left picture, clockwise: mate (from kset), raul morales, domagoj (from kset),
jordan (from the thermals), watt, kathy (from the thermals), aleksandar
(from kset), hutch (from the thermals), christo (the thermals' driver)
right picture: paul roessler (konked)
dutch dude calros - the man outside the van
sunday, april 10, 2005 - heidelberg, germany
Got the shot gun seat this morning, so that means an extensive tour of the streets of heidlberg, witch isn't the worst, i hear it's a beautiful old city, and well worth checking out. Once we're in the city, which was no problem by the way, it turns in to something more like trying to run thru water... fuckin impossible. Half the battle is trying to pronounce the street names as we're flying past em' and then auctually find them on the map. Things kinda start to match up after a few minutes, so it's not that bad, it seems like the club is right under our noses, we just can't find it. On our roam we see a friendly looking hippy digging thru the trash and ask her for directions, sure she says, right down the street, go down this hill make a left, follow the river, it's on your left hand side right after the pedestrian bridge, easy enough right... wrong. Ofcourse we drive right past it, end up on an old town street, total cobble stone wide enough for a carriage, and it's filled with a thousand tourist. Who aren't afraid of getting crushed by a van, almost surrounding us so we're at a stand still. Did i mention it's the second time on this same road, jacobastrasse. We gotta get out. Quick right, another right at the river, no club, and a wrong turn back thru the tunnel going under the olde town. On our way back thru it'll be our third time under this mountain... total comedy, i'm glad we can all laugh at this. We retrace our steps and finally find it. dosn't resemble a club at all, threre's no signs, and scaffolding and a net all around it, looks like it's still being built. It's gonna be a while before anybody's home, so might as well check out heidelberg proper.
Paul and i set out for some coffee, and a place to get euros. I've been here for a week with out any money. The germans have been feeding us good so it dosn't really matter if i have cash our not, but a little couldn't hurt. We find a little cafe and sit outside, i can't believe it's not packed full of tourist. From the table we can see the heidelberg schloss sitting on top of the mountain... looks epic. We gotta go check it out, i've never been this close to a real castle, much less in one. After a couple cups of coffee, we make the hike up. This town is like a museum, and to get up to the castle we have to walk up a steep cobble stone road that seems almost never ending. Finally castle. It's beautiful, and probably the oldest thing i've ever set eyes and foot on, besides the earth, sun, and moon. Completely unbelieveable, and i'm feeling a bit retarded about not knowing any of the history behind it. We are in germany, so it make sense that all the signs are in german, so it's hard to get any information. It's not guarded, and so big that you can keep traveling up the hill past the main part of the castle, and get away from the crowds. And of course you get the best view of the town below, and all the old, and i mean olde houses across the river, i gotta attach some photos so you folks can see this place... unbelievable. Paul and i spend a couple hour at the schloss roaming around and taking photos. Find kind of a back entrance thru the gardens, and back to the street. One of the things i noticed about the town was that every thng was connected, and had walk ways going thru from streets to the sides of houses, that would let out into little common areas, that we're like parks. So at any given time you could be walking down an alley take a turn and you'd be in a park that led to a walk way that went down to a bigger street. There were no walls or fences stopping you from doing this, and seemed pretty normal to walk around town freely this way, taking sort cuts as you pleased. Later on i heard a local refer to the city as the garden, it did have that feeling to it. You could be anywhere and it felt okay.
After sound check, i head to heidelburg proper, the town center. Lots of tourism, i mean thousands of people from all over. It's kinda like bourban st in the way thats it's all foot traffic, but insted of bars and strip joints, it's shops and restuarants. Sorta cheese, but the arcitecture is so amazing that i get over it pretty quick, and spend most the time with my eyes up high. I'd love to get to see this place at night, when everything is shut down and silent, and nobody's in sight. I do the mile walk through the old town main st. and then some ,to were the autobaun ended and where we first came in. After that i try the cutting thru everything first hand , zig zagging my way thru town, finally ending up at the river, taking the river walk back to the club. Spent a while on the bridge across the street sorta spinnig slowly just taking all the sights in.
Again, were the only band playing, and it's a couple hours before that, so i set up camp on stage and chimp while the other dudes eat mexican food by a chef from sri lanka... trippy. I regret not trying it, but i can't eat before i play, i get so nerveous, it makes me feel like i'm gonna puke. Not to many folks tonight, what watt calls a character builder. I met a dude named ray from the states, he here cuz the military. Tells me that the same thing happened to wilco the week before, hardly anybody showed up. He tells me that most the kids are in to the u.s. slock rock radio crap, kinda depressing, but probably not entirely true, i think it's bad promotion. I walked all over the old and new city, and only saw posters at one place... the club. That's how prometers save there ass, put flyers where the bands wil be, not auctually expecting bands to go any furthur than that, oh well. I thought we played very together, and it was kinda hard at first to be comfortable right outta the gate. It can be pretty awkward playing in a hugh room for thirty people, but i've done it before, and hope to do it again. We did real good, and though i didn't think it was the most energetic set we've done, i felt, atleast for me, it was the best i've played all tour. After the gig the promoter drives us the the place we're staying, and sure enough... posters across the street where we can see them... sneaky, but i know the score. After relaxing for a few, i set out to do what i said earlier, see heidelburg when it's deserted. Erriely beautiful... giant statues and even bigger old churches, creep me out in the best way on this late night walk. I've never seen a schloss under the moon light before... bad ass.
8:00 wakeup call, light breakfast, go back to sleep for a while. Get in the van. the back seat. Listen to some more Chuck Chamberlain. Sleep. Raul navigating. I completely miss the whole drive. I hear there was snow.
When we get close to Heidelburg I rouse. There is potential that I may be rested, although I never feel rested when I wake up. We wander a little looking for the club, not Raul's fault at all, although he thinks it is for a while. We tell him it's not, it was a tricky one.We're a couple of hours early, the club is locked so Raul and I head off to the city.
I was here 25 years ago, and I remember it was beautiful. Mike says it was the only city in Germany not bombed, and I think thats why stalag 13 from Hogan's Hero's was set there. It is a beautiful old town set in a valley overlooked by a really imposing castle. Y'know the great thing about reading this on the internet is you can just pop over to Google and find out everything that I wish I could tell you about it. As Mike says: "Ghosts". Yeah, there's been some blood spilled here. So look it up, check this place out, there is no way I'll be able to do justice to the size and sense of history of this place.
Raul and I enter the old town and stop for a coffee. I spend my last five euros that I got from some buyout, maybe back in Hamburg. It's kind of nervewracking, having no spendable money at all, although I have dollars. It got pretty chilly, but we sit in this little old cobblestone square with lots of asian tourists (and Germans and others too...Americans! still mostly asians honestly!) and the sun feels warm. Meanwhile, looming over us is this ridiculously enormous castle up on the hill that you just cannot ignore. We decide we'll climb up there.
And it's a steep climb! We're blowing by the time we get up there, but the view is incredible, the castle overwhelming. Raul is wrestling with the battery on his camera, but he manages to squeeze out 20 pictures before it's dead, although on "indoor" setting which may make them all Psychedelic.
You can see the layers of castle, built over castle, ages upon ages. The fortifications are immense, giant walls upon walls. But it's wierd, the castle isn't on the top of the hill, and it seems like if you could get up behind, take the hill, you could lob cannonballs down. And sure enough one tower is partially collapsed.
I want to know what you can look up right now. Who first built it and when? What battles were fought here, what empires directed? What kings? or is it just a very rich and powerful local guy? Ghosts....
We see Watt wandering around up there too. We give him his space.
We wander back down, through the old town, and I see a place I can change money. I buy some euros and it doesn't seem like alot of money for the next month, but I've gotten by on nothing so far so it won't be a problem. Hilarious about my bank card. Whatever.
Return for 4:00 load in. Very cute load in girl, Antje! I'm a pig. No I'm not, just human, and male on top of that. I love strong women and she was throwing around the gear like Kira used to back in '77 for the Screamers and Weirdos. The soundguy Patrick is very on it. It's a pretty big room, no opening act (again!). Setup. Have donated my microphone to the Glauss 22 in Muenster.
Wow. All that bla and no inner life whatsoever. A relief for y'all? No reporting on sick and twisted thoughts and feelings. Just the facts m'am. For all you know, I might be all better. Well, I'm not sure whether to tell you or not. Was it a nice day, sightseeing, in the moment, enjoying the company? Or was it totally unfounded, unprovoked, unexplainable madness, as usual?
I'm writing all this stuff, I want you to read it I guess, I must I want you to like it. I really just want to say what's in my head, whatever comes, share the reality of the tour, not censor myself, not color it. It's sort of embarrassing to let people in on how fucked up I am. I'm sure someone could read this and not have any fucking idea of what my problem is. I have only some guesses. Unfortunately, it is reality to me, as real as that fucking castle. More real. The castle I strongly suspect is real. I'm pretty sure Raul and I were clambering around on it today.
So I really donated the microphone. You want reportage on the inner life regarding that event? I'm sure you've heard enough of that. And it's probably fucking painful to read, or just boring.
Later: Did soundcheck. Went to eat upstairs. There's a guy named Ray who's going to record us. He's an American serviceman (infantry) who's served a tour in Afganistan and two in Iraq. Now he's doing music, he's got a country/C,S,N&Y band playing for the troops. He sat with me while I ate. That was pretty fucking heartbreaking. He said a couple of times that he would never be the same, he was so affected by the things he saw in the war. I don't want to tell his story, I don't want to town crier what he told me, it's a character defect of mine so I'll just say what my reaction was. Sending young men to kill each other, year after year, century after century just can't possibly be right. Piling up the fucking bodies, the maimed, the tortured, the witnesses to the horror, it seems indefensible. And I've defended it. The other day, Mike Said Ray Pettibone hated Lincoln, and I said that if there hadn't been a civil war we would have been on opposite sides in the first and second world wars.
Again trumpeting "the truth" according to Paul. Anyway, Ray seemed pretty over the Army, OK? And he didn't really seem to think that there are millions of armed terrorists, just waiting for an opportunity to kill Americans. Keep doing what we're doing and someday maybe there will be.
Whatever, Ray's married, his wife is back from IRAQ and I wish them well. He says he can't wait to get out of the Army, and get away somewhere with his wife.
Somewhere far away it sounded like. We both agree that looking at our wives when they're sleeping makes everything OK for a minute.
They played Bright Eyes and Elliott's new album, over the PA. Oh yeah, that probably is faux pax. Whatever, I'm a sap. And old. For someone my age to be able to be hip enough to even know who the fuck Bright Eyes is unfuckinbelievable.
Before every show, there is a interlude after doors open, before people get there, where I'm positive no one will show up. Till tonight they always did. Tonight was our first cave. Nice place, pretty big, but only ten or fifteen people. We do our best, at first the organ sounds really tame like last night, but eventually I'm able to goose it up to where it has the new found bottom end and warmth that I think I might have gotten from diddling some Leslie settings, and some of the shriller screamyness that I like. There's not alot of mistakes, but sometimes I just can't feel any groove or flow. I can't put my finger on it. Also for the first time, someone kind of talks loudly through a few of the silent pauses in "It's allright Ma". It sounds like a heckle, but since it's german I have no idea, he might have just been talking to a friend. Adjusting the sound so much has left me kind of unsure. Mike doesn't seem to like what I think is working, so I'm trying to figure out what he likes, which seems to have changed. Anyway, Ray the musical infantryman has recorded and videotaped the show, so maybe we'll get to see it sometime. I think I'm playing pretty good, not many mistakes, but a little unsure.
After a journalist guy asks me some questions, names and such, I guess he's going to review it. I talk to him awhile while I'm packing. Then a guy comes up and says : "You're songs are too long." I think he's hostile cause we're not the minutemen, but it turned out he missed most of the show and it was just an icebreaker. His name is Klaus. He says: "Are you Paul Roessler?" He then proceeds to demonstrate his knowledge of Screamers, Twisted Roots, Nina Hagen, Lexicon Devil...even ...Hellin Killer!!!! It's sort of nice, someone paying attention. I give him a burnt church sticker, and try not to be too happy about it, but shit, I want to hug the guy.
We head to the hotel. There's some tension and I wake up in the morning with a very stiff neck. The rooms are beautiful and modern, I take a shower and want to stay up in peaceful privacy but I have a 6:45 wakeup call so I get right to sleep by 1:00.
I have alot of suicidal thoughts.
pop at six bells and get my routine on. had some trippy dreams augmented w/the trains that kept going by, I think we're right by some tracks. kind of soothing though and not crazy on me, maybe cuz of the rhythm the wheels clattering on the tracks make. my mind kept centering on the strings of my bass... how crud and moisture from my fingers, accumulating from gig to gig were imbedding themselves in between the windings each string is made of. you understand a bass string is not one piece of wire but a wire w/another one wrapped around it - thicker for the lower strings and thinner for the higher ones. it was though I was on a microscopic level and completely aware of how each gig another "rinse" of my finger oil and filth would "wash" over each string and change it completely, making its smooth and shiny finish dull, pitted and corroded. inside this visual perception was a mental one where I'd ponder the brittleness and loss of resilience the string was now doomed to and how the chances of it snapping during a gig would increase and increase 'til there was no further chance it could survive whole. I could feel it correspond in a way to the way my joints ache so in the morning or later after a gig when the adrenaline has wore off. so creaky, so stiff - aaarrggghh... I can feel it now, just writing about it. it was a trippy dream, made me think big time about putting a new set of strings on the little bass tonight.
after shoveling the usual sandwich makings that are similar to the troughs set up for us at gig arrival (except for some pour downs of coff - I try only do that in the morning), I gather my guys and we hoof not too far back to the club and the dutch diks for hire boat. it's a gray and a little wet but not raining. good, everything here and no donate. back from whence we came yesterday but south on the a1 autobahn and not north towards where the "american zone" was/is (as far as military stuff goes). the weather turns more gray, more wet 'til it's rain, fog and cold - pretty ugly and no mister sun to shine down on us. there's even snow on the side of the road in spots. they've built these autobahns here in a way to reduce your having to go and up and down grades by building these bruckes (bridges) in the valleys that cut through. most are between a thousand and 1300 feet up but you would hardly know it cuz they seem just like a regular part of the road, w/out towers or suspension stuff. it makes for things to be quite smooth. you see a sign w/a name and an elevation as you go right over it. when you do see a classic bridge in europe, lots of times it's a very modern design w/an elegant use of minimal support - maybe one tower and some cable running down the middle - nothing like a brooklyn/golden gate (or even the vincent thomas back in pedro) kind of bridge type. I guess lots of the old ones got bombed in the second war maybe and so that's why they're newer. at frankfurt am mainz, finally the sun breaks through and the weather clears, whoa - much thanks. there's a club near the train station here called the batchkap I've played a bunch of times but no gig here this tour though we're playing kind of nearby. we turn south to heidelberg. this is where the u.s. army hq is. not so much to guard germany as to be a forward base for the new wars. raul's at the map and what seems like a "straight-shot" drawn there turns out to be a challenge for the young drummer learning navigating. we travel along the neckar river and through the new part of town to the old part (the "altestadt"). there's a huge castle on the south side of the river, heidelberg schloss and we take the tunnel under it. first a huge blow-by and then w/help from some kind lady who was just about to do a dumpster dive, we loop around a couple of times (it's three times through the tunnel) 'til we figure it's this oder train station building next to the new train station, the karlstorbahnhof. we're here early (I tell my guys I like to "pad for wander" - paul says that would make a good song title!) so my guys set off for the old town. I go myself a little bit later after entering in tour numbers into the 'puter. it is really pretty around here - a couple of old bridges people use over the neckar and then the little streets and old buildings that make up the town at the foot of the castle. I hoof up 303 stairs to the schloss (castle) and explore the place - pretty huge and though parts have crumbled and tumbled, it's still pretty impressive. to be around such oldness, somewhere it said at least eight hundred years of history here, whoa. it be sunday, there's lots of tourists which makes some of it hard to take... especially the loud u.s. voices! maybe they seem louder cuz it's easier to recognize them, I don't know. I just like to be myself and be the outlander looking in and wondering what's it all about. to hear people complaining about some walking they have to do - over and over - sure puts a damper in the pamper so I flee as far as I can from them as soon as I can. these kind of journeys for me call for introspection and that's why I don't even do them w/my guys. there's lot of time on tour I spend w/out them - hell, we're together much in the boat and then at the venue for load in/setup, soundcheck, gig time and breakdown/load out. that's why it's tough for me to chow w/them too - no disrespect in the least cuz they are great cats... it's hard maybe to relate unless you've done the tour deal or maybe unless you've been inside watt's head which is not really something I'd threaten anyone w/even though it might seem like for some bizarre reason you might want to. I think maybe there'd be something of curiosity element about but believe me (I've been there), you're better off dealing personally w/your own strengths and shortcomings in your own person. I think us humans are bizarre like that or maybe it's cuz we might find perspectives or insights into a way out from our own hells by visiting the wack wigshit in others. I have found that we need a personal space in some form cuz we sure can get weird on each other, behaviors seemingly to develop out of nowhere. the confines of a boat on tour can make that very apparent, sort of like maybe a marriage can. there's always that nasty nightmare of familiarity breeding contempt. this inbred tendency towards a basic disrespect drives us to find 'pert-near more value in strangers, maybe a root cause at what seems such a sick attraction to the "fame game" or whatever. are we forever prone to constantly corrupt our personal interactions w/each other the more intimate we become, proactively defensive in control issues by and endless competition for alpha dog/herd dominance if possible and utter contempt and resentment if its not - the ego carving out some sense of a "victory" in what it sees as its legitimate right one way or another, impulse driven on a level below reason or even choice? fuck, what kind of sentence is that? I meant grammatically, as in a grammatic sense but maybe the perspective "sentence" as in "prison sentence" might be appropriate too. to think about this stuff is almost as bad as far as suffering from what's trying to "cured" w/reason. it seems ok to analyze these lameass behaviors for a solution but when you come up w/pessimistic assessments w/"no hope" bottom lines, then maybe it's not so constructive? I just have to think this shit out loud sometimes though, even if I'm doomed to live out such a spin on the "I love lucy" rerun treadmill. fuck, there might even be a metaphor in the laugh tracks those people used, the fine art of distraction/persuasion - maybe more like coase art but then what am I up to operating strings on a bass machine when my own very bodily fluids corrupt them? rationalize it by saying it's a victory over machine w/a conscious that prays to what's little more than an emotional machine? the outfits get confused, the uniforms skewed, the masks all fouled up. like d. boon said, "back to the maps."
on the way back to the venue, my guys rejoing me - wow, how did that happen? they couldn't have been following me. whatever, I'm glad to see them again. both raul and paul are glad they saw the castle. I sold raul my old digicamera and he's been snapping many pictures. that's a good thing. he's twentyseven now, the year d. boon got killed. I'm glad he's here as we sally forth. same w/paul even though at fortysix he's less than a year younger than me... age is weird, fuck it. I have two good cats to tour w/on this journey.
three of the club people are here: patrick, david and antja and they help us load in. it's a big room w/a high ceiling so it's good there's some big pieces of fabric strung parallel w/the deck about twelve feet up over the audience on the sides to cut down on the boom. paul discovers he donated the mic I gave him to use on this tour (better to keep our bugs to ourselves than to share w/the towns we roll through and likewise the other way around), oh well. the trail of scattered breadcrumb-equipment donate continues to make a legacy, right? this shit happens, it's ok - really. I know he feels bad about but I try and reassure him I ain't pissed... christ, we are not memory machines! he was telling me how he got lost wandering before the gig last night, forgetting where the venue was. I think he's got a lot on his mind, that's all. we do the soundcheck w/soundman patrick and is it the room here or what in regards to the 'a' string on my bass? hmm... I go outside and there's a cat named ray there who asks me to tape the show - he know macdaddy, well alright! macdaddy is very VERY cool people and helped (along w/geoff and cabral) set up the watt bbs. much respect to him. macdaddy is an avid taper and I guess him and ray spiel along the email conduit about music and such. ray's a soldier stationed here and has done iraq and afghanistan tours and he said it was very intense on him. he says he's makes music too and dearly wants to get back to that. trippy but when I met a soldier at gigs in frankfurt twentytwo years ago, a helicopter man named scott, the first thing he told me was what ray said here: when and how anxious he is to get out and back home. whoa.
I go to the dressing room to chimp up some diary when I'm told there's some mexican food in the kitchen upstairs cooked up by a cat from sri lanka. whoa, that's a trippy combination - gotta try it. it's a fajita type thing and it's really ok if not all the way "accurate" or whatever. much respect. I don't chow much cuz damn, I've shoveled lots of the "arrival chow" that awaits when we pull up in the boat (I have yet to get some discipline on this) - a reason I haven't chowed much dinner on this tour so far. ray's up here w/a german cat who's visited cali and I hear him relate his experiences. he says he was explaining to ray the piece (what we're mainly playing this tour) cuz he saw the echo park gig back in december when brother pete mazich was on bass. I think ray's hankering for music and not all that familiar w/what I do but is here on a tip from macdaddy. ray's from wilmington, north carolina and I think the closest I've played to him is either raleigh or chapel hill. he has a hankering for music though, that's for sure. I think it's cool this german man (shit, I forgot his name - god damn me) and the light lady, antja hear him speak cuz they probably get much different impressions of being around u.s. soldiers here. to listen one that's sensitive and introspective - a human being like them - is a good thing. by the way I'm wording this, hopefully you can get the gist of what he thinks of romanticizing the military. I tell him about my growing up in navy housing and we can relate on some levels there. him and the native guy bail and now talk turns to working the bass for a living w/antja. it was surprise to see only us three come out of the and now big crew. hey, that's the way I've always done it. talk about working a stage, insecurities and masks. ha! funny stuff. "be who you are" - sort of like the "keeping it real" you hear lots of these days. does anyone really want to "share" in the fears I gotta overcome to get a gig out of me? isn't art to transcend somehow reality? wasn't john fogerty NOT born on the bayou? still a good song. perception is nine-tenths of the law, I guess. I'm convinced to keep learning I gotta keep off the high horse. how do you do that w/out sounding like you are by saying it? or chimping it. gotta let it go. does anyone wanna hear you're afraid or you hide in a levi and flannel uniform? I can tell this gig's gonna be a "character builder."
sunday night in heidelberg - my first time playing this town and it's a cave, a definite "character builder" for sure and maybe the tiniest gig of tour people-wise but I'm not going to shirk. cuz of the acousitcs I've already mentioned, that makes it even more of a challenge but good, maybe I deserve it. we can't start up right away cuz there's a problem w/the lights so things get little spinal tap before we're finally underway. the three folks running this gig (patrick, david and antja) are wonderful though, really. now it's time for the three u.s. folks on stage to deliver. 'pert-near feels like a recital but maybe that's good too - maybe I need to get sweated, huh? paul certainly has a better sound w/the organ sound being fatter and less shrill. I got something really strange w/the 'a' string and think it's the room's acoustics. raul's got quite a ring on his floor tom and this takes some time to communicate it w/him cuz I can't tell if his lip-reading is working well enough to know what I'm trying to say. kind of funny really. finally I just but my hand on the drum head and everything's alles klar (ok) and he gates it in between blows w/his hand. the gig is tough on some levels but I think we do pretty alright. feeling like a fool about all this is almost a constant w/me but the waves of that getting big enough to overwhelm me seem to come in cycles though not easy to predict. lots of times its regardless of the situation. I am kooky and a sorry entertainer. I had to write that that way just like I had to write this sentence the way it's written here. even stuff later I read that's all fucked-up and couldn't be further removed from what I meant gets written the way does cuz of some inner truth that has to bust out. truth is lots of times very embarrassing and not the most flattering. it'd be worse to drown on your own bullshit propaganda though. this is kind of how I feel about we delivered the piece. I'm proud of my guys but think I could've gotten it a little more together. it wasn't the clams cuz they weren't that major but there was some things I wish I would've done a little different, even w/some spiel at the very end when I playing - I skipped the cobra verde tune in the encore (I'm pretty surprised folks wanted more but obviously those doubts were more in my head than theres) besides the roky one. . well, soldierman ray got it all taped and no doubt macdaddy will have it traded around so people can judge/laugh/wretch for themselves.
I think I both thought and talked about myself a little too much today!
we pack up the gear, put it in the boat and then I back it up against a wall of the venue cuz I'm told there's no parking around where the 'tel is. soundman patrick gives us a ride into the newer part of town is so we can konk. I am tired. they got a mirror in this room that sits low, like where I'm sitting and when I look over (which I don't do much cuz mirrors spook me unless I got my fingers on a facial carbuncle and am pinching the fuck out of it in order for it to give up its grease and pus) I'm a little tripped out by the watt profile there - damn, if I ain't belling after just a week of shovelling over here! gotta watch the bread and cheese stuff - I don't do any of that back home but have been into it here cuz it's REAL and good. there's a price to pay though, holy cow! I konk thinking of cows.
monday, april 11, 2005 - vienna, austria
Playing a club called the szene, and it's not all that hard to find, just a little help from the locals, and an enourmous city map. Okay, so we did a little wandering, no thang'. We we're only about two blocks off, and vienna is a hugh city, so we did good. When we show up the clubs already open, and lots of dudes to help us out, so the gears on stage in minutes. While we're setting up, i look over at the monitor guy to my left, an sure as i can smell it, he's toking on a big ol' spleef. It's trippy the sound guy who runs the board is way up high in front of us, he has to climb stairs to get to the controls, and he only ask for half a song, so he has time to climb down and listen to the other half. For some reason, when he ask for the half of song, we say sure, and then space and play the red and the black in it's entirety... dumb asses. For the second song we do corona, which was pauls idea to do back in pedro. Fitting, cuz last tour it was petes to do this ain't no picnic while we were in lincoln nebraska. Pete did picnic near perfect, he said he could really relate, working shit jobs wasting away your time, i guess we all can relate to that one. I wonder what pauls relation to corona is, other than it's a beautiful song, maybe i should ask him. I remember being at the practice pad, and mike telling us about going to mexico with during the fourth of july with boon during the election. Thats were corona came from, and watt said that's when he came back with felt like a gringo.
Opening the show is a avant guard bass player named manfred. Trippy, way out stuff, i missed the sound check, but had a seat on stage and watched most the set. Played a stand up, and when he went to his regular bass guitar, he played it with nails, scrapping and popping the strings, making the weirdest sounds and rhythms. He'd also put something that looked lke a toilet paper roll between the strings, and next to that would be an old pill bottle. They were sitting on top of the pickups, and he'd play em' like drums, and it had this rad electronic sound like something i've never heard before... brave guy, to do something so far out. He's was really cool and down to earth too. Back in rotterdam before the first gig, mike had given me all the episodes of the prisoner, a seventies brit show, and manfred and i sat back stage, shot the shit and watched the prisioner, equally as trippy as manfreds bass playing.
It's a packed house tonight, after heidelberg, this is good, lots of kids too, i like that. It's a good sound, and everybody, crowd and band seems in good spirits, and it turns out to be a real good gig. These guys where on top of their shit. Had a really low ring on the floor tom, and somehow with my gestures the monitor guy seemed to have it fixed quick, for them the even be watching is a rareity in itself. Lots of good people here at this gig in vienna, it was awesome. After it's all said and done, and the gears packed up, we leave it in the club, and take a cab to the hotel. Make plans to pick it up at ten the next mourning. We all have our own room, which isn't important to me, but it's hard for me to sleep after shows, especially the good ones, cuz i'm all wound up. So this makes it possible to go out walking, and not wake anybody up when i come back. So i take the opportunity, and go late night creepin' around down town vienna. It's not like germany, where everything is closed by six, there's still people out, mainly bar hoppin' youngins though, nothing too interesting, but still some life. In the looks,it reminds me of market street in san francisco. I don't stay out for too long, maybe an hour or so. No pictures either, the last thing i wanna do is get robbed. So i kinda do a stake out, and make plans to return to all the tings i wanted pictures of in the mourning, before we get the gear,and head out to zagrab.
We have a pretty good walk back to the club from the hotel, where we left the van. One last look at Heidelburg. It's a long ride to Vienna. The pain in my neck is significant. I feel pretty tired too, kind of envy Raul sleeping in the back today. I also happen to know that while this map will get us to Vienna, we have no directions for the club once we get there. We're probably really going to get a chance to see the city...I don't bring it up to Mike though. Some of the tension last night was regarding me trying to help get us booked into the hotel. I'm not going to go into it, because I'll spin it. We both apologized, but I think Mike is asking that I let go and go along till he asks for help, and gee, I'm not going to complain about that...
We cross over into Austria and Bavaria. Green rolling hills, clusters of trees, farmland, the churches have minaret style steeples, which Mike tells me is Catholic. The weather is good. My neck is a clenched mess.
Later... Really bad today. Can truly barely speak. Bad thoughts, unbidden. Go in and out of sleep in the front seat. Cold sore erupting on my lip, muscle spasms in my neck and back. Wow.
We find Vienna and the club. It's really hard to find and in an industrial area, but truthfully, we go right to it, considering we don't know the town. The club is called Wien Scene....Wien is Vienna. Pretty big room, good gear, super helpful crew...it seems to be a pattern in Europe, they really try to make it pleasant, they bust ass for you. We check. We eat a good meal they have prepared, meat rice mushrooms and salad.
I want to lie down, and I wander around till I find a couch upstairs in a dark corner of the sound booth. They check the opening act (an acoustic bass player named Manfred Hofer) and I doze. I finally wake up to some really cool Cd that I find out later is a band called Milk Cult. The sound guy (I gotta get names better it's insulting) lets me check emails.
It's SO FANTASTIC to hear from Hellin, although the news from LA is kinda scary. She's worried about Adam, and the studio I work at, Satellite Park in Malibu, seems to be completely isolated by landslides. Oh that's just great. That was my fucking job! Well I'm not going to freak out, I knew that was kind of coming to an end... and who knows what will happen. Also June Nina Hagen gigs...including Mexico city.
But more important to me is some sort of contact with Hellin. Makes me happy.
Favorite quote of the tour: "Hey, you're Paul Roessler, aren't you married to Hellin Killer?"
Manfred Hofer opens with an avant garde performance of bass treatments. It's SUPER modern lots of drumming on the big upright, or the electric with mallets, scratching, scraping, he sings one love song that is so out of context it's like it's from mars...I love seeing stuff like this, and it's a neat opening act. He probably could go farther with it or get wilder for my tastes, but I can't judge, it was brave and interesting.
We do a good set. It might be the biggest crowd of the tour so far...there are one or two of those guys that want to participate by talking, commenting...it's a little disconcerting cause you're not sure whether they're fucking with you, but I'm pretty sure they're not and Raul confirms this later. It's just wierd in the pauses and silences to have some drunk sounding guy interjecting. On the Dylan song it seems like a lot of the lines comment on the commenters like: " wanna get you down in the hole that he's in" or "Then say god bless him" and some others so I just let the song do the work. I always get good response from people, so I don't want to be dictated to by a few. It's allright ma, if I can't please them...I mean, how perfect is that?
Again there are Twisted Roots fans, DC3 fans, a guy has a crimony EP for us to sign, someone says they have Abominable ( an SST solo album I did around 1987). Gratifying. It's really wierd because most of that stuff is really immature to me artistically. In my eyes I didn't really hit my stride till about '93 and none of that stuff is really available. I guess you can get "Curator" on CD Baby. And Burnt Church can be downloaded. And I'll stand by Abominable. I like "St. Pete" and "Prison Blues" by Crimony although I'd have to hear the performances. Producing people has really changed my ears. Fuck it's unbelievable how different I was back then.
We get a cab to the hotel, and it is not econo. Some of this stuff is not up to Mike, he would maybe get one room in the cheapest place possible, but I think the clubs and the booking agents set this stuff up. So it's a beautiful hotel, called the hotel Furstenhof, there's an incredible church right out my window. I go to take a shower, and woah, this time I spot the flood waiting to happen that I missed once or twice this tour, so I take a bath. I don't want to come off like a spoiled princess, god forbid on a Watt tour, but I sure love an hour or two by myself before I go to bed. That's how they get you...I'm reading all this Ben Franklin stuff...he goes on and on about frugality, but is unable to actually live by it, and is pretty up front about it. It's a tough one for me too Ben. Especially in Vienna. Believe me folks, no one in this band is by any stretch of the imagination a conspicuous consumer.
I'm writing all this boring stuff. I should be sleeping, so I can go out and walk around a little in the morning. I think we're actually in a nice part of Vienna now, the club was by the railroad tracks. Good night Hellin. How the Fuck do I ever get you to Vienna? XOXO
pop at six bells and hurry to get ready cuz we got a hellride to vienna, have to dry across 'pert-near all of southern germany and then most of austria to get to vienna. down to the chow area and I shovel some w/paul which is kind of different but good cuz I can talk to him some about some intenseness we've had the last couple days - some butting heads over tiny shit, control issues. I want him to understand I love him much and am sorry for how coarse I can be at times. I give him some examples of situations I've had when I'm the sidemouse, like w/perry or j or the stooges. this is to let him be aware I can relate to where he's at and want him to know that deep down I very much respect him. we all come from different places but here we are in the now and have each other to deal w/in the moment. there's gonna be some rough spots but we can get through it. lots of times I think it's insecurities - I'm talking about me cuz I don't feel right laying blame on him... he's smart enough to figure out what's what as far as the dynamic between us is and that touring w/me is not a regular thing for him but he's really doing good and any probs are just tiny things, human frictions that are bound to come up. one thing I'd really like to do - something I'd be very proud of - is to inspire him to do his best and play his heart out for the folks who come to the gigs. paul's a good man. today's the first day of week two so he gave me his diary stuff for the first week and said he almost was gonna delete it all but I'm glad he didn't... at least for the sake of his family back home cuz he hasn't been able to talk to his wife or two sons since we left cali.
I have to get raul cuz somehow he didn't pop or get a call to or maybe he didn't even hear it if he did get one but whatever, minutes after seeing raul at his door w/a blankie draped over him, he's ready to join me and paul on our hoof back to the boat. it's about a twenty minute jam along the neckar river but it's not like we had to break out into a full-scale run. the sun is up bright and again, heidelberg shows her beauty to us, such a nice town that way. I knew it'd be a little bit of a distance so I didn't bring the clothes bag so it's an unshaven watt and w/out his flax/fish oil and enzymes but I'm ok - it would've been tough to sling that sack this far. except for posies, it's almost bulb flowers I've been seeing - maybe they're tough enough for the euro weather in these parts. paul was saying something about how far up north europe actually is, up in the new england latitudes of our land. there's nothing like a pretty flower for watt - maybe I have some bee in me. we get on the autobahn and start heading east on the a6. seems these 'a' roads are specific to each country they're in - an a1 road in germany is not the same as an a1 one in austria. maybe that's what this 'e' system is all about, huh? a more euro based system. I'm learning, even w/this being my sixth or seventh tour over here. I take us through bavaria. the boat's idle sometimes sticks up high, like almost two thousand rpm where it should be around eight hundred - I wonder what's up w/that? a stop for gas and a look under the hood (takes a bit to figure out you need the ignition key to open it - I let paul put the touch on it to pop it open) shows now obvious problems and the fulids are all good, hmm... it seems to get back to normal if I stop or kill the motor and restart it but I wonder what it is. other than that, she's running pretty good. raul's tripping on how the heads have turnstiles that take fifty cents euro to let you through. it's automated now but I've always remembered somebody taking money to give you the privilege to piss at a gas station in europe. I always figured that's how they kept them clean. these "rasthofs" lots of times have pastries and paul's alway got the drool bucket going talking about them when he gets back in the boat. he's funny about that. guess it's better than jonesing for drogas though. pretty countryside, like everywhere we've driven on this tour - not to make it all sound identical cuz it ain't but it's beautiful none the less. I try to look for that wherever I drive. one neat thing about here is that there's 'pert-near no billboards so maybe that's why it's easier to notice... history too, castles or ruins of them on hilltops we pass. the only sign you really see is one of a young kid who looks like he's been roughed up and the written in german something like "being calm is better" - maybe it's a campaign to help people think about not abusing their children. we stop again before entering austria so I can get a ten-day "vignette" which is a road tax thing you need to drive on austrian roads. the last tour I wasn't completely unaware of needing this and got hit w/a one hundred mark (there were deutchmarks still in those days) fine. slow learner watt. it's like seven hundred klicks plus for our drive but leaving early helped tons, so glad I don't have to fight my guys on that. night drives are not for me cuz of all the risk involved but bailing early makes for less stress, big time. we go east past linz. austria is mountain country and I remember the last time being through these parts (the "...engine room" euro tour seven years ago had four austrian gigs) and it was lots of snow so I'm glad we're here a month later than last time. joe baiza's asthma was hurting him so we couldn't use the heater either). paul's in the navigating seat but he's got not a lot of resource for this mission so I pull over for gas about thirty klicks from vienna and check out the maps. it's ten fucking euros for a vienna map so I find the street we need from the index (paul is amazed but now a little wiser after I show him how I did it) and have him write down the area on a back of a sticker. good, now we got some resource to hedge against our imminent wander. we take a southern fork of the autobahn to bring us in to the part of the city closer to where we need to be and paul guides us in pretty close though a piece of expressway we take doesn't have have street access so we get a little lost but look at this - there's a billboard w/a street map of the area we're in that raul spots. I thought at first it was just some ad prop but I get out of the boat and see the motherfucker is totally accurate and even has a circle w/the words "sind sie hier" (you are here) above it, damn! a lady walking her baby gives us a little help too and soon we're at szene wien, the venue for tonight. I've played here a few times before and they got both great sound and great folks working here. whew... that was seven hours of rolling.
monitor man mike helps us load in and soon soundman peter joins in to help us set up quick - these guys are down w/what they do and a great spirit too. we've been lucky to have happening cats like this all tour so far, truly a blessing. bossman ziggy let's me up to his office and finally I'm able to get some internet access. among the tons of emails that descend down into my machine, I get this from ceej in phily:
the eye of clarity is so called because
it brings sight to everyone. it enables every
single one to enter the uncreated and
unconditioned reality, each in his (or her)
whoa... thanks, ceej. I whup up the diaries for the first week of tour so I can post them but soundcheck is on us so I do that quick and then am back to get infos from dutch dude carlos about tomorrow's zabreb gig - like how to fucking get there! he's read the manual for the walkie-talkie leash but I can't get it happening cuz now it asks me for a "puk" number, what the hell is that? before it asked for a pin number and carlos flowed that but now I get the message "sim blocked" - what a fucking piece a shit, am I ever going to be able to use this thing? damn. ziggy tells me there's chow so I shovel some breaded chicken in a tasty gravy w/some salad, it goes down good. I go back upstairs and rap w/paul, the man who's done my austria gigs the last few tours. I like him a bunch. he's an english cat who moved here years ago and always cracks me up w/stories of "the business" and such. he reveals such horseshit about the racket. thank you, paul.
the opening band is a solo bassist named manfred and he's great - wow. we're up and there's a good crowd to see us - a total rebound from heidelberg on that level. great sound on stage except maybe a little overboard w/the floor tom, raul's hip to it quick tonight and compensates well. I'm still having trouble w/the sound of the 'a' string - obviously it wasn't the venue last night... I look down at the bridge and discover the fucking string isn't even in it's saddle - aaaaaaaaarrrrrrgggggghhhhhh. I gotta wait 'til the first purgatory tune ("tied a reed 'round my waist") before I can get that right, there's time to re-set and tune it in the intro. yes, sounds much better. this fucking pedal board has jacks that seem to be wearing out quick. I had to go to the 'b' loop for the output and sometimes I gotta jiggle the input cable to get a good connect there. shit. always something, huh? after this tour, this thing gets retired! I'm not that into being tied to one of these "dachaus" anyway ("pedal dachau" is the nickname I gave to nels' pedal board cuz it's easy to be at the mercy of all the things that can fuck up w/these things). I'm only using it cuz I wanted to use different textures on the bass to the piece (piss tubes, beltsanders, etc.). the crowd is righteous to play for - much positive feedback from them. they bring us back for more when the piece is done, some pogoing for "corona" even. much respect to the vienna cats, much.
I sling the most shirts yet of the tour. there's a u.s. guy who saw me play in sioux falls, south dakota years ago. there's peter, a young austrian I gave a personal tour of pedro to once. there's one drunk cat who was hollering at paul during the dylan song and he asks why I didn't play minutemen... I remind him about "corona" but he asks why I didn't play more. I tell him I'm sorry but it's out of respect for d. boon too, "can you understand that?" he asks to look at a shirt and then walks away w/it w/out throwing any euros - whoa. whatever, the magic of alcohol sometimes promotes that. at least we got to play for him. this is one young man out of a crowd of very gracious folks and it's in no way a reflection on anyone else here. I really enjoy talking w/these cats. I go backstage and talk some w/manfred, thank him much for his sharing the stage w/us. I know it was out of his element but he said he was glad he did it. I'm glad he did it too. then it's back out to get everything packed.
soundman mike asks if he can clean my mic cuz there were some problems he said w/it during the set. I tell him it's not dirt but the condenser is blown from my bellowing and like a real brother he helps me out big time. wow, thank you so much mike. ziggy says we can leave the equipment in the pad and the diks for hire boat outside and then take a taxi to the 'tel. paul says the 'tel is on his way so he says we can ride in the cab he's getting. we get some more great stories from him on our way - like he would say, "spot on!" ok, I am spent and ready to collapse... so collapse I do and konk hard.
tuesday, april 12, 2005 - zabreb, croatia
Wake up early so i can see downtown in the morning. Go down stairs for a quick breakfast. I swear it seems like the bowls for the cereal have been replaced with the o.j. glasses, and the orange juice glasses are now thimbles, i have three of each. I've tried to cut out cheese in bread, so many days in germany, it was starting to get heavy. Typical down town morning, people walking super fast going to work and school, lots of foot and car traffic. I make way into some neighborhoods and instantley wish i had some more time to spend here, it's so awesome, and there's a freida exhibit down the street, that would be well worth checking out. Across the the street from the hotel is the central train station. Stand around taking photos of all the people coming and going. The city train looks like it's from the thirties, and they haven't changed a bit. I make it back in time just to catch mike in paul getting ready to leave. We can catch a cab right across the central station, so that's convienant. We get a pretty rad cabbie who has lot's to say. He pretty much breaks it down for the past sixty years and then some. Tells how his grandfather was not into the nazis, but his dad, not so not into the nazis, cuz as a kid they were the ones who offered everything for the youth. He was a bass player in a traditional band, and had even started the first marxist club at his school as a boy, this dude was pretty bad ass. We asked him about these billboards across the city that were defaced. This dude strache, with captions like this wil not be another Istanbul, and then saying "what the people of vienna think" or something like that, really fishy, and total bull shit, and obviously not the truth. Every picture i saw of him had a hitler mustache, or the word facist in red paint written across it, so that's what the people of vienna think. Fucked up stuff about how in the schools they won't teach the little girls from Istanbul the language, even though they live in austria, making it against the law to learn how to read and write, really backwards kinda thinking. Alot of the things that he had to say about his government seemed to parallel with ours a bit in the states, really scary. The more i play with mike and paul, the more i learn.
Get to the club and the guys are already there to help with the gear, great. We hang for a minute, get the destructions and were out headed for bregana, the border town of Zagreb, croatia. We got directions from the promoter, and insted of going thru Ljubljana, maybe he knows something about the border that we don't, so we take a mountain road at celje. Really small broken down towns. The scenery looks almost like certain southern states, but really it's like no place i've ever seen. Maybe took a little longer than the freeway, but it was a beautiful drive. The sava river to our right, and mountains to our left. It was scary at times too, truckers going way too fast around blind corners, riding the lanes and almost pushing us into the hill side at times. Finally the croatian border. This has been our only border check of the tour so far, since lots of eurpeon contries have gone e.u.. I know watt gets nervous about stuff like this, and all i had to do was sit and wait, so i'll let you read about it in his diary, but i'll spoil the end, they don't take everything we have, and leave us stranded on the side of the road , they let us thru.
Once we get to zagreb, we start the wandering. We have two sets of completely conflicting directions, so we try to put them together and maybe make some sense of em'. No way... directions like look for mc drive thru, take right at big croation t.v. station, make circle at big oak, flippin' go under the under pass, how and the fuck do you do that. Also these directions had use going away from the club on our alternate map. All land marks, no street names, addresses or anything, total luck that we find someone who can tell us where to go. I'm just glad to be here, a place i never imagined i'd visit, and actually get to play. Being from pedro, croatia is a big part of the community, and a bunch of friends of mine are auctually from this country. It looks pretty intense here, most the apartments are real beat up, and all have the same look, almost like the projects.
Playing with a band from portland called the thermals... great. For some reason or another, i never go see em' when they play in l.a., so this is cool. I like some songs on their first full length, and can't wait to see em'. The club is rad, it's the first punk club we've played, has like a speakeasy feel or something, and all the folks who run are very helpful. Seems like Zagreb has a good scene, and i have a good feeling about tonight. After the sound check i go and introduce my self to the thermals, very friendly. Everybody else goes to dinner, and i stay behind to check my mail and watch the sound check. It's pretty bizarre that are paths hadn't crossed before this, we have a bunch of the same friends, have seen each other in old bands, and get this kathy the bass player had another band that had even played in pedro, and now we're together in croatia of all places, a place pedro has a tight knit with, i guess it all makes perfect sense.
The place is packed, earlier i met a punk rock girl named jasmina, who had told me the show was part of a month long festival, and almost everyday was sold out, Zagreb has a thriving punk scene. She was in a couple bands her self, playing bass in one, and drums in the other. We talked for a couple hours, she had lots to say and a rad punker girl style, my first crush in europe. She told me pedro sounds a bit like dalmatia, and she'd love to visit someday. Time for the thermals. They had a following here, people were up front singing there songs, dancing, smiling... i love good punk shows, not that smug shit that you some times run across, real energy. I haven't had that much fun at a show since i saw the spits last month. Band was great, their songs came of better live than on record even, total ramones style buzz saw. It was good to have a face and a personality with the tunes. Our turn, when the termals finish, i go to the back of the club to get some water for me and the guys, takes me atlest ten minutes to get from one end of the club to the other, there's not even room to get out of the way. after the reaction the thermals got, i was a nervous to hop on stage after them, we're doing something completely different. Which to me makes the perfect show, who wants to go to a show where all bands sound the same, that's a drag, but sometimes gig goers have a different perception, and seem to want the same thing over and over again. I have faith in Zagreb, and sure enough i'm not let down. Great crowd, full of energy, it seems to channel to us and we play a pretty good gig, of course i'm so full of adrenaline i speed up the tunes, but it was alright, the gig called for it.
There's been lots of use leaving the gear in the club and picking it up i the morning, it's a good thing, there's so much less worry about everything being taken, and most the hotels have been in walking distance. Lots of hangin' out with the crew and the therms. We all kinda collect at the same time and walk to the rooms. Dudes we're trying to get us to party so hard. I think it's hard for people to realize the toll that would take on you while your on tour, sometimes your body just tells you to rest. It's not like the showgoers who go to a couple of shows a month, and are at the club for a couple hours. We, the bands and the crew are there from start to finish, building the show, and playing it, and tearing it down on a daily basis. Don't get me wrong, cuz i'm not complaining, i love it, and wouldn't change this life experience for anything, but i bum when people take things personally, like their being disrespected cuz i can't tag along on their monthly bender.
I actually get up early enough to go outside and walk around a bit, but the lost-in-Muenster-ordeal has left me a little tentative. We're actually in a business district, so it's not really a sight seeing area, and I'm just not sure I want to risk getting into a wander. So I make it a short one, and lie down a little more.
Big mistake. I start worrying about the studio back home and work myself into an orgy of psychosis. In the end I'm quivering like a newborn in terror. This is a cognitive disfunction. It's a temporary condition. Just thought I'd mention it. Helps me to understand those guys who jump off buildings, which was one of the thoughts that danced on my dome. Enough.
We cab over to the club, the cabbie is great, a bass player, former organizer I guess you could say, he fills us in on Austrian politics. Like most places we go, it's all such a clusterfuck it's hard to believe any of these countries continue to function at all, America included. We get to the club and load up, trying hard to get some directions to Zagreb that will serve.
This is our first trip outside the EU so logistically there will be challenges. A carnet is a list of all our gear. We cross borders, we show carnets so customs knows we're not smuggling, although if they feel like it they tell us to pull over, search us, cornhole us and throw our beaten battered bodies in a ditch by the side of the road.
It's a pretty long drive through the mountains of Austria, some snowcovered. a light rain falling, overcast, kinda chilly. Our directions call on us to leave the auto bahn and get on a side road that followed the Sava river through a beautiful valley. It starts to get a real Tijuana set in the Appalachians, but with a little Sound of Music mixed in. Sorry. It's grey and rainy and downtrodden and poor. Beautiful too. Lots of old churches, little chapels by the side of the road. It reminds me of where some of my relatives moved near Knoxville. There are some ugly factories belching rust colored smoke along the river, not really thinking about tourism. We try to keep track of where we are by following (and making fun of) the town names: Top Lice, also known as Topless, Kum, Log, Radish and the unfortunately named Krysco.
We join back up with the hiway, and soon are at the border of Croatia. And there are some snafus with the Carnet. It takes Watt a while to sort it out while Raul and I sit quietly and coldly in the van. I'm sure Watt's got the details of the carnet mess in his diary, but suffice to say, when they let us in, they didn't guarantee that they would let us out.
We pull into war torn Zagreb. It's been ten years since they were actually fighting, I'm vague about the history of course, like most Americans, and as you can tell from reading this diary, I have much more important things on my mind. It's really pretty grim, like parts of New Jersey. I'm thinking this gloomy weather is really coloring my whole perception of this trip. Combined with my own fucked up attitude, it makes everything seem kinda depressing.
The directions are wrong, wrong wrong. And they haven't really come up with the idea of using and posting streetnames. The directions are landmark based, as in previous centuries. For instance, "Straight past the McDonalds Drive Inn", "Past the big Underpass" ," right at the National TV Station"(actually it should have read left) etc. But we find it. It's like a evolved punk club. No backstage, rooms with computer games and internet instead. There are allready people hanging out, playing chess and some card games I didn't recognize, blasting away on the computer. The really cool looking girls threw alot of English out.
We set up, play "The Red and Black" and when we're done there is big applause.
Wierd, unexpected at soundcheck. We breakdown and get out of the way of the opening band, The Thermals. Raul is a big fan of their records, but he hasn't seen them live, so he's excited. He decides to stay at the club while Mike and I go to the hotel which is a couple of blocks away, escorted by Alex who is a writer who booked the show, and another guy who wasn't wearing a nametag. And despite the fact that we sit together and eat and talk for over an hour, his name never does register. I"M SORRY!
And the talk is amazing, and makes you feel kinda ashamed. As a record reviewer, Alex would get enough money from writing two reviews to buy one record. Generally, he would have to drive to Frankfurt or Vienna to smuggle them back. Once he was stopped at the border with 64 records, but the guy let him go. Under communism, there was no money, but you didn't really need any. Now there is just poverty. And he talked a little of the complete insanity of what exactly is a Serb, or a Croatian, and sometimes you are both or neither, and then you're fucked. Or not. Soldiers charging, listening to the music of the other side. Bizarro world and not comic.
Meanwhile we're eating in a pretty nice restaurant, at a pretty nice hotel. I get the sea bass, and a salad and they order me some tasty cottage cheese pastry that comes at the end when there's no way I can eat it. After a lesson in humility, I excuse myself to shave.
I chill a bit and head for the club. As I walk through the neverending lightrain down prison lined alleys I hear the music. The Thermals are on. There are a few people outside.
But when I get in I realize this is going to be a different night. The club is PACKED. I fight my way to the front where there's a little roped off area. The Thermals are GREAT, the place is going nuts. I spot Raul in ther front row. I catch about ten songs and really enjoy it. The fucking Seratonin deficit backs off a little. When they're done, I help them get off stage and set up. Raul comes up to me and says:"I don't want to go on after them." I've had the same thought, but I have faith in the piece, in Mike, in us and in these people. I know we can rock hard too, and these people will appreciate, the subtleties and complexities that the Thermals absolutely leave out. If not: character builder!
This is what we call a scene. I coulda spotted it when we got there and there was already people hanging out. Or when they applauded soundcheck. I really saw it the next morning at 10a.m. when I went to get the gear and the place was hopping with coffee drinkers!!!
So we went on and it was good. It was everything we coulda hoped. I know I haven't been obsessing in the diary about accuracy etc. but it's because it gets better and better, I was just freaked because there are so many changes, and I'm not buried by guitars. I've ALWAYS gone for accuracy and focus, whats the fucking news, it's called playing music.
It's a wild night in ol'e Zagreb and there's some other great guys from the club, Mate and Domaguay who are tremendous human beings. It gets me thinking that the scene flowers out of the repression and hard times, people come together. I don't know if it's true...I ask Mate, is this a depressing city? he says: "No, we have this place." So there you go, I don't want to generalize, and it's all just my perception, but Croatia Rocks big time! Mate told me before we played that this would be the best show of the tour...It was very meaningful to me. Singing the words to Corona and It's allright ma...they had totally different meaning and weight for people who experienced the ravages of communism, war, and now, capitalism. Thank you Zagreb.
I walked back with the Thermals to the hotel, yes, through the rain. I had really taken to them, Hutch, Gordan and Kathy right? And their Belgian helper. I promised to meet them for breakfast even thouigh they were taking off an hour before us, I figured I could check my emails at the club.
And I actually did. I crashed right out feeling good about life, and woke up six or seven hours later with negative dopamine. If there are any shrinks who know what is wrong with me please email me. Go to sleep, positive and serene. Wake up suicidal and desperate and NOTHING SEEMS TO DENT IT!!
pop and realize I forgot to put the batteries in the charger, aaarrrrgggghhh... idiot watt. I go down and shovel after hosing off and taking my potions. I'm trying to shave every day too, didn't get to yesterday. that's different for me cuz usually I let it go and grow beards on tour. not this time though. we take a cab over to the venue and have the opportunity to learn some great stuff from the cab driver who is actually a musican from graz, and plays both piano and contra-bass. there's these billboards up cuz of an upcoming election that have this smiling face business suit guy named strache w/the caption "he says what vienna thinks" and that sounds pretty fishy to me so I ask him about it. turns out he's from a faction of the party this guy named heider who had political power here recently and was riding a nationalist trend but fell out and his gang turned on him and now this goon on the billboard is trying to recapture the sentiments heider stirred up. a lot of it is anti-immigrant, another of his billboards says something like "this town shouldn't be instanbul." austria is close to the former east bloc and the war-beat balkans so there's pressures from desperate people from those situations. our driver says yes, there's unemployment, there's crime, there's drugs, there's muslim women not being allowed to go to school by their husbands so they can learn the language and this only hurts but the simplistic looking on ways things were done in the past (1930s) is not really a way of getting things together. he says austria needs these new people to help her build but needs them educated. we get to the venue and though the ride was almost thirteen euros, he says ten is enough.
the boat gets loaded and I put the diaries up. much thanks again to ziggy, mike and the szene wien crew - can't wait to play there again. raul's got the map and sitting next to watt and get on the autobahn going the wrong way so there's a loop involved to get the boat right and we head southwest to graz (vienna is the furthest east gig of this tour). the road to graz is more through the mountains than yesterday and it's gorgeous. there's digital thermometers on the side of the road at some corners and they read seven degrees (44.6 degrees farenheit). the idle on the van acts up a little and an on/off gets it right again. we get to the border of slovenia and head for maribor. slovenia has just been allowed into the e.u. so no stop there. this land is very much in the mountains and very pretty too. the buildings are older and more econo than where we've been but I can dig it. haven't played in these balkan parts on my own in sixteen years, damn. all this stuff over here in europe I gotta do more often, just have to cuz I like it, even w/the more stuff I have to do rather than a tour back home. instead of going the shorter distance to zagreb, at celje we go towards lasko and the krsko so we can make for the bigger border crossing w/croatia at bregana. this is what carlos relayed to me from the promoters in zagreb. they're also closer to that one so if there's problems, they can drive the twenty klicks or whatever to help us out. well, it takes about three tries to go the right way out of celje but finally find the right road along the sava river and over the mountains. it's a small road, no autobahn so we can't get going that fast but it's very nice country to look upon. yes, older ways of doing things w/older stuff but it's very charming. there's some ugly-like steel factory belching out the orange smoke, yech. I tell my guys a factory like that seem so out of place in such greeness, really. the villages are really tiny along the way. they farm right on the side of the mountains and hills. lots of the churches ave similar "onion" tops as in austria. we pass over and on to the zagreb-ljubljana motorway. there's some tolls but we can pay in euros rather than the slovenian tollar. at the border I use the carnet I got yesterday. the slovenian customs guy is really nice but I don't understand him so well completely so when he points to "item 81" I say, yes it's a road case. what I didn't realize was that he was asking if all the items listed were in the boat. I guess protone has a carnet that has lots of what they rent on a generic boilerplate deal and what this customs officer puts down is that we're carrying lots of stuff that we don't have and in fact could never fit in the boat! aahh, I don't realize this 'til I look at the forms in the boat. on the croatian side, the customs officer there sees that but understands the situation and helps me out much. he gives me a pepsi to drink while he does his work on the 'puter and the forms. thank you much, sir. we get through and are on towards zabreb - much different land here, more of a plain. we get into town and the directions are kind of crazy - no street names, just landmarks like "croatian national tv building" and such. thank god I went to the web site and downloaded the maps cuz that helps us much more. I finally have to pull the boat over and ask two cats on the street who speak no english but help me out much - we were close already but they put us right on the money. whew, good work - w/the border, wandering and all it's been 'pert-near eight hours! whew. it's ok though cuz we're here in zagreb safe and get to play for these cats.
domagoj, one of the bossmen here at the kset club where we're playing helps me guide the boat - "what about those directions?!" I joke w/him. we get the equipment in and set up quick w/soundman goran and a lot of friendly helper folks including this great cat who's buddies w/my good friend stanislav that's named mate. mate's happy to see me and an email from stanislav let me in on knowing he was going to be here and I was looking forward to that. mate likes to ride his bicycle, alright. we do the soundcheck and then I go w/this writer named aleksandar who booked this gig to go chow at the 'tel we're konking at. paul and a buddy of aleksandar comes w/us. I ask what's good and aleksandar says sea bass so I get that. it is good, all breaded w/a sauce on it and then he says to have some of this pastry stuff made w/a kind of cottage cheese. it's good too and not even sweet, which I dig. me and paul get to hear about how these two guys got music in the old days, travelling to munich and vienna to get records they heard about. they give us their view of some of the crazy ways people were hearing music during the war too - aleksandar said people on both sides were into this nationalist kind of stuff called "turbo folk" that put words to incite old feuds to old folk songs w/dance beats under it which he said wasn't all that crazy cuz it was the same mentality. he has an interesting theory about why the "yugoslavia experiment" failed when it's goal was sort of what some stuff the u.s. is about, making "a melting pot." he says that w/the u.s., the people left their homelands to make a new life in a new land but w/here in the balkans, the people were still where they were - w/the same hates and all... there was no "distance" to make that kind of stuff "distant" enough to build newer bridges so lots of people divided themselves along the old lines in lots of places (like even neighborhoods), everywhere except music. he says the reality is the people here still have lots in common cuz they do share lots of culture. getting whipped up for war, this is not a good thing - I've heard this from lots of cats from these former yugo-lands. humans get swept up in trendy shit - yes, war is trendy shit though it might be hard to believe. all the parades never make it better, never make up for all the hurt. "the same mentality" - hmm... we need smarter mentalities that way. to hear these guys talk about how they have such a love of music, a mentality I think I have too... whoa.so me and paul learned a lot from these cats though I've heard lots from others like in their situation too. aleksandar knows about pedro too, he knows about secondmen pete mazich (before he was a secondman) and his wife ljiljana (she was a big pop star here)... aleksandar hips me to this reason for folks coming from the dalmatia part of his land to pedro - there was this fungus that killed a bunch of the wine grapes and lots lost work. this was years and years ago but it makes sense cuz the yugoslavia-american club in pedro was built in the 1930s. you know, these two guys interviewed me sixteen years ago when I was last here and aleksandar gave me photocopies of the spiel when it got printed... I remember them as younger men and now it's them doing most of the spiel as I listen and learn.
we go back to the club and the thermals are playing. I met them briefly right before going to chow and they're a young band from portland, oregon - nice cats. they're doing a good set and the place is packed. I get put in a little room on the side and think about the dinner chow a bit - funny/bizzare/sad... gotta play good tonight, watt. I know I say that to myself every time I get set to play cuz I try to whup up some confidence in me but I'm inspired a little in a different way tonight. I think we do the piece probably the best yet this tour. there's some clams (don't you read this about every gig I write about?! just trying to be honest) but I think the band is coming together more and more around what we're trying to do. I'm kind of more together myself too which might be helping some. usually when I talk a bunch before a gig, it's a hard thing to next do the playing cuz it's like I feel a bit ashamed to be so centered on myself for the spiel. I mean understand it's an interview and folks would like to know things but I 'pert-near always get these gross feeling of self-importance and in reaction wanna somehow "get over myself" and be reasonable. maybe it's not rational but this is the way it feels and I know it effects how I deliver my shtick on the stage. I really am not such the born entertainer in spite of doing it all these years. I know that sounds nuts but I have hints that in some ways I am a nutcase but not to use that as an reason to excuse myself. anyway, the point here is I was listening more than I was spieling - these guys were teach me more than the other way around so maybe that's why I'm more together for the gig. lots of great vibes from the zagreb cats and when we're done - oh boy, I go out on an elevated part of the stage to hand out stickers and such niceness from these folks... I feel to much of a shill to even sling shirts, I don't have the nerve to bring something mersh to foul it up and instead just sign their tickets or the stickers I gave them.
this takes a while but finally it subsides and I do a radio interview w/this cat named leo who's got one parent from chicago. watt goes back into spiel mode but I'm all adrenalined up and he does ask me interesting things so it flies right along and in some ways, I'm just validating things he already knows, issues that have a lot of common ground between the two of us. we finish and this young man asks me about martin tamburovich - he recognizes his name as a slav one and wondered where he's at now. I'm really sad to say martin passed away last december, less than a year younger than me. him and d. boon along w/myself started new alliance records in 1980, martin was a really good friend in the early punk days w/us and the singer for the reactionaries which was the three minutemen guys and him on vocals from 1978 to 1979. there's a pain in my heart thinking about losing martin. losing people has always been the hardest lesson for me to learn.
I thank everyone much - everyone - and then hoof back to the ho by myself, there's a little drizzling rain coming down. I'm welled-up w/feelings, it was heavy for me today. to konk easy was so much a gift.
wednesday, april 13, 2005 - ljubljana, slovenia
Wake up to the sound of the building being torn down, it's pretty intense. I make my way over to the window, pull open the curtains, and one floor down is a dude going at the roof with a jack hammer. It's like 7:00, early work day for tearing down a hotel. Since i'm up and there's no way i'm going back to sleep, i might as well go down stairs and get some breakfast. Pretty nasty stuff, the eggs were mixed with some unexplainable filler, i don't even like eggs so much anymore, when you think aboutit, it's a pretty weird thing we eat, so i just go for the cereal, not even the juice, which wasn't juice at all, just warm kool aid. We had plans of meeting back at the club at eleven, in a couple hours. I don't want to just sit around till then, so i pack my stuff up and head outside. It's raining so i can't really do to much walking around, more of hangin' out in dry places watching the morning develop. After a while of this, i get bored and head to the club, maybe someone will be there. Damn, everybody is there early, paul had the same idea, and has been there drinking coffee doing his mail. Place is bumpin', people havin' beer and espresso, playin'cards. There's a d.j. spinning records, i should of been here earlier, oh well, here i am now. Matte, the guy who runs the place is there, and i talk with him about music and the club, and what it was he was doing. He's been running it on a semi voluntary basis for over eight years. He gets paid little, but loves what he does so much. He's been to school, and is very educated and could get a lucrative gig, says his parents don't understand the love he has for other people, why would he want to do something for free his dad asks. During this time i put down like eight shots of espresso, and i'm flying. Watt walks in at eleven on the dot, and i'm more than ready to load the gear.
On the road again, on the way to Ljubljana. Gotta go back the way we came, and go thru the border crossing, watts afraid of a bad situation, and i feel for him. Turns out that the equipment list isn't the stuff that we have in the van, it's the list of everything at pro tone. So if they decide to look and we don't have all that gear, than can fuck us up big time, doesn't matter that it couldn't even logically fit, if we don't have what the list says we have we're stewed. Luckily the border guys are in a good mood, and in a few minutes we're back in Slovenia. Not a big drive, and i spend the time reading and catching up on chimpin'. Ljubjana is a beautiful old city, and we're in luck we don't have any solid directions, so we're in for a tour of the city. We pull a heidelberg, and get stuck in the center of the old town on some tiny ass streets. Finally, by pure luck, some streets start matching up to our rude maps, and we get to the club. Ljubjana reminds me of a tijuana in the way some of the pads look. We show up early, and i get the feeling that no ones gonna be here for a long time. Paul and i decide to go check out the city. While walking, the need to piss comes on bad. We decide to hit the train station and use the public water closet. I look at the doors, and one's girls and one's for the dudes, but there's ladies in both. Fuck it i'm gonna piss my pants, so i go for it. There's a dude in a booth in between the bathrooms, and he starts freaking out, like i'm some kinda perve or something. Paul goes on about the ladies in the bathrooms being transvestites, and the guy agrees with him, totally not understanding anything he's actually saying... comedy. We're meeting back up at three, so paul and i have a few hours to explore. The symbol for lLjubljanais a dragon, so there's painting of dragons, sculptures of dragons everywhere. And on our walk we come across a bridge with these hugh dragon sculptures as the guards, really neat. And right behind it up on top of a hill was a schloss. Just this bitchin' visual, a snarling dragon guarding a bridge, and this castle looming over it... i love this place, and there's nothing tijuana about that visual, no dragons in mexico, maybe a chupa cabra or something.
Back at the club at three, and still no body home. Take up a spot on the steps next the door, and read the latest meltzer. We end up waitin' for a couple hours. Finally somebody shows up. I go up to the van to tell em' the good news. Paul i say i have some good news and some better news, club guy is here, and there's stairs... i've seen him happier, that leslie is a mother, and then add some stairs to the mix, it takes four people to do it. Right after the club guy shows up, a dude named dario shows up. He's here to interview watt, i thought maybe he was just a fan, not the press. I put him straight to work and had him lugging the gear upstairs. sorry dario, but thanks for the much needed help. Sound check sounds kinda odd, but i don't really mention it. Maybe it's the fact that i'm odd. I haven't eaten since i had a bowl of cereal in croatia, so i end up eating a whole jar of salsa that taste more like bar b que sauce, and a bag of chips. I need some real food. Evana saved the day, she's a lady who was helping out igor the promoter, she took us out to dinner just a few blocks away, really sweet lady. After that she took paul and i to our rooms while watt stayed behind to do another interview. We're only a five minute walk to the club. and we can even take a short cut thru this artist space that we saw earlier. Place was trippy, it was the size of a whole block, and surrounded by high brick walls. It looks like it used to be some sort of military building. It's hard to know what's going on in this place, it looks like anarchy. These walls are dripping with paint. All sorts of different styles of art. It's like an art commune i guess, that would be the only way to describe it. Later i found out that there's all three clubs inside too. Paul and i did take a short cut thru it, and stumbled upon a punk show. Some spazzy kinda music, with half minute long breaks in the songs, then just total guitar dissonance I'd like to check it out, but as you know i have a gig to do as well, so maybe later.
Playing with a band called color haze, on the flyer it says stoner rock, and sure enough when i walk in, total stoner rock. Had a hugh setup, light show, with cartoons shit projected on top of that, two half stacks, two big bass rigs, we're playing a little fuckin' club, iI'mstill trying to figure out where the band went in the van with all this equipment, they had two guys settin' all up, and a sound guy. They where good guys, just kinda excessive in the eequipmentdepartment. Our turn. Paul told me he had a weird feeling about the gig, he was on it, it was a weird gig. Real bbizarreenergy in the room. I know that sounds hippy, but it's true, fuck maybe it's color haze rubbing off on me... that's gross. At one point i remember mike looking at me and just saying the word "clams" and smiling. We both had a rough gig, paul seemed happy with his playing, i don't really know what was up, it just all seemed like we were all playing a second ahead or a second behind each other. We got thru, even though some clams were so bad i felt like just givin', we got thru. Played the encore set real well after that. It's bound to happen when your pplain so many shows in a row, tomorrow we'll be in salzburg, and tomorrow we'll play better.
After gig comes the load out., obvious, and the only reason i bring it up is to talk about the twenty year old stage hand that helped us get the gear down stairs. He told me that the perfect job for him would be to get paid for smashing things. Also said he was as strong as two men, i think he was on drugs. He had a band called back stage, his reasoning behind this was that it's where all the action went down. Tough kid, i smacked his head trying to put some drums in the van, he got a lump the size of a lemon on the top of his head instantly, didn't even phase him, hard as a rock he said. After gears is loaded i tell the guys that i'm gonna walk back, i wanna go back to the artist space and see if i can catch the end of the gig. No luck, but folks are still hangin' around. There's actually like three different events going on. And in one place it's just a lone dude sittin' on a porch with a portable record player crankin' some world music on ten. I went into the building where the show was, it was done but still crowded, and i heard the craziest electronic music ever . It was durge, like flipper or the thrones, had this real evil, but in away uplifting melody. I'd never heard any thing like it, seems like it came from another world. I didn't stay long, maybe twenty minutes, and when i got back, mike was just finishing up parking in the smallest spot ever, it wasn't even a spot, but it's close and safer... No gear no gig. good night.
Stumble down for coffee and sorta wierd food BEFORE the Thermals, realize I can't interact with other human beings and start back up to the room. Here's Kathy looking how I feel. She's focussing on the jackhammer that started going off about 7a.m. For me, the jackhammer's roar was lost in the far louder and more cacophonous sounds that my own mind emits. I go up, gather myself, go back down, because something about them has really loosened something up in me. Kathy and Hutch are down there, I get a coffee and pretty soon, we're laughing and it's cool. Gordan joins us and we walk 'through the light rain' to the club, pack up their stuff and see them off.
I hit my emails and it's cool, The road to the studio in Malibu has dropped 25 FEET but Helen is reassuring, I think she's trying to pacify me. And they got KITTIES! Saw pictures of my new bundles of joy. And Alex(eldest son) may get promoted to doing the computers at the club he works at, which would be good money, and hey, parents fucking worry about their kids in really mundane ways. My friend, Jeff, responded to an email I sent him where i said: "feel like drinking, may" thinking I was serious. Am not, although I found out this breath spray I use is 80% alcohol. whoops. Jeff, the burntchurch stickers are plastering Europe dude just like we planned.
I know Mike is real worried about crossing the border and rightly so. We get there in about an hour, and the first guy is very nice, smiling at me, nodding his head and saying something about "Gobots." So I quickly take off my hat and shades. Mike gets out to reenter the EU ( I hate to say this, but he seems to get really nervous at these crossings) He tells the guard that we play jazz fusion and goes off. He is soon back VERY relieved and we are back in the good ol' EU, Slovenia to be exact headed for I guess it's big city, Ljubljana
It's always funny, pulling into a new city in a creepy nervewracking sort of way. Mike has downloaded some maps off a computer somewhere but they don't show the hiway, so the conversation is kind of like: "OK, this is vgsjfksudggk, do you see it????" "no" "OK this is qwqwadardudu, see it?" "no" "OK, we're on hphkjpzzzxwegge, passing hjhjhifdl strasse...do you see that??? "Nope" "Fuck!" "Sorry" On and on till someone sees a landmark, or a street or we ask someone. Today, we know the club is near a train station, we stumble into an old town, like all the other ones tiny cobblestone streets and bitchen old styley buildings with LOTS of shops and pedestrians, bad and scary to drive in. If we wander through an old town, generally I wind up thinking it's a beautiful old city. If we're out on the outskirts or in an industrial area, it seems really grim. So, Vienna, probably one of the most beautiful cities in Europe is ho hum, while Ljubljana is pretty bitchin, and Zagreb is eastern block Tijuana, except we're only in these cities one day, we see the way in, the way out, and however lost we get, which isn't a great way to site see because the vibe is stressed and not groovy.
We find the club, Club orsko or orto or otto and it has steep stairs. Actually we don't know that yet, we arrive at 2pm the peeps don't get there till 6. Raul and I walk, and it's nice...we're in a neat area with old stuff, and we get down to a bridge that's guarded by brass or copper or something dragon sculptures, with a pretty awesome castle hanging overhead, not heidelberg, but suitably imposing. We take pictures, there's lots of bitchin grafitti all over the 200 year or way more I don't know walls so Raul is stoked, clicking away. I get an icecream cone.
We go into the trainstation, so we can pee. Which I'm not allowed to say, because Watt says "Girls pee, Boys piss" But then, what does someone like me do? Maybe I tinkle or wizz? So we go in and there are some girls coming out of one bathroom so Raul and I head into the other. But theres an old bathroom monitor dude and he start yellings and gesturing in Slovenian; apparently we were heading into the girls bathroom! I have no idea what just happened or what he's saying so we go into the other and as we stand there and urinate (with the guy still animatedly talking to us) I say: " Oh Yeah, yeah transvestites..."
We head back, so we can wait.
Someone gets there we start loading, just when I was getting spoiled with easy loadins, and lots of helpers, this is a tough one with not much help. Mush! Setup, Check, opening band arrives, Color Haze. We are advertised as "indie rock" they as "stoner rock." Not too flattering ey? But they have a LOT of fucking gear, and I start to have a bad feeling; there's a curfew, we have to be off early, the 20 minute changeover seems like it's not going to happen, they have projectors. Whatever, we leave and go eat at a pretty nice place, I have a seafood pasta, but you know what? All that talk about great food in Europe...ahah no way. It's like all sizzler level I swear to god. But something about their milk is really good, they have great milk. I try to teach Raul to eat bread dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, he tries it and is having none of it.
Check into hotel. Raul & I share a room sleeping feet to feet. Before we go I tell Raul I don't feel like playing. Terrible attitude hah? Whatever, I get there and I'm passionate. Everything is cool, the band gets off on time, they hustle, I only catch the last song which is pretty dreamy but they're so loud they drown out the drums.
Projections were cool.
The show. I don't know if it's cool for me to say I thought Mike played kinda like shit, but afterwards I went and stood on his side of the stage, and there's this UNBELIEVABLE BLINDING BLUE LIGHT stabbing into his eyes. It's like you're dying. I don't see how anyone could play like that, and what do you do, stop the set and tell them to turn off the fucking light? I probably would have tried to just deal with it.
The set was slow, really slow but slow allows for some really special things to happen so I just went with it. Mike and Raul weren't too happy with the set, I thought I played OK but Mike was right I did have some sloppiness in the places I'm by myself. I was happy with my playing in general so I would let up and relax in some places I shouldn't have.
Load out. 21 year old kid with big muscles and a punk rock band called Backstage helps bigtime with the stairs, Thanx Mitya.
Some people seemed kinda high on something in Ljubjana...Couldn't quite put my finger on what...
One other thing, when we were walking around we found this cool old army barracks, full of artists and venues for all kind of cool counterculture waviness. Why nothing like this in LA or AMERICA for christsakes...It's really fucked, the grafitti was glorious...Jeff, Geza, and Cameron friends of mine got a big warehouse downtown to do some kind of philanthropic cultural center but there's so much red tape and regulation, America is strangled in it. This is like squatters, old punk goes techno-hop, paint, tile, welded metal. Pretty fucking cool. Christiania in Copenhagen was the ultimate, there's always a real seediness that creeps into those places, I think it's the fucking drugs and alcohol, but would people devote themselves to artistic causes without them????????
Goodnight Hellin, maybe we should have started a band 20 years ago....You are always in my waking dreams...XOXOXP
pop at seven bells and watch this building getting torn down out the window through the rain. right next to it is a another one pretty beatdown but it's full of people living in it. stuff's changing though probably pretty slow. I go shovel what they for trough downstairs, a stripped-down version of what the germans had for us. what's different is a big bowl of cherries that I chow righteously on - maybe they were from a can (seemed like it) but man, were they really good. last night aleksandar said this galley room was probably for party aparatchiks in the 70s, "the good old days!" I go back up to my room to chimp. ben lee sent me an mp3 of this chant called "om namo narayani" by amma narayani that he said could bring some serenity so I play that via itunes on my alpurse 'puter while I chimp diary. when it comes along to soon bail to load the boat back up at the club, I do the hose down/supplement up/mouth scrub/face mow thing (reverse from how I usually do it) and then hoof on over to find mate and my guys read to go. see, I got the only llave (key) and that's scary but at least everyone knows the idiot watt supposed to have it and it's not just floating around. mate tells me about pedaling on his bike soon to his pop's - like two hundred-fifty miles, whoa... good luck, pedaler! big hugs for him and bossman domagoj too and we shove off. less rain but still gray, we're back to whence we came yesterday - at the breganna border. on the way, we pay a toll and the man at the booth there can't stop laughing at paul and saying something in slav - I can't understand what he's saying but he's repeating it over and over and getting really animated w/eyes... whoa, what's this about? paul thinks it's about the hat he's wearing and pulls it off quick, saying he doesn't want any trouble. believe me, paul - none of us do! this was just to pay a toll for using the freeway anyway. the next stop could be tougher... man, I'm worried some cuz of the carnet being fucked up the way it is. the croatia customs officer goes right to work on the paperwork though w/out a boat search and we're clear to go in minutes. thank you very much, sir. on the slovene side, first the border guards ask me what kind of music is it we do and of course I say "jazz fusion" - I say this every time I cross a border cuz it's probably the most neutered shit that would put anyone off, like farting really big time in a small crowded elevator but in kind of backhanded way - not too overt. he waves us pass quick and we go to the customs officer. he's as quick and to the point w/the paperwork as his croatian counterpoint - neither one of them asked me any questions even, much respect to them for making it so easy for me cuz honestly I wasn't trying to do anything out of line, I never do that w/borders cuz why? I'm a guest in these folks' lands.
east on the autoway to ljubljana, the big town and capitol of slovenia (like zagreb is for croatia). this'll be the third time for me playing here but the last time was sixteen years ago! there was war here too but it lasted for just ten days - there's was the first one as yugoland fell apart so it was much different than croatia. there's beatdown from the old system's problems but actually the country is doing ok on the money thing and being in mountains and all, it has beautiful looks. only two and something million people too, a small land. this freeway's getting built on so it goes to two lane and times but we get into town in about two hours. the rain's quit but it's still gray. I'm really glad I got the map for this pad from the web cuz the only directions igor flowed carlos was to look for the train station! the map though is not that big of an area and it takes some time to get to where streets we're seeing w/our eyes correspond w/those on the map. usually, I head for centrum (the city center) - why not cuz lots of gigs are near there in europe. at one point though, I get us in this old part of town where's there like a mostly pedestrian plaza/circle and it's like "mister wizard... get me out of this!" I back us out calmly as other cars who have bozo-ed out as bad as we did are flying in reverse to do the same. our tongues aren't familiar w/these names so it takes some tries to pronounce them right (man, could we use pete mazich here!) and by that time, we're blown by. it's a trip - no matter what direction the boat seems to be in, everytime I ask out my window to someone on the street for where the train station is, they're always telling me, "straight ahead" - ha! what a sense of direction, huh? hardly, I'm admitting to myself. sure enough though, we get to the train station and raul spots this giant sign on the roof of a nearby building that says "orto bar" - we're here. I park up on the sidewalk near the front entrance. it's only two pm and load in's supposed to be at five but there's a sign out front a local tells us says someone'll be here at six. ok then, I'll chimp diary while my guys go walk. funny, the posters on the wall say "mike watt & secondman (zda)" where "zda" is slav for "usa" but does "secondman" mean only one of my guys is w/me tonight? what's funnier is after that it says "indie rock" - I'm the only act on the poster w/that moniker. everyone else is either metal, nu metal, hardcore, postive hardcore, surf or industrial. hmm... I spent fourteen years on columbia, "indie rock" then? eleven years on sst and always doing things my way, even later too w/the columbia folks cuz they always gave me the respect to maintain that... or is it just a marketing tag like "alternative" or - man, am I lucky I didn't pegged w/that one - I can live w/"indie rock" for sure instead. what about the "old punk from pedro" label? I'm kind of into that.
we find out the load is up some narrow-ass stairs so it's gonna be tough but we got a young strong man who works here named micah to help out. he wants to know what this "indie rock" is all about, saying he's gotta band called "back stage" (he says cuz "that's where it all happens") and they play punk rock. I hear paul explaining to him were not what he's been trained to think "indie rock" is or what other bands who use that category to shove themselves in (I sure don't - I like calling my music punk as much as micah likes calling it his) but it's hopeless really cuz he's gonna think I'm a weirdo out of my mind when he finally hears it and doesn't have to imagine it. we set up and soundcheck w/bob - a cat more my age but maybe closer to the hippy tag?! all this labels... christ, give me a break! humans are funny. I do an interview for the radio here w/a cat I talked to last seventeen years ago, a very nice and intelligent man named dario. he asks me lots of righteous questions maybe someone truly foreign but still curious about what you're doing could ask. he has questions about the time signatures of the songs, about the imagery, about my perspectives in relation to using motifs and musical ideas as devices to help tell a story - good stuff. he lets me talk about d. boon when he wonders about my thoughts regarding bass, he draws me out from just give stock responses which I really try to avoid anyway but I stumble and fumble that way, even w/how many umpteenth interviews I've done... silly watt. he tells me tomorrow morning he'll take me walking up the castle hill in the middle of town - righteous. my friend igor booked the show but he has the lady ivana here running it and he'll come later when the gig's on. she takes us to a chow pad not far away and I have something called "sea frog" which is a fish that's like two-thirds of length its head. they cut up the tail part and that's what I chow in this good tasting sauce. it's really good fish, yeah and I have some salad too. ivana has family in san francisco so she knows about the music in the u.s. much, she knows a lot about some of the folks I know in the scene and asks me lots of stuff in regards to that. it's like a second interview but not really cuz she's really nice and just wants to know about things better. I hip her to the concept of "kidney-filtered water" and it takes her a bit to figure but letting her know that serving it at body temperature is the best way to illuminate the image I'm trying to conjure.
we go back to the club and I do an interview w/the nationl televison people. it's a guy younger than dario but he has some interesting things to ask me as well. he stumps me w/one question: "what would you do if you weren't playing bass?" whoa, don't know about that one. the opening goes on. I met them earlier. they're from munic, germany and have tons of stuff for their gig - lots of amps and a light show. they're called colour haze and I talk w/a couple of them including their bossman named stefan who's really tall. the tag the poster had for them was "stoner rock" and the jam for like fiftyfive minutes and clear the stage in six! wow, great job by these cats. the gig's gotta be over by midnight so there was a little worry there but that was for not, danke schoen colour haze people.
our turn now this gig's partly caved. the club cat marko asked me about lights and I told him to decide but damn if there ain't lights right in my eyes and I can't really see the folks. there's a big propeller thing behind the bar spinning right at us too, like ten feet in diameter - pretty funny. I'm trying to use this as an excuse but I'm scattered up in the head and not doing too good a job w/the piece. it's confidence crisis time tonight - maybe cuz of the self-absorption I get talking myself in spiels. I gotta find a better way to deal w/that - it's not like I can stop doing spiels!! damn. it's a very difficult for me and I'm kind of disappointed in myself. I don't make good contact w/the folks here and it's a self-collapse into myself, reaching out to my guys almost desperately to keep it together. we get done and raul says it was tough for him though paul says it was his best ever... ain't that a trip?! I point out some little things but he doesn't want to hear it seems though maybe it sounded like I was trying to deflect from my own lame thoughts about myself by getting petty w/him which I honestly wasn't. it's just I have to say things about little stuff right when we're done or I'll space and forget 'til it happens the next set we do. we go back out and play the encore really tight, even though it's just a four song one. however, I'm too shamed to sling shirts and ask raul to hand out stickers even. this was not such good a job by me, nope. I'll make it up to them somehow, next time through.
igor comes to say hi to me and it's so great to see him again, even w/me having such shit thoughts about myself. I won't let that drag down the good feelings he always puts in me - big hugs for him. of course, he runs down to me how he fells things are here now: the lame cycle for music people are in - these are the ones attending and not producing cuz he says there's good stuff going on there. he says we (people like me and him) will weather it and keep ploughing on cuz well, we have to - it's in our bones! he gives me a great qucik spiel on realpolitik in the current zeitgeist, his mind is sharp on this and cuts fog like a razor - much respect to igor. damn I wish d. boon was here right in this moment cuz he would dig him much too. trippy how slav cats can hold my attention and teach me almost effortlessly, maybe it's cuz of the mixtures their lives are from. the bring perspectives that help my head grasp stuff clearly and make sense of it cuz at the same it's done in personal way and not robot rhetoric. thank you.
we load up the boat and micah ends up w/a grapefruit welt on the top of his head, loading up the boat. damn, sorry man. much thanks to him for all the help though. he tells me "you shouldn't carry anything, old man." whoa. I am feeling pretty beat down... maybe he's right and I'd just hurt myself anyway. I drive us not too far to the 'tel and paul has to guide me into this narrow slot for the boat - fuck. I get it in there though and then take the six flights of stairs up instead of the elevator like my guys cuz this "old man" feels he just has to. not cuz of "old" but cuz I could've done better for my guys, done better for the folks who came to the gig. aaaarrrrggggghhhh. I don't undress, I don't even get out of my coat once I'm in my room. I just go to the deck and konk like I am. out.
thursday, april 14, 2005 - salzburg, austria
Wanted to wake up early so i could go check out the city before we bailed to salzburg. I don't really have a mental alarm clock in my head, mike suggested ingesting some kind of bacteria that would wake me up with explosive diarrhea great idea, but i'd rather just get a wake up call at eight. Hotel dicks didn't call till 8:40... fuck it, i just really wanted to go for a walk before we left. I couldn't go to the schloss, but i could still go across the dragon bridge and check out the olde town, and get a chance to walk along the river that goes thru it. When i get back to the hotel, mike is being directed out of of that tiny ass spot by igor, and three other dudes that work at the hotel... he's in the front seat cracking up over how ridiculous his situation is.
Once we get to town, we play it safe and stop and ask for directions. This obviously works to our advantage, plus on the map it's the furthest we can go. The street that we're looking for parallels with this big block on the map. Maybe it's a park or a lake, who knows. Turns out to be the side of a mountain, the club looks like it's built half way in it. The place is called the rock house. Neat looking place, it's like an old cellar. there's two rooms, and we're gonna play the basement looking one. Backstage is graffiti from all these old hair metal bands, but the dates are new. I didn't know that krokus still played, i guess they do, the big room at the rock house. As soon as we show up, the promoter, paul, and the sound guy peter are right behind us. After sound check, paul wants to go roaming around salzburg. It's a beautiful old city, and the birth place of motzart. Paul wants to try and find his old house. It's hard for me to say no, but i hafta, i'm always behind on chimpin, so i need to take this time to catch up, and the real truth... i'm a bit beat. In two hours i'm ssufficiently caught up and rested, and me and paul are out. Neat old city, the streets remind of yesterday in ljubjana except here it's fancier shops that are geared more towards the tourist, ya know over priced crap. Im sure the whole city isn't like this, just the olde part of town that we're in. We don't have lot's of time, we're playing with a local band called v8, and i wanna check it out. The old town is pretty awesome, and the roads aren't even big enough for cars, so it's just people walking are riding bikes. More city should be like this and just have areas for pedestrians, it just makes sense, yes i understand it's old and before the auto existed, but who ever said that newer is better... people in advertising, that's who, capitalist punks trying to turn a buck will ruin anything thing good in the name of profit. Making pedestrian only parts cities in turn would promote different ways of getting around, and then there wouldn't be so many fuckin' cars everywhere. It'll happen one day for one reason or another, everything goes in cycles. Probably not in my life time unfortunately, just my little utopian fantasy. I'm not saying ban the car, that would make it impossible to do what we're doing, but use it wisely, out of nnecessity and not laziness. L.A., really needs to think about something like this. Granted i do understand the need for cars, especially in l.a., but people abuse em, driving only a couple blocks instead of walking those couple blocks, what the hell is wrong with walking. Even in pedro, the traffic situation is fucked up, there should be laws against things like this, that and havin' babies.
Make it back in time to watch the opening band. They sang some songs in english, one of the lines i picked up was, i love the country and i love to farm, but my heart is like a desert, great stuff, It was even a country ballad style song. Total commies. The drummer had these fuckin' hugh sticks. Looked about seven hundred years old, turns out they where only seven. I asked him about it after they'd played, said it was the old broom he used to push around at work, he cut it into fours and hasn't bought a pair of sticks since. These things look barbarian, like clubs, and some how he was able to play soft. They had to be an inch and a half thick, i couldn't get over it. Place was starting to pack up, we thought it might be a cave within' a cave. I think something got switched around during the bands, cuz as soon as we start playin' things sound so much different and i can't hear anything. Mike can hear paul cranked at ten, and paul can't even hear himself. It was all screwed up, and made playing the gig really tough. Not as tough as ljubljana, but tough. The sound on stage was just so backwards, it made it hard to focus on sound, most of mine was just cymbals. I think if we lose it on stage, the audience has no reason to pay attention or care, but these folks saw it thru, and that helped me alot, i'm sure the sound that was being projected wasn't nearly as bad as the monitors... Whatever, it sounds like i'm complaining, and that'd be bogus. Maybe it was just all in my head.
Was thinking about walking around this morning, but come 8:30 it didn't seem so inviting so I chilled till 10:00 and we left.
Came out the front door of the hotel and about five slovenians were helping Watt out of the impossibly tight (but safe) parking spot we got him in last night. And so we make friends with the natives where so'er we pass.
The drive from Ljubjana (damn that's hard to spell) to Salzburg is really beautiful, by far the most beautiful I've been awake for, and I'm awake for most of it. Big, big, big! snowpeaked mountains and cliffs, a couple of giant and ancient castles, long, long, long! tunnels...like rocky mountains with Heidi. ..sorry...there's alot of talk about A.G.D.,(aggressive gay disco...a musical genre we occasionally explore) and I'm feeling OK. Mike seems to be easing up, maybe we're playing up to an acceptable level, or maybe he's a little buzzed on nicotine, or maybe I've adjusted to acting like a fucking semen first class...I bark port and starboard with a minimum of sarcasm, I'm learning how to give directions by the clock ("enemy approaching ay 11:30!!!) and trying to remember my primary focus: keep my side of the street clean, we're all god's kids, surrender to what's in store, cause all the fighting in the world doesn't seem to really help. The thing is, I try to do these things when the synapses are doing their fever dance and they don't work, so really all I can attribute this modicum of serenity to is that the synapses stopped doing their fever dance. I remember I got kinda happy meeting the Thermals, I was able to make a little email contact with home and that was nice. I dunno. It's a mystery. I feel the brain damage. But it's in good remission and I'm willing for it to stay that way.
One thing I notice is that when I feel better I'm bla, bla, bla talking to everybody all sunny, offering my sunny opinions on everything...I could see just wanting to crush that guy, squash him like a bug. I'm so relieved the madness is lifted that I'm probably pretty annoying, and people around me might like me better the other way and try to help me get back there. Also: mememememememe.
We get into Salzburg, pull over and get easy directions to the Rockhouse, making a few unkind jokes about the name of the club. But we get there and we see that the whole place is sort of a futuristic castle motif; it smells of concrete. It's kind of like the way House of Blues in LA goes for a corrugated metal shack vibe, this is...I guess a castle or a cave. It's cool, easy load, some snacks, a little slowslowslow emails and a hotel in walking distance.
This town seems like a resort town like Lake Tahoe (been there) or Aspen (haven't). In the mountains, kinda upscale. Franz Josef (and his ilk) musta been just loving life, all this rich beautiful land for miles and miles around all belonging to him, paying tribute, all handed down generation to generation, cash to just fucking burn. Hire Mozart to play your party. Keep Beethoven around as a sort of local club act...
Later after the gig. I need to not say anything about the show tonight. What I need to do is turn to God. Because there are some things which are simply far beyond my powers of understanding and control. And I can fool myself, I can trick myself and believe that I understand things; I can be totally certain, positive that my perception of a given event or situation is an accurate one; and if my position is challenged or threatened I can become angry, and if I am angry I am not my best self. My hard won wisdom, such as it is, flees and I am left with reactions, spasmodic twitchings, unlovely and useless.
So I can turn that unpleasant feeling over to god. I can say:"how would god see this situation? How would Love see this situation? Allow me to see this situation through divine eyes. Let me see all human beings as God's kids, doing the best they can, falling short as I certainly fall short. Because as I said at the beginning of this diary: it is a spiritual axiom that if we are upset about something it is because there is something we need to look at in OURSELVES. So inasmuch as I turn my anger outwards or inwards, I am not looking through my best eyes, the eyes of love.
It can be tough to do. The rage and self-justification feel good in a way, as it disolves our livers. But who are we hurting? It's like drinking poison and waiting for someone you hate to die.
I didn't make up this stuff. It was taught to me by people older, wiser and kinder than me.
And when all else fails, I go back to my beautiful hotel room overlooking the little square off Franz-Josef strasse, and drown my fucking sorrows with a bottle of orange seven up.
After soundcheck, Raul and I walked to the hotel; we each got a room, chilled a half an hour and walked around old Salzburg, Mozart's town. It's really fucking cool, the same old eighteenth century badass little cobbled alleys, churches, domes, spires, steeples, arches, castle-ish things on hills, famous bridges over famous rivers. A statue of the man himself, Wolfgang, looking serious. My powers of discription simply aren't up to it. Hopefully Raul will post the pictures he took, he's a good photographer, and quite a man. Life is good. I feel the beginnings of peace and joy. I bought a phone card for 10 euros, I should be able to make 100 minutes of calls to home, which will be good right now.
In fact, my dears, I think I will end this and try to call Hellin. I heard Chuck Chamberlain ( in his 80's, shortly before his death) say today on CD that anything that comes between you and god has got to go, and any person that you put in between you and god has got to go. Most of you probably REALLY don't want to hear the god shit hmmm? So my obsessive infatuation with little Helenka really borders on some dangerous hinterlands!!! But put it like this: if any of you ever write the story of my life, it will be a love story.
pop and seven, find myself on the deck like I left me last night - in my all my outfit including my coat. I will not shower but I shave and take my supplements. fuck the old spice shit under the arms though, I deserve to be how I am that way and will spare my guys by keeping the yellow coat on and zipped up tight. I plan to shovel downstairs and then wait outside for dario cuz he's gonna hoof w/me up the castle hill in the middle of town here. they got scrambled eggs and sausage chunks that look like pieces of cut up smaller hot dogs. there's pieces of bread I throw them down w/too along w/many coff gulps. there must be some tournament on cuz I see young folks all around w/different lands on the backs of their jackets - croatia, serbia, russia... some of them say table tennis so maybe it's that kind of sport they're doing. trippy, wish I could watch some.
dario arrives in a little bit and we start hoofing through the old part of town and then up the hill to where the castle is. he has lots to tell me about slovenes, how their land is a crossroads land w/lots of peoples and influences in their history. it starts thirty centuries back w/people related to the albanian ones, like in the bronze age. much later were folks from what was later hungary and then the romans built a settlement. there was slav people and then german tribes, lots of merging. closer to these times there was the austria empire and then yugoslavia. they became independent fourteen years ago. we can look down at what was a moor where they found all kinds of relics, many cultures in ascension and then whithering down, in cycles. we go back down the hill and have tea and this pad, he tells me about lots of the music traditions that have come through here, the way they count time and the scale tempers - even one that's totally untempered but that's the way they hear things, so be it. it's all very interesting and it's great the way he's interest is so intense on it. he's playing bagpipes now and learning ancient britain musics. I'm so glad he took the time to tell me about all this stuff cuz it's really interesting. we walk across the triple bridge into the same old square I mistakenly took the boat into yesterday - a much easier going on foot. the sava river runs through here - this is the same river that goes through zagreb and then onto belgrade, where it meets the danube - a trippy kind of a metaphor. time to get back to the 'tel, gather my guys and somehow get the boat out of the crammed-in park job I had to do last night.
igor there to meet me, I'm so sorry to have missed chowing w/him but just got caught up in the two hours I was learning from dario. they're old friends from way back anyway and igor understands. I'll make more time for him next time. damn, I wish tour could let me have more time to stretch me across more things to absorb! everyone teams up to help me back the boat out this narrow, narrow channel that I get her finally through and we're off back to austria. we're going northeast to salzburg via vilach. a beautiful vale outside of ljubljana and then up into the mountains for the border. even though slovenia is now e.u., there's austrian border police but we're let through pretty quick though the one officer looked at his partner as if to ask "should they get searched?" and a head shaking in reply from the other had us on our way. thank you much. it's a sunny day, almost like back home in pedro. we're in the mountains much now and there's tunnels to go through - some of them like four miles long. a couple of castles are pretty intense but so are the farmhouses - lots have barns built right into them and are pretty huge. intense too how they're on some steep inclines and hillsides too. we stop for gas and I get a bag of these "super sauerz" gummi french fries. these are not made from potatoes but the same thing gummi bears are, a soft jelly form of corn syrup. they are sour but not "super sourer" - I like sours much, kind of like how I like hot things. we continue on, paul konked for much of the time in pete mazich mode. I say that cuz pete konked lots in the back seat on tour cuz he'd have trouble konking right after a gig whereas myself usually is out like that. maybe it's an organ thing, huh?
so we pull into the east side of salzburg w/raul in the navigator seat but there's nothing for him to navigate from. the euro map just shows a yellow polygon for the town. I head for "mittel" - the middle, maybe? there's a gas station and I pull over and the man there helps me look at a map they got on a wall. hmm... there's where we gotta go and here's where we are - just straight for a while, under the train tracks and then right 'til it ends where we go left a bit. yep, there it is - we've found the rockhaus. the hatch is open and we got parking right in front of it, great. it got it's name from having caves in it built right into the cliff behind it (huge ones that go up really high) to store beer and wine, an icehouse. the stage is in an long round roofed room that goes up maybe only ten feet and the smell of rock is really strong, like it's just been crushed. I meet the boss who's named wolf and he's a really man to be working for tonight. we set up and do soundcheck w/soundman peter. there's an opening band tonight, a three piece named v8 from who's from here in salzburg. the drummer has a shirt that says "worker hero" in german and his drum sticks are made cut from a broom he used at his job... damn, they're pretty big for drum sticks. they're really nice cats and part of their soundcheck tune sound like sonic youth.
I go upstairs to chimp diary and my guys go to chow. they bring me back some great soup that's got a celery taste to it and a piece of breaded chicken. I forgot to say I chowed some sandwich stuff like most gigs this tour when we pulled up in the boat. these two cats who were at the vienna gig, rupert and david come say hi and do this interview w/me. it's an intense one - ruperts had me spiel to him before and he asks very open ended questions and allows me to explore them fully, never cutting me off making me feel I gotta hurry it up. he wants me to compare the idea of "being out of this world" that he sense in the sickness piece w/john coltrane's "interstellar space" and that's something for me to riff on for sure. I'm very conscious of how the spiels affected me last night and don't want to repeat that so I'm tempering my spiel some but still trying to be to the point w/rupert. he asks about bosch imagery along w/dante's and I say of course, the way things are combined, organic and mechanical... there's lots of ways to explore a cat's questions and they don't have to be full-scale badge buffs so I'm trying to relate the feelings of the sickness in some way that makes sense in context of what I'm trying to do w/my expression w/music. it's intense on me to bring such feelings up to the surface like that where they're not suggested to by ideas but still, I kind of let them rattle out and resonate on me. rupert gives me a cd by this brazilian singer named caetano veloso who's sung in english for the first time for him, an album of cover tunes. he has a history of doing songs for and of the people of his land and rupert wants me to have it. of course, this immediately makes me think of d. boon and the feelings of his art - "get your hands in there and feel what the people are all about!" he said back in 1985. a beautiful man, d. boon. I can't wait to hear this man caetano's music. it's trippy, there's the same dylan song on this cd that we're doing this tour.
as I'm spieling, I hear v8 doing their gig downstairs and when they're done, it's the same w/our spiel upstairs here. now time for a gig. there's some "cupboard" effect and raul's cymbals are pretty loud but I keep my bass from responding in kind cuz I can just imagine it bogarting the whole sound. this makes it a little tough for my drummer but he does good in spite of the challenge. things are more difficult w/paul, it's hard for him to follow the dynamics I'm trying to direct him w/so we can help make this band breathe as an organism. he's either way too huge or tiny. there's a "grind" or overdrive to the organ sound via the leslie speaker that can only come from hitting it hard but the acoustics of this stage makes things a mess. hopefully soundman peter has it going out there for the folks but where we're at is really a struggle. this conducting thing is still a new concept for us three as a band and being on tour means a different stage/room situation each night so it's nothing as consistent as the prac pad we were preparing in before tour. this stuff can only be learned by doing it via real-life gigs and that means in front of people. aahh! embarrassing w/a silly watt at the helm. it's frustrating, I can tell paul's hearing so much of himself at times that he's hardly in step w/me in raul. my trying to reach out and connect w/him is distracting on me too so clams are easier to come by, especially w/the spiel. oh man, a challenging gig. not terrible but hard to wrestle some connection out of it. still better than last night where I felt I really stunk it up. it's weird but I think tonight is going to lead us to a new way of grappling w/this opera as a piece done by the three of us as a band, I just know it. my guys are that way, resourceful and not about to throw up their hands and give up. you can tell there's not as much focus in a way cuz w/the crowd you can sense some lack of focus at times, like w/yammering. now in the u.s., this seems to be almost expected but over here in europe - maybe cuz were foreigners - when where hitting all cylinders, we got the folks locked-in right on us and you can hear a pin drop. there's some yammering (funny for me to hear german yammering - almost comical cuz of the unfamiliar sounds to my ear) in "pluckin'..." but then I'm screwing a bunch of words and even have to hold up and re-start the second verse to get back on. bozo watt. kind of a tough gig but like I said, not near as band as I did last night.
anyway, we get the gig done and the folks are very, VERY kind to us w/their generous words. I got a box of the "...middle stand" cd today - the euro one on easy action w/the extra dvd that has videos for "tied a reed 'round my waist" and "burstedman" and sell twentythree, just like that. when went off for the encore, I told paul not to worry - we'll do better tomorrow and even w/that, the encore was so much tighter, it was pretty ok. raymond pettibon's art friend from austria, a nice cat named hans comes up and helps w/the equipment. when we get all packed up, I thank the bossman wolf much and he lets us leave the gear here 'til the morning - we're going to leave the boat out front too cuz parking at the 'tel is tight (raul and paul have already been there). this photographer friend of rupert's takes pictures of me w/one of raul's cymbals held up by rupert and david behind my head like a halo - kind of crazy//ironic. hans and his two buddies (one of them is the drummer for hans' and raymond's new band crinkum crankum, they've made an album) walks w/us to the 'tel and he asks me if I'd like to part of an opera he wants to stage next spring in vienna and some other towns - he wants to have raymond write the libretto and of course I say fuck yeah! when we arrive, we talk for a while in the lobby about things very funny - austrain and u.s. politics in the present day. both lands have some bizarre trends that way going on, maybe some of it pretty scary even. it's a good time but around one am I run out of gas and must say bye, big hugs to my austrian friends. "here's to the future," I think as I leave for my room to konk.
friday, april 15, 2005 - schorndorf, germany
I woke up a little early so i could go check out some of the stuff paul and i didn't get a chance to scope out the day before... i really wanna find mozarts old place. I made back to the club aat9:30, just liked we planned. Really beautiful ccountryalong the way. Did see a semi truck smashed into a tree ooffthe side of the freeway... pretty lame, but the driver was outside surveying damage or just cursing him self or something, so i think everything was alright. Well except for the fact that he wrecked into a tree, i'm sure that could ruin a day. At one point during the ddrivei had to piss ssobad i reached for a bottle, totally overflowed the whole thing, don't tell paul... he hates piss. The funny thing was we were all talking, and i was doing right behind him without him knowing. We had some rude directions that seemed to take us completely outta the way. Thru small towns, over a hugh mountain, thru the woods on a one laner. Paul was saying what the fuck is this. I don't think he wanted to play a friday night gig in mayberry. I think that sometimes the small town show is the best. I would of been psyched to play a barn or something. As soon as we get over the mountain we see city, okay not city, maybe town is a more applicable word, or civilization Another look at the map shows us that this is the smartest way to travel with out back tracking or sitting in traffic. It was a nice drive. Once we get to town we're even more lost, cuz now the maps of no use. When in doubt, ask the locals. This local turned out to be a little scary, i swear i heard him growl at paul, mike and i could barely contain the laughter. His girl had on a shirt that said mississippi angel. We're hella far from the mississippi, and she was by no means an angel... she wouldn't even awknowledge our existence. Her boy friend is a bit of help, and after a couple of dumb mistakes, we find the club...
I realized yesterday at the club at the height of tranquility, that I was working pretty hard before we took off on this tour. We had secondmen rehearsels every day at 7 a.m. in Pedro, then I would make the 1&1/2 -2 hour treck to Malibu, work on the Josie Cotton album till maybe 9 or ten at night, then drive home and get in at 11 or 12 and start it all over. Day's I didn't work on Josey, I was producing a guy named David Reeves. I was also taking classes at UCLA extension twice a week in drug and alcohol counseling with Hellin which was really fun, but there was term papers and finals that I somehow actually did. Every once in a while I would work on this Germs documentary that five of us are producing. It was hard core. Like nervous breakdown core. I knew even this tour couldn't be that grueling and it's not. But some of this insanity I go on about may be a result of that. And some of it may be a result of other things. And some may be rather understandable reactions to difficult situations. But see, a truly centered person can roll with anything. Which is what I am not.
I actually roll down, eat breakfast at 8:00, and walk over to the club. THEN I try using the calling card. It rings four times, then I hear the answering machine; the message is the voice of a drugged out friend of my kids, kinda disappointing, but I sorta expected it. I resign myself to leaving a message, but just as I get going on it, Helln picks up. It's midnight in LA, she was reading in bed. It was really good to hear her voice. I also heard a tiny little scraping noise which was one of the kittens. Wow, that was really nice...I don't know what we talked about. She read all these diaries, I wasn't sure you really would. You said I sounded sad, but then you repeated back stuff I thought was funny. I'm so glad you're reading this it makes me feel like you're here with me. Dealing with all this crap, the fucking car that got all crunched before we left, footdragging insurance companies, get a lawyer I told you! The taxes taken care of ( I had sent her an email that if she didn't look into a California tax extension I could be doing a tour of federal prisons) You Rock! Got poor Adam's wisdom teeth all pulled; that was a project. Didn't ask about school.
There were times in the last 27 years when it was so strained, she really hated me; she was so crazy, I tried to control her, I tried to follow her chase her...It's never been like this, so comfortable, so trusting, so in love.
So I think of home with this mixture of longing and fear...can't wait to see her, but returning to possible unemployment.
I can't write right now, I'm backstage in Schorndorf; watt and Raul are around talking hubub, and oh yeah the apathy is back in full flower. I'll catch up tonight at the hotel.
I think I mentioned the thoughts of jumping off tall buildings. This morning it was slashing swiftly across my throat with a razor blade. Before I left there were these strong urges to swerve at 60 mph into oncoming traffic. Are these thoughts normal? I'm not writing this to be dramatic, just to compare notes with fellow travelers through the human condition. Probably everyone has these types of little mental detours. It's really icky feeling though. Swelled up and gradually swallowed up the warm glow from talking to Hellin, till I was speechless again staring straight ahead, seeing nothing. Mike seems like he's in a really good mood, very talkative, it's an intense effort for me to answer and try to act normal. I feel like giant hands are pushing me down into the seat, I drift in and out of consciousness as I try to navigate. Even to breathe requires effort.
I was going to get some postcards in Salzburg, wish I would have, we're back in Germany, and I'm telling you, there is alot of Ohio in Germany, no offense to either one of you. Rolling hills and farmlands, carefully tended cedar forests. Dylan is real discriptive in his book, notices what kinds of trees he's driving by, it sounds like a real writer when you do that. I notice what kind of suicides I'm contemplating, real professional. So I ask Mike: "What kind of trees are those?"
I'm not contemplating suicide at all; it's not going to happen; I just have these thoughts and feelings that will not kill me. Fuck them.
So we follow the directions toward Schornburg and they take us down a merry little backroad wander, and I'm thinking :"Where the fuck?" but the deal is...we're in WINE COUNTRY...it's pretty, it just doesn't seem like a likely place for a gig on a Friday night. My mental state doesn't seem very conducive to navigating, and I'm just not sharp...face it, we're lost as hell, Mike just gets a chuckle out of it all, I'm back to Phaedras... personality sucking into a mirror. That's a reference to Zen in the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Persig, a badass book. Sorry, I knew what I meant. Lost, drifting listless...no thought, like a gun just went off right behind your ear.
Mike asks me why I don't tour behind the burntchurch opera, I have a momentary fantasy of traveling around Europe and america with Hellin playing piano shows, perfectly happy. How to do such a thing? I don't know how to tell him that I tried for twenty years and I am defeated, a gun just went off behind my ear. I've made so many mistakes, too tired to start over TODAY and climb that mountain. But maybe he planted a seed today that I can somehow make grow. Because the two things Hellin wants in life is a horse and to travel. And the thing I want in life is to give them to her. So who knows? This minute it seems laughably impossible. Maybe that's what Mike was trying to say.
Is he kidding? Is he that cruel? Or is he trying to inspire me? He has alot better estimation of my mental health than I do.
Alot of this depression is rage so intense I can never express it, a bottled up, neverending, howling scream of hurt and frustration, loss and fear. It's not mysterious like I've been making it out, it's petty and mundane, childish. And I don't respect it. And I can't climb out of it.
I can't fucking write.
We're all backstage at Schorndorfer, Mike put this Hindu chant on all three of our computers and they're all playing in a round as we all write diary. Hilarious, but I ain't getting calm. I keep getting up and trying to find somewhere to get away, but there's no where.
So I walk. And it's wierd and OK. There are people walking around this wierd part of town between the railroad tracks. There's a kindergarten that they're decorating spraypaint style. I follow some of the pedestrians and most of them are walking down this country road to a sportsbar to play pool. It's late twilight. A few of them are trickling into Manufaktur, which is where we're playing. I return, then go again with Raul. A couple of guys ask us for our autographs. There's cheerleader practice upstairs. Pizza is delivered. We wait, listening to the three computers chant.
After the show: After the unmitigated disaster of the previous night I was really worried, so I played on eggshells. Plus, this fucking splinter in the tip of my left index finger has festered to the point where onstage adrenalin no longer hides the pain. It also hurts like fuck to type. So the set sounds tame to me, more like a concert, a jazz piece, not a punk show, not snarling, threatening, on the edge of careening out of control. But Mike seems happy, and that's all that matters. If this is the way he wants to approach it, I can get there, it's not quite what I had envisioned as the end result of what we were workijng towards, so maybe I had a basic misconception of the intensity level of the piece. I'm really just glad he's happy and off my fucking ass.
We had really felt a cave coming on, which sucks for a friday night, but once again, we take the stage and it's very presentable, not a cave at all. There's been maybe one and a half so far. Very clean sound onstage, VERY attentive audience. Joe the soundguy super helpful and competent, the Germans have really blown me away. Today is our last German show. Tomorrow to Switzerland.
Mike also mentioned in the car today his belligerence, calling it: "You know, that thing you hate," the thing he grew up with, the navy shit, which he also said was something he was trying to give up. It is so hard for me to handle. It sends me into an absolute tailspin. I could dish it back as good as I get, but we'll wind up punching each other or screaming ourselves into strokes and it's a personal goal of mine to never get in a screaming match with another person for the rest of my life one day at a time. The problem is it leaves me with FEEEEEELLLLLLIIIINNNNGGGSSSS.....that I can't process. Thank GOD he acknowledged it. So what??? How can I love him into a healing? How can I help him to attain his self professed goal, for both our sakes? Is there ANYTHING to be done? A person holds on to something like that, because it has worked for them on some level, and they're afraid that if they give it up, what will they have to take it's place? If belligerence has been a tool that has served you on some level, how do you get things done without it?
Well, you probably have to think on some level: "I've got to give this up at all costs, even if it does fuck me up to give it up, even if I lose things that are important to me, because in the long run what I get in it's place will be better, truer...and the thing I'm giving up has reached a point where it's so painful I can't stand it anymore." Get that? And you know what? Once you surrender, because that's what that process is, surrender, you always, always get better than you expected.
I don't know if that means anything to any of you. I didn't make it up, although I have experienced it first hand. It's almost impossible to force it to happen, you just have to become ready or willing.For me it's the fucking depression, although alot of it is gone, replaced by anxiety it's true, and chronic fear and childlike helplessness and obnoxious full-of-myselfism.
By the way, the Leslie has been working like a charm.
The Cathedral at Cologne/Koln seems to tower as tall as Century City.
One of my dearest friends, James Miller, is playing the prosecuting attorney for the Court TV reenactment of the Michael Jackson trial. HAH! Congrats Jim.
It was raining after the gig, we followed the German promoter Micha to a hotel and here I am.
Hellin, I'm nervous about this Austrian calling card working outside of Austria, but Raul said it wouldn't be a problem. I'm Nervous Boy. Mike got an email from Crying Boy and there were alot of jokes about him stealing my name...I love you baby, I want to call you again all the time!!!
"paradoxical as it may seem, the purposeful life has no content, no point. It hurries on and on, and misses everything. Not hurrying, the purposeless life misses nothing for it is only when there is no goal and no rush that the human senses are fully open to receive the world."
Alan Watts- the way of zen
pop at eight (some fatigue must've definitely caught up w/me - maybe it's been all I've spelt the last few days) and do the wake up dance - I've wrote enough about my morning routine already. the trough downstairs provides for some good shoveling. I chimp some diary and then hoof back to the club to meet my guys and load up the boat. I get some email from carlos and he supplies me w/the puk number for the walkie-talkie leash... maybe now this fucking thing will somehow work. can't try it yet though cuz I wanna get under way and off for schorndorf. this'll be our seventh and last gig in germany. the suns out bright like it is in pedro and we cross right away into germany as we head west cuz salzburg is on the border. our third time going across this land, this route the most south of the three. we pass through munich - notice I didn't say around it cuz paul misreads the map and we literally have to take surface streets through the town to big up the autobahn again. paul's a little frustrated but I tell him not to worry cuz that's why I like leaving early - "pad to wander" is the key concept to reduce tour travelling stress. no more mountains but some nice hills and farmland to look at. paul says that bob dylan can name the trees he sees going by in his recollections (paul's just read his "chronicles - part one") and wishes he knew stuff like that. paul's pretty impressionable. I tell him not to worry, he can write his tour spiels his own way and who knows, maybe dylan might stumble across his writings on the hoot page and dig what he's writing. we all gotta find our own voice - there's no shortcuts around that, I think. we all get influenced by all kinds of things but that search for the voice unique to each of us that comes from deep within is paramount as far as I'm concerned. like dylan himself wrote:
it is not he or she or them or it
that you belong to.
paul's a good man though. he up front in the navigator's chair and talking w/me. he says when he's chimping his diary after spieling during an all day drive, it's weird he can't remember a single thing. raul calls it "crs" which is short for "can't remember shit" and one reason it's a good thing to chimp what went down the next day cuz otherwise it's quite easy to get lost in the alzheimer vortex, big time. I guess paul's been rallying raul to get caught up cuz he got a little behind and really wants to do it - I hope folks realize I'm not cracking a whip and forcing my guys to chimp diary like I do. ask drummerman jerry trebotic who never finished one full tour diary. you do what you can do, that's what I think cuz mainly I brought my guys to help me deliver some music. it's righteous if they can put down their tour thoughts or even talk w/me while we roll but it's not required. paul says he likes doing thim cuz his wife helen digs them much and even was bumming a little when she ran out of stuff to read when the first week's writings ran out. we'll have some more up soon though. we all get into talking about tour life, who's cut out to do it. of course w/my life, there were never any family concerns and my heart goes out to cats who've helped me like pete and jer and of course paul, now. I could never make an argument to have someone put tour world over his family concerns cuz that would most certainly be selfish. I know this tour's a sacrifice for paul and love him much for being so generous w/me - his wife helen and sons alex and adam too cuz just cuz you ain't in the boat don't mean you're putting out for the effort. man, the times I remember my pop being gone w/his own tours w/the navy... boy, did I miss him much, missed him dearly. tour is not only about you - even w/me though I don't have little ones, I'm responsible for little ones being removed from their folks and it's a heavy thing on me - one reason I worry heavy on them being safe and me getting them back home alright. we talk about being in the studio since paul's been working on the producer and engineer thing, what it takes to do that right. I believe there is no "one size fits all" and every situation's different, that's my experience. I haven't done much of it though (maybe eight records besides my own albums and sessions) but what I have done wasn't the easiest to do and I felt a lot of responsibility. as for my stuff, it's like running a practice where the chief side of me I got from my pop comes out to keep a focus and that focus is derived from a vision I get in the first place - like when I'm writing a song and come up w/the title first so I can narrow things up enough to keep an even keel. I'm open to chance happenings though and improvising off of that cuz having things too goose-stepping to a plan is way suffocating. it's a weird balance though cuz to really jump off on some risk might need some hold-to-it or else the tendency is kind of do the re-run thing which don't always lend itself to growth. paul talks about how last night's band was out of tune and it bugged him - he says it's his job to say that. not to say paul's wrong but I have other reasons for something not jiving w/me and I don't know if it's things technical like that. I know I've liked plenty of out of tune things (or like dario told me yesterday, "w/out temper"). I guess I've told bands about tuning in the studio "as a producer" though too so I don't wanna sound like I'm trying to come off somehow better than him. we're just bouncing spiel around. so that's how it is in the boat sometimes - back in the minutemen days, me and d. boon spoke lots of spiel, debate and lecture-wise (sometimes one guy would know something the other guy didn't so you couldn't really call it a debate cuz it seemed more of one guy hipping the other to something interesting) and most of that was about history so I'm used to that - lots of my "lectures" leans toward that. paul's been reading plenty though and has much to share that way too. I know raul will get there in his own time also. you might not think guys in punk bands would be like that. some are.
about fifty klicks east of stuttgart, paul has me turn north. he's got like eight maps for this gig, 'pert-near more than micah from the german book agency gunther runs (the one dutch dude carlos tapped) all together! when I met micah in calogne, did I call him michael? sorry about that if I did. anyway, we get turned around and spaced a bit looking for the right tiny road once off the autobahn but stumble across it for sure when we find a sign pointing us toward schorndorf. we start climbing up on a little two lane dealio that seems to get smaller as the villages do likewise as we continue to ascend. paul wonders aloud if maybe this gig is a command performance where we're playing for one guy at his pad! they mystery's kind of solved when we reach the summit and see all this housing on the other side - seems if we didn't take this route, we'd have to go through massive plug in stuttgart itself and then back trackto the roads north of the ridge we just went over. this save stress/time massively - thank you, micah. I mean it's tiny-winding road but we get into shorndorf sure enough... seems like it's sort of suburb of sttutgart in a way. now finding the venue is another matter, we begin to wander - even w/all the maps. we ask a guy on the street and that leads to a strange encounter. he's helping us out but coming on kind of butch - he won't use english but it's obvious to me he understands it - maybe he sticks to german cuz of this girl who's w/him, she never says a word and pulls him a way by the ear when he's finished. he gets a little testy w/paul (he's on his side) when the window's not rolled down all the way and won't show us where we are on the map, only giving us directions to get where we want - all in german. I can pick up on some of it so we head off, happy for the help but happier to be out of his hair. I spot a bus map and pull over there to get a little more objective insight. seems paul was reading off of the wrong map we had and got the venue confused w/the 'tel we're konking at later. turns out we're less than a mile from where we need to be though and paul gets us straight - the gig's in a former industrial area hence the pad's name: manufaktur. again I get drawn into an impossible place w/the boat - we gotta be on our guard w/that but I extract her and get her backed up to the right hatch. bossman werner and soundman joe help us unload and set up for a soundcheck which we do pretty quick. lots of 'verb in this room (w/out a machine to induce it), kind of a challenge, especially for the bass but I know we're up for it after talking about last night. micah appears to do the numbers for the seven gigs when we're done and he says we can follow him to the 'tel so that'll pare down some post-gig wander, alright.
I flow the "om namo narayani" chant to both my guys, putting it on their machines so they can have itunes pump it up while they're chimping diary. sounds trippy how we got them all going and they're all somewhat out of sync and making it sound sort of like a round. there's no opening band so it's just us. a couple of little push-backs and then we're on. well, the dialog between the three is together lots more... I forgot to write about paul trying the tube preamp in the keyboard to get some overdrive instead of having it come from pushing the leslie hard and getting the stage volume all crazy but you gotta realize it's not just about being too loud cuz it's about being too soft at times too - this piece is all over the place in regards to that. the way sickness, the healing and then trying to wrap my head around it somehow was a dynamic thing and I'm trying to have come across w/us delivering as such. it's 'pert-near like coming closer on us as focus to making the piece a breath or at lest trying to approach it - the huff/puff, the trauma/drama, the whisper, the mantra, the echo, the wish, etc it will make a little more sense... well, at least to me maybe. my guys are righteous to hear me out and try it w/me. they have open hearts and open minds, just like I see in folks at the gigs that get a handle on it. I'm very grateful.
this is what I try to relate when we finish, especially if I'm not totally self-absorbed in self-inflicted beatdown for some self-soil. I don't know if words can get out here in this chimping what I'm really trying to get over w/this spiel that pours in parts of my tour diaries. things get twisted up and muddied, I let emotions race me past what should be a deliberate take at trying to make my self clearly understood. I'm clumsy at all this, trying to prac at it, like going for a gig but then a prac ain't a gig and how many of those things have I clammed up so maybe why is it so out of the question it'd happen or parallel the same in my chimping?
I sling even more cds than last night (only a couple more but still I'm surprised really) and shirts and then what do I hear? thunder... damn, the rain is coming down. I talk to a lot of nice folks. there's a man not from germany but I'm really careful to guess where he's from... whew, he is irish (from dublin). last night I made a total idiot of myself confusing an australian cat w/someone from england when I could tell easy but stupid shit flew right out my word hole. I want people to know I respect them, take the time to hear them and not snap away at a size-up w/out weighing what is. that cat was laughing... I don't blame him - silly watt. my pop told me, "when you assume, you make an 'ass' out of 'u' and 'me' - got it?" I got told that years ago and I'm still learning. we get the boat loaded in the wet and then follow micah to the 'tel. he sure has treated us nice and we really like him - the best to him down his road. he gave me a cd from his label, some dutch dudes and they need a bass player, hmm...
konk is there to absorb me, generous konk. much respect and yet many apologies. tug me asunder.
saturday, april 16, 2005 - fribourg, switzerland
It's pouring rain this morning, i know it's not the best for us, travelin' and all, but sometimes it's just nice to listen to. Listened to Narayani again. Had a bowl of cereal with a banana and hopped in the van. At some point in the passed day the van got smashed, and watt had just noticed it this morning. Maybe that tight spot in Ljubjana... Who knows. Watt likes taking pictures of his dudes sleeping, totally vulnerable, no poses. I'm sitting in the front seat reading and nodding off from time to time, and the sound of his camera flashing keeps waking me up, it's pretty funny. And i know that he just posts em' on the site next to him doing something epic like hang-gliding or some shit. He wants the drool hanging out, snoring, sucking the paint off the the roof of the boat, that's what he calls it.
The drive up towards switzerland was good to the eyes, lot's of Forrest. The black Forrest, actually. I hear that's where a lot of the old scary children's story myths comes from. Red riding hood, that sorta stuff. We have a border to get across today into basel, all should be well, but you never know, so just in case we clean out the van of all the fruit, and anything else weird we might find. Just wanna be sure we get across without trouble, within' ten minutes we're in switzerland. The first gig out of the three swiss gigs is in a town called fribourg. We have zilch for directions, our second stop at a gas station proves positive, and we Get directions straight there, guy knew the club, but kind of got his left from his right mixed up... happens to me all the time. It's been raining all day, and it starts to really come down while im walking out in back of the club near the train tracks. There's an old auto grave yard along the tracks, looks like some of these cars where blown up, or blew while some one was driving, thats messed up. Well any way, hard rain is falling, so i run back to the club and try three doors before i get the right one. This place is hugh, there's a big room for the bigger acts, and club sized room, above that room is a giant mirror ball in the shape of a skull... death to disco. There's always chimpin' to be done, but i'm not in the mood for that, so insted i try to finally get thru the first episode of the prisoner... no luck, i'm snoring in ten minutes. So of course in comes mike snapping photos, sneaky bastard, he'd take pictures then wake me up to make sure i knew, chow in two hours, then chow in an hour, this happened like three or four times over a couple hours time. Finally i just stay awake and get thru the first episode, it was a good rest.
There's a big kitchen in the club, and there's two cooks, barbara and jonas. They're cooking up a feast for the two bands, and the crew that runs the club, four course meal. These folks are serious about there food, how it's cooked, and presented, and even in the environment it's eaten in. A few long tables are set up, candle lit with jars of wine, and bread baskets along the table. First soup, it's kinda like a potato soup, but it's red. It's hard for the cooks to translate what it is, but from their description, it sounds like maybe beets where used, then a salad. After that, main course. Since i don't eat chicken, i had just the soup, some rice and broccoli and carrots. Ofcourse desert and coffee after that, raspberry tart with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. All this an hour before we play, whew. The band we're playing with is called what's wrong with us?, they're from geneva, a couple hours from fribourg. Trippy band, very original. Reminded me of the music from a french flick called delicatessen. It's a rad movie, About an ex circus clown who takes residence in trade of handy man work above a butchers shop. It's after a war, and supplies are little, especially meat. So the tenants of the building are quickly disappearing, and being sold as food to the other people in the building, they're eating their neighbors... good flick, and this music reminded me of that movie. Not your average band. Had a guy playing a bass sax, thing had to weigh a ton, it was almost as tall as the player. Besides the shoulder strap, he had it belted across his waist, so it wouldn't pull him down. He was playing bass lines on it and was pretty relentless. Pushing wind thru that thing for an hour can't be the easiest thing to do. My favorite guy was the drummer, not traditional in any sense. He was as big as a nine year old, and had the craziest set up, First off, he played right handed, but had his floor tom and snare switched around, and a chain wrapped around the snare. lil' congas were bungeed to the kick drum. Had all kinds of mini gongs and random pieces of who knows what to bang on. At one point he was playing an old alarm clock, and a mini mega phone. funny guy, at dinner he was playing the onion that decorated the soup, like a little wind instrument. Super concentration, musta been like five thousand different parts to these songs, i can't even imagine the kind of practice that goes into something like that.
Right off the bat, we already have some problems, busted mic. It takes a couple minutes to figure out the problem, mean while we just look like jack asses on stage. Paul kept playin' the lick thru the break, and that helped a bit, total stare down, time went pretty slow up there. Ofcourse i come in on the wrong part, and that blew. We quickly got it back together, and the audience was forgiving. I actually think they liked it, broke some kind of barrier. It was a fun gig, people dancing, not just the kids. I saw a grey haired dude cuttin' it up. After the first set i ran back stage to grab some water, and when i took the right after the door i cracked my shin on a drum riser... took a lil chunk out. During dinner it had started snowing, and now it was all over the place, and comin' down in hugh clumps. We got directed back to the crash pad, which was only right down the street, and made plans to pick up the equipment at noon.
We hit the road out of Schornsdorf at 9 a.m.. We don't take the windy through-the-hills route we came in on but head directly for Stuttgart which is about 10 or20 clicks away. Schornsdorf, as I said, is in the wine country, so it's hilly with lots of little villages, very neat, the houses a couple of stories on small windy roads. Modern people though, I get the feeling.
Passing through Stuttgart we see the Mercedes-Benz factory and offices at their own exit off the freeway. There was an Irish guy, Derrick at the show last night who worked there.
The front plastic bumper on our dutch Euro van is crunched. We continue to cut a swath of destruction across Europe.
We pass through more farmland, it's overcast but it doesn't rain. Before we hit the Swiss border we throw out all the fruit and trash (this is the neatest tour van I've ever been on, and I'm fucking happy about it). I take off my hat, put an my granny glass, and Watt and I pose as an older gay couple with Raul as our young stud. We sail right through customs.
As we climb a little, there are farms on the side of hills, and we lazily wonder if those are dogwoods, apple or cherries blossoming. Raul and I resolve to watch the Prisoner episodes on his computer next time we room together and vege.
Watt seems calm. I am also calm. There may be a very significant correlation.
Later: We somehow miraculously get pretty right to the gig, considering all we have is an address. We get to the center of town, see a map, there's the street. Center of town is just beautiful, a river the name of which I don't know cuts deep canyons from which castles cling like gargoyles. The club is big and sorta windey with a large hall, and a smaller one where we'll be. It's cold and overcast as we load in.
First thing we wonder is what the giant skull shaped mirror ball hanging from the ceiling will look like when it goes into action. The room isn't too big but the ceiling seems miles high. We check quick and everybody seems to disappear. There's delicious bread, cheese, meat, fruit, cookies, chips, drinks etc.
I settle in to the dressing room and get into the Franklin book. I read it alot today when we were driving I guess it's getting pretty good. He's really a loyalist to the king till the final hour, not a radical, trying to work things out. He's sort of a bastard, leaving his wife for 15 years, sorta pervy with young girls seems like, definitly seems to consider mistresses just part of being a well off guy. He gets pretty set up by the time he's 42 then he has alot of pretensions to being a gentleman... y'know he's just really complex, really interesting so I'm reading a bit more right now.
And SACK OUT backstage, Raul and me both. I needed a little catchup.
Fat snowflakes falling out side.
Wake up to the inevitability of watt photographing us sleeping. As Raul puts it, he'll post photos of us drooling on ourselves in the tour diaries and he'll have a picture of himself mountainclimbing or hanggliding.
Raul and I wake up and watch epiode one of the Prisoner. First TV, movie, newspaper, magazine, news, weather I've seen in two weeks.
This club, Fri-son, treats us well. Dinner is served at a long table for both bands, as well as the crew, and it has courses: a beet soup, followed by salad, chicken, rice and asparagus, cooked carrots, and a tart berry dessert with ice cream and coffee. Caraffes of red wine. Wow. Don't really feel like playing. Maybe like smoking a cigar.
Have had a lot of strong urges to smoke. Nyet, so far godammit!
Another comic session with the three of us backstage, chimping diary to the chanting of Amma Narayani.
The opening band, What's Wrong with Us has started and I go out to check them out. I'm glad I did. They're a avantgarde cabaret affair with an electric bass saxophone, guitar, drums and a real can't-take-yer-eyes-off-her lead singer. The guitarist is sharp in 3-piece suit with a fusiony approach, the bass sax player bears a striking resemblance to Mathew McConahay, though not so movie star, also 3-piece suited; the sax is huge, old and tarnished; super expressive ranging from fat bass to Coltrane squeeks, and the drummer swings, rocks and Vareses classical percussionist stuff when called for, all orchestrated and suited. Zoe the singer is theatrical and sexy, not above singing lyrics like: "hey mummy I'm your baby I smell I lick I eat your pussy" and I'm in favor of that. So they were great, we all watched them and then we go.
And it's another tough set. Mike's brand new vocal mike goes out in a climactic moment of burstedman and I'm left playing a lick by myself over and over. I try to hold it but it takes FOREVER to get him up, the splinter in my finger jetting pain up my arm each goround. I had dug at it with a pair of tweezers for awhile this afternoon without luck. We really didn't get our momentum back till the encore, which pretty much ripped. I personally think we're getting too careful with the opera, I think we need to play it with the same abandon that we play the encores, but Mike is very specific about what he's going for...so that's where I want to get.
Everybody starts dancing during the encores.
After, we hang out a little with What's Wrong with Us; they like us, they're going to be in Geneva in two days, we said we'd put them on the list. I think Raul might have a chance with Zoe... I talk to them about music, try to encourage them...it seems like there's an audience for them if they stick to it, but they have to boldly strike out to find it. The same problem with me, taking that leap. I get their CD, looking forward to checking that out.
It's a late night and it's after two when we head out into the fat falling snowflakes. The windsheild of the van has a crust of fluff, but it's not sticking to the ground. It's still falling as I write, I see it swirling in the streetlight outside, but as long as the temperature doesn't drop, all we have to deal with is wetness.
The room is tiny, but private. The call isn't till nine, the drive is short to Zurich. Other than some anxiety at the dinner table, I've managed to maintain a semblance of normalcy fo almost 24 hours. Congrats to me.
I'll call you tomorrow baby, from Zurich. The tour is settling into some predictable patterns and it's starting to look like I'll make it home. How I love you!!!
pop at six and hose/prep/shovel/chimp - glad I washed my shirt in the sink last night before konking, forgot to mention that. I stenched it up pretty big time but maybe it's always that way and it's more a matter of me being sensitive enough to pick up on that. other folks probably can so some consideration, huh? I've been trying hard at that w/ the old spice under the arms and brushing my teeth. I think routine brings me some focus in ways I haven't really paid attention to though it's probably normal for others. I'm kind of crude, not to sound like I'm bragging about it or anything. the shovel was more of a personal one w/a ma and pop kind of pad being run here. they're nice - I think I see the son in the kitchen w/ma and think about euros and the way they relate that way here. tomorrow will be sunday and that's the day I always chow w/my ma when I'm in pedro and if I'm on tour (in the u.s.), call her on the horn. it's so fucking lame the last time I talked w/her was when I was in phily, in between the two flights that got me here. hope her and my two sisters are well back in cali.
I see raul and we go to the boat, met by gray skies. we wait for paul and the raul goes and gets him - wrong times were communicated. no micah though so it's bye to him in spirit cuz he's probably still konked. we get on the autobahn west to stuttgart and then a tiny wander - it wasn't west we got on but east but only an exit out of the way before we loop around. raul's navigating but I assure him it's no biggie... you know, for a cat who pedals a bike instead of driving one of these machines, raul does pretty fucking good. no bypass through stuttgart so it's surface streets and tunnels to the autobahn south for the swiss border. we're go thought schwarzenwald country - the black forest. not as black or foresty as you might think though, mostly a bunch of farmland but maybe that's around the road and stuffs been cleared. we see some schlosses on the way, usually up on a hill. folks around here probably take them for granted but they're different for us. the boat's been ok w/that high-idle thing, hasn't happened since I last wrote about it. we stop to get gass and I get a vingette like I did beofre going into austria (a road tax) but it's four times more expensive. there's some righteous flowers in bouqets for sale here - I was thinking about putting some in my hair but not for fucking fifteen euros! I take pictures instead, they're beautiful... orange and yellow mixed on roses - makes me think of the sun I wish could cut through this gray. no rain yet though. the swiss border comes up after like a hundred miles. the french one is close too but unfortunately I have no gigs there this tour. I like playing switzerland though - sure wish I could do both. maybe next time. people say the swiss border is a heavy one and I've heard stories but I've always had an ok go w/it. the officer almost passes us right through but I tell him I have a carnet - don't want to fuck up w/that so he has us park next to garage where they search vehicles and there's a van in there now getting taken apart. I got the carnet straight this time and do the do w/the german customs officer who clears me through quick (the germans and swiss both share the same building so that makes easier too) as does his swiss counterpoint. I go back to the borderman who first met me and he waves me on, "you're ok" he tells me. I rejoin my guys in the boat and we drive on to basil which is right up. it's funny, you hear all this back home about "they hate us" and what better place to get hassled then a border where you hand the officer a passport saying "u.s.a." real plain on the cover and they could so easy give you major shit and we've gotten nothing but respect and niceness - not just from them but folks on the streets and on the gigs in the lands we've been in. it's plain there's some disagreement w/some policy and/or voting choices in regards to our "beauty contests" but it's obvious people can separate that w/how you are as a person and conduct yourself. it's really ok - I wish more u.s. folks would come over and visit, get to know these folks and let them get to have more than just images to get opinions on us too. we're all little embassadors in a way or at least potential ones. anyway, we pass through bern and then on to fribourg - this town is where the line between german and french speaking swiss is. we have no map so I stop at a gas station but the lady can't help cuz I'm a retard w/french and can't communicate. a map costs like six swiss francs and I have none of those yet. I drive us to the next one a block up and the man there can help me w/some english and directs me to the train station in the middle of town. he confuses left w/right (pointing one way but saying the english word for the other) but it helps us much cuz there's a big city map I let paul out to go have a look-see and we're soon right on target, 'pert-near no wander at all. this is the third time I've played here but it's hard to remember the street layouts in these towns cuz there's no "grid" to it like we're used to in u.s., instead it's all curvy and very small streets. we're doing pretty good though w/the challenges each time we ride in, I think. this pad is called fri-son and soundman pascal lets us in to load. I'm so glad they've set up another stage on the other side of the building since I was last here cuz it's more suited to what I do. his colleague manu helps us set up for a soundcheck. trippy, there's a giant mirror ball done up like a skull or maybe it's the other way around... this motherfucker's huge, almost a person-sized and it's help up w/a big ol' chain from the roof. the ceilings really high so maybe some sonic challenges but whatever. we do soundcheck and then bosslady julia says chow is being made here. I remember last time I played this pad how good the chow was, maybe the french stuff in the culture gets into the chow cuz it was cooked up real good. I go and chimp tour spiel in this dressing room that has an interesting sticker on the mirror - it's for a band called sugarplum fairy and what looks like the main guy is trying to look pretty tough... I gotta show paul this.
chow's about to come on and I meet the opening band, some cats from geneva called what's wrong w/us? that's an interesting name. they're very cool people and the soundman is from croatia and asks me about the zagreb gig. he moved to switzerland in 1996. we get to talking about stuff like "turbo folk" and he said even some people here might get into that... the mentality, really. I saw a poster for cece in salzburg I think - I think it was there. she's a big turbo folk singer and is really popular... she was married to this arkan guy that was major war crime material. he tells me maybe he really didn't get killed and at the same time he said a big thing that's helped his homeland is their boss tudjman dying. you know, in salzburg, hans was telling me that austria was mixed up somehow in the balkan stuff (hans uses his eyes big time to illustrate his points, bulging them out like someone would do by using underlining or bold type to do the same thing - I dig can dig it). he said stuff is still coming out about that. I think we all gotta learn from all the hurt that went down to help to get it together better... all this keeps coming up on me on this tour but I know it's not for some esoteric or obsessive reason on my part - it's a hurt than has much to ponder on. last summer this guy in serbia said "what if the kkk took over your governmnet for a while?" yeah, what if... I guess everybody thinks that it's too crazy or only "those people" could do that. these are nationalist things or maybe like one would say in their own country: patriotism, cuz that's a good word, only the others would be nationalist. is it weird to have this written about this in a punk rocker's tour spiel? I am biased sort of cuz I travel between towns, between nations, between peoples. it's a perspective others might have to only imagine like for me just being still, only to roost and not to roam. all the levels of perspective though, it can get you dizzy. the world here through san pedro eyes... but then how much of a "normal" pedro dude actually am I? no deep mystery (for me, anyway) why I was attracted to punk rock. shit, I'm actually from virginia anyway - none of us three minutemen are original to pedro (d. boon from napa in nor cal and georgie from brockton, mass) yet we are seen totally joined w/our town by the hip. it's not where you're from, it's where you're at. makes me think of aleksandar back at dinner in zagreb telling us of his family roots in the old yugoslavia - all over and under. like what seems to be the most consistent lesson I'm being hit over the head w/by life: try and back down a little off the high horse. damn, I like to even purge the badge-buff I detect even in the very words I use to condemn self-importance. maximum handwring, huh? tossisng seas in my head.
the chow starts w/a righteous tomato soup (w/beets in it), the a salad, then veggies, then chicken and a rice/asparagus thing - all cooked up from scratch and incredible, the best chow of the tour. oh my dear. such nice cats here. wow. yeah, wow! the what's wrong w/me? band people are quite interesting to talk to also. soon they start their set and they're really wild, like an avant garde and (sort of) cabaret (almost) thing about them - totally original. the bottom is handled by a cat on bass sax and I don't know how he keeps from not keeling over from headrushes cuz he goes and goes - great bass lines though. the drummer is really great too, all this trippy percussion from him and he's scored out all these moves for all of the parts in the tunes - yeah, great! I can really get into him. the guitarist follows the singer w/his unique style - maybe a classical background even - not a lot of chuck berry here. the singer is her own lady, for sure. I liked this band.
it's our turn but first a lady from the u.s. comes to say hi - she's teaching kindergarten here but me and the secondmen konked at her pad in pensacola a few tours back. how can you konk in someone's pad and not remember their name? life so tied to the moment that the one you're in shoves out all the one's that've been. one reason I started getting going on chimping these spiels: training for watt on more than just one level. we deliver the piece and paul's getting his sound more integrated w/me and raul. come to think of it, maybe the trio thing is kind of new to him where there's such hand-offs - even w/the tons of years of music in him. I tried to illustrate earlier today coming into town letting go and having someone direct you by showing him how in the boat, I try and keep us safe but totally take his lead at navigating cuz my perspective in that moment is too narrow. he's getting the picture. in a way, it's easier for raul cuz he's so new to the whole deal I've thrown at him that he has 'pert-near nothing old to go by. both my guys are beautiful in their generosity though, their willingness to try this w/all their will. of course, there's the plain mechanical craziness of the world to contend w/as evident by my four-gig-old mic just quitting like that in the middle of "burstedman" - a good place to have it happen though as manu scrambles w/mic cables - "it couldn't be a brand new mic, could it?" supposes watt and how wrong I am - many thanks to manu. I had paul continue the riff through the whole dilemma... he started to slump and I tell him not to relax his body language - there's more to a gig than just rhythm and notes. raul was unsure too but I tell him to hold off and then we get things back going w/a house mic to replace my dead one. the show goes on... I have more distractions - one of my cords - the finder one w/the right angle plug has been fucking up big time and here I thought it was cheap-shit connectors on my pedal board - nope! I'm getting rid of this frustrater first thing at soundcheck tomorrow but in the meantime, I gotta keep twisting it around to get signal from my bass to the amp... aaaaaarrrrgggggghhhhhhh! the fribourg folks are very forgiving though and even dance through lots of the piece, especially "pluckin', pedalin' and paddlin'." much respect to them, truly.
I feel I could've done better and unworthy of all the nice things from the cats in their french accents while I sling when we're finished. all the niceness shown to us in this town today/tonight. it's a late one, maybe the furthest into the a.m. of the tour, we got done playing at like 1:30, whoa. bosslady julia let's us keep the stuff in the boat cuz there's a cold rain out. she's been the best for us and made things righteous. to get a chance to work for people like her, a blessing. I've been so lucky about that most the time in these years touring, I can't figure the karma exactly but it does keep me grounded much not to ever take things for granted. she even helps out w/the mic manu and pascal came to the rescue w/for me during the gig. much, much respect and big love. back in the boat, we follow her to where we stopped during the day to the look at the map - the 'tel is right there! three bells now and man, am I spent. gigs take a lot out of watt. so does life.
I'm here to learn.
read week 1 of the tour diary
read week 3 of the tour diary
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