Archive for February, 2014

Notes from Das boot 195

(Late wrap up)
The tour ended in Hamburg at the Markthalle. Great show, sold out. In the afternoon I got a chance to sneak away and visit Crypt Records. For anybody who digs garage rock, rockabilly, and old greasy R&B (and variations on them) Crypt Records is Mecca. The owner moved from America a few years ago and this tiny store in Hamburg is the densest spot of amazing rock in the universe, no shit. I bought a few old R&B comps and wished I could have bought almost everything. It was also the last night of touring with Church of Misery. Ostensibly thought of as a heavy doom band, this Japanese four piece throws some weird noisy psych into the mix as well as nimble heavy blues. And for a band who has made a living singing about serial killers, they are some of the nicest people I’ve ever toured with. Well worth seeing.
After a long day of travel it was great to be home. Even our dog (Joe Puppitone) was happy to see me. She left me two tiny dog cigars on the floor outside our bedroom, they don’t smell great but I’m sure they’ll be good to smoke.

Notes from Das boot 194

Dortmund, Germany
As the bus was leaving Wolverhampton (our second of two shows in England) for Dortmund and a day off, Phil put on the Ramones “Its a Long Way Back to Germany”. Little did we know how prophetic that song was. Extremely shit weather (the official term used in England) halted all ferries at Dover, so we were stuck waiting for over eight hours. We busied ourselves watching movies (No Country For Old Men, Crank 2, Broken Arrow) as our day off dwindled away. When we finally got on a ferry, it was still pretty rough going. The boat was packed, it looked like a refugee ship from the country of Wal-Mart and there was numerous pools of vomit near the overcrowded restrooms that the game but overmatched crew was trying to keep up with.
Four shows left. The tour seems like it’s never over, until it’s almost over and then it goes really fast. Starting the final going home pack, which usually takes a few days. If you wait until the last minute, it’s a cluster fuck of gigantic proportions. The bus although generously set up for a tour, isn’t set up for ten to twelve people to pack all their shit up at the same time. It’s a mess.
I had avoided the tour cold until a few days ago. My head feels like it’s filled with cement, the next step is peanut butter lung. I hope I get rid of it before I go home.

Notes from Das boot 193

On a ferry between Calais and Dover, 6:30am

Just played the AB in Brussels which is one of the best clubs to play over here. Real top notch from top to bottom. Brussels itself is a beautiful old city that’s kind of rundown and sketchy, there’s more than a few people around who could be legitimately described as riffraff. Paco has a friend who described Belgium as “the Kentucky of Europe”. And while I think that’s painting the country with a broad brush, there was a bunch of drunken louts looking for fights who wouldn’t have been out of place back home staggering around in mesh back caps swilling Coors Light.
A frightening, no-win endeavor that bedevils any tour lasting more than two weeks. I wash t-shirts in the hotel room sink on days off and throw away socks and underwear. This seems to work but then there’s the problem with jeans and regular shirts, they can’t be washed in a hotel sink and they’re not going to be thrown out. So you wait and plan. There are two ways to go. You can search for a laundromat on a day off, or you can wait for a club that has a washer/dryer. Both of these options are bad. Searching for a laundromat on a day off is a long, soul crushing slog but it’s better than the alternative. Europe (especially Germany) has no clue about home washers and dryers, which are the kind that clubs use. Slow and terrible, it goes like this. Somebody, usually the tour manager will announce that an upcoming club has a washer and dryer. This sets off the kind of frenzy that one would associate with a gold rush. Alliances are made , “I don’t have a lot of stuff, can I throw it in with yours?”. The washer is overcrowded but workable and the waiting line for the washer is long, the problem is the dryer.
The dryers here don’t dry, you put cold damp clothes in and two hours later you get warm damp clothes. Then panic sets in, there’s a bottleneck from the slow dryer so it’s hours until the last batch of laundry gets done. But the clothes NEVER dry, so more panic sets in and there’s a mad dash for any available radiator to lie the damp clothes on. There’s never enough radiators so there’s a radiator backlog. The end of the night ( this is always on a show day), after load out when we have to retreat to the bus, there’s always a couple of people leaving with not exactly dry laundry. The thing is we know the dryers are shit over here but like lemmings we always march over the cliff carrying bundles of warm damp clothes.

Brussels. Not only known for their statue of the pissing child, they try to work peeing into everything, witness the pissing French Fry or frite as they say

Notes from Das boot 192

Karlsruhe, Germany
After a few days in Spain and France it’s back to Germany. The Spanish shows are always a little bit “seat of your pants” affairs, a lot of question marks going in. The Bikini in Barcelona was great, really good crowd. Very knowledgeable of rock and enthusiastic, this is true for most Spanish audiences. The crew at the Bikini was solid as well, house lighting guy Ramon helped me sort out their unique set of lights with a minimum of pointing, interpretive dance and mime and I think we were both pleasantly surprised by the outcome. On the down side, Steak a heavy rock outfit from the U.K. who were to open both shows in Spain had their van broken into after the show and lost a bunch of stuff and couldn’t do Madrid. Madrid is a beautiful city, I am not well versed in Spanish politics or society but to me Barcelona is more of an international city and belongs to the world, along the lines of New York or Paris but Madrid seems to be very Spanish. The place we play here is called Arena, we have played here a bunch of times and the name has changed more than once. Unfortunately the club itself hasn’t changed. It’s a large dank shithole that seems like it was built in the eighties as a dance club. A lot of tile and mirrors that’s now moldy,cracked, faded and sticky. The load-in and out is one of the worst on any tour, a black mark on a tour schedule. However, it’s always a great show (which I guess is the fucking point, isn’t it). The lighting guy, Ivan is one of best guys I’ve worked with. They don’t have a ton of lights but he makes all of them count and it’s the perfect spot for our video/op-art projections. And the audience, I can’t emphasize enough how great Spanish audiences are. So while the room is dismal, everything (except for the stage monitors) that goes into it makes it a great show. With Steak unable to perform, local band The Men on the Silver Mountain opened the show, a ten piece vocal outfit who did a cappella versions of Ronnie James Dio songs. It was interesting but I don’t think I could stand a steady diet of it, the crowd seemed to dig it though.
Then onto Paris, where we played a sold out show at La Flèche d’Or, a small place that used to be a railway station, another great crowd. Although Paco (merch guy, calming influence, living saint) said there was a couple of Parisians who were quite upset that he didn’t speak more French (he speaks enough to sell a shirt). It was also the return of Church of Misery, who played a few shows in Italy and Switzerland while we were in Spain. I’m glad these guys are back, it’s a blast to see them play every night and they’re really nice people. Nine shows left.

Some of my shorthand for what is programmed on the lighting desk, there’s usually 10 to 20 sliders and a few different doesn’t make much sense to me either, but it keeps things exciting.

Notes from Das boot 191

Big hotel room in Barcelona that is unfortunately hermetically sealed with no ventilation, so it’s warm and stale and smells slightly of sewerage ( or is that just me). Filmed a short video about crossing the street here but for some reason I couldn’t upload it onto my wordpress blog. So I put it up on Facebook. I also have Instagram (@feedtim Or just feedtim) where there’s a lot of stuff from tour that’s too brief for an actual blog and I’m too egotistical to just keep it to myself.

Notes from Das boot 190

Went to put on my shoes this morning and noticed that one of my shoelaces is starting to get frayed. Now I know this is not a cause for alarm but I know the next time I will think about it is when it breaks and I will come up with an impressive string of as yet unknown curses. I also know that it will happen during a particularly stressful day. So instead of buying new laces I’m thinking of just cutting off my feet and attaching tank treads or something, [NOTE FROM THE FUTURE: Tim actually lost both feet in a tragic gambling incident and had his feet replaced with tank treads and now he’s fearful of loose treads]
Playing the Komplex 457 today it’s pretty large and looks like a club from a dystopian future (much like the name indicates), although they have a ton of lights, which is how future dystopias will placate lighting guys, “yes, misery and torture but look at all the moving lights”. Last night in Nuremberg at the Hirsch was great. Good sized club with an odd sized stage. House lighting guy Uwe (?) was a great world weary fellow who reminded me of a friendly Charles Bukowski. He’d been there for years and made my job easier than it had any right being.

Troubles a foot… (pause for laughter)