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Tuesday, July 27, 2010



We got up early again for a 700 km drive through the rest of Denmark and some of Sweden. The tour manifest we got, with some slipshod directions, was mostly just stuff like "LEAVING EARLY!!" and MAKE SURE YOU ARE LEAVING VERY EARLY THIS MORNING, and pretty much nothing else. After seeing next to nothing of beautiful Copenhagen, home of Hans Christian Andersen and Neils Bohr, we got the ferry to Malmo.

The first thing we noticed about the Swedish countryside, is that it looks a lot like Ontario, where we're from (the streets though, not the countryside [except Damian, who is from the inner-suburbs]). There are little lakes with ridiculous names everywhere, lingonberry trees, people doing construction non-stop. In Sweden they had signs posted to lakes where you could stop and swim. A few of them (we stopped a lot) even had wooden rafts and diving boards set up.

We stopped at a grocery store next to an Ikea and another Ikea before we got downtown. Josh bought some weird meat, I bought an open container of Bilberry Juice, and there were deer heads in the middle of all the produce displays.

Stockholm to us seemed like one giant castle. We'd come back years later and figure out all the different sections of the town, like Gamla Stan, and Slussen but to use, winding up these small passage ways under towers, and drawbridges the whole town seemed connected into one giant medieval structure.

We played at a club called Alcazar, a tiny pocket of a bar in the corner of a much larger building. The first thing we found was the giant kitchen. We opened a shelf in order to find forks, but instead found steamed trout. The shelf below that was filled with glazed potatoes, and on down to the floor, each shelf was packed with something delicious, like we were in some strange Swedish version of Alice in Wonderland. As we stuffed our faces, we figured our good fortune was due to how large and great a band we had become. Even though 24 hours prior we were eating dumpstered vegetables at Ungdomhuset (which were actually amazing and were part of an entirely dumpstered meal that also contained strips of kombu), we knew that we were finally being rewarded for all our toil. As we continued to explore the building, we realized what the bounty was for - the main hall was playing host to a real fashion show, and was packed with well dressed cosmopolitans, and that most elusive European element, the Swedish Babe. We watched from a balcony in awe, as our own repellent vestments holed up and dripped off our bodies, as 10 after 10 walked down the aisle in some Swedish outfit or other, to uproarious applause from the crowd. Probably fearing an assasination of some sort, we were pulled from the balcony after about 2 minutes of spying, and sent back to the crusty section of the building. Somehow Sandy managed to get back in the great hall and spent the rest of the night partying with models and generally wasting their raw european sexuality.

Back in crustyville, we were about to play. There were a lot of people there and we were actually glad to be touring. Beav did a good job, and the show was taped (you can find some of it on Mixtape 3 or maybe 2). We made friends with people from the band Bruce Banner, and by friends I mean the singer licked my nipple while we played, licked Jonahs knee scab he'd got from playing, and we spent the entire night awake at the guitar players hat talking about punk records. Before we left to sleep, two hote Swedes asked if we wanted to go midnight swimming in the harbour downtown, and for some reason we declined.


We told Rolf that we wanted to go as deep into Europe as possible. That morning we woke up ("LEAVING EARLY IN THE MORNING!!!) for the 12 hour drive to Umea Sweden, capital of Swedish sxe (also the capital of Vasterbotten County), and less than a days drive from the arctic circle. The thing we were all (except Sandy) the most excited for was playing with The Viscious, a band that featured that woman from The International Noise Conspiracy. We figured that we'd show up and all make friends, which we knew from last night meant mostly licking and then staying up all night. Instead her and her friends (mostly people from the fashion show the night before also) prowled around the show like shadows, unerred by the hopes of a few smelly Canadians. The band played and were pretty good (pronounced "reeeaallllaaa guud" in Swindish). Our new friends Rabid Grannies also played, and hosted us that evening. We spent the dinner before the show at their house eating more weird Swedish food and making fun of their accents.

That night we stayed at the Wasted Sounds compound, an apartment so small that the kitchen consisted of a microwave perched on top of the toilet in the bathroom.


Seeing how we were in the middle of nowhere, it was going to take a long time to get anywhere that wasn't nowhere. Seeing as how we weren't in a rush, we decided to take our time and drive to Linkoping, which was the closest to somewhere you could get in Sweden that we hadn't already been. It was 1200 kms straight north (for you Americans and British people - 1200 kms, plus gas, plus swimming stops is basically a 14 hour drive straight around the Gulf of Bothnia,)

We had no directions to this show, and didn't even have the name of the club written down anywhere. Linkoping is (surprisingly) not that big, so we literally guessed at an exit after driving past the town and back again on the highway 3 or 4 times for more than an hour.

By some stroke of crusty luck, we managed to find a show. I still to this day have no idea if this was the show we were supposed to play, or if we just gate crashed it, but after an hour of looking for our show, this one would have to do. Fortunately, it was with that band The Blood Brothers, who we hated, because back then we only listened to thrash and Dangerhouse records. Now we probably sound exactly like them, but whatever. They were nice enough to not talk to us and let us play AFTER them and hang out on their tour bus while we played. Which is exactly what we'd do now if the situation was reversed and the other band was any band, but whatever.

We set up and start playing while the last remaining people are buying Blood Brothers merch and trying to get autographs from the band, and end up playing to about 5 people, but whatever, we were awesome and Mark Hurst (who was with us on the entire trip) played drums and Jonah played 3rd guitar, so that's where the idea for us having 3 guitar players comes from, if you are still wondering. Years later we are on Matador Records, and Jaguar Love who featured the singer for Bloor Brothers was for 2 minutes until they got dropped, but whatever.

That night we stayed at the venue, in a bedroom that we would later (the next morning) find out was haunted, because a woman had killed herself in one of the same beds we slept in a few weeks ago. Or maybe it was 50 years ago and she was the Princess of Bothnia County or something, I can't remember. Either way, there was ridiculous Swedish graffiti in the bathroom ("France Sucks", 1-2-3 NEJ) so we had a good time. We also spent about 3 hours playing euchre in the hallway, a 4 player card game we were so addicted to at that point, we would create makeshift tables out of books and magazines and pizza boxes so we wouldn't have to stop playing in the van, even with all the windows open (ac is not punk obviously) and the wind throwing the cards all over the van like playing cards...Sandy also spent the night drawing a massive mural on the wall of two aliens listening to an iPod (the iPod being foreign to us a the time that only Mark had one, which meant he controlled the music. Which meant that we had to pick music in 3o minute chunks, because that used the battery the least, and the only US-EU power converter he could find at the aiport was one of those ones that inexplicably has a circular outer ring of plastic making the actual sockets inlayed into the plastic by about half an inch - which is great for plugging in regular plugs on the ends of long wires, but useless if you want to plug in anything like an iPod which just has a foldout set of metal jacks that come oh-so-close in an almost romantic sexual way to dipping right into the socket, but so far. It was so tantalizingly close that for the first few days of tour Mark could occasionally be found trying to rip into that plastic ridge with all manner of utensils like knives and forks, and I once even saw him knawing into that fucking thing with his own teeth like a wild animal so hungry for iPod juice that he would risk breaking parts out of his own mouth, that like photo of an alligator that was at first blush hungry enough to eat a snake so large that the snake ended up breaking the alligators body in half with it's combined girth and thrashing strength, and then you just have a dead snake carcass inside a broken-in-half alligator body (the ultimate zero-sum game), but then when you think about it more carefully you understand that the alligator didn't attempt such a quixotic meal simply out of hunger, but out of that wild urge that makes animals animals, that striving towards satisfaction at any cost, even the ultimate cost, like those mosquitos that will suck your blood even long after the must know that a) they have become too heavy even to fly away because they contain so much weight in your blood relative to their puny buglike bodies and b) that you are obviously just letting take so much blood because you are going to deliver upon them retibutive pwnage by waiting until they have sucked the last possible drop into their carriage, at which point you, in your own mini-animal urge, sacrifice a bit of your own blood in order to watch it burst out of a dying mosquito between your fingers, which you then rub on your pants or something, because while you are in fact an animal on paper, you are actually a person, and the thought of putting your own blood back into your body, after it's brief but altering journey through even the most sterile mosquito insides is too revolting to consider. Anyhow Mark was like that when he was chowing down on that plastic converter. We ended up having to be frutal with the power because in the end he did never get that plastic rim off, and only was able to charge it by either finding the euro version of the cable from friends, or finding elusive sockets with no rims) inside their spaceship. The other consequence of Mark having the iPod was that we only listened to Mark music. Keep in mind that in 2005, already none of us was listening to punk save for Jonah, and The Beav, who actually was on a quixotic quest of his own, to have every punk record ever on his own super-futuristic 80 gig ipod (which I think he left at home?) and so everyone was going a little wild with their tastes. Josh was listening to stoner metal or like political speeches, Sandy was listening to Nico and free Jazz, I was listening to Northern Soul and embarrasing electroclash bands like Fischerspooner and Adult., and Mark was going out on the ultimate limb and listening to like The Doors and The Band and crazy stuff like that so mostly we just didn't listen to music and instead made fun of Martins accent.

That night we had a great sleep, because of the aforementioned haunting of the room, the fact that the room was the size of a large closet, and had beds stacked 3-high, and also due to the fact that we had to wake up at like 5 in the morning to get to Den Haag, another 1000 plus km trip. Once on the road, we realize/decide that we're on what is literally an impossible schedule, and we ditch on the drive somewhere in Sweden, where we find not another great lake to swim in, amongst the already plentiful bevy of swimmable lakes, but instead a giant water park just off the highway. We don't pay to get in, and spend about 3 hours playing on water slides with 5 year old Swedish kids, and in the sauna with 85 year old Swedish men. Refreshed, and wearing our towels like capes, we set out into the European dusk, who knows where we may land.

As darkness begins to fall over Germany, we do one of the most inexplicable things we've done as a band. Our pockets and bags stuffed (literally) with euros and kroners, instead of going into whatever city we were next to to find a hotel and get a good nights sleep after 4 days of driving 12 hours a day, we decide it would be best to save the money and sleep on the side of the highway. Not the parking lot of whatever gas station was just across the way, but the actual highway, sleeping bags on the paved shoulder. Beav that night would remark, to his legend, that this may have been what it was like for his grandfather, a fighter in Germany (for Canada) during ww2. We all stifle our laughter at this precious and dramatic moment of tribute, and try to sleep without thinking of what it would be like to get run over by an 18 wheeler (or a German tank). Josh being a pro at this sort of behavior (see CD inlay picture in "Epics in Minutes") he's asleep in 2 seconds. The rest of us count the stars and try not to inhale too many bugs until the sun rises the next morning.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kings among men right here.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey! My umeå apartment was not that small! it was 86squaremeeters. The kitchen was quite small though, I aggre on that... Get back to Sweden now! Linköping would be a good stay on next tour. I promise you that your show wount crash with a Blood brother show this time...

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Blogger Peter Berry said...

Please come back to our very swimable lakes and our haunted houses. Linköping is a bit easier to find in 2010. /Peter

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