BY MR. JO
This is a tour diary written by the always eloquent Mr. Jo from our 2008 tour of Spain. I have no idea where, if anywhere, it was ever published. Enjoy.
FUCKED UP IS:
PINKEYES – VOCALS
10,000 MARBLES aka 1,000,000,000 MEATBALLS – GUITAR
GULAG – GUITAR
YOUNG GUV aka LIL’ BITEY – GUITAR
MUSTARD GAS – BASS
MR. JO aka G. BEAT – DRUMS
DAY ONE – GIRONA
Some years ago, our first visit to Spain (a single gig in Barcelona) is among the most memorable nights of my life. Never have I been so inspired and impressed, first hand, so purely by any other musical community as I was by OTAN, INVASION, TENSION, UBER, and every person at that show. Subsequent visits away from Barcelona, – to Madrid, Getaria, San Sebastien, and Benidorm – and all the people we continue to meet only reinforced how enamored with Spain we had become. This our third visit, sees us seeing old faces and hitting familiar haunts as well as charting some new ground.
Close to eighteen sacks of our laundry were rapidly packaged and delivered to an unsuspecting front desk at the Pension Margarit in the centre of the city where we had just checked in. Our sixth week on the road. For the past three days we’d been in combat with 10 hour drives, icy floors, and – the greatest of new frontiers – cat urine (we tackled dog pee in Connecticut YEARS ago), so as a simple coping method we allowed the clean sheets and shining porcelain of our oasis, Spain, to be a beacon of comfort. The next five days are up to us to be interesting. Keep your eyes here.
Later at the show we were berated for being late, shortly thereafter discovered that the input on our amplifier snapped off. It all falls apart in the last week of tour…
2/7 in our party are vegetarian. For the uninitiated, on a punk tour most places you play in cook you dinner or give you money to go eat poached Octopus in a Tapas Bar in San Sebastien. Tonight, we were served a three course meal. First, hermetically sealed ice cold packages of rice, two mysteriously bearing the mark ‘XXX.’ Thereafter, we all ate a huge rack of bbq’d meat while one vegetarian devoured an eggplant at a happy pace and the other stared at a steaming plate of one of his most hated foods. Like a passenger receiving the vegetarian meal on an airplane, he silently put up with yet another disappointing offering and got on with his day. Lastly we were served sour milk with citrus flavour while the Vegetarians were tossed an apple each.
Actually on the way to Girona, we discussed which of us in the band has the most irrational eating habits. After all these years there isn’t much left to discover about one another so we just engage in microscopic nitpicking of one another’s personalities to the point of exhaustion or tears. It was decided that GULAG – a spindly little fellow – had the most bizarre palette, while 1,000,000,000 Meatballs decidedly has a one dimensional tongue. Pinkeyes is a trash compactor, while Beat operates by some archaic relationship to food as a tool for uselessly flowy narrative and backhanded narcissism. Guv, on the other hand developed his unique rapid-fire, strictly-sampler eating habits from spending his most impressionable years in front of union buffet tables on movie sets – this evening he officially had his name changed to “Lil Bitey.” – while Mustard Gas eats as though her appetite is tethered to a pole being beaten back and forth by two blindfolded Titans with the munchies.
Time now is 10:32pm, we play in 45 minutes. Less than 50 people are here and the first band hasn’t gone on yet.
It’s 1:37am. The gig is over. In Italy they called rednecks “Terroni,” in Spain they call Jocks “rednecks.” In England they call white trash ‘Chavs,’ which we call ‘Hosers’ in Canada. The first band we played with was Heavy Metal, which they call “Human Ashtray” in Girona. They were churning blitzcrunching technical sludge with elements of doom and the New Wave of Catalunyan Heavy Metal. My favourite Spanish punk song is Chicos De la Calle by Toreros After Ole. No one played it. The big room sounded really good despite the attendance. Less than 50 people watched less than 50 minutes of music by less than 50 instruments. One member of the audience was over 50, though, which is becoming a trend. Damian attached a cup to his head so he looked like a Eunuch Unicorn, incensed and possessed. His energy rubbed off on some members of the crowd whose response was to get on stage and hump the air really fast. Perhaps this is a traditional Eastern Spanish dance. Your culture is slowly unfolding.
DAY TWO – MADRID
It’s 1:39am. I’m still in Girona. Just saying what’s up before we get started.
2:48pm – Just barely on the highway. Our eighteen sacks of laundry that was guaranteed to be finished before noon – nearly 24 hours after we handed in our things – actually turned into one gigantic vat of soaking wet cotton and polyester. We rifled through what was no doubt our depleted wardrobes in the hotel lobby while guests shuffled by.
2:52pm – We are having a band meeting while rushing to meet our old roadie and RockZone employee Unai Garcia. He is a swarthy four eyed Napalm Death fanatic who drives the guy from LIFE OF AGONY on tour when he’s not recording ignorant death metal in his Silence of the Lambs style studio in Barcelona. When he says “Police” it sounds like “Polish.” On the streets, it’s the Polish.
4:44pm – My uncle used to work for BASF – which made cassettes among other things – But we never got any free stuff and always had TDK cassettes, which is also the name of a famous Spanish punk band, who might also be the same as T de K, whose record I bought in Getaria. We will be 4 hours late for the show tonight, which is good because we hate loading without a huge room full of people in our way and love it when all you can hear on and off stage is vocals.
6:24pm – Everyone is asleep in the van. We’re still late and the wind is bashing us around the highway like a cork in a bathtub.
10:30pm – We got to the gig close to 10:30. A small battalion of “helpers” were waiting for us outside, rushing through an obviously practiced welcome routine that they are used to delivering at a more leisurely pace. The bartenders were really friendly and generous but the security staff chose to aim their efforts at harassing our singer (Straight edge and possibly the only person in that club guaranteed to have anything to do with contraband) about drugs all night. We roared inside what we thought would be a packed club but there weren’t more than 8 people milling around. We were showed to the dressing room which had an impressive spread, but was also teeming with cockroaches. Everyone went their separate ways, got grabbed by street walkers, walked by street vendors, strolled through side streets, and just barely breathed in Madrid – “Chicos (and Chica) De La Calle.”
Our friends in the American punk band MIKA MIKO turned up. Michelle might be the only person on earth that can spar sarcasm with 1,000,000,000 Meatballs so indefinitely. When they talk it’s like a mouthy ‘Mutually Assured Destruction.’
Madrid exploded on the first note of the first song. One of the most energetic audiences we’ve seen yet. One of the best shows so far actually. Madrid has such a land locked feel to it. Energy; buzzing; chatty; chain smoking; drinking heavily; drug takers. All with momentum though. A city is a place where one ought to have a place to go, and even when they’ve arrived at THE place to be (obviously a Fucked Up gig) the faces burn with intent and fluidity. Land locked, sweltering in the summer, shivering in the winter, but no one is stale.
We didn’t see the metal heads, our hotel was an echoey refrigerator, and we all overslept. Fond farewell Madrid.
DAY THREE – DURANGO
Two days ago Bitey got sick and threw up blood. In Spanish you would say “Vomitas Sangre” which is also the name of a crazy song by a savage Spanish punk band called Larsen. This morning I felt like I wanted to do the same (generous bartenders) but held off. 5 hours to Basque Country and we are playing with the ADOLESCENTS tonight. Of all the Gaztetxae’s in all the villages in all the regions of Spain it happened to be Durango where we finally crossed paths with the Adolescents. I am excite.
3:43pm – WE ARE SURROUNDED BY SNOW ON ALL SIDES. THIS IS SPAIN. Even in the summer we went through more climate changes than an Al Gore lecture. Odd land, yours.
3:54pm – THE SNOW IS COMPLETELY GONE AND THE SUN IS SHINING AGAIN.
5:57pm – We’re late again…this is becoming a trend
GIG:On a tour like this, it is common for all the bands to share a backline. I set up my drum kit, but the sound staff were resolute in thinking it was “way too shitty” (“vay do sheedy”) to let every band use, so it was promptly scuttled and replaced by some really nice sparkly assembly. We played once in the Basque Country, which, i won’t hesitate to say, was fucking excellent. Immediately were taken with how generous and friendly everyone was. Tonight was no exception as mounds of amazing food and drink were volleyed at us by smiling faces. We know one word in Basque: “Eskarrik Asko” (two?) which was continuously perverted as the night went on. Eskarrik Gato, Eskarigasco, Scareface Masko, etc…I had an entire conversation with the promoter in a language neither of us could understand, but somehow we found out that we both love OX POW and just how striking and wild Basque history and Basque punk is. Some words are easy to understand. The admirable MUNSTER RECORDS have been effectively re-documenting the classic Spanish and Basque punk scene for the last few years and blowing everyone’s mind (well, mine). SEEK OUT YOUR CLASSICS, ESPAGNA, OR I WILL SEND LA BANDA TRAPPERA DEL RIO TO COME AND TAKE YOU AWAY.
Our set was TOUGH. The stage was huge, high, and had about 13 steps leading up to it. The audience remained – to put it kindly – statuesque for the entire duration with only a few knobby knees bouncing around to encourage us. The only person brave enough to get nasty with Pinkeyes was the promoter, Alex el Gordo, who was hard pitting and getting loose the whole time. Eskarrik Asko to you, (eh) amigo (es mi generacion). Great job.
Adolescents ripped through all their classics, and even some not so classics which sounded heavy and cool. It’s weird seeing a band of men in their late 40s called “the Adolescents” but no one cared. They actually whipped the audience into shape a little bit (tapping toes) and were really friendly and pleasant to talk with. Star struck isn’t the word, but a big part of FU’s sound was/is inspired by the Adolescents. Meeting them was a treat.
Meanwhile a few walls over, Mustard Gas is keeled over in pain screaming in a cold sweat and taking shallow breaths. Somehow she ALWAYS manages to endure the most uncomfortable, punishing, and potentially dangerous afflictions on the road. Last year she passed a kidney stone on the highway while driving to Atlanta (HARD). Not to mention, so far on this tour she has been violently ill twice, once WHILE WE WERE PLAYING in Milan, which was a sight to be seen. It was like the Godfather crossed with the Exorcist, crossed with Rock and Roll HIgh School dubbed into an Italian variety show. She survived the night. I think she is waiting to eat octopus in San Sebastien again before she dies.
DAY FOUR – SAINT FELIU DE CODINES
There are some days on the road that start and end like any other and then there are those that start like any other, evolve into a near crisis and end in a quaint Catalonian village on top of a mountain. This day was the latter. Like any other day on a punk tour, we had to make a stop at RockZone HQ to film some television skits, drink some bootleg redbull, and perform in a Gorilla mask using a cannister of mints as a percussion instrument. Pinkeyes got nominated for a Spanish Emmy Award for his role as “Pissed Off About Not Getting the cover of RockZone” Man, while Gulag stuffed copies of the issue with Rhianna on the cover down his pants. Mustard Gas, still in agony, slept on a couch and then, like any normal European might do, 1,000,000,000 Meatballs checked the football scores. Only then did he discover that Real Madrid and FC Barcelona were playing in Barcelona THAT NIGHT and that there were 3 tickets left in the whole stadium. A knowing look of comity over attending, a few frantic clicks later we were savagely disappointed. Not only with no tickets, but the prospect of even coming close to going was twittering away with every new piece of information we learned about the gig. Following the disappointment, he, Bitey, and the rest of us went into a blind rage and trashed the office leaving little more than a thin mist of blood in our wake. Short drive to the gig and, well, the rest is history. What happened is a legend that you will have to seek out from anybody lucky/unlucky enough to have been there. 1000 words might paint a picture, but that wouldn’t be right. “The most honest performance.” Eto scores, Barcelona wins, Catalonia cheers for they and us. Concentration Summer Camps and H-Zero are good bands. Thank you for the ‘sexual party’ Saint Feliu de Codines.
DAY FIVE – DONOSTIA/SAN SEBASTIEN
8:45am – Our last day in Spain, like almost all of our other days in Spain, is spent traversing your country one side to the other on precisely the same highway as the day before. All loops in time notwithstanding, we have started to memorize the terrain. We even have a few favourite rest stops, can grade the coffee from one station to the next, and have developed a refined palette of petrol-brand cuisine. So Spain and Basque Territory are our own personal “Ground Hog Day,” but some things are worth reliving.
Six weeks on the road does plenty to change one’s composition. The mind wanders a little too much, focuses sometimes too hard; the lungs don’t work like they used to, stomachs get softer, eyelids become heavier, and the inevitability of a ‘tour cold’ finally comes into full bloom and all of our faces start leaking at the same time. Lucky for us, there are little oases among the droughts that help restore ones constitution. Flat, grey light, and thin sheets of rain follow us through Donostia. We arrive in a small square (roundabout) with no sign of the club. Gulag and I get out to do some reconnaissance and spot a short jean jacket and toque (beanie/hat/whatever you call it in spanish) waving at us from up the street. He guides us slowly past one building, the second, another, and then points up: “It is there.” Eyes as wide as saucers, we stared upward at 45 steep cement steps essentially scaling a rock face, that would lead us to the club. Everyone in Fucked Up LOVES lifting heavy equipment, especially over difficult terrain and in the icy wet of winter. Having established that we are a bunch of whiners, while the ascent was inconvenient, the show couldn’t have been better…
Six weeks on the road means alot of exposure to unheard music. Some is unheard because it is the musical equivalent of having a matador massage dung back into your own asshole, and other is unheard simply because most people might not ever get a chance to listen, and sometimes that’s too bad. Nuevo Cateclismo Catolico fall into the category that involves the opposite of shit. In fact, they rip. Older punks playing Motorhead by-way-of-Spain style punk. Sleazy and powerful, they all looked like goons from the 70s and played like it too. ‘New Catholic Cataclysm’ reads like something that should be on the back of one million leather jackets, sounds like what some generation of real or fictional hard cases should be listening to before going out on a Friday, and I bet you’ve never heard them. The other band that played with us was called LOVVERS. They come from the UK and put on a killer set and surprised us all by covering BORN AGAINST.
9pm – Each day on the road wouldn’t really be complete without some sort of malfunction on stage. As the amplifiers were being plugged in a sharp crackling noise started to burrow out from the back of the stage. I turned my head to see 1,000,000,000 Meatballs blowing on the wall, cursing under his breath, with small plumes of smoke rising up towards his face. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and this was no exception as a neon flame shot out form the wall with a violent hiss. The entire outlet caught fire and bodies starting milling around. “TURN OFF THE FUSE, TURN OFF THE FUSE” was met with some drunken lout stumbling on stage and dousing the electrical fire with a beer, which then blacked out the entire building. Oddly calm, the audience just stood around smoking cigarettes and playing with their cell phones….
9:22pm – Power returns.
Tonight was an exercise in “Not Shit” and in all honesty, a great farewell for a trip with plenty of ups and downs. Thanks to Nacho Cabrera for bouncing us all over the nation, Unai Garcia for translating in more than one dialect, our phenomenal driver Ana keeping her head on her shoulders at all times, and thanks to us for being the best band in the universe.
4:20pm (the next day) – Adios Espagna.