Europe Summer Tour 2005 Diary

By 10K

day one squat

Five years ago we did our first tour of Europe, and have been to Europe every summer since then in some capacity. It’s 2010 now, and European tours for us, while not as posh as some might suppose, are still a far cry from the psychic attrocities that took place on a daily basis on our first trip across the pond as a band. Since nothing funny is happening on this tour we’re on right now, I felt it would be a good idea to re-visit what things were like for us a mere five years ago.

The story of this fabled trip begins sometime in the late spring of 2005. Damian and Jonah had been working on their other band at the time Pink Eye, who had just played a show in Chicago. At this point we were already dealing with the pressures of transitioning between a stuck up aesthetic hardcore band, to a full fledged sell-out professional violin friending touring machine. I had played in a band previous to Fucked Up, and had been on a threadbare tour in Europe before, and at this point I was still really punk, so the prospect of touring across the industrial wastelands of Germany and the cultural labyrinths of Benelux offered to me endless delight. We had a mission statement as a band that we would “never tour”, but just having completed succesfull tours of the East and West coasts of the US, we decided to just bite the bullet and try our luck in Europa. We didn’t have a booking agent at this point, and relied on what was known as the “international diy community” and thus made contact with one Rolf, who played in the band Hellstrom, from somewhere in Germany, and who we had never actually met or gotten any real references from. I would take long lunch breaks at my job at the lightbulb factory to check email frantically to put the final details in place for the tour. Even before we had been to europe, we were “so over” conventional stops like Germany and the Netherlands, and so the only instructions I would ever give Rolf would be to book us in the craziest places he could get in contact with. When we got the tour manifest and saw that included places like Prague, Belgrade, Macedonia and Slovakia, we licked our lips in anticipation of the trip.

In the weeks leading up to the tour, there were some fracturous developments within the band, as there always where during those dark times. Lots of fights, arguments and attemps to sabotage. I can remember several “I’m not doing this” fights after we had bought our plane tickets. When I got a call from Damian 2 weeks before our tour, while he was in Chicago, explaining to me why he couldn’t do the tour, it was no real surprise and we moved ahead with a different singer without hesitation. It actually brought resolution to a bunch of fights we’d all been having, and as we sat down as a band to discuss who the replacement singer would be, we left the meeting in the best union we’d been for ages.

DAY ZERO

This event would however set the tone for the rest of the tour. None of us saw it as foreshadowing that we’d had to deal with a major crisis before we even got on the airplane. We calmly just plunked down for a 6th plane ticket and merrily packed our bags.

I hadn’t been on an airplane in a while and at this point for some reason didn’t have any anxiety about flying. I can remember saying something about “never getting on an airplane again” after 9/11, and I think I managed to hold out until this trip. Meaning that in 2005 I still had yet to perfect any of my OCD pre-take off rituals that extend to visualizing the take off weeks before the flight, running around the city trying to get high strength anti-anxiety pills without a perscriptions, and obsessive packing in order to make every preparation. It was as a result of my lax attitude toward the lottery of the skies that I was able to show up at the airport with the wrong passport. My old passport had expired in May of that year, but I for some reason carried it around in the same pocket of my backpack as my new passport, probably because I liked looking at it and remembering that once I had crossed the border between Hungary and The Czech Republic, or that once I had boarded and airplane bound for Washington DC (for a protest!).

When I handed the ticket agent the expired passport my brain immediately honed in on the exact location of the correct one – on my desk at home – as I started sweating and playing out scenarios in which somehow I ended up making it on a plane that day. There are lots of ways to wiggle at the airport, but an expired passport is a dead-end.

I called my only friend who owned a car, who also had doubled as our roadie for the last few years. He was at work but agreed to take a break in order to break into my house to grab the passport, hand it off to Josh’s girlfriend, who would drive through rush hour traffic to the airport to try and get it to me on time. And by on time I mean that my gate was closing in 30 minutes. You should understand that this is the story of a diy hardcore band touring through Europe. As you will see later, adding expense was not an option – there would be no buying of another flight, no taking a cab back to my house, no re-routing or taking the train from London. As the attendend starting to book me alternate flights that day, and the invisible green dollar signs started hammering down on my forehead, we waited for traffic updates from Stef. 25 minutes later, my backwindow freshly smashed, it somehow looked like we were going to actually make it. We turned to see Stef run through an empty terminal, I threw it baton-like at the attendant, who got me on one of those golf carts you see in airports but never get to use, and that chariot raced through the terminal towards the gate. I was the last person on the plane.

DAY ONE

The first day of tour for us now is as a rule the chillest. Half of us have already been there for a few days on vacation, and are chipper and ready to hit the road. Back then the first day was always the longest and most hellish. This would have been the case on this tour as well, since day 1 was one of the most arduously boring days of my life, but it would pale in comparison to what we’d go through on the days that followed.

We’d arranged through a friend of Jonah’s to hire a 16 year old dutch kid named Martine to drive us. He’d never done a tour before, and his first day was an 800 kilometer drive from the airport in Amsterdam, to Copenhagen, with a stop in Hamburg to pick up our gear. We also learned that day that he chained smoked, had gotten his license a few weeks before the tour started, and lived in Haarlem, which is the poshest suburb in the entire great nation of Holland. He also really liked bands like Antidote and The Abused and that stuff, and pretty much hated every other kind of music. He was also mean in a perfectly Dutch way. He immediately started making fun of us in the airport waiting room, and then drove us to his mansion in Haarlem so we could rest up for our intense drive the next day.

day one martin

That night we played at OCCII in Amsterdam. It was awful and should be forgotten. We were still tired and jetlagged, and hadn’t done many practice with our replacement singer Michael (The Beav). Dutch people aren’t subtle, and they let Beav know how they felt about the show afterwards – that he was terrible, subhuman, etc. Not a pretty sight.

amsterdam

In America we were in control enough to be able to book a tour with no stupid drives. We’ve been touring nonstop for like 5 years now, and have still never had to dead-head it across the country. The longest drive we’ve ever had to do was like 14 hours between San Fransisco and Portland, and a similar drive through the rockies between Vancouver and Edmonton. Those are the high water marks of distance abuse for us on the continent. In Europe it’s different because Europeans are different, have different schedules and weird rules. Thats why last week we drove through Cologne 3 times in 3 days on our way to 3 different cities all within a days drive of Cologne (and almost every other city on the continent). That’s why I once had to drive over night non-stop from Vienna to Rome. Europeans will tell you it’s because of vacation, and that “everyone is away there right now so you can’t play”, but really it’s because they hate you and want to watch you drive 19 hours a day for no good reason, as you drive by 15 ancient cultural centers and perfectly good places to play a concert, on the way to where your show us. So thats why the first drive of our tour drove through 4 or 5 places we could have played instead (and 3 that we would play later on that tour).

We left at around 6 in the morning, and got to Hamburg in time for rush our. We had to go through a long tunnel that was jammed and sat there for an hour and read newspaper articles about terrorism. We loaded the van up with the biggest amps we’d seen in our life and got back on the road. At midnight, we finally arrived in Copenhagen, watching the lit Tivoli signs blur by as we raced to make our set time. We didn’t have proper directions, because this was before ipod translator aps, and GPS machines, so we had a book full of broken english directions and half-printed and pixelated road maps to try and make sense of. Asking people out the window for directions was harrowing at the best of times, but tonight we were looking for a squat, and go no help. We circled a few blocks for 20 minutes, on the phone with the promotor who toyed with us, telling us to look for “a giant park” and that it would be around there.

day one gear

Somehow we made it and set up and went straight on stage. We were excited to be in what was at that time the international center of DIY punk. Ugndomhuset, which has been covered on this blog in the past, was a great place to play if you were a cool Danish punk band. If you were a bunch of future-sports fans from Canada, no one cared. Lots of people showed up to hang out in the back room and drink cider and be beautiful. We played to a handful of people, spending most of the set wondering what everyone was talking about in the other room.

We slept in the squat that night – our room was where the police scanners were. Because there could be a raid at any moment, someone had to stay up all night every night and listen to the police scanner. We thought maybe that was a tad dramatic that night, but then a few years later the building was raided by the police and torn down. Apparently the room was haunted or something as well.

day one bed

DAY TWO

two flag

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.

sweden deer head

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.

sweden fashion show

two jonah

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.

DAY THREE

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.

sweden viscious

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.

DAY FOUR

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.

two stock

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.

two france sucks

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.

sweden mark

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.

two sauna

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.

two pool

 

 

DAY FIVE

part three josh

So we left off falling asleep on the side of the highway somewhere in Germany. We’d swerved our show in Den Haag that day and decided to just take our time heading south. Today’s show was in Mulheim in Germany, which is actually pretty close to Den Haag and would have made a lot of sense if we’d ever gotten to Den Haag.

part three ice cream

We got to the town early and chilled out in a city for the first time in forever. We went and got ice cream and sat around in a public square. No doubt looking like homeless people and smelling like a German highway, we somehow picked up a waitress and convinced her to come see our show that night. She wasn’t a punk and had no real reason to be remotely interested in us, but she was friendly and decided to come with anyhow.

part three waitress

part three observers

This is one of the only really great shows I remember from this tour. Every show you play in Germany is in a building that used to be something else. A few years ago we played in the largest building I’ve ever been inside that wasn’t a sports stadium, and it was a munitions factory during the war. The last show of this tour was in an SS barracks (more on that later). Germany is full of these post-war abandoned buildings that are now squats, I guess because of such intense post-war guilt, people were allowed to just claim these buildings for whatever purpose they wanted. Turns out what most Germans want to do with their abandoned buildings is put on punk shows. So this show was at an abandoned horse stables, so was long, thing, smelled like hay and had a nice looking bar in the back. We played with Short Fuse, who were amazing and we all loved them. There was an Observers (a punk band from Portland that we all loved) show across town tonight so we were worried about how many people would come see us, but the show was packed and we had a great time. The Observers even came to watch.

part three show
After the show I drank banana juice for the first time (German people love nectar) and the gay bartender tried to pick me up by talking about Feist, the only other Canadian he knew.

part three guy

DAY SIX

We drive right back North, the direction we’d just come from, the play in Hamburg, home of the Beatles. Tonights show was with The Oath, so we were pretty much in mid 00s punk/thrash heaven at this point. The last time I was in Europe I played the biggest squat I’d ever seen in my life. They showed us 3 floors of grand ballrooms, telling us what great bands had played the rooms over the years. Then our show was in a sub-basement hall way with a dirt floor.

Tonight we were playing at Hafenklang, another squat (it used to be a Nazi-run punk venue during the war), a nice place on the water that we’ve played at 3 or 4 times now. We play first and are pissed because we are super arrogant already and don’t like playing with other bands from Canada. The Oath comes on and Sandy has a great time moshing with a full bottle of wine in her hands, wearing her flowing Gypsy Passport (what we called this steam-looking dress she always wore).

part three hamburg

After the show we took a visit to the Reeperbahn, which is Hamburg’s red light district. Even though we’d already been to Amsterdam a bunch of times at this point, and are mostly all total squares we were all excited to hang out here. We went to some punk bar to hang out with that guy King Khan, and then inexplicably ****. I can still remember a drunk ***. We were unsure if Martin ***. We didn’t get any details really, but Martin was extrememly agitated when he came back outside.

That night I had the worst sleep of my life. It was raining but I’d somehow become so paranoid that I thought the raindrops were cockroaches, and every few minutes I would lunge awake to swipe away a phantom cockroach. At the same time, I was in charge of holding the money pouch that night, which I was literally clutching while I tried in vain to get to sleep. The whole night I just wished I was back sleeping on the side of the highway.

DAY SEVEN

I just recently learned that Bielefeld is “the countryside” in Germany, and is meant to be beautiful. What we did notice about it then, was that it was basically right next to Mulheim, where we’d just been 2 days ago, before we drove to Hamburg and back. Also that Beilefeld is basically in the middle of nowhere, but has a good punk scene because of its huge squat. It’s like 7 stories high, which is perfect because after you are done playing your show and drunk, you get to walk up 7 flights of stairs to get to your bunkbed. Josh got so excited that night that he literally wet his bed (I am not kidding – none of us knew that night, but he told us 4 or 5 years later). Mark was feeling particularly adventurous so he bought a tetra pack of like the Armenian national drink or something, which I’m pretty sure was horse milk, and I also think I remember it having hair in it? Anyhow he took one smell/sip and almost died on the street. A bunch of German/Armenian kids formed a circle pointing and laughing at him.

The show was whatever and who cares. Afterwards there was some punk DJ party thing and the most attractive woman that’s ever attended a FU show hung out and Beav tried to pick her up. At the end of the night they played “Police” and we all cried, and then walked up 7 flights of stairs to our beds and then all peed in them.

DAY EIGHT

Hey so just in case you are still wondering, the point of these little diaries is to point out that there are bands out there where crazy life-memory type stuff happens every day on tour. It’s nice to have money to buy smoothies everyday at M and S or Whole Foods, but it was also really crazy and fun to be the type of band that had no money and no idea what would happen to us every day when we woke up (at 5am). I have a terrible memory, and the fact that 5 years later I can remember all this crazy shit that happened to us on a daily basis to me anyhow, is nuts.

When we last spoke, we were just waking up in Beilefeld, all of us in crisp dry beds, except Josh, who had just wet his. Tonights show was in Hoogeveen (if you need me to tell you what country that’s in, you have never been to Europe). It was this weird festival where we played with mostly metalcore (Morser) and hippie hardcore (The Spectacle) bands – we talked about it last week and we are pretty sure that Brian Dingledine was in attendance. We met our new friend Thijs (pronounced “TICE, like “ice” with a T infront of it [like how it’s spelt duh]) at this show, who “ran” Burning Sensation Records (as in what happens the morning after you have a curry) and released those two Euro 7″s we did you see on ebay all the time. We got into lots of fights over email with him and were really pissed when the shirts he had made for us ended up costing like $12 euros wholesale, but the 7″s looked amazing.

5 josh piss

We played the show and who knows what happened. I think at this point we had bought this giant plastic David statue (Michaelangelo, not Eliade) and had him on our merch table. This is one of the crazy things about going on tour that never makes sense – even if you don’t have enough money for a hotel or food or gas (I ended up looking so disheveled after a tour once that I was given change while standing in front of one of those walk-in vending machines they have in “The Netherlands” where you can get hamburgers and Deim bars and shit [the stupidest type of stores in existence] without even soliciting because I looked so gnarly) you’re still willing to throw money away at the stupidest shit. We stopped to piss (cost to piss in Germany: 70 euro cents) in some small town in Germany and in front of the store we stopped at was this collection of garden gnomes and other large plastic lawn fixtures. We would have left that store with an 80 euro plastic tiger if it had fit in the van, for absolutely no reason. Instead we settled on the David statue because a) it fit in the van b) it was only like 45 euros and c) we were all so nuts at this point that it totally made sense (to everyone except Sandy, who was kind of pissed).

5 tiger

Anyhow speaking of being poor, that night they made us sleep in the dining room of the venue. Because we were as worn out and tired as French orphans, we wanted to go to sleep before the show was done, which was happening in the next room. It was so loud. Josh, as you all know, is a really heavy sleeper. I have seen that dude fall asleep in all sorts of violently loud and disturbing scenarios. He falls asleep so often in the van that putting a penny in his snoring mouth was a daily tour activity until one time he woke up as I was doing it and punched me straight in the NECK for some reason and ever since I’ve been a bit scared of him even though he is maybe 5’2 on a good day and I clear 6 feet even when my hair isn’t sticking up (also a good day). But the show was so loud and we were so tired that I remember Josh straight up throwing chairs across the room in frustration, like the actual literal definition of frustration, the kind you can only understand after having been on tour through the most decrepit buildings in a dozen European cities, eating tuna paste and frozen buns every morning (a pan-European delicacy), paprika chips all day, and vegan slurry every night, playing 8 hours of cards a day to try and hold on to sanity, and getting maybe 5 hours of sleep a night, woken up every morning by the same crazed chain smoking 16 year old that will drive your ramshackle van with no seatbelts into the ground.

5 dudes

DAY NINE

One good thing about touring Europe in the summer now is that we mostly just play festivals. Festivals are great for so many reasons – you get to potential hang out with MIA, Kanye West and all the other famous people who play (you never do. The closest we ever came to hanging out with a legit famous music person at a festival [and not the fake famous dudes Damian always hangs out with like Bob Mould] was the time we ate breakfast with Brandon Flowers, lead singer of The Killers, his baby and his wife at Leeds because Jonah sat there by accident because he has no idea who Brandon Flowers from The Killers is, because he is not in SFT or GHT or any other micro hardcore band that he would immediately be able to recognize the lead singer of and probably get a bit nervous. I on the other hand am so culturally observant/lame that I didn’t even have to use google to remember what the guy from The Killer’s last name was). Fests are also great because you usually get amazing food, don’t have to worry about how many people show up (unless you are Kanye West or some other headliner), there’s sometimes couches backstage or chairs and you get paid a shit ton of money usually. Anything Ieper Fest was our first ever European festival and was hilarious. It’s a kind of tiny hardcore/metal fest in Ieper/Ypres which is in Belgium and was basically completely destroyed in the war, and then completely rebuilt to look like an ancient Belgian city. I saw more tattoos and Bold shirts at this thing than ever before…people in Europe take hardcore really seriously, and Ieper Fest is basically where all the most serious European hardcore kids go to be the most serious about hardcore. It’s basically like the Paris or Milan (or Tokyo or New York) of European Hardcore. Even in 2005 we were not that kind of band so we just took the piss and laughed pretty much the entire day as we sold the most amount of merch we’d ever sold. I was so riled up that I played most of the show from underneath the stage, and made fun of a handicapped kid while playing until I realized he was handicapped and not just some weird looking Dutch person.

5 retard

5 david

Later that night we got paid 350 euro dollars and felt more rich than ever. How rich did we feel? Instead of going to get a hotel in Belgium we drove to Paris to “hang out” because our show was there the next day. With no plan or friends or place to stay or wherewithall to actually pay for a hotel, we parked in the middle of the city at 2am, walked to the Eiffel Tower, and then slept outside again, in downtown Paris, on the lawn infront of some consulate or defense secretaries office or something. I am not kidding. Someone in our party literally shit in the bushes. Jonah slept on a bench but was so scared of getting caught or mugged or something, he just put a french newspaper over his face and pretended to sleep while he secretly kept watch and didn’t sleep at all.

5 ieper

DAY TEN
Rested from our romantic evening in Paris, we drove to the squat where the show was that night to park the van so we could hang out in Paris. We all split into groups (babies vs cool people) because some people wanted to sleep (babies) and some people wanted to see the city (cool people). Me and Josh had a lovely time watching old men lawn bowl, exploring Les Halles, going to some Metro station that had an indoor swimming pool and generally talking in the cultural zeitgist of France (ie looking at cute French girls and buying chocolate bars and smokes). Beav stays home to do laundry and shrinks my wool sweater by putting it in the drier.

The show was rammed because that band Amanda Woodward was going to play their last set ever. Luckily for us, they decide to play before us. About 150 people clear out of the room before we play, so our show is basically the same as every other night. Except that for the entire set two women are disrobing and making out on a matress beside the stage, so we were all a little pre-occupied (except Sandy).

All I can remember about afterwars are tons of fights and tons of dogs outside. Also at this point Tim Molinari is with us for some reason. The promoter hooked us up with an actual clean amazing female inhabited apartment to sleep in (sans females, who were away) and we all had the best night of sleep ever. Since girls lived there, the showers were full of all kinds of soap and washing products. I took probably the longest shower in my life, and used about 6 different products on my body and hair.

DAY ELEVEN
The most unremarkable day of the entire tour. The show was in Giessen Germany, home of “Patrick from Giessen”, who once had his house raided (or something) by the German police for ordering a Fucked Up 7″ that had a picture of Nazis on it. We played with Kylesa in the middle of some crazy house/squat that looked like the haunted house level of Mario Kart (the new one where it’s all green, not the old one that’s all black).

5 van

 

 

czech1

DAY TWELVE

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 Kylesaagain. 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 bepedos. 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 oktoo. 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.

DAY THIRTEEN

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 thisinsistence 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 amuppet, and probably had a hair mustache. We kept driving.

3) At some point we picked up a hitchhiker.

DAY FOURTEEN

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 Martyrdodfrom Sweden. They were totally the crustiest band on the planet at the time and had been driving straight from I guess Stockholm or likeCrustingping 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 driverdefinitely 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 cursingMartyrdod 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.

czech van

czech mushroom

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.

czech prague night

DAY FIFTEEN

Our Czech adventure continued the next day. We had a show booked in a place probably 99% of the planet has never heard of: UHESKYHRADISTE. 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 FUshow 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.

czech josh gfriend

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.

czech drunks2

czech drunks

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.

DAY SIXTEEN

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.

HI THIS IS THE LAST ENTRY IN THE REPORTAGE OF THIS CRUCIAL TIME IN HUMAN HISTORY THE TOUR FROM HELL

DAY SEVENTEEN

Ok, so it’s a bit embarrassing to admit this now that we’ve played shows in some of the craziest locations on the planet (Libera, Ethiopia, Newcastle), but some of us (me) were a bit worried at the prospect of playing in Belgrade. Even though we’d already been on some of the most harrowing experiences in our lives in the last 16 days, we still hadn’t really played any equally harrowing places – we’d just slowly crept across the well worn path of western Europe towards the east. When we first started booking the tour, our idea was to go to the craziest places we could find. But instead of getting booked in Russia or Bulgaria, we just got sorted with super long drives to Sweden. So we were all really excited to go east, and also nervous.

We’d started the trip the night before after our show in Brno because we thought it was going to be a really long drive and that we’d get stuck in cell blocks on the border, getting individually terrorized until we were finally sent to labour camps in far off Serbia-Iraq border lands. We all loaded up on Czech energy drinks (they are made from horse milk) and headed south. The first stop on the E65 is Bratislava, which as we passed it’s relative glittering lights and skyline, seemed achingly European and foreign to us, like a scummy Vegas hidden in the folds of the Balkans. We whizzed by and made our stop for the night in Gyor, Hungary, home of the Gyori ETO KC, number one womens handball team in Europe (I did not make that up). We arrived in pitch black at 4am to find a city already bustling with people on their morning commutes. In our tired and hallucinogenic state, it looked as busy as Picadilly Circus at 4pm, with people everywhere on the streets, waiting for the bus and everything – very weird scenes.

Since we were acting poor, we decided to get one hotel room and split it between the 8 people in the van. Somehow I got a room with the Beav, while Martijn and basically everyone else in the touring party slept in the van for the few remaining hours of night. This was the first time Fucked Up ever bought a hotel room on tour. We woke up at a leisurly hour the next morning, erasing any headstart we’d forged the night before. We ate at a cafe, where Sandy ordered a salad, and recieved a bowl of mayonnaise with some lettuce on the side. She was pissed.

We got to the Serbia border later that afternoon, after having spent the entire days drive worry about it, and then making preparations/lies to deal with it. I can’t remember what we came up with, but it didn’t matter because as soon as we pulled up to the gate it became clear that we wouldn’t really have to say anything at all. The guy who checked us was clearly working there for the first time, because was being hazed as he checked us. Everytime he asked us a question we could hear his co-workers laughing at him from somewhere within the booth. We’d encounter this eastern bureacratic sense of administrative “whatever” later on in Russia, and it is always as hilarious as it is terrifying. Fortunately for us, this time it was hilarious. Since it was clear Martijns pidgin German wasn’t going to mesh with his Serbian, he slowly and frustratedly got out of his dusty chair and came outside for a rudimentary check of the van. He kind of asked what we were doing, and we told him we were musicians passing through. He didn’t understand/care, but he asked us to open the back of our van. As weeks worth of smelly clothes, merch, and musical equiptment spilled out, he asked if we were a basketball team (very popular in Serbian). Martijn told him we were, and he waved us through. Whatever.

serbiaa a real Yugo, like, OMG

These are the first three things we saw in the country of Serbia: A woman with a horse and carriage driving on a highway over pass that we drove under; a guy on the side of the highway selling bags full of a dozen peppers (probably for making paprika chips, Europes only flavour of chips) and a cop doing a speed trap. We got pulled over for speeding within 10 minutes inside the country. The language barrier was ridiculous. Martijn struggled through rudimentary German while the cop gave us his hardest “whatever” dialect. Somehow the both of them went back to the cops car to talk in private. Jonah went over to throw a bit more broken-German on the flames. Soon they had some how negotiated the penalty – either we could drive with him to a nearby police station, or we could proffer a 50 euro bribe in cash. We chose the cash, and on our way the guy told us where the rest of the speed traps where on the highway (about once every 10 minutes all the way to Serbia). Almost every car that drove by us on the other side of the highway would blinker us to let us know they’d seen police.

serbian melons IMG_3943

Soon we were approaching the suburbs of Belgrade. Mark explained that a loop hole in old Yugoslavian tax laws meant that home owners didn’t pay property tax on unfinished buildings. Many of the houses we passed were empty on the first floor as a result of this law – people just bought houses, ripped out the walls of the bottom floor to render the houses “unfinished” and lived upstairs. I don’t know how Mark knew that, but it seemed true since almost every house we saw was like this. At this point I was curled up under a blanket in the loft in the fetal position already counting the hours until we’d be back west.

We got downtown and went to the house where we’d be sleeping that night. They had prepared us a nice dinner. Me and Jonah went for a walk outside and encountered a grizzled old man, one of the oldest looking humans I’ve ever seen outside of a mine-shaft-disaster documentary. Luckily as well as being old and terrifying, he was also one of the most bellicose humans I’ve ever encountered. He was thin as a rod and wore a tight fitting green shirt with the sleeves rolled up to reveal wiry leathery arms. I think he had a pipe, and a huge chin. We both immediately christened him the Serbian Popeye. He noticed us from across the street and marched over to begin cursing us out in Serbian. Soon he was yelling and punching me in the arms and chest, for reasons we couldn’t guess at. I tried to hold him off, wanting to avoid an international incident. Somehow he finally left and we scampered back inside.

The show was pretty great. A lot of people showed up, and after telling us how the Serbian government denied his application to travel to Holland for a metal festival (seems kind of wise actually), one of our hosts burned his rejected visa application on stage with us after making a short speech. It was a punk moment for everyone. Speaking of punk, we were also selling our CDs for 2 euros at this show. Afterwards we roamed the town and everyone at the grossest looking street meat I’ve ever seen.

serbian do the slam and worm

We got home at around 2 or 3 and were exhausted. Luckily by this point our hosts were blasting Fucked Up and Career Suicide records so loud it felt like we were at another concert. I tried to drive my head into the hardwood, and thought about ways I would kill Jonah the next morning, who was in the living room regaling out hosts with “crazy” Career Suicide stories and doing that dancing thing he does where he points his fingers in the different directions.

Somehow the next morning we woke up. Josh and Me were in charge of exchanging our Serbian dimitars into Euros. We went downtown and waited in a currency office for almost 2 hours. I felt like I was in Interzone. Bugs slowly paced across the walls, the clock looked like it was going in slow motion. Sweat poured down everyone’s face. It was like the waiting room scene in Beetlejuice. There was two guys in there with machine guns, just in case. Josh went out for a smoke and was immediately apprehended by some border police or something, who asked why he was in Serbia longer than his passport allowed. I can’t remember the exact details, but they’d misread the numbers on his passport in some horrifying Kafkaesque scenario and came this close to yanking him. We got our money and hightailed it out of that country faster than anything, and don’t look back. The entire countryside was flooded on our drive out.

DAY EIGHTEEN

This day was a hole in our schedule, since our original Macedonian show was cancelled. We’d met a kid in the Czech last week who said he could put us up in Bratislava. We were really excited. At the hungarian border on the way back out, Sandy opened the backseat door to the van and it fell clean off of the van, right there infront of the border guard. Since it was Eastern Europe he just went “whatever” and we drove off. Sometime after this Martijn joked about how there was a rip in part of the vans lining and if he dropped his cigarette by accident inside the van, there was a chance it could fall into the gastank. I looked down and through a rip in the leather that surrounds the shifter, I could see the moving pavement below us. I had the only seatbelt on in the entire van. Beside me the 18 year old Martijn continued to chain smoke and cackle to himself.

serbia roof i am the Slovak-Robocop!

We got to Bratislava extremely late. The show was in some band’s practice space. It was in a long slender building directly under a series of highways. You know how in movies and tv shows when they want to show the private life of the hobo character, and they go to his house under the highway underpass and there is always like burning oil drums and stuff? It was like that. It was a great show. Josh got wasted and sang some cover songs. I wore a tire around my neck and a motorcycle helmet for the entire set and somehow wound up on the roof of the building while still playing. I could describe more about this show but I’m so “whatever” about this portion of tour at this point it’s not even funny. Suffice to say it was great and atleast 18 people witnessed it.

serbia tired i'm growing tired of this

That night we stayed in what looked like a bombed out apartment block. It was like a dusty painting – very beautiful and ornate, but with piles of cement and brick in the corners, the paint peeling from the walls. The apartments wrapped around a soiled courtyard. We got up and visited a supermarket the next day. Sandy bought cereal and a jar of weiners to bring home to her boyfriend, a purchase that would yield probably the funniest moment on the tour. Over the next few days she’d try over all adversities to keep the cereal box intact in order to lavish her man with a pristine gift after the long journey home. No one knew exactly what the point of bringing cereal and weiners home was, since you can get those easily in Canada, a fact we barraged on her at every opportunity, but over the next few days those items would become as precious to her as the ring to frodo, and her quest almost as perilous as his. They had a special secret spot in the van, which we regularly invaded to try and sully the integrity of the cereal box, or to empty the contents of the weiner jar out the window of the moving van. Soon Sandy developed a complex about the stuff, and began acting like they were her offspring, like some wild jungle cat trying to protect her young at all costs to her own safety or sanity. I can sympathize, because after 18 days harrowing adventure, we all had a bit of Kurtz in us and were all slowly losing our grasp on sanity. The kicker came a few days later into her struggle as she made a calculated decision to take a nap, thus risking the safety of her cereal box and jar of weiners. Even in sleep, the psycological implications were apparently too much for her shattered mind to bear, as one calm day from the back of the van her screaming cut through the silence like a knife through a hot dog. “MY CEREAL!!” she shrieked. We all went “wtf”. She explained that during sleep she’d been having a nightmare that she had lost the box and woke up in a panic, bee-lining to the (still) safe cereal box that in reality, was still in tact. A few days later I’m pretty sure she gave up and just ate it in the van, with no milk.

DAY NINETEEN

The last show of the tour. It was in Nurnberg, which is where a lot of Nazi things happened. We went to visit the remnants of that giant stadium, the name of which I’m too lazy to look up on wikipedia right now. We climbed to the top to survey our newly forged pan-European cultural army. Groups of rollerbladers paced the cement walkways. It was anticlimactic. We figured maybe we’d just go back to Canada.

serbia nurnberg IMG_3974

The show was a total write off. We barely played for 20 minutes and could already feel the warm embrace of our own beds. Except me and Josh who had to catch a 6am train to Venice the next morning. Also Mark, who was on his way to Russia. And Jonah who was flying to Rome. Sandy flew home to Toronto with her weiners. At this point atleast three members of the band had full on mustaches, so we look like total idiots. I’m not sure if I mentioned this, but I was wearing a poorboy cap, and a fanny pack for most of this tour. And I had a mustache.

The guy who did the show explained to us that the venue used to be a barracks for the SS. But that later it was occupied by the “even worse” US GI force, who used it as a movie theater.

Anyhow that was the craziest tour we’ve ever been on.