Friday, July 23, 2010

Euro tour-Mega Post!

Thank You to all that made our first trip to Europe possible. Special mention should be made to the following: Mike@Persil Booking (for organizing the tour, and being the first agent in Europe willing to book our band), Gert-Jan Reeskens (for driving, babysitting, and jokes), Dave Laney (for providing the van, and driving the last few days), Robert@Gate to Hell (for quality gear rental), Nitkowski (for playing the UK dates with us, letting us crash in London for a few days, and being a kick-ass band), Carmen and Saso in Ljubljana for housing us for 2 days, all of the promoters for professionalism and making us feel welcome (especially Carsten @ Schokoladen in Berlin for providing free housing during my extra time in the city), and of course, all of you that came out to the shows. We hope to see you again next time.

June 7 2010: Arrival day Berlin, Germany

Upon arriving at Berlin-Tegel airport we were questioned by customs about our merch and promptly taxed on it. Not a fun way to start. At the gate we met Gert-Jan, our driver for the tour; only 20-years old [but wise beyond his years] and from Belgium. On the way to Berlin we were searched by undercover cops at a rest area. Man, did they really want to find drugs on us. After finding nothing, we were free to go. I was surprised to find you have to pay to use the bathroom at rest stops in Germany. But in some ways it's OK because they have these trippy, self-cleaning toilets, and everything is super sanitized. Later in the day we met up with a fella named Tom, who Colin knew, and he put us up for the night at his apartment. I made the mistake of showing everyone the video for Insane Clown Posse's "Miracles" that night. It sort of became the joke of the tour for the remainder of the trip... and was listened to, quoted, (and even set as our wake up alarm) everyday from there on out.

from the plane

first meal after landing, delicious Hefeweizens

40 hours of no sleep (mixed with wine) finally catches up

June 8 2010 K4 Nuernberg, Germany

First show of tour. K4 (like many of the venues we played in Germany) was a sort of multi-level community center, with various other operations being run within it. We took our time during soundcheck to make sure all our rented gear was working correctly. Tonight, we had our first encounter with European hospitality. Upon arriving we were greeted by the promoter, promptly handed beers, shown our private room complete with a table spread of food and drinks, and then taken to dinner. We were then invited back for breakfast the following morning. It was sort of a heart-warming experience to meet people that had been waiting many years for us to come to their country, and to finally get to play for them.


Weikenoher's all around

the view from our window

dinner is served

dining with Flatlands, from the UK, who also played that evening.. nice blokes

June 9 2010 JKH Cairo Wuerzburg, Germany

Spent some time earlier in the day further exploring Nurnburg before heading off to Wuerzburg, a city in Germany that was almost 90% destroyed in WW II. The promoter, Marko, cooked us up a mean veggie chili, salad, and supplied desserts before welcoming us to take whatever we needed from behind the bar. My mind is still being blow at this point by the hospitality that is just routine over there. This was a sweaty show, and unfortunately our set was cut short due to strict noise curfews, and the band before us playing a bit too long. The only bummer in an otherwise fun night.

panoramic of Nurnberg

chillin' in a castle

this dog flipped out at me for taking it's picture

setting up

post-show, drenched in sweat... unintentional Andrew WK tribute

Gert-Jan and Jeff, lords of the van

June 10 2010 DB´s Utrecht, Netherlands

Goddamn, this venue had the best coffee! While setting up, Colin was trying to help me sort out a technical problem with some ground hum coming from the amp, and fell through the stage. At first, it looked like he might've broken something. Luckily, it was just some scrapes and bruises. I got a kick out of one of the members of the local band coming back stage and being disappointed there was only beer in the fridge, but no wine. Moments later he appeared with a free bottle of wine from the promoter. Amazing. That would never happen unless you were some big star, in the US. Stayed in a hostel that night, where I was given the most comfortable pillow on earth (which I kept and took back to the states with me.)

Colin, post-stage collapse

"Do not step on, will kill you"

Dutch hostel

June 11 2010 Cafe Mukkes Leeuwarden, Netherlands

Leeuwarden was a cool little town with coffee shops everywhere, and cobblestone streets. It was amusing to me to see so many people just stoned out of their minds in public. We played that night with a UK band called Manatees, and I enjoyed talking to them about British comedy. All the bands spent the night in a large loft around the corner from the venue. There were some weird electrical issues in the building. Down the hall was an area where there was a sink, washing machine and shower all in the same big open room. While brushing my teeth (and doing my laundry at the same time), I kept getting electrocuted. I couldn't tell how this was happening... it was like there was electricty running through the water. No one got any sleep that night. A raging, all-night techno party was going on one floor below, until 6am (at least). Hilarity ensued when trying to get to our room, as we all had to shove our way through the mobbed floor of slimy clubers, with all our bags and shit in tow. I also started to notice that night how blunt some Europeans can be when talking to you (and by this I mean, not being afraid to tell you when they think your band sucks).

June 12 2010 Taverne Du Theatre La Louvière, Belgium

This show was kind of weird. La Louvière looked like Baltimore to me; run-down and sort of destitute. Upon arrival we discovered the promoter was away on holiday. The owner of the bar had to be the one to run things and settle up with us at the end. The main problem was he only spoke French, and though I took it for 3 years in high school, I didn't really remember a damn thing. Here's where our man Gert-Jan helped out as well. He was able to communicate with the owner and make sure we were all taken care of. We were put up in a nice hotel that night but only got to stay for 3 hours before having to wake up to catch the ferry to England at 6am.

June 13 2010 Hectors House Brighton, United Kingdom

Even after waking up at 6am, we barely made it in time for our ferry due to British customs taking their sweet-ass time with us. Still we made it on with seconds to spare and I quite enjoyed the ride. Brighton was a wild place on the coast. Right upon arriving in town we encountered a couple having sex on their balcony, and about 3,000 people biking naked down the street. Scary and funny all at once. There were plenty of shops and pubs around, so we enjoyed spending most of the day eating, drinking, and relaxing. We were warned multiple times that the UK was not as hospitable to bands as they are in the EU, but for the most part, we didn't experience this. Hector's House was a really cool venue and the bands tonight were really awesome.

pig out

naked bikers

Honey, ride me a goat... cool band!

June 14 2010 Criterion Leicester, United Kingdom

Ah, definitely the worst turn-out of tour. Both of the local openers cancelled, so it was just us and the fantastic Nitkowski, from London (who played with us the night before, and would for most of the UK shows we did). I felt a bit awkward asking for our guarantee at the end of the night. Despite obviously losing money on the show, the promoter was still super kind to us (in most cases in the US, this is where the promoter would have disappeared without a trace) and provided beers, pizza, and a floor at his flat to crash on for the night.

promoter's place in Brighton, the next morning

more gear than there was crowd in Leicester

Colin finds some random towels on the ground to keep him warm on the floor

June 15 2010 Trillians Newcastle, United Kingdom

Newcastle ("where Venom comes from!", to quote Cronos). Jeff's parents and sister came out, and I reconnected with an old fan of the band that used to live in Philly and saw a lot of our earliest shows. The promoter was out of town, so the bartender took care of us. I found her necklace that spelled out "cunt" on it, charming. We were given a nice hotel room that night and finally got to relax a little.. whilst drinking and watching George Carlin stand-up.

those kinky Brits with their "Fun Inflatible Sheep", "Sticky Willies", and "Inflatible Pigs" from the Naughty Vend.

June 16 2010 Bannermans Bar Edinburgh, Scotland

Man, Scotland rules! What a fun show this was. The promoter, Jas, made us haggis (both real, and veggie versions for the non-meat eaters). If you're wondering what haggis is, it's a dish containing sheep organs mixed with various spices and simmered inside the animal's stomach. I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. We were given a loft to stay in above the venue, each with our own separate rooms. The bar downstairs had over 100 whiskeys available, the other bands kicked ass, and the crowd was one of the best of tour. Edinburgh is a gorgeous city and rumored to be haunted. We didn't have time to take the underground ghost tour, but we can't wait to return again.

Gert-Jan raps at breakfast, Colin looks on unimpressed

breakfast in Newcastle, before heading to Scotland

drum shop detour


June 17 2010 Brudenell Social Club Leeds, United Kingdom

Not too much to say about this one. I was happy to meet a long-time internet friend from the UK in person and share a beer. Cool venue, and nice promoter, but the sound was a bit difficult and I didn't feel particularly great about my performance. Gert-Jan told me some guy was flipping me off the whole time during out set, but I didn't notice.

on the ceiling backstage

June 18 2010 Sussex Arms Tunbridge Wells, United Kingdom

Played in a very small basement below a bar where upstairs everyone's eyes were glued to the TV for the world cup match. If we had known many months ago that this would be going on while we were over here, we would've picked a different time to tour. A few people turned up and some curious folks from upstairs wandered down to listen to our racket. Afterwards we went back with the Nitkowski guys to their space in London and crashed for the night.


June 19 2010 The Luminaire London, United Kingdom

We made an effort to try and not sleep-in too late, to give ourselves a chance to see a bit of London. We didn't really know where we were going and ended up in Piccadilly Circus, which reminded of Times Square in NYC. The Luminaire show was the best of the UK in terms of turnout. Nitkowski set up this show for us and did a solid job. I was amused by all the confrontational signs on the walls warning people not to talk during the performances. Stayed up late post-show, partying back at Nitkowski's place despite another rough early wake-up call to catch the ferry again, heading back to France.

some questionably named cookies

June 20 2010 Kingstown Cafe Le Havre, France

Colin and I took advantage of the massage therapist wandering around the ferry offering her "pay whatever you feel like" services. Once in France, we were stopped by the border patrol and they X-rayed our van with some futuristic contraption. Le Havre is on the beach, so we walked along the coast taking in the sights. On the boardwalk was an amature classic rock cover band performing "Hotel California"; sung in French, complete with butchered, out-of-tune guitar solos. The show tonight was held in a rasta bar. The owner's kids were running around all over the place, one was trying to eat a button/pin off a band's merch table. The show was OK, but I couldn't really tell if anyone there actually came to see us. I think most of them were there for the first band (a high school, breakdown-y metalcore band, actually called National Breakdown) But people stuck around, out of curiosity I suppose. The promoter was a real nice guy and we crashed at his place for night, finishing off the leftover meals and wine he had brought for us. Early morning construction work prevented us from sleeping much.

the cliffs of Dover

this painting made me chuckle: "break", "nice". "blues", "jam session"


June 21 2010 Les Bacchantes Poitiers, France

This show was with Weedeater, Black Cobra, and Saviours. We've played with Weedeater many years ago in Little Rock, AR. I was happy to hear they still remembered us and that show. The venue tonight was a salsa bar. The owner was the funniest looking dude I've ever seen. I don't know why I didn't take a picture of him. Picture a cross between Ron Jeremy, Luigi (from Super Mario Bros.), and a largemouth bass.

anti-social goose

not really into the shitters they have over there

June 22 2010 Dynamo Werk 21 Zurich, Switzerland

This was the longest drive of tour (10+hours). Gert-Jan drove straight throughout the night, only taking brief cat-naps. Zurich was gorgeous. The venue was along the canal, and the weather once again was perfect. Being that we arrived so early, we had ample time to explore the sights. Later in the evening, before our set, I ran into 2 fans that offered to show me around the city, so I got to see some further parts of the Zurich I didn't witness earlier in the day.

laptop party

it gets lonely on the road sometimes...

drawing of us made by the promoter's daughter

our place for the night

June 23 2010 Grrrrnd Zero Lyon, France

Switzerland had the most amazing rest stops. Where else could you pull off the highway and order fresh baguette sandwiches, gourmet muffins, strong great coffee, and talk to goats? Not at the Woodrow Wilson stop in NJ, that's for sure. However, once back in France, the 40+ euros tolls were killing us. Gert-Jan had to calm me down every time we approached one. Grrrrnd Zero is a multi-level complex, with a stage, bar, and multiple rooms for bands to chill out/sleep in. They made so much food for us tonight. Every time I went to the back room, there was a new dish to try. These kids at the show wanted us to draw something on their rehearsal room wall. So, Colin and Gert-Jan drew some sort of weed ghost/Stonehenge thing, and I drew the old man from the Pepperidge Farm commercials of the 80's (don't ask why). I liked this place, and if we played anywhere else in France again, it would be here.

food from the Swiss rest stop

just some goats nibblin' around

welcome to Switzerland, where everything is clean and beautiful

shoving our faces in Lyon

message on the wall from Saviours, who played a few nights before us at the same venue

June 24 2010 Sabotage Bar Vicenza, Italy

On our way to Vicenza, our gas pedal broke on the highway. We could no longer accelerate. We pulled off to the side and began searching for tape. After 3 false starts, we finally got it taped up enough to last for the rest of the tour. We met Mike, our booking agent, tonight. I told him everything had been going smoothly so far (well, besides the gas pedal thing). Honestly, I was pretty impressed with job he had done. People tonight were very passionate when talking to us after the set. Next time we promise to play more than just one show in your country. The evening ended quite humorously with a failed attempt to sneak 2 additional people into our hotel.

castle in the distance along the highway

June 25 2010 Sunny Red Muenchen, Germany

The ride to Munich was a tough one. Our van couldn't handle going uphill very well, and the first half of this drive was up this enormous mountain in Italy. The scenery was beautiful. Personally, I didn't mind having to stop every 15 minutes to let the engine cool, since it allowed me time to take photos. Upon arriving at the venue, I introduced myself to the promoter, a young guy named Alex. "You're Kevin?" he said. "Yeah." I replied. "Oh, ok... Your hair is a lot greyer in person than in the band photo Relapse sent me." The crowd tonight really surprised us. It was to be the best of all the German shows. Germany also supplies the best free beer to bands, I started to notice.

driving up the mountainside in Italy

words to live by

park across the street from the venue, where i spent some time before the show

safe in the arms of the drunken octopus

June 26 2010 Klub Gromka Ljubljana, Slovenia

This was one of the trippiest cities I've ever been to. There was just an indescribably strange atmosphere to this place, that I loved. The venue was part of this huge, crusty, DIY-looking complex that also housed a few hostels within it. Gert-Jan had been here before, so he showed us around town... stunning, and without the touristy atmosphere otherwise-beautiful cities can have. The girl who was in charge our show tonight had the wildest voice.. sort of like Scarlett Johansson, but pitchshifted another octave down and with a Slovenian accent. Hott. I wish I could remember the name of the other band that played with us. Apparently, they have been around for 20 years but have only released one demo [?], playing some sort of free-improv doom metal. It was sick. Since tomorrow was an off day and we were staying nearby, Gert-Jan decided to party-it-up a bit more than usual tonight. And thus ended with him puking all over the kitchen table of the folks we were staying with.

breakfast in Munich before leaving

winner of the "worst band name of tour" award for this trip

traffic jam in Austria

lots of amazing art all around the venue in Ljubljana

loading out after the show

June 27 2010 Off Day! Ljubljana, Slovenia

What a perfect place to have a day off. Did nothing but relax all day, and treat ourselves to a delicious meal along the river. I could see myself moving here someday.

the room i stayed in

laundry day, finally

Carmen and friend

the devil in a bottle

forbidden love

this picture makes me hungry all over again

epic, serious photo spoiled by hot chicks in the background

June 28 2010 Barak Slavonice, Czech Republic

Barak is a barn on a field, not what I was expecting for our first CZ show. We were greeted by Milan, the promoter, and taken to his home for a tasty traditional homemade soup, and bread. Barak fits maybe 60-70 people? These can be some of the funnest shows ever, and the energy level was through the roof tonight. We all agreed afterwards that this was one of the most enjoyable sets we've ever played, thanks to people just going all out. It's rare we see dancing at our shows. I'm not talking about moshing, but actual dance movements. We stayed with a man named Tomas, who runs Tomas makes his own hard liquor and he offered us to try some. Not one to decline, I said sure. 3 shots of 60% alcohol were pounded in a few minutes... making for an easy night's rest.

rest stop in Austria

complete with a wine cellar

played fetch with this guy for awhile at the show

pulling up to the venue

Gert-Jan "movin' units"

we'll be nice and not tell you what Gert-Jan is watching here

June 29 2010 Zoro Leipzig, Germany

Jeff and I had another shot of Tomas' homemade liquor with breakfast (why not?) and off to Leipzig we went. Today was Gert-Jan last day with us, we'll miss him. He had to get back to Belgium for a prior commitment. Dave, whose van we've been using, was to drive us for the last few remaining dates. We picked up Dave at the train station and made our way over to Zoro. This venue served what was probably the best meal of the entire tour. The staff went all-out in the kitchen preparing food for the bands tonight. Things like this just keep the morale on tour up so much higher.

castle along the road on the way out of the Czech Republic

hostile skateshop in Leipzig

train station, picking up Dave to drive the rest of the tour

sleeping quarters for the night

amazing dinner

hell yes

June 30 2010 Az Conni Dresden, Germany

Dave was familiar with Dresden so he took us to the center of town and showed us around. Quite epic (as the pictures below demonstrate). Another sweet venue, good food, cool people, etc. It's almost getting too easy now (not that I'm complaining!).

breakfast the next morning at Zoro, before heading out

metal posters plaster the kitchen ceiling


curry wurst

street performers

Colin gets asked to snap a photo for some tourist

outside the venue


July 1 2010 Pod Lampou Plzen. Czech Republic

Plzen, the hometown of Pilsner beer. Tonight was sort of different from the rest of the tour. Instead of playing last, we were opening on part of a larger package tour featuring Bleeding Through, and The Faceless. Tensions were a little high between us before the set. We felt rushed. The sound was pretty bad on stage, but we managed. The Faceless guys were cool, and we talked to them a bit. Spent the night at a hostel. I really hate leaving my passport with strangers.

breakfest in Dresden, before leaving

too much gear

another quiet night in a hostel

July 2 2010 Wagon Club Wroclaw, Poland
We were really psyched on this show 'cause we thought we were playing inside a wagon, but the wagon was just a bar area, and the actual venue was separate. Hammers, a band from the UK, was the other band on the bill. I always enjoy talking with British bands... must be their sense of humor. The turnout was slim, but the front row of ragers made for a good time regardless.

really strange, but good, meal.. sort of like a French/Mexican mix.. a burrito wrapped in a crepe

Colin drinks the sauce, Dave looks on concerned

went to take a whiz and ran into this guy guarding the door

July 3 2010 Schokoladen Berlin, Germany

And now we've reached the end. We poured every last bit of energy we had in us out at this show. Schokoladen is a legendary venue in town, one that has survived against opposition wishing to shut it down. Carsten, the promoter, was one of the nicest people I'd encountered on this trip. Offering me a place to stay, free of charge, for the week I remained in Berlin for vacation after the last show. Colin and Jeff's girlfriends flew in that day, so they left for their hotels. Dave and I stayed up until sunrise hanging out with people from the show, on the street, while drinking bottle after bottle of Berliner Pilsner. Somehow, we still managed to take care of all the band business expenses before Dave had to take off later in the day back to Hamburg with our gear and the van. Auf Wiedersehen.

Bogus restuarant

White Trash Fast Food! Chinese font, Santa Clause... makes sense.

totally shocked to not find our record in this section

i don't know what this says, but i'm sure it's funny

you don't have a friend in Germany

living (before) midnight with the Metal God

last meal before leaving