Wednesday, 30 September 2009
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.