of cling film but it took too long to break through and I’m pretty sure I got relegated to the bench. Ouch. Goddamn stage fright.

Suffocating slowly in our tights, reminiscent of all great failed bank robbing head gear, and sweltering under the heavy cloaks, every one is sweating heavily and agreeing we feel mildly chuffed that the poor Harry Potter cast will be having to don these at some later date.

I, at this point had to bid my farewells and leave the shelter of Shepperton studios back to the reality and grime of London and you will never guess what I fucking missed….they got to ram the Perspex in! They got to charge it, ram it and collapse it! On to the band! HA! Fuckin A. cannot wait to see this video. It is going to be the stuff of legends for fucking sure.

Monday, 20 July 2009

L.A. Part 5.

I wake up feeling worryingly spritely and bouncy and dare I say, breezy. You know when you do that after a heavy night drinking and only a few hours sleep, you just don’t trust yourself right? That hangover is somewhere lurking. I’m in L.A though and this is my last few hours here so I’m gonna brave it out with Talita and hit that sweet roof top pool one last time.

I can’t bloody swim of course cause my foot is freshly inked, I have to sit on the steps with my right leg hanging up on the side, still, better than a kick in the teeth.

We don’t hang about long up there, getting back to the hotel room asap to change and pack cause apparently we have a breakfast date with Chad and the lovely Miss Alicia at Mel’s diner on the Hollywood Blvd. Erik is dead, so we leave him so till we are done being girls, kick him awake and roll on out.

A taxi ride later and shocker, no Chad and Alicia. My money is they’re dying in bed. Ha! I too at this point am feeling slightly peaky, and a walk up Hollywood Blvd does nothing to help alleviate the waves of nausea and dizziness overcoming me. Here it is, the result of hard partying that I was dreading.

Erik’s mate plays Jason from Friday the 13th on the Blvd, so we go and check him out, get some pictures and I reach breaking point. It’s hot, I am dying and this place is so crowded I don’t know if I’m going to chuck or faint. My companions take their sweet arse time in getting to a cab, although I was such a state it may not have been. We did seem to stop loads for one reason or another many times.

Finally in the taxi, I start getting anxious about the time, we planned on leaving the hotel at noon, to get to the airport for 1 pm, to ensure fire exit seats for all of us together. That taxi ride took forever. At the hotel I wait in the lobby while Talita and Erik go to get our bags down from the room and Nick turns up and fills me in on what he got up to that morning. 20 minutes later and gone noon, we are still waiting, I swear they have gone back up to the bloody pool.

On the up side, I meet Edgar. Edgar who has worked at the Hyatt for 35 years. Who, once trusting that I genuinely wanted to know the dirt, spilled the good stuff! Led Zeppelin burnt the 5th floor down. They also had the most groupies. Robert Plant went back there 3 years ago and him and Edgar had a chuckle about the crazy old days. Slash used to rent a room 2,3 times a week just for the afternoon for him and his fiancé. Sometimes he was so drunk they had to walk him up there. The Who used to drive their motorbikes through the lobby. I nearly got kicked out! I am in heaven. Satisfied, the others finally reappear and we hug it out with Erik and drive off in to the sunset, back to good old grey London. Well, not so much in to the sunset as along it.

See what I did there? I don’t care, I miss L.A. The plane ride back was shit and my ankles turned in to cankles. And the plane was going away not towards L.A. It was shit. I heart L.A forever! And I got my right foot to prove it!

L.A. Part 4.

So my favourite keeps changing when it comes to White Wizzard. We got John, who I could chat with all day, I love listening to him tell stories and he has been an exceptionally gracious host.

Then there’s Erik, who is like your naughty little brother’s friend. Can be totally endearing and equally be a complete dick. But again, totally cool to hang with and definitely loves to drink. Erik will definitely love London.

Wyatt, the front man is legend. He is from Florida and has a full on Southern drawl thing going on. He called me maam. Ha! He served in the Army and fought the first time over in Iraq. When Nick asked him if he had ever killed a man he looked thoughtful and we all thought he was going to come out with something like ‘ I don’t want to talk about it’ or one or two but he answers ‘bout 30, it was them on me’. Legend. And, he looks the spit of young Dio. Cannot wait to see him perform.

Chad is a diamond. He is so much fun and a total pro, he couldn’t have been more hospitable and his girlfriend is the shit! British girl of course!

Last but not least is Jesse, the drummer. He was a slow burner, very quiet and then POW, put him in a bandana and he becomes Bruce Springsteen. Funny as fuck that dude. Proper interesting guy, lots to say, seen a lot and done a lot. He even knows Pamela Des Barres. WTF!

I’m so relieved they are not a bunch of dicks, and the fact that all of them are cool is such a rarity, I am definitely keeping my fingers crossed that I get to tour with them at some point. The feeling is mutual, Jesse, Erik and me were talking on the ride back from the photo shoot and they too were relieved that we weren’t dicks either!

Anyways…back to the story telling at hand…Chad’s!

Back at Chad’s gaff and he has a pretty full house going on. Bonded By Blood, me, Nick and the White Wizzard massive all in his front room drinking beer and shouting over each other. His girlfriend comes through the front door and bless her, looks totally shell shocked by the amount of people in front of her. She takes it well and retreats to their bedroom to get ready for the night of debauchery ahead of us. I, on the other hand start flagging. Oh shit, jetlag wave crashing my way. Fortunately, Chad and his girlfriend, Alicia are fucking sweet as a nut and let me kip on their bed, I ask them to wake me in half an hour.

I come to now and again to the sounds of laughing and shouting and music, I can recognise Alicia and Nick well in to it all and sleep chuffed that everyone is carrying on like they have known each other for years. At some point Alicia comes in with a beer and leaves it on the bedside table for me, and eventually a couple of the BBB boys and Alicia wake me with a shot. I sit up, knock it back and I’m up just in time for the taxi arriving to take us to The Rainbow. They let me sleep for an hour and a half. When I came out the bedroom they had on the Iron Maiden 666 DVD. Bless, bless and more bless!

John manages to get Bonded By Blood in, some of whom are not legal in the States yet by saying we are buying food, so buy food we did. Just a massive pizza between all of us though since we were all pretty much still stuffed from the Mexican. Everyone is mega excited and quite drunk by this point, bouncing about, taking photos and acting the fool is the general order of the day, we are all over the shop, those of us who smoke especially, popping out to the outside bar to do shots and chain smoke.

Suddenly the lights come up and the music has stopped. What the fucking fuck is going on? It’s closing is what the fucking fuck is going on. Yes that’s right people, The Rainbow shuts at 2 am. As does everywhere down the strip apparently. What sort of a rock n roll town is this? Seriously, I am shocked to the very core. All those legendary hell raisers went home at 2 am. Oooo out of control!

Fuck that, I finished my drink and banged on for a bit about ‘for the sake of all that is good in rock n roll, why are we getting told to leave at 2 am’ etc and then left. The ‘Riot’ Hyatt it is then!

Or not, as the case may be. We must have been in our hotel room mere minutes before the first knock at the door. We hide in the bathroom, behind the bed, under the desk and Talita opens the door. Reception have had a complaint from our neighbour about the noise. It’s the fucking ‘RIOT’ Hyatt hotel and it’s only gone 2 in the morning you pricks, why are you staying at the ‘RIOT’ if you want a good nights sleep? Jesus don’t you people have any respect? Yeah, yeah, we’ll keep it down blah blah blah.

Of course within half an hour the other bloody neighbour has complained. We are too drunk to remember to hide everyone and are informed we are only allowed 3 guests in our room. Ermm…excuse me but how the fuck is one supposed to have an orgy at the ‘RIOT’ if one so chooses to with no more than 3 people? Not that we were going to, eww, but still, hardly the point, WTF?

But get this, on the up side like. We are told by the ‘Riot’ Hyatt staff that if they have to come up again, we will be asked to leave the hotel! We would be turfed out for being too rock n roll! Fuckin A, how bad ass are we!

So we leave. We literally get all our booze, pour it in to the posh hotel glasses and waltz right on out of there. Fuck them, this party is going to the sidewalk and the GTO parked outside.

We must have pissed about out there for at least an hour and no cops came by! Still though, doesn’t mean we can’t prank call the Earache head office in Nottingham and tell them we have been right? What it’s about the time they are all in now? So John rings and informs them that the old band members had turned up at The Rainbow, started chucking some harsh words about and that I squared up to them all rowdy like. One thing led to another, Talita was trying to diffuse the situation but to no avail and I bottled one of them. We have both been arrested and need $5000 bail. John is in shock and doesn’t know what to do. At this point I am in howls of laughter and ruin the whole shebang, closely followed by everyone else. This had, sadly enough been in plans for the entire trip only this was the first night we could manage to stay up late enough to carry out, what with the time difference and all.

With this, Nick retires to bed, as do Chad and Alicia. We spot Nick up in his room pulling his blinds, wave and moon him and then push off to bed too. Erik is too fucked up to drive so kips with Talita and me, but doesn’t really. We kip, he gets up sporadically to drink more and talk to people who don’t exist. Don’t ask, no idea.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

L.A. Part 3.

It is Saturday night, I am back in London town and have just finished work behind the bar at my shitty little metal pub. That and the jetlag has prevented me from regaling you with what happened over the last 48 – 72 hours of my time in L.A. Already it seems a lifetime away, fortunately I can just look at my right foot for the rest of my life if ever I want to remember it. Let me divulge dear reader…..

Wednesday morning finds us wide-awake at a ridiculous hour again but this time we are ready to use it to our favour. Talita takes us a short walk up the road to Mel’s Diner on the strip for breakfast American style, round 2.We are clearly tourists cause no one walks here, unless it's that stupid power walking thing. This place was in American Graffiti and is totally the epitome of fifties America.

We seat ourselves inside even though it is a beautiful morning so that we can enjoy the full experience, the décor, the staff etc, and boy do they not disappoint. Janet. I think Janet should be called Dolores, so will call her that for the rest of this. She was our waitress and blew my mind. Primarily because as Talita pointed out, she is quite probably me in 30 years time.

How to describe Dolores? Know now that I cannot possibly do her any justice. She is Patsy out of Absolutely Fabulous had Patsy been dragged up rather than brought up, moved to L.A as a teenager to become a ‘star’, got a job at several shitty diners like Denny’s while trying not to stray in to porn. She then would have fallen for a string of ‘wrong’ men, who promised her the world, gave her nothing but took everything. Probably she would have done some go go dancing and made a few infomercials.

Before old age crept in she landed her current job at Mel’s diner and is so enchanting she manages to keep getting loans out to feed her addiction to staying young and beautiful with cosmetic surgery then spends gruelling hours on her feet trying to earn the money to pay the loans off. Probably she has a few men in her life who throw money her way but I suspect she grafts for it. Probably she has grand children she never sees on the other side of the Country but sends them thoughtful cards and trinkets none the less and is thought of fondly if not patronisingly, similar to how I think of her.

What a woman. I am completely entranced one hundred percent. I can’t put an age on her. Her arms are young, mid 30’s say. Her hands, though accessorised with long acrylic talons in dusky pink look about 50. Her figure under her tight trashy uniform says 20’s. Her neck says 60. Her face is caked in make up, she has false eyelashes on, a massive injected pout and a forehead that hasn’t moved since 1992. Dolores is some kind of beautiful tragic. I want to take her home as a souvenir.

Somehow I manage to eat, hard when there is so much to take in. When we are settling up the bill there is a comments bit on the receipt. I get my eyeliner out and write ‘we love Janet’ and we leave. Hope she doesn’t think we were taking the piss, she is a goddess. I mean shit, I just wrote 5 paragraphs on the woman!

We schmooze on back to the hotel, i can feel the weight gain with every passing hour i stay here, and yet again I can’t believe I’m staying in the Riot. Gets me every time. I have been intending on finding some one who works there to fill me in on all the sordid history of the place and have a few names of staff to ask but keep bloody forgetting.Edgar is the man in the know apparently, 35 years under his belt, the man will for sure have some great tales to tell.

We still have a couple of hours until all the boys are turning up to hang out and so hit the roof top again and hang out in the blistering sun, fuck about in the pool, I wee’d in it, much to the horror of Talita who went scrambling out…jeez that’s what chlorine is for, anyway my pee is pretty much pure Jack D at this point! I dry off in the sun and go kick it in the hotel room and do some writing. I have had zero chance to get this done as of yet and this will probably be my only chance till London. I get a couple of hours work done over a 3 hour period, popping back up to the roof to smoke and splash about a couple of times and having posted my writing crash out on my bed, only to wake up when Talita and Erik, guitarist from Whitt Wizzard come bounding in to get cleaned up for the evening.

Worryingly Talita has not had a siesta after all, so jetlag city is bound to be getting her at some point tonight.

Tonight we will be joined by none other than my tour brothers, Bonded By Blood, fucking A. We are all going to eat at a Mexican restaurant on Melrose, I could take or leave Mexican food but this aint my show so tough shit. Erik takes Nick, Talita and myself off up Melrose in his Ford pick up truck and we do some window shopping, have a rake around some vintage shops trying random crap on but not really finding anything to purchase as souvenirs of my L.A adventure. Really we just spend an hour trying on the most hideous things we could find. Fun but a fail none the less. The stuff that I would have bought, like a slutty fur coat that would make me look like a Russian hooker were too expensive. Bugger.

Impulse buy I guess, though it was no shocker, I kind of knew this was coming, Talita too, I ended up getting me a little tattoo to commemorate my first and hopefully not only time in Los Angeles. Only half an hour’s worth cause we were low on time and money but a little tattoo on my right foot none the less. Of an eyeball with wings.

The tattooist I chose because it had a barbershop in it run by Richie the barber who had tatt’s on his face and a gelled gentleman’s moustache. He was dressed in Sweeny Todd type get up and was so fucking cool it hurt my eyes. There he was working away with a shiny blade, he loved my idea and I was sorely disappointed that he wouldn’t be the one doing it. My tattooist Looked like he had maybe had a tough night on K or his girlfriend had just walked out on him and had taken the cat with. Or maybe he was just stoned? Whatever, he did a good if quiet job and bish bosh bashed that bad boy out. I sat reasonably well although my fucking foot did start jumping 15 minutes in. Loser foot. I held it well though I think.

Cling filmed up, Chad had arrived mid tattoo and we all trundle off up Melrose to the Mexican place, and who should I spot across the street but a bunch of Mexicans. Bonded By Blood people!

I haven’t seen these guys since I toured with them and I’m well syked to see them, everyone’s hugging and shit and off we go on mass after introductions between the two bands. The restaurant gives us our own private room with a long table. It’s a very grand room with walls covered in pics of the govenor with different characters and the furniture is all this heavy wood. Mood lighting sets off the feeling that we might be sacrificing some one in here tonight, I think I watch too many movies.

We drink Margaritas and beer and shots of tequila. We eat too much and we take a ton of drunk photos. Then jetlag hits Talita. Bum. So she gets dropped at the hotel for a couple of hour’s sleep and the rest of us pile in to cars and drive to Chad’s place near Hollywood Blvd. Ahh sweet, a house party is always a must on the tick list of things to do in other people’s countries, to get a real sense of their culture right…….