Friday, 5 February 2010

Tour? Fest!

Never Again Euro tour 2009-10

Day 1 Epic missions

For me the tour started early on the 27th December, got the 7.16 outa Maidstone station headed for crewe where the vas is, it’s a bit of a mission from Kent but the van company are doing a pretty good deal and it’s a real good van.

Almost missed the train because of some jobsworth at Euston station. He wouldn’t let me through with the rail card I had so I had to pay a difference before I could get on!

So much for Christmas spirit and good will onto others!

After meeting tomas, andy and pat at toms studio we packed the van and got on the road to dover to catch the ferry, we missed the one we booked but they let us change to a later one. The ferry journey was pretty smooth, not too rough and we got some cool crew shots on deck. Once we got off the ferry it was time for me to plunge into the deep end and do my first stint of driving in Europe. It was a very weird feeling at first but I got used to it quite quick. After some weird back roads and a petrol stop where we couldn’t figure out how to work the pumps we got on the motor way and powered our way through france, Belgium and germany.

Our friend and SRH brother roman was kind enough to hook us up with a place at his kind girlfriend anna’s flat in Aachen. Her friend valentin came and let us in as anna was in England with rome. Massive massive thanks to her for the place to crash, especially from me as id have been dead from driving all day otherwise.

Some standard shenanigans before bed and a good end to a good first day.

Day 2 Nuremburg and the first show

Started off by leave annas at about 12ish, valentin came to pick up the key and gave us directions to some awesome record shop, we tried to find it on route but failed hard! After giving up and annoying some of the Aachen drivers we got on the motorway to Nuremberg. It was a pretty long drive, over 200 miles across germany.

We saw some pretty cool things along the way, almost killed the first bit of German wildlife we saw when some eagle looking bird nearly flew into the windscreen of the van. It seems that the eastern side of Germany is home to the worlds most polluting factories or power stations, we must have seen about 4 or 5 of them billowing smoke or steam into the sky. I enjoyed the journey as there was so much graffiti along the way, europes stance on graff is so different to the uk. So good to see things lasting out here.

We were running a little late when we got to the venue and we found it a bit hard to find the place but after some calls we got there. The promoter Dominik is such a nice guy and fully hooked us up the whole time. Amazing vegan food layed on for bands and posse. Not sure who the first band was but they sounded cool and people seemed to be into them. Next was never again, I think they were a little nervous for their first Euro show but they got a decent reception with mosh and stage dives. Kids out here cant get enough of stage dives! After never again was AYS, im not too familior with these guys but they sound good and I'll be checking them out properly in future. Teamkiller played after, sounded good. Pretty heavy but again, not dudes I know well. Black Friday29 headlined, I was so excited by this band, its been ages since I last saw them and have missed a few UK chances in recent years. They didn’t disappoint and everyone went nuts to them. More stage dives and some good mosh for them. The scene here really feels alive, so many people came out and everyone had a good time. Puts the uk to shame really. The venue itself is so cool, we were told by dominik that it was a former ss baraks, so that’s a bit weird. Its so punk rock with a stage made of pallets and old flyers and stickers everywhere. Not your typical pub function room like the uk has to offer!

After the show we tried to work out sleeping, we were told we could stay at the venue but the bed situation was a little weird, we ended up making some sleeping arrangements in a hallway, office and I managed to get a bed as tour driver, sweet! There were people up till about 4am playing music so loud, songs included Blood For Blood and The Ace of Spades by Motorhead!! Not good sleeping music.

Theme tunes for the day include, Thrice, Thursday, and various 90’s Hip Hop/R and B.

Day 3 Austria, mountains and mosh

The day didn’t start well, the Germans partying carried on well into the morning keeping me up but also tomas, who was rudely awoken by someone getting into bed with him.

Once we were all up and with it we went down for some breakfast that Dominik had layed on. After this and packing the van we went out with dom to see a building that was built as a coliseum for Hitler to address his followers. It was a strange place and it felt weird thinking of the history this place holds. We didn’t get too much time there as we had to get showers and proper food at dominiks house. More kindness here from one of the nicest guys in German hardcore.

After saying our goodbyes and me annoying everyone with crew shots we hit the road for Salzburg, another 200mile journey, this one was pretty smooth despite the fact we were already late for the next venue. We didn’t see much as it was dark but there was a distinct change when we hit the mountains!

The venue was really good again tonight, not so diy this time but it still had a good feel and a good space. We just arrived in time for Mind Trap, an awesome young Austrian band with a lot of spite, they reminded me of our friends in no dice a lot.

Never again played second and it was another good set, good mosh once we started it moving, more german special stage diving too. I missed the next two bands while I went to find some food but got back for ays who were awesome, they had a sick response and played real good, really getting a feel for these guys. Bf29 took the show again! They kill it every time and only slowed down when a fight broke out.

After the show we got our stuff together and made moves to where we were staying, the promoter hooked us up at his friend steffans house. Straight away he was so good to us all. An absolute gentleman. He sorted us out with so much, best sleeping so far, good food that nai helped cook and we were told to make ourselves at home. Its so nice to meet people like Steffan, it really makes you appreciate hardcore when you can come hundreds of miles from home and have instant connections with people. He showed me some of the music he makes on his computer, it sounds so good and he burnt me a disc so we could bump it in the van, day4 soundtrack I think.

It also turns out that Steffan paints, so we had lots to talk about and photos to share.

I did him a little sketch before bed.

Its now 4.30 am and im out!

Listen to AYS and Mind Trap, day 3’s soundtrack

Day 4 Vienna Austria, Mind Trap hangouts

Cool morning with steffan, as yesterday he fully hooked us up, breakfast showers and everything. Once we were all sorted we got moving, we were going to check out Salzburg’s record shop and the birth place of Mozart but time was against us.

We made pretty good time to Vienna, the drive was one of the most beautiful I have ever taken. Cutting through the mountains gave us some stunning views of the lower alps. As we pulled into Vienna I knew straight away it was a city I would like! Amazing architecture with a good mix of graff and urban decay. I love cities that show their age, and most of this city did just that. I defiantly want to go back as soon as possible. We had the pleasure of hanging out and staying with the boys from mind trap and their friends and girlfriends. Their flat was amazing, a 1900’s Austrian town house. It had an awesome spiral staircase that curled round an ancient wood frame elevator that could only take people up, so shady!! Inside their flat was cool too, lovely old wooden floors and high ceilings, the rooms even had chandeliers!

When we first got there they made us such a good meal, another vegan dish with tofu and rice. Its was really tasty and I could have eaten it all night.

After food we went out with christoph and …. And christophs girlfriend. They showed us some of the sights including an amazing cathedral that rivals that of Barcelona. Then on the way back we saw a cool church. Vienna is a big city and the hour or so we spent walking really only gave us a taste of what the city has to offer.

We got back and got bits ready for the show then went to the venue. The shelter was the spot for tonights show, an underground venue and bar that’s been going for quite a long time. Judging by the stickers in the back rooms there have been some big names pass through, true colours, good clean fun, blacklisted to name a few.

It was a short line up with just never again and mind trap to play. Mind trap went up first, they were really tight as usual and they got good mosh. Kids give a good reaction to this band and rightly so I think. A name to watch in 2010. they sound checked with cro-mags but sadly didn’t play it out. Never again played for me what was their best set so far. Luke had been battling a bad throat and voice all day but you wouldn’t have known except for spoken parts between songs. Their set also saw andy take the prize for best stage mosh so far, dropping his bass and launching into the crowd during iron youth. A familiar face was a surprise at the show, in the form of seb money. Of all the venues in all the world…. Seb is a real nice guy and it was cool to see him.

After packing up and getting crew shots, we headed back to cristophs to sort out where we were staying, we didn’t quite know what we were doing and it was a toss up between driving through the night or staying put and making an early start. As I was real tiered I opted for the sleep and early start. I had an ok night sleep but got really hot and had to vent my sleeping bag. Tomas ended up sleeping on the floor of the kitchen, and apparently had the best night sleep so far for him.

A 5am start was pretty rough but got us on the way for day 5.

Sound track for the day, finch, Thursday and saves the day.

Day 5 Munchengladbach, handbags and glad rags, New Years eve

So after the crazy 5am start we were on the road with the prospect of about a 10 hour drive. I knew I couldn’t do it in one hit, so we planned to do about 4 hours then break then do a bit more. In the end we had about 3 stops filling up each time and getting some food and drinks. One of the stops we had some interesting situations. Firstly me and tomas went exploring what we decided was the black forest. We found some crazy watchtower things which I decided would be cool to climb, so I got up to about the 3rd makeshift rung of the tower and made a joke about falling through from the top, then managed to put my foot through the next rung. Ripping my jeans and busting my leg. FAIL! Next we found a frozen over pond and tom did a danger walk across a log that was frozen into the water. He got pretty wobbly about half way but manned up and made it the whole way across, I was pretty impressed! On the way back to the van tom managed to fall down on the crazy slippery ice, classic comedy fall. After making our way back I got a little sleep and had just dropped off when we got a knock on the window. 3 german police men, with guns!!!! They wanted to check our passports. They had probably seen us parked there with uk plates and did a spot check. They were quite nice but did think that we were into drugs. Ironic seeing as all of us are straight edge.

Once in montengladback we found the venue and got set up. We were unsure about a place to stay but after a few chats we found out we had a place to stay above the venue. Another nice townhouse flat. These kinda pads would go for so much money in England! Only problem is that its pretty dam cold!

4 bands tonight sundowner, never again, the Italian stallion and ays. Sundowner had a few problems so it messed up their set. They sounded like they were pretty decent but the mess ups spoiled it. They sound like they have taken influence from rise and fall but seem to be building their own sound onto it., never again did good, another good response with good mosh and some kids knew the words to a few and the no justice cover., Italian stallion were not really my kinda band, a bit too punk for me but they got a really good response and were tight. The singer kinda freaked me out by playing in some fishnet shirt, despite having an amazing ssd versity jacket. Then the hometown boys ays, they had such a strong set and everyone went crazy for them, they have a really good live style and the singer has a mean stage presence.

As it was new year we were all in good spirits and had a bit of a party after everyone packed up. We did the typical crew shot and goodbyes then all went to places to chill.

Eastern Promise and muffled punk rock from the club below will be our entertainment for the rest of the night.

Van music rancid, bouncing souls, the unseen and wu tang.

Day 6 Belgium, birds and the most beautiful drive of tour

We woke up pretty cold in Munchengladbach as the window frame was pretty ropey and didn’t close. It didn’t really feel like New Years had happened at this point. It had snowed over night but not that much, just enough to make it chilly outside and look pretty nice across the East German roof tops. After a bit of breakfast and a clean up we hit the road again in the direction of Belgium. It didn’t turn out to be the longest journey but it was possibly the most breath taking, followed closely by the trip from Vienna. It was probably about 3 by the time we got on the motor way and as the light started to fade, at about 4pm we were treated to one of the best sunsets I have seen for a real long time. It was epic and at the time we couldn’t have picked a better soundtrack, American football was possibly the only music suitable for such a great moment, I think it’s fair to say that everyone’s spirits were lifted by what mothernature treated us to on the journey. Luckily I managed to catch a couple of shots before my camera finally gave up.

We got to the venue a little early so we had a look round and walked to what seemed like the high street area of the town. On our way there we stumbled on a live nativity scene, I had never seen anything like this before, not left out in the open anyway. A flyer I found informed us that it was there for 6 weeks across the Christmas period. We don’t know if the animals stayed there the whole time or if they kinda did shifts. Either way none of us like the idea of the animals being left outside in such cold weather with little insulation in there. What really got to us most was two doves stuck in a cage that was no where near big enough for both of them, let alone enough room to stretch their wings or move much. Sadly there wasn’t much we could do so we moved on. After finding some decent food in the local Kebab shop that also did some vegan bits we made our way back to the venue we passed the nativity again, and as we passed we couldn’t see the doves anymore. Closer inspection showed that they had just disappeared, Nothing indicated that they had been taken home or anything just an open cage and no birds. We never figured out what happened to them, I just hope they ended up somewhere safe, with room to move and fly.

The venue for the night was real cool, it’s a government funded project that as well as puts shows on, helps out local kids and puts on projects for them. Its stage area was a little small but ample for the number of people who turned out. It was a pretty low key show and one that we weren’t too hyped about at first but by the end of the night we had all eaten our words. It was the last show for the band that headlined, Heartbreak Kid with support from Evenworse. A couple of other bands played but I cant recall the names, I think they were last moment adds to the lineup. NxA had another good set and the tradition of mid-song mosh by Andy and Pat continued. Some crusty punk dude kinda spoiled it for me, rubbing himself against me pretty much the whole time. He was obviously some OG dude and had about a million festival bands on his arms. Dude must never wash at all! Evenworse were far from that, playing real tight, I really enjoyed their set, picked up a record but haven’t had time to let it spin yet. The singer from Evenworse was a really nice guy and me and Luke had a good chat to him about art and illustration before catching HBK. I think from the name we all expected something very different and were all real impressed with the sound they had and the tightness of their set. They covered Scratch The Surface by Sick Of It All so I had a little mosh to that one and a few of theirs.

After the show there were some standard hangouts and crew shots, this time with us all dropping our jeans. No homo…Then we popped out for a little more food from the Kebabby and watched some weird softporn soap opera on TV, strange to sit in a restaurant, eat your food and watch that kinda thing. Safe to say Andy was like a duck in water! We all bedded down pretty early that night so we were ready for the journey back home the next day.

Soundtrack for the day has to be American Football.

Day 7 Home time and CT

Our ferry back to the UK left Calais at about 1 so we had quite a bit of time to get their from Belgium. We to a steady drive back through France, where I saw some of the best graffiti of the trip, mainly by a sick crew called Animals, but as my camera died I couldn’t get shots of any of it. Bummer! The drive went well and we were soon at the port where we met some friendly passport control staff who eventually let us through. The ferry was pretty quick back to the UK and once we were back on English soil we headed to Luke’s house with the prospect of a decent bath and a vegan casserole. Neither of which were a disappointment, mad props to Luke’s Mum and Dad for laying on one of the best meals on tour. After we all got cleaned up we set off for CT and the last show of the tour.

I had been looking forward to this show before I knew I’d be driving the guys, so by now I was fully hyped for what had the potential to be a killer night. I think first up we had Sex Dungeon, I had been waiting ages for these guys and they really blew me away with their sound. Abolition played next, I don’t know too much about these dudes but they played pretty well considering they had some real hold ups with technical problems. Never Again played 3rd and killed it. It seems the UK is as hyped as Europe for the guys. Their set was wild, people definitely got loose to them. Santa Karla went up second to last and I was a little sad to see a quieter response to them. They have been putting in work recently and it’s about time they got some props for it. Copped one of their Records I did the art for and they are looking real tight, 2 colour and a standard black on 7” from TDON. Cold Snap rounded off the evening with a tight set as usual from them, although they also had a pretty quiet set mosh wise. Strange considering how well the band are doing at the moment, especially with the news of their next release being on Dead And Gone, their second to last before Ian hangs up his boots.

I think this was the only night I didn’t get to do a crew shot thanks to my dead camera, shame really as it was the final stop. None the less we packed up and said our last goodbyes for the tour. Luke and Nai went home with the Frye posse leaving me, Pat, Tom, Andy and his mate Luke and his girl to make the journey back, dropping people along the way till I got back to Crewe at about 6am. I got about an hours sleep before I dropped the van off and jumped on the train home, bringing my journey to an end.

All in all I had a sick time on tour and I still cant believe how smooth everything went and how well the band did out on their first time in Europe. I had never been to many shows out of the UK but this was a really welcome change and fully refuelled my love for going to different shows, meeting awesome new friends and seeing all the amazing places across the world. I have to thank all of Never Again for giving me the chance to do this, just hope we can do it again some day.


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