Archive for November, 2012

Notes From Das Boot, 164

Zurich, Switzerland 11/30/12
The show at Z7 in Pratteln was pretty solid. They have a crew who know that club like the back of their hand and everything runs better than smoothly. And they have good catering and a washer/dryer as well, a nice oasis on tour. The crowd was a bit Stoney Curtis and some poor(then annoying) guy near the lighting desk kept yelling out “Space Lord!” after each song. After about half the set I broke It to him:
Me: hey man, they ain’t doin’ Space Lord, so you can save your breath
Guy: (glares)…SPACE!…LORD!
Me : you yellin’ it, ain’t gonna make it happen
Me: alright, fuck you. Keep yellin’, maayyybee they’ll do it
I lost the argument but I hope he lost his voice. Which leads me to the set list. The ads for the show say Spine of God plus The Hits. “the hits” is kind of loosely used here, they are hits to people who have been fans since the beginning but I thought the casual listener might be bummed out by not hearing “Space Lord”, “Negasonic”, etc. Happily I’ve been proven wrong, “Freak Shop”, and “Lord 13” among others have been going over quite well and I rarely hear any grousing. Early show tonight and the dreaded After Show Disco Load Out.

Small hallway at Z7, small hallways like this always remind me of the movie Westworld and I half expect a robotic Yul Brynner to come around the corner and stalk me.

Notes From Das Boot, 163

Prattlen, Switzerland 11/29/12
I don’t really buy a lot of stuff out here. I already have a lot of stuff I don’t want. This tour all I bought was a giant book on the artist Neo Rauch that was on sale and of course records (but not as much as I used to buy). Anyhow, my headphones started to go south a few days ago and I went and bought a new pair at Media Markt, Europe’s version of Best Buy. I found a pair of fairly inexpensive Sennheiser’s. Got back, I tried them out out. They sounded amazing, even to my tired, shot old ears. The only problem being that when I was taking them out of the box, I noticed that one headphone wire was a lot shorter than the other one. I had never seen this before. Not that I keep up with headphone advances (I let my subscription to Modern Headphone run out a few years ago.) so maybe it was a new style designed to cut down on the drag and co-efficient of modern hairstyles. Who knows, I didn’t. But maybe just maybe Sennheiser messed up and i got a fucked pair. So this morning I trudged back to Media Markt in the rain. I went at 9am, Switzerland is a hardworking country, they should be at work by 9. Fuck you, we open at 10am. 10!?, what are you America? I expect, demand an almost ruthless efficiency in Switzerland and opening at 10am isn’t gonna cut it. No sir. So I trudge back, have a cup of shitty hotel coffee, have another cup of shitty hotel coffee. It’s now a wintry mix of rain and snow. I’m running failure scenarios in my head of an unsuccessful headphone return, I have a third cup of shitty hotel coffee and trudge back. They’re open and I go to the info desk. The woman behind the counter is nice, but I have no idea what language they speak in this part of Switzerland, I’m guessing German but the guy at the hotel sounded distinctly French. So I start with ” hi, I don’t speak….uh…whatever you guys speak here…so please bear with me” and I bring out the headphones and the receipt. She sizes me up and does a chin stroke, “downstairs…parking lot…bring” and points at the headphones. I mimed “downstairs” which consisted of me pointing down and arching my eyebrow. Yes. I got to the parking lot and found the customer service department. I went in I explained my problem showed the receipt, all the packing and the headphones, which were a tangled mess by this point. I was trying to figure out this Gordon knot of wires and the guy just took it away from me and, zip zap it was untangled. “Now what is the problem?”, I showed him that one side was much longer than the other. He looked at me with the same look that PeeWee Herman got when he asked about “The basement in the Alamo“, kind of a stunned pause. “..yessss….they go behind the head, there’s nothing wrong with them” and he showed me, and it still didn’t really make a lot of sense.
Me: so they’re not defective?
Guy: no
Me: kind of a dumb design, no?
Guy: (did the shoulder shrug with an eye roll, that says “what do you want me to say”)
I went back to the hotel and had another cup of shitty coffee.

Graffiti from Paris

Notes From Das Boot, 162

Vienna, Austria 11/27/12
One more thing about the Stuttgart show. The power went out during “Nod Scene” (which if you say it really fast with a slurred voice, sounds like “nazis”). It was a regrettable speed bump in an otherwise good show. Found out after the show that it has happened eight times in the last year and they know the cause (an adjoining business pulls too much power at certain times). Now, I’m not the most conscientious guy out there and I often take the route of least resistance. But Christ, alright the power goes out one time, you can write it off. By the second time you should figure out the cause AND DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. By the fifth time if its not fixed, people should have their jobs on the line. For fucks sake, the eighth time, they should just close the club due to apathy.
Alright then, we are in Vienna at the Arena. It’s an old squat and most everybody here is stoned. So while its a solid gig, it’s sometimes hard to get the locals going. Not today, everybody so far (it’s 5:30) has had their shit together and is doing a real good job. The lighting guy’s name is PP, I wasn’t sure if he said Pippi or PeePee so when I needed him for a lighting question I went to the crew room and wasn’t sure who to ask for. Is it Pippi as in Longstockings, does he have longstockings or did he have pigtails when he was young, or is it PeePee, baby talk for piss. Or could his name be Paul Prudhomme, named after the famous chef. I was there so long sweating it that I got a contact high from the crew room and ended up just asking for the lighting guy.

Where I’m living today

Notes From Das Boot, 161

Stuttgart, Germany 11/26/12 (Later that day)
Backstage at The Longhorn in Stuttgart there are hundreds of old posters for shows. The standard large size posters that are mass produced by the promoter for all the shows in Germany for that tour. There’s a few Monster Magnet ones and out of all the posters here, the only one that seems to have been vandalized is the Magnet poster from the Superjudge tour

[it reads from the top: Fags From N.J., then Assholes over the logo and then Wyndorf The Wanker at the bottom]

although it’s funny I am kind of surprised by the vitriol of it. Of course any band that’s been around this long is bound to have enemies but as a band they’ve always treated opening acts pretty well, they’ve never gone full Rob Zombie on them (Rob Zombie the band, not the man treated us probably the worst out of any major tour we’ve been on. Petty and mean spirited, it was rough). There’s been a couple of messy job endings (both band and crew), but again I don’t think anyone who’d been fired had come back to The Longhorn. It’s been here for years and I’ve always wondered who did it.

Notes From Das Boot, 160

Stuttgart, Germany 11/26/12
A twenty two hour drive from Manchester got us into Stuttgart at around midnight. We had a hotel last night and the combination of a good shower and a real bed made all the difference, so today everyone is doing pretty well. Went to the post office this morning, and…well first let me state for the last time that: the people of any country that we go to where English isn’t the main language, speak English better than I speak their language and in some cases speak English better than I speak English. I was mailing seven post cards.
Post Office Guy: ok…eight postcards
Me: …uh…no there’s seven
PO guy:… No there are eight. (he counted them out) one,two,three,four,six,seven,eight
Me: forgot five
PO Guy: nonono eight
Me: the number five…you forgot the number went one,two,three,four and you skipped five and went to six.
PO Guy: ……….eight.
Now, I can only count to two in German: ein, zwei, so I tried to count them back to him, meanwhile the line was getting longer.
Me: zwei, zwei, zwei, ein (and then I held up seven fingers, which I should have done in the beginning)
PO Guy:…ahhhhhhhhh…seven
And an international incident was averted.

Old artificial limbs from the WELLCOME COLLECTION in London, part of their Victorian Bionic Man exhibit

Notes From Dat Boot, 159

On a boat between England and Calais 11/25/12
The water is very rough today and it makes me wonder if doing those hot chili tequila shots last night was such a good idea, maybe not. The Manchester show was another good show, and it was good to see a bunch of old friends (again). A few things on leaving England: Is there some law against having good water pressure over here? (And I know this has probably been beaten into the ground, but) The tabloid papers over here make the NY Post look like the NY Times, they are amazingly shrill and bounce back and forth between rage and shame. Ugh.

My pup

Notes From Das Boot, 158

Manchester, 11/24/12
We’re in Manchester and it’s raining. We’re playing the Academy 2 (I think it’s supposed to be twice as good as the Academy 1). Went to the Wentworth Art Gallery this morning and saw a cool ( maybe “cool” isn’t the best word to use here) exhibit on Chernobyl called Atomgrad (nature abhors a vacuum) and a bunch of other paintings I wasn’t familiar with. Going to museums by myself is one of the few things that can restore a semblance of sanity out here. I’m not being melodramatic, while it’s not bedlam, there’s always a bunch of stuff going on involving the same people day in/ day out. And while I get along with everybody, solitude is the greatest gift you can get out here. The London show at the Electric Ballroom went really well. The stage is set up oddly for my lighting purposes but the house guy was really solid and made it work. The after show consisted of the same cluster fuck that happens every time we play London. There was a handful of people I was glad to see and that was good. Again on another note, America is famous for taking an average idea and beating the shit out of it. England is doing the same thing with the KEEP CALM AND_____ shirts, mugs, magnets, banners, etc. Pretty much any thought can be made to fit, ex: KEEP CALM AND GO FUCK YOURSELF. See it’s easy, try it but don’t tell me about it. Fifteen hour drive to Stuttgart tonight. Note: this kind of reads bitter, I’m not I’m just tired.


Notes From Das Boot, 157

London, 11/23/12
Day off in London, which was great, there was so much stuff I wanted to do but my ass was so kicked that the promise of a real bed and shower won out and I ended up sleeping most of the day. The day before in Paris at the Maroquinerie was what we expected; a small club with a a good crew and good equipment. The only bad thing was the load- in/load-out which is legendary in its shittiness. We had to double park on a small busy street that was uphill and then push it a block in the street to the club. It was pretty fucking tense there for awhile. Anders, one of our guitar techs had our bus driver Freddie partially back into a side street so everything wouldn’t fall out of the trailer when we opened it. We still had to have somebody in the trailer holding back gear so it wouldn’t roll out, and we blocked an entire intersection but it could have been worse. It’s nice to be back in England for a short time. It’s a bit odd in the way the cultures match up, I think William Gibson referred to it as “mirror world” where it’s close enough to lull you into thinking you’re home briefly before obvious Englishness (giant electrical sockets, wrong side driving, etc) reminds you otherwise. The clubs and crews over here are a crapshoot as well. On another note, there’s a men’s hair style over here that I don’t see to much in the states. Slightly balding men have their hair cut into an aggressive “M” shape that reminds me of Speed Racers car, the Mach 5 or Norman and Harry Osborn from Spider-Man.

The Mach 5

Harry & Norman Osborn

Notes From Das Boot, 156

Hamburg, 11/20/12
Last nights show in Linkoping, Sweden was of the variety that I call ten pounds of shit in a five pound bag show. Now, I want to make very clear that this in NO WAY is meant to besmirch Monster Magnet, their crew or the people who work at the club we played. (The Backstage). It means that we have a lot of gear and they have a tiny stage. It was a tight stage but a good show and after a long drive we are once again in Hamburg this time at the Grunspan. As with most places over in Germany the crew is very good. The lighting guy is named Shoobie, unfortunately I’ve been calling him Shuggie and then wondering why he’s not answering me. Another long drive tonight to Paris which will be a logistical workout and then a day off in London.

Another place in Hamburg where The Beatles didn’t play.

Notes From Das Boot, 155

Linkoping, Sweden
The afternoon show at the Tavastia in Helsinki was better than I thought. The crowd was good and loud and kind of drunk. The same as it would have been at a night show. The house crew was really on top of everything. 10am load-ins suck but these guys came in hot and everything went like clockwork. One of the best things about playing the Tavastia is the record store next to it. I have no idea how to pronounce the name ( to do it properly I would need to cleave my tongue and add a second mouth, like most Finns have) but its a great record store. For me the gold standard of record stores is the late lamented Pier Platters of Hoboken and while this place isn’t close, it is a welcome oasis on tour, I spent too much money there as I always do. Anyhow, we were out of there by 7pm. The rest of the night consisted of wandering, drinking, some weeping, more drinking, arguing, drinking and finally off to Turku where we took another ferry back to Stockholm. The Turku-Stockholm ferry is worse than the Stockholm-Helsinki ferry. The Turku ferry is shorter (approx. 11hours) but it’s long enough to be boring, not long enough to get any real sleep, as they start cleaning rooms 2hours before arrival. Thank god that ends the hellish ferry part of the tour, and we got an actual hotel last night so we can return to an approximation of being human. Beds, showers, breakfast. Yahoo.

The record store whose name I can’t pronounce

Bob and Dave backstage at Tavastia