A short note on my complete shallowness
For Christmas last year my brother bought my wife and I a Roku Box, it’s one of those devices where you can watch shows on Netflix. It was a great gift but I am terrible with most technology. I can muddle through but things usually break. I know slightly more than my wife does, which in the long run helps nobody and usually ends with me staring at the ground muttering “I’m sorry, I don’t fuckin’ know.” A technological equivalent of getting your ass kicked in a bar fight in front of your wife. My brother also mentioned that he wasn’t feeling good and he was going to the doctor. A couple of weeks later, I called him and was going to work into the conversation how I could use his help setting up the Roku Box. Before I could, he said that the doctor wanted to take a few tests. Which is never a phrase you want to hear, this also meant I would have to put off the Roku talk for a little while. A week later I called to see how he was doing, not good. The doctor hadn’t liked what he had seen in the last test and wanted to do something of a more invasive nature. There’s really nothing you can say at a time like that outside of a few hackneyed pep talkish chestnuts. If you get heavy and personal, it bums out the person who’s sick, “hey, I’m sure it’s nothin’…he’s just being thorough.” I was pretty freaked out (not as much as my brother of course), but in the back of my mind, a tiny part was yelling “you’re never gonna get that fuckin’ Roku Box set up.” I went with him a few weeks later to the doctor where he had to get the results from a further procedure, we’re both more than a little weirded out. Sitting in the office waiting, rifling through old copies of Time magazine, not saying anything. I started thinking, worst case scenario he has to go through some sort of treatment. I know what would take his mind off of it, a small task. A small task like…setting up our Roku Box. I was hit with a tsunami of self loathing, am I that fucking shallow. Yes. A few minutes later, doctor calls him in. Everything’s fine, no problem, better be safe than sorry, etc. So the story has a happy ending, except our Roku Box still isn’t set up yet.
Friday, 6/20/14 Loreley, Germany
We are at the Loreley Metalfest, it’s on the Rhine River and that’s beautiful but the festival is very metal. The crowd is a standard metal crowd, I saw a few people with inflatable swords already. Catering is small with an overwhelmed staff, there are two toilets for ten bands and it’s starting to rain. The bus is parked next to the “black metal” stage. Most of the singers sound like if you were making a cartoon of a backed up kitchen sink drain and the drain needed a voice “hellllp meeeee, i’mmmm clooooggggggged“, topped off by music that sounds like a squad of angry bees.
Saturday 6/21/14 en route to Hellfest, Clisson, France
There are signs that the end of the tour is close. One of the main ones is that tour shirts are being worn as the last bit of clean laundry runs out. We also ran out of sugar cubes so we are into a bag of sugar, which could be messy depending on how rough the drive goes. A few tours ago we ran out of sugar and I wanted some for my coffee. When I get a coffee in the morning on the bus I’m not looking for a sublime experience to savor, I want a caffeinated sugar bomb to wake my ass up. So we were out of sugar and I decided to try honey, ” it’s a sweetener, right? How bad could it be”. It was fucking terrible, there’s a a good reason why nobody uses honey for coffee.
10:30am en route to Hellfest
There was a lot of metal in Loreley that I wasn’t that familiar with. Mainly folk metal, which to my ears sounds like generic metal chugging along at a brisk pace with semi-aggro Cookie Monster vocals and then all of a sudden Pow! bagpipes, a hurdy gurdy, violin or a flute. Played with a grim seriousness that I would associate with people leading others into battle. “Follow that woman playing the hurdy-gurdy into battle my brothers, she will smite our oppressors!”
Last show today and I’m starting to do the math about how many hours instead of days until I get home. Last shows that are festivals make it a bit harder to tighten up all your luggage as you usually end up sorting through your shit in a field. Hopefully not a muddy field.
We got here about 2pm and it’s a giant, hot, dusty clusterfuck. Everyone who works here kind of looks like they have their shit together until you ask them a question, any question. The answers are textbook lessons in circular bullshit, repeat answers to questions that weren’t asked until the person asking the question just gives up.
Back home. The rest of Hellfest was long and I missed the few bands I wanted to see because it was just so big and I was just so lazy, last day, just keep it movin’. We had a great show, good way to end the tour. Got to Charles de Gaulle Airport late so there was a lot of running around. Didn’t know that the cover of The Alan Parsons Project album I Robot was based on the moving sidewalks of the airport. It’s futuristic but the moving sidewalks are very spongy and have a queasy “here we go again” feeling to them. Got on the plane, I’d like to add how shitty and uncomfortable Boeing 757′s are especially on long sold out flights. There was a problem with the plane, waiting, waiting, deplane, wait for update, wait, wait, here’s a voucher for some food, wait, wait, flight has been canceled, pick up your bags, wait for hotel shuttle, go thru passport control, wait at bag carousel, Pow! Uncanceled, go back thru passport control, thru security, wait, wait, back on plane, wait, fly, wait at understaffed passport control at Newark, wait, van ride home, kiss wife, kiss wife again, pet dog, babble incoherently, fall asleep.
Thursday 6/19/14, Backstage club, Munich
Bobo our tour manager has the song Yakety Sax (aka: the Benny Hill song) as his ring tone. Bobo doesn’t sleep a lot but when he falls asleep/passes out he’s dead to the world. And nothing not even Yakety Sax can wake him up. It wakes up everybody in the bunks near him but not him. This happens a few times a tour, at first it encroaches on your dreams and then it takes over everything and you wake up angry and bewildered. “Where the fuck….why the fuck is Yakety Sax playing?!….BOBO!!!”. I thought I had dodged a Yakety Sax bullet this tour but sadly no.
Fell back asleep after the Yakety Sax attack. The club is in an industrial district outside of Munich. There are a lot of shipping containers outside the club that have been fashioned into a bar/hang out, with tables and stuff set up on top. We were parked next to one of these, I stumbled out of the bus in search of a clean bathroom (a fun morning exercise) and
“Hallo bus driver!”
Who? What? It was a bunch of people hanging out on the roof/bar. I guess they are people who work at the club but way too peppy for this time of day, at least for me.
“What…no I’m the lighting guy” (are they keeping score?)
“We are just saying hi!”
“So you greet everybody as Bus Driver? Is that a Munich thing?”
“Hello then” (too late, I was the cranky American non-bus driver)
Well it turns out the people I was cranky to are the catering people. When I got to the catering room The Seeds-Pushin’ Too Hard was playing, great.
“Hey, The Seeds, … Pushin’ Too Hard…very cool.”
Stone look from catering woman “that’s not The Seeds”
“Really…cause it sounds just like The Seeds.”
Glare “it’s not.”
“….oh…who is it then?“
Raised eyebrow. Alright, I think we’re done here.
Counting today we have three shows left (two festivals after today) and I’m not counting on any of the internet connections to be good. So I’m going to post this now while the server isn’t overwhelmed. This might be it until I get home Sunday
I was told that we played this club ( Stadgarten ) before and it had a shitty load-in and a non-existent crew. I couldn’t remember it but with a description like that I wasn’t sure I wanted to. We got here and it hit me, ugh. The load-in is still shitty but crew this time has been really good. The trigger to me remembering it came from the backstage. There’s a lot of stairways that lead to empty rooms and locked doors, a very “hello Cleveland!” vibe. And the lights in theses rooms and staircases are on motion sensors but these sensors are slightly slow, so I’m halfway through the room before the lights go on. Today I have already tripped over a chair and walked into a wall because of the slow lights and it really hurt, mainly because I felt like an idiot but a good part of it was actual pain from falling over a chair. I think I might have written almost the same thing last time we were here because I do remember tripping over stuff (but me tripping over stuff isn’t news, “he could trip over smoke” was a description that was ascribed to me a lot as a kid). The club has what is referred to as “inter-not”, you can get connected but you can’t actually get on line. So you just have the illusion of an internet connection. Four shows left.
6/16/14 Hasselt, Belgium
A few headlining shows before the last couple of festivals and then home. We did Download Festival in England on Saturday and it was pretty fucking dire. The only band I wanted to see was Orange Goblin and they delivered the heavy-osity that these festivals promise. And then something odd happened, I was talked into going to see Twisted Sister. I never like Twisted Sister, never. Never dug their good timey singalong hard rock bullshit, never liked their us vs. them videos. Didn’t like their look, a cross between Sha Na Na and New York Dolls. Nothing about them appealed me at all. But they put on a great show. All their corny bullshit worked, it was a band as motivational speaker. And although I will never listen to them on purpose, I do have new found respect for them, which I’m sure will let them sleep a little easier.
And now a brief word on kilts. I’ve seen some kilt wearing guys at most of these festivals most of them are defensive about their attire choice. Unless you’re in the Scottish Dragoons ( or whatever they are actually called) you should expect a couple of “hey that dude’s wearing a skirt” looks. I don’t give a shit what you wear and I don’t want to hear your explanations. If a guy was wearing a stovepipe hat and wasn’t a Lincoln impersonator he would get looks as well, deal with it.
[upon rereading this before publishing. Jeez, what a bunch of mundane, insignificant trials & tribulations, but that's what long drives on tour are made up of]
9/12/14 on the autobahn en route to England
Most festivals have internet connection (the exception this tour was the badly run Rock Hard Fest) and the speed of it depends on how many people are using it. It’s a real feast or famine type setup. Yesterday at Copenhell during Iron Maiden’s set it was smooth sailing as everyone was watching the concert and I finished up writing Notes 202 . I finished just as their show ended and by the time I was posting, everybody came and tried to get online. Everything internet was frozen. The upshot of this boring look at the fascinating world of backstage internet is that I think the last blog was posted but I’m not sure. On another more crucial note our coffee-bot coffee machine died. It’s stuck in cleaning mode like somebody with a severe case of OCD. We do have a french press but nothing to grind the coffee beans. We’re supposed to stop at a supermarket later hopefully we can get something then. Coffee is very important on the bus, it adds a thin sheen of civility that makes long travel bearable. I’m sitting in the upstairs front lounge (ie: 2 seats by the window), it’s the best place on the bus for a little solitude, unfortunately it’s right in front of all the bunks, so when everybody is sleeping (like now) it’s a symphony of different offensive smells and snoring.
2:30pm somewhere in Holland
Luckily, our tour bus company met us at a rest area and switched out coffee makers, so a catastrophe was averted. Danny and Fish ( sound man & guitar tech respectively) are in the back lounge watching some kind of crime drama that’s in French with Swedish subtitles. I don’t think either of them speak or read either language, I’m puzzled. I’m reading a bunch of old Creepy and Eerie magazines as the day slowly drips by.
9:30pm on a ferry heading to England
Well, the new coffee machine is acting squirrelly and only works about half of the time with an intricate process to nudge it along. It seems that the bus company doesn’t have much faith in it either as they gave us a back up coffee maker to the replacement coffee maker. At least the coffee machine problem takes my mind off of why Danny and a Fish would watch a movie that neither of them understand. It’s vexing to me.
9/13/14 9:30am, a truck stop in England
The wi-fi here at the truckstop isn’t terrible, the coffee is almost hot and it’s not raining. This is what rates as a trifecta these days. Stayed here over night as the driver had to get his 12 hours of rest (sanctioned by law, he’s not lazy). We leave here in an hour or two and head to a hotel in Derby. Tomorrow is the Download Festival.
I am also putting up a bunch of tour stuff on Instagram @feedtim