SUMMER EUROPE TOUR 2005 PART FIVE
Day 12 of this tour was one of the best nights on tour of all time for us. The show was in Mannheim, another nondescript town somewhere in the deep German countryside. Except for people who live there, I'm sure it's really special for them. I can't remember anything about the show, other than it was super hot and we played with our new friends Kylesa again. Their driver, Stachel, had become our tight friend because he is a German devil and we were way sketchier than Kylesa, so he was hanging out with us the whole night when we played with them.
sorry, had to take this part out
That was the first amazing thing. After that all happened, the rest of us decided to go swimming, because basically Germany's biggest and coolest outdoor swimming complex was right across the parking lot from the show (the parking lot was full of a German Circus that night). We had spent the afternoon learning a bit about German kids, as we sat sketchily in the stands of the swimming pool pretending not to be pedos. I don't know how it is where ever you live, but in Canada here are the pool rules: No running, one person on the diving board at a time, no jumping close to the walls, and no flips. These kids were basically breaking every single rule flagrantly. What you do is run up the ladder to the first level of the tower board where like 50 kids are already standing on the brink of the board waiting for you (it's a big cement plank like in the Olympics, not a springboard). Once the requisite amount of kids is up there, you all jump off at the same time, doing whatever the most dangerous kind of dive or jump you can think of. PLUS while doing all that, the object is to try and land as closest to the wall of the pool as possible, without straight up just landing on the pavement (IE jumping OUT of the pool entirely). Anyhow no kids landed on the pavement and we were really glad (bummed).
So the moral of the story is that after we were done playing, we all went over to the pool to swim. We had to sneak in because it was like 2am and German rules aren't THAT lax, even though I feel like most of the kids were also smoking while swimming, now that I think about it. We all piled under the door somehow and got in the pitch black pool. I bolted for the 7 metre (that means 3 feet) tower board because I took diving lessons (and figure skating and piano and soccer camp for 1 week) when I was a kid. It was seriously cool, jokes aside, jumping off that high a platform in almost pitch black German darkness. Plus all the girls who came weren't wearing clothes at that point, so that was ok too. One downside was that Sandy had a double ear infection on this tour and couldn't swim, so she laid on the grass listening to her ipod (Radiohead, Kruder Dorfmeister). Even though the pool complex was like several kilometers of pool, grass, table areas and fencing, at some point during our adventure someone noticed that the police were outside the fence trying to kick us out of the pool. We all put our minimal (techno) clothing back on and scattered. Me and Josh and Jonah ran to the back fence with Stachel and Sandy. Sandy I think got more sick once this happened and decided that she could make it over the (8 foot high wrought iron spiked) fence. So those two took off looking for a real exit. The rest of us piled over the fence. Since I was pretending to be a European Idiot on this tour, my night time ensemble was a $4 polo shirt, my shorts and plastic wafer-thin (French) flip flops. I scaled the fence and put my foot right on one of the spikes, which went clean through my flip flop and into the webbing between two of my toes. It hurt like fuck and was an open wound for at least a year (I am not kidding) because I'm the kind of guy that wiggles my toes a lot (if you know what I mean).
Anyhow we all managed to get out. Sandy and Stachel just mosied to the front gate and when the police asked them what they were doing, they said they worked at the circus (Sandy's gypsy passport working like a charm yet again). We slept who knows where and regaled Mark with our tales of adventure over a few pints of banana nectar.
The next day we woke up and drove to Nunschritz, another place so tiny you'd be hard pressed to find it on google maps (also because I spelled it wrong on purpose so you can't investigate the veracity of my claim). The show was really weird. Our "booking agent" who you may remember from the first post, Ralph/Rolf's band was playing ("Monster" or "Munster" or "Hellstrom" or "Stomonster" or something) so that was cool. They had a really weird front man who never wore a shirt and watched movies on his laptop all night in the van before they played instead of hanging out. The show was crazy tiny and for some reason there was this LA punker guy holed up in this little bunker recording punk bands. Long trip home dude. The venue was the size of a hallway.
There's a few other random anecdotes I need to relay about this tour that I'm gonna relay now because I don't remember what specific day(s) they happened on:
1) One day in the van Sandy was in the front seat. Sandy has this insistence that because she "used to play baseball", (when she was 6) she has the lifelong ability to accurately throw used pieces of food out of the moving van windows at all times, regardless of where she's sitting. Obviously this never works and is always hilarious/disgusting. The mother of all incidents however took place somewhere on the highway in Germany. It was probably Karma for boasting, but she leaned OUT the window to spit, and somehow the wind shot the spit back into the van into Martyns EYEBALL while was driving. Try to just imagine the physics of this for a minute: She put her head physically out of the van space in order to get the spit successfully into the air and on it's way to the ground behind us (she used to play baseball after all). Instead of doing that, which I have to say, does make sense now, the spit decided to somehow get caught up in the most random/fortuitous air wave that shot it in a crazy maybe 2 foot half-loop-bend through moving airspace and somehow back into the window all while the van was travelling at like 100kms an hour (meaning that if you drew a diagram of the spit vs the moving van, the parabola of the spit would actually be huge, because it would have to make up for the moving van - point a would be the spit leaving in a perpendicular line, but point b would be it's re-entry into the van, probably at least several feet in space/time because it would have somehow have to have been moving forward at the same velocity as the van, in order to somehow get back into the window of its departure. THEN AS IF THAT WASN'T ALREADY ENOUGH it managed to land in probably the one place in the entire van-space that was most inappropriate, IE the personal eyeball of the one person driving the van. However the most insane thing that took place during this episode was how fast Sandy scampered into the back crawl space of the van (she used to play baseball) to hide when the spit hit Martyn (our driver, not the DJ) and he began to flip the F out.
2) Some other day either in Germany or The Netherlands (but like really, what is the difference) we were driving along listening to one of Jonahs mixtapes that he made special for the tour and there was a huge crash against the windshield. Thinking it was some small Benelux child, we all started panicking, craning out the window to see the carnage on the side of the road. We looked over at Martyn/Martijn who was playing it super cool because I guess he had seen what happened, and just pointed his finger straight up, towards the giant bird carcass that was flying through the air. Big not like we hit an emu or an ostrich, but probably the biggest bird I've seen outside of a zoo. It looked like a muppet, and probably had a hair mustache. We kept driving.
3) At some point we picked up a hitchhiker.
So as if all that stuff wasn't enough, what would happen next solidified everything else that happened that month as the craziest month maybe of my life. After Nunschritz we stopped in Dresden as a last ditch attempt to get rid of all the cash that had been accumulating in every pocket and nook of all our backpacks. We'd made stops every day for the last week trying to figure out how to put it in a bank, or send it as a money order, or something, with no luck. We really wanted to get rid of it all before we left the relative fiduciary safety of Western Europe to the wild outback of the East (not counting Russia, we love you). Dresden was nice, a little bombed out, but I don't remember leaving any money there. So we pressed on towards Prague.
The border was easy, and we ran into our new frenemies Martyrdod from Sweden. They were totally the crustiest band on the planet at the time and had been driving straight from I guess Stockholm or like Crustingping when we ran into them. We waved out the window and made friends because we were both punk bands, but secretly laughed at them as we drove through because they were having trouble at the border (also because their van was almost on fire and they all looked like insane circus performers and there was like 9 people stuffed into a tiny volkswagen van [pronounced "wan"]). Anyhow we got over the border and immediately stopped at the first Czech roadside store we could find to flex our financial muscles all over this poor Eastern European economic shambles. Soon we were eating bags of chips that cost the equivalent of 16 cents and drinking cokes for 20 cents. Martyrdod showed up a few minutes later and did the same, as we discussed the finer points of punk culture together as one big global punk family.
Back in the day (in 2005) the only way from south eastern Germany to Prague was this tiny highway that snaked through this dark forest, and descended down a hill or a mountain for like 30 kms. Since it was a high traffic area, some local business had sprung up along the side of the highway, namely mushroom pickers and little shacks where you could meet a prostitute. We got a good view of all this because we got stuck in a traffic jam on the descent. One thing a 16 year old new driver definitely does not have that much experience with is how much you should rely on the brakes when you are slowly driving down a hill for an hour and a half, and how much you should rely on shifting down gears. After about 45 minutes of boiling the brake fluid on this cursed Czech mountain, we lost our brakes and began to kind of careen forward. Somehow Martign got the van stopped and off to the side of the road, at which point it was smoking out the front, and we were cursing Martyrdod for no reason. Josh and Sandy walked down the rest of the way to the closest town with no cell phone and no idea what to do and I guess made sign language with the local Czech mountain forest people to no avail, and came back with nothing but a few mushrooms and no help. I think we just let the stuff cool and inched down the hill for the rest of the day. Dresden to Prague is like 220kms, which would have taken a little less than 2 hours on a good day of driving. We got there at almost midnight after driving 20 kms an hour for like 10 hours, fearing that if we drove any faster than that we'd all end up flying through the front windshield and sleeping on the highway again (permanently). I can remember pressing my face into my pillow like at least 50% of the drive. Not only that, but we of course didn't have directions to the show. So we get into Prague, somehow bump into Martyrdod for the third time that day, on their way to the show as well, except driving at top speed, so we chance it and push the gas and try to follow them through Prague. The venue is obviously at the top of this giant hill in the center of town (right next to the largest stadium in the world). We get there a few minutes before we're suppose to play, set up even though we are the most stressed out any of us have been in our lives, play the best set of our lives and then sit back to eat vegan stew and relax.
The next morning we stopped at this massive Tesco just outside the city and used our pocket change to buy booze. I think with three dollars I bought 17 bottles of beer, which I then somehow kept intact in my bag for the next 2 weeks. Also don't ask my what happened to the breaks, because I can't remember right now. But somehow we were driving, so lets just leave it at that.
Our Czech adventure continued the next day. We had a show booked in a place probably 99% of the planet has never heard of: UHESKY HRADISTE. Like sometimes when you run into people from high school and they are financial dudes or like lawyers, it's cool to say you are in a band, because you can add that you "just got back from Paris" or "were working in New York for a few weeks"...it doesn't really work when you say "I spent a few days in UHERSKY HRADISTE", first of all because honestly it sounds made up, but second of all because where even is that and who would go there. WE DID. And it was the best FU show of all time. The directions for this show were "driving to the town, look for the club with the giant birds on top". Somehow we found it because of me and Martiyns front seat navigation alchemy. It was this massive punk fest held in an old theater with two giant birds on top. We get there and a really cute girl is making is the most nuts rider I've ever seen in my life. I'm pretty sure that night I ate jello with corn in it and pizza with pickles on top. It was like when they are making food on a cartoon, but your TV is fucked so the colours get all messed up and normal food ends up looking like crazy LSD spacefood - that's what we ate. Also paprika chips. I guess this mad Josh so giddy (he loves gross food) that he spent the rest of the day touring the city and trying to pick up a girl that he would later realize was 14 years old (and married). It was cute. We spent our day at the library next door checking our email on the first computers ever invented.
By the time we got back to the club the show had started and we learned a few hilarious bits of information, namely that we would be playing with Martyrdod AGAIN, and that like 40 kids were already passed out drunk. Jonah's notes for this show state that the place was "so gross inside. Like a refugee camp. Punks shitting and pissing, sleeping, doing dope, partying. Real wild vibes" which I'm pretty sure is just the transcript of the letter he was writing to his parents at the time that was probably concluded with "send cookies and a change of underwear". Also note the use of the word "vibes". We played a great set and had a blast. Kids that hadn't yet passed out went crazy. Martyrdod played next and were so drunk that they called us out onstage (the bad kind of calling out) for apparently "insisting" that we play before them so that all the kids would leave before they played, even though they had brokered this very arrangement before we both played. Their set was literally the most inept piece of art, public performance or music I have ever witnessed in my life, and I have seen a monkey AND an elephant do paintings. It was like watching a group of cavemen attempt to learn instruments on the spot, underwater. and in slow motion.
That night we stayed at this crazy loner Czech ninjas house. He somehow fixed our van I think with one hand, and also ripped our van door off with the same one hand. He had a pony tail and huge muscles and didn't really say anything, but was strong and kind in the way that like a graceful horse is, and we were afraid of him like you would be a graceful horse. We spent the entire night watching Czech MTV, and after every video they would play 3 minutes of ringtone commercials, and not any other kind of commercial. None of us owned cell phones at this point.
The next day I rode in someone elses car so I could spend the day in a sensible vehicle like a normal person for once. It was the guy who did all our Czech shows. He told me stories about playing grindcore festivals for 5000 people, and a Polish rave that lasted for 15 days until it was broken up by the police and turned into a huge riot. Typical European conversation fare. We played in Brno which is notable for having a B then and R followed by an N in its name for some inexplicable reason. The show was ok and right after we jumped into the van for our long drive to Belgrade.