Monday, November 23, 2015

Nurse the Hate: Euro Tour Diary 2015 Day 9 Berlin

I get up early and walk around Wilhelmshaven.  There isn’t much to see.  Sure, I could maybe put in a good walk and go to a naval museum, but let’s not lose our minds.  It’s a long drive to Berlin.  I walk to a café to sit by myself for awhile.  A hillbilly family with crying child sit next to me and the mood is ruined.  Hillbilly single mothers in sweatpants with no control over their children is no longer just an Ohio thing.  It's gone global.  I go back to the Kling Klang to load out, and grab a quick breakfast.  I learn that I do not have the technique all Euros possess for hard boiled eggs.  I am sternly scolded for not knowing how to effortlessly remove the shell from my egg and eat it without leaving shell fragments all over the area.  Despite my defense of this being very un-American, the Roths do not care.  I will point out that I learned rather quickly while Sugar’s egg looks like it was torn apart by raccoons.  In the future I will insist on scrambled and avoid this whole debacle.

We drive forever and pull over at an Autobahn rest stop.  An abandoned guard tower sits next to the highway, a reminder of the divide between East and West Germany.  This was the line.  Right here.  The bland Soviet style tower should have been enough to convince the East that things couldn’t possibly end well in that Communist worker’s paradise.  The Soviet era lack of style was really amazing.  Even now you can instantly spot travelers from Eastern Europe by their awful clothes and ugly shoes.  

One of the real issues faced by Berlin as a city is that the old Western portion was essentially an island.  The best way in was via air.  The unified Germany brought the highway system together, but a ring of highway surrounding the city for easy access was never planned and executed.  Therefore the highway essentially dumps you into Berlin and you drive local streets to get where you need to go.  It is very common to spend an hour driving to something just a couple miles away.  We are crawling our way through the city, which is one of the planet’s great places.  It really resembles a long shambling East Village in New York that sprawls and sprawls.  It’s a city of neighborhoods.

We pull in by the club where we essentially abandon the giant van outside of a bodega.  There is nowhere to park in Berlin.  Don’t even try.  Standing on the sidewalk is our friend Tobi, aka “Dirty Schatzman”.  Tobi is a treat.  He is easily the most extroverted man in all of Germany, quick with a joke and a laugh.  This is always explained away in complete seriousness with a “He is half Spanish” by all his German friends.  Tobi has a child with our friend Mirjana that he shares custody with in his home city, and is now having another child with his girlfriend Steffi.  I have the sneaking suspicion he drives both of these women crazy, and I instantly see a major opportunity for a reality show.  The show will be called “4+1=Fun”.  We will place Tobi, his girl Steffi, his ex Mirjana, and his son Milo in a too small apartment, add in his infant and maybe even a sexy nanny if ratings are sluggish.  The resulting fighting and tension will be TV gold!  Tobi and Steffi’s friends instantly sign on.  I am now in development talks.  I expect to be a major German TV producer within 6 months.  

I sit outside with Tobi, Steffi, Tobi’s lawyer, and their friends at a long table drinking local beer.  It’s a nice night.  Soundcheck goes smoothly though I’m cranky from lack of sleep.  The people at Wild At Heart know us from years of playing there.  It is good to be back in Berlin.  We get a meal next door at the Tiki themed restaurant.  I really want to drink a Berliner Weisse style beer, a particular old sour style of beer that has recently been revived.  The waitress has no idea what I am talking about, and everyone local thinks I am talking about an awful concoction of beer and sour mix that pours electric green.  I am assured this is what I am requesting.  It isn’t.  I drink it anyway.

Antje, Sugar, Leo and I go for a walk in the Kreuzberg neighborhood of Berlin.  We stumble into a craft beer store where I finally find my Berliner Weisse.  Once again Europe shows the way to the good life by allowing drinking on the streets.  I open my Berliner Weisse.  Sugar buys something called "monkey gin".  There is a very good chance she might go blind after drinking that.  We walk past a St. Pauli team shop, unfortunately closed.  I'm disappointed I can't get any St. Pauli gear.  I have no real clue as to how to club has played this season, but their graphics are amongst the best in all sports.  Add in that they are the unofficial official team of the counterculture, and this is really the only must-have sports apparel in Europe.  I wish we had more time here.  There is a real energy on the streets.  We head back to the club.

The Wild At Heart stage is in the very back of the club.  I remember a Cowslingers show here that was packed to the gills.  Every single person in the room was a heavy smoker.  When I stepped up on the stage I recall my lungs almost giving out.  It wasn’t a “performance” so much as “survival” that had my focus.  Tonight it’s really crowded in the back as well.  Those cigarette warnings must be having some effect as it is at least bearable.  We are on muscle memory at this point and crank through a well played set.  The crowd really likes it, and we keep playing after the set was supposed to finish.  I think I recognize a guy from Mad Sin, who I saw a long time ago at the Beachland.  There’s a bunch of vaguely familiar people in the room.  Maybe it’s just that look of the scene?  It’s hard to be sure.  

I head to the dressing room to hang out with Mosh and his female companion who speaks little English.  I feel really badly for her as she has to stare at an unintelligible American cowboy talk to her boyfriend for an hour.  There’s only so many cigarettes a girl can smoke.  Christoph and I finish up the tour finances.  One of the bar owners brings back a tray of shots.  It feels bittersweet to be at the end of this tour.  There are so many more places I’d like to go.  

The issue we have now is time.  Specifically too much time.  Our flight leaves at 945am from the Berlin Airport.  It is currently 4am.  We made the decision to forgo the hotel as it made no sense to check into a hotel at 445am to check out at 7am.  This leaves no other logical course of action than to head to the #1 late night spot in Berlin, the doner shop.  For those of you unfamiliar with this late night treat, a doner is a Euro version of the gyro.  These shops are always run by Turks.  Always.  If you are drunk and hungry and the sun is about to come up, Berlin has two options which are available at every turn.  The doner or currywurst.  Currywurst is a sausage chopped into pieces and smothered in a spicy curry based ketchup.  As a man about to step into an airplane for 9 hours, a paper plate of spicy sausage seems like an irresponsible choice.  I go chicken doner.  It’s 445 am.  We head to the airport to be dropped off like livestock.

Christoph has a hell drive ahead of him as he will need to take the gear back to Wurzberg, drop the van off, get his car, and drive back to his Swabian Wonderland.   At this point I have no empathy for him as I now have five hours to kill in an airport with almost no amenities.  We try to figure a way to sleep on the steel seats in the lobby.  At one point I crawl under the benches to see if I can make a comfortable nest on the cold tile.  Nothing works.  I am awake.  It’s 630am.  I try to talk us into the Lufthansa Admiral’s Lounge when I notice the desk clerk’s AC/DC tour laminate and say “I see you like AC/DC.  You know we are a rock band on tour…”.  It works.  The Lufthansa Admiral’s Lounge is where high income white collar travelers relax to avoid the Great Unwashed in the common areas.  They must all be wondering why an evil looking leprechaun is sleeping with his mouth open in their special area.

Security is a hassle.  Boarding takes forever.  I watch crappy movies and try to fall asleep.  I just can’t sleep on planes.  I smell like a combination of stale smoke, sweat, and tour funk.  I almost feel sorry for the woman sitting next to me, but I’m too tired to care.  We land in Newark.  Security is a hassle.  Boarding takes forever.  We land back at CLE.  I finally go to sleep at 845pm on Sunday, which is really 245am Monday German time.  I had been awake for 42 consecutive hours.  When I wake up I have to go to a sales meeting at 830am.  Shortly afterwards I am doing makegoods for commercials in the Merideth Viera Show.   
What the hell happened?    

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Nurse the Hate: 2015 Euro Tour Day 8 Wilhelmshaven

Breakfast is early as we have a long drive.  The Dutch do breakfast differently.  As this is a B&B, and a folksy one at that, this is pretty typical.  These folks love putting sprinkles on everything.  Get yourself a slice of bread, spread on some Nutella, and sprinkle it up with chocolate, candy sprinkles, or maybe bits of cookie.  Maybe they do gum drops and pixie stix too.  I don’t know.  Christoph looks at the situation and takes a piece of cheese.  “Sprinkles?  It makes no sense.  Never!”  There will be no sprinkles for the German boy.  Brother Dege doesn't do sprinkles either.  Leo?  He sprinkles it up, but then again he is probably high.  

We head back towards Germany making a couple of desperate last stops for more Chocomel for Christoph to lord over his friends.  The cans start to roll around in the LSD Trips van.  The rest stops here in Belgium/Holland have these weird little automats filled with what can only be called “deep fried delights”.  It is like a Speedway gas station, but where in America we would have a cooler with crappy sugar drinks, they have a wall with little PO box looking windows with deep fried cubes and stuff on sticks.  You put in a coin and pull out the deep fried crap.  A half dozen people stand by the wall of windows to pull out these various brown fried squares and tubes filled with God knows what.  I buy Leo a brown rectangle to see what’s inside.  I get him a hot curry sauce because I figure he will eat anything with hot sauce on it.  It turns out to be a brick of breaded deep fried noodles.  After that curry sauce, I am predicting an Operation Mad Ape within the hour.

We roll into Wilhelmshaven, a small tough town on the North Sea.  This is probably hopping in the summer as a place to sail and pleasure boat.  Now it is chilly with a foreboding gray sky blanketing the region.  This would be a great place to be a retired U-Boat captain.  I could see strolling around smoking a pipe talking wistfully about the transport ships I had sent to the bottom "during the troubles".  I would need to grow a beard first though.  Who has that kind of time?  We need to get this mountain of gear inside.  After load in Sugar, Leo and I walk marketstrasse to look at the shabby discount shops.  In three blocks there are ten (10) bakeries, all of which do a brisk business.  Logically one would expect these people to all be 700 pounds.  Hell, I feel like I have put on 10 pounds this week alone.  Yet, slim women eat 2000 calorie pastries at café tables without a care in the world.  

We walk into a mall.  Leo buys what is purported to be a traditional seafaring cap.  He actually does look like a Euro longshoreman.  They try to sell me a captain’s hat, but that is going just too damn far.  I haven't grown that beard yet.  I pass.  Sugar buys this weird silver disco shorts unitard from a Chinese run thrift store.  I don't know what she is going to do with that.  Solve crimes maybe?  We try to keep the local economy humming with an espresso purchase, Leo enjoying his 37th pretzel of the week.  We have done everything there is to do in marketstrasse.  We head back.

The gig tonight is at the hometown of our booking agent Jens.  He has paired us with a local metal band called Hellhead.  It seems like an odd pairing.  They are having a CD and video release party at this show while opening for us.  They are guys about our age that have been weened on Metallica and Iron Maiden.  They do an updated version of that type of stuff but sung in German.  It is unusual for bands to sing in German, which I find odd.  I know I can't write lyrics in German, so why do they write in English?  Perhaps the American cultural influence is too strong.  After all, there are two things we do better than anyone; entertainment and blowing things up with military might, often at the same time.  To think we used to build things...  What an age!  Hellhead brings out local friends and family in great numbers.  Everyone is in great spirits.  This is looking like a doomsday scenario.  What I foresee is a bunch of their older work friends immediately catapulting out of here the second after these guys finish their triumphant victory lap.  I don’t want to go into that room that was packed full and play to nobody.  I’m concerned and on edge.

We try to set up to play quickly, trying to get up and rolling before anyone in the Hellhead crowd has any real idea another band just started.  We can win them over if we get the chance.  We are set up.  Ready.  "Hey man... I gotta go find my gig shirt."  Leo must be doing this to give me a nervous breakdown.  The room of people are staring at us and I'm standing at the mic.  And you want to go change now?  I know I am being really uptight about this, but for fuck's sake, this is literally the only thing you need to have your shit together for all day.  It's the only reason we flew across the Atlantic.  You have literally had an entire afternoon to do nothing but be ready to play when it's time, and now you are going to begin to look for your clothes.  I am going to explode.  I have so much white rage going when we start to play, I feel like Teenage Henry Rollins.  When Gary has to tune his guitar I wonder if I am going to stroke out.  I should point out, I have completely lost my mind from lack of sleep and a steady stream of Jever beer. Despite or because of this (I'm not sure), the show goes great.  The crowd sort of transitions from the metal heads to our people.  There is much frivolity.  It's a really good night.

When we finish I really get a sense of how drunk these people are...  They might have all just come ashore from being on a merchant marine ship for the last 4 months.  One guy in a motorcycle jacket stumbles around the bar laughing and trying to keep his balance.  He fails.  His friends pick him up.  Antje sits down next to me in a booth and we observe the chaos.  I start to invent names for everyone.  Leo and Sugar almost go to some shaky sounding rockabilly dance party at someone's house but Leo (Leo!) advises against it when it sounds dicey.  We have an early morning tomorrow to get to Berlin.  I get a local wheat beer.  The band apartment is upstairs.  It isn't going anywhere.  

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Nurse the Hate: Euro Tour Diary 2015 Day 7 Utrecht

Day 7 Utrecht Holland

Cars fly by us on the Autobahn.  I have somehow once again bungled my opportunity to rent a Porsche 911 GT in Stuttgart and drive as fast as an F1 race car on the highway.  I need to get one of those.  The 911 drivers appear to be much more content than we are chugging along in our LSD Trips van.  Then again they probably aren’t listening to the Alcohol Stunt Band like we are, the magic of Chris Crofton winning new converts in the Fatherland.  We cross into the Netherlands and stop at a truck stop where Christoph hurries in to secure two packs of Chocomel, some insanely rich chocolate milk drink in slim Red Bull size cans.  Also available are cans of Elephant Malt Liquor, Europe’s version of Colt 45.

Christoph tells us about the last time he “spoke to the Elephant”.  He was unemployed briefly so his favorite thing became going out on a Monday and getting totally wasted.  He really liked the idea of people thinking “what the hell is wrong with that guy?  It’s Monday for Christsakes!”.  So in this particular incident Christoph and his friends get three giant cans of the Elephant and knock them back in short order.  These things pack a 10% wallop, so this is no joke.  In no time at all they arrive at the hardcore show where he is already almost totally incoherent.  He keeps the party going at the club outside with friends.  This activity hits him like a freight train.  By the time the headliner hits the stage he is literally sleeping on his feet in the back of the venue.  He is totally comatose at a hardcore show.  It reminds me of the time our old bass player Tony fell asleep in front of the Cynics backline at the Electric Banana.  It seems impossible.  When his friends eventually carry him outside, he barfs all over the entrance of the club, making it impossible to leave the show without sashaying through his vomit.  Rock and roll.  I immediately start texting his friends in Germany to get a copy of a picture from that night. 

We roll into the Bed and Breakfast to get the keys to where we are staying.  It’s a pretty weird scene.  A tiny road is abutted on either side by canals.  Central casting has sent people pedaling through on bicycles.  Ducks lazily cruise in the canals.  We struggle to not drive into a canal with the big van.  The B&B is an old farmhouse, and by “old” I mean 1600s.  Not 1965.  There is a really nice sort of hippie family that runs the place.  We have stayed here before and I remember how friendly everyone was in the morning.  The main room that must have housed the animals has been converted into some kind of jam area with small amps and bongos.  I have a vision of the family doing shaky versions of Grateful Dead songs.  Crazy steps that are really little more than ladders are the only way to get upstairs to our loft room.  There are six bunk beds with a handwritten sign suggesting crawling out a space if there is a fire.  Hmm, that’s reassuring.

As we check in we see a middle aged guy with a man bun in the driveway smoking a hand rolled cigarette or some hash.  It’s sort of hard to tell which.  Gary blows right by him dragging his suitcase to the ladder, I mean “stairs”.  I stop to introduce myself and am surprised to find out that he’s American.  He invites us to see him play some rock n roll tonight at a club, which turns out to be the same club we are playing.  His name is Brother Dege and he is the opener.  I see Leo working his way into his inner circle after the gig after he mentions that this is his first show after a stay in Amsterdam.

We leave for the club at the same time as the Brother Dege crew.  It has become apparent it is very important for Christoph to make it to the venue before those other guys, so much so that he drives across a pedestrian walkway and almost knocks down the fence to get there first.  Another small victory for Christoph in a contest only he was aware of entering.  I’m happy for him when the Brother Dege van drives in as we are unloading.  A victory for German precision.  We roll the road cases into dBs.

dBs is one of those Euro clubs that is a co-operative performance space, bar, practice space, café, coffee house, meeting place, and maybe school.  The club itself is a medium sized space with a massive professional sound system.  A little blonde Dutch girl adjusts the lighting rigs.  The sound man has a shaved head, as all sound men must.  It is so professional here it is almost a shock to our systems.  I always like the air of chaos in a room.  I like to wonder what is going to go wrong.  This seems to be engineered to make the performance ideal for both stage and audience.  Danny, the show minder, is a really nice kid that makes sure we feel comfortable.  I saunter over to the bar to peruse the Belgian beers on offer.

I am delighted to see LaChouffe on tap.  That little gnome has never let me down, though it is a dangerous devil to dance with more than once.  I stay with what I know and bypass a couple of other beers with smiling cartoon characters on the labels.  If there is one thing I can impress upon you it is the need to treat these smiling Belgian beers with the respect you would a rattlesnake.  The more harmless the label appears, the greater the chance you will wake up with a new Korean wife and a tattoo on your forehead.  In fact, I will bet that is what happened to the lead bartender, who sports a tattoo of a flame on his forehead.  I sit contentedly with my LaChouffe amongst the animated patrons and wait for Brother Dege to begin.

The guys in his band have never played together.  This is literally their first time.  Dege yells out chord changes on the trance hippie blues.  These guys are all really good players and adjust to where Dege decides to go.  There is a lot of fog being blown around on stage and he sings some song where he says the word “motherfucker” about 58 times.  People seem to like it pretty well.  They finish and we get set up.

Remember how I said that this gig was engineered to take out any chance that anything could go wrong?  Literally two seconds into it my boot heel catches my microphone cable and it goes dead.  I grab Leo’s mic from the boom stand and sing the rest of the song from the limited area allowed by his chord.  I sort of look like Tony Bennet in a cowboy hat barely able to move around.  A short time later Gary breaks a string.  I didn’t know he broke a string because I didn’t hear him say anything about a broken string, so I assume he is tuning and have a quick intro.  “Ladies and gents… This is the song!”  I look left and Gary’s face is scrunched up trying to needle a string through a hole in his guitar.  Oh shit.  It is not easy to fill a long stretch of time speaking off the cuff to people that don’t speak English as their primary language.  I do my best.  It wasn’t that good.  Gary winds up switching his guitar out and we finish the set.  It is surprisingly very well received and we even get a couple of encores led by some guys yelling out of their diaphragms.  "YEEEAAAAGGGHHHHH!!!!"  I need to learn that trick.

The club clears really quickly.  We head back to the farmhouse.   It’s raining.  We try not to drive into the canal and drown, which isn’t easy as Christoph is as blind as a bat and refuses to get glasses.  We were instructed to be quiet when we get back by the woman that runs the place, so we retreat to our bunks and open some beers called Kompaan Bond Genoot.  I don’t know how to pronounce it, but they were good.  Eventually I have to go to Europe’s smallest toilet, which is right down the hall.  I have been in bathrooms in pleasure boats which are larger.  I literally cannot square my shoulders to urinate in the toilet so have to turn at an angle with the door open to accomplish the task.  I make a note to try and launch an Operation Mad Ape in there in the morning just for the experience.  

Tom, the slide player for Brother Dege comes by to hang out.  We talk about his home of Galway Ireland, and what he claims to be a vibrant roots music club scene in Ireland.  If an Irish promoter is reading this, we will come over to play.  I’d really like to see what’s doing over there.  Tom is a friendly guy.  It was nice to have met him.  He gives me some contacts over there which I put into my phone; undoubtedly to forget about and wonder what they are when I re-discover them in a few months.  I climb into my top bunk to discover Sugar stole my pillow.  Damn her.  I struggle off the bunk to scare up a new pillow.  Mission accomplished I climb back up and spend the night knocking a stick used to open a rigged skylight off the ceiling into my legs every 30 minutes.     

Monday, November 16, 2015

Nurse the Hate: Euro Tour Diary Day 6 Karlsruhe

Day 6 Karlsruhe

We decide to get up and not shower until we check into our hotel in Karlsruhe.  The facilities here in the band apartment are not exactly luxurious.  The hotel will be better.  We get moving and do the unsavory load out.  Let me tell you, after a night of apple wine and five herb gin, loading out road cases up two flights of stairs is no way to start the day.  We roll out and grab espressos and gas station sandwiches at the first stop.  As opposed to risking your life in the United States while eating gas station food, the German counterpart is a fresh crispy crusted bread with good quality ingredients.  It is a crime that these and Subway sandwiches are both considered to be the same food item.  I see Leo get involved with a massive sausage that beckoned him from the well lit tube in the corner.  That is served on a paper plate with a roll on the side.  I don’t know why it is considered to be good form to pick up the meat and dip the roll in mustard as opposed to a hot dog system, but that’s the way they roll here.  I tried to make a hot dog out of one once in Dresden and some guy walked past and said “barbarous”.  Tradition must be observed, travelers take note.

We get to Karlsruhe with too much time on our hands.  This is not exactly an action packed hot spot.  Normally every city has a decent art museum or interesting old city center.  Not this one.  It’s a college town but seems to lack that strip of stores all other college towns have of cheap Indian food, bong stores, Bob Marley posters and run down bars.  One universal truth is that all college kids are under the impression that they discovered marijuana and no one else knows about it yet.  It’s kind of cute actually.

The main point of interest is in the center of town, some old palace with a museum.  We decide to park the enormous van nearby and check out the immediate area.  Leo needs to go to a bank to get some cash exchanged.  He sees a bank logo on an office building but it doesn’t offer a retail location within it.  I point out that this is an office location just like a second building just down the street.  “Dude… Why would they put two locations in the same area without offering a counter to help people?”  It is clearly another office and my insistent position that it is exactly like the Key Bank building downtown in Cleveland falls on deaf ears.  He walks off on his doomed mission. 

Sugar and I walk to the palace.  There is an observation tower that requires us to walk 700 stairs to the top.  It is well worth it for the sprawling view of the well thought out civic planning.  I’ve got to hand it to them.  These Germans are organized.  Sugar and I try to find Leo by yelling “…leo…” very quietly on top of the observation deck.  It proves fruitless, so we go off to get a snack.

I will tell you something about myself.  I am very decisive.  I will tell you something about Sugar.  She is very indecisive.  I walk up to a traditional streetside grill and within six seconds order Germany’s saltiest hamburger patty with a side of potatoes and onions.  As Sugar can spend 30 minutes in a Speedway considering her choices, a full steam table of unfamiliar foods is a real mindbender.  She panics.  "Wait!  Wait! What are you doing?  I thought we were getting pastry and coffee!  Wait!"  She winds up getting a massive cut of ham with a pound of potatoes and onions.  Just a light afternoon snack.  If you were an NFL offensive lineman.  She bargains with me to take a Styrofoam container of leftovers into the van.  No way I want to ride around the German countryside with a fermenting ham loaf and onions.  “I’ll give it to Leo!”  Deal.

The Hotelwelt Kuebler lets us check in around 330p.  It’s a really quirky place.  Clowns, antiques, multi person bikes, stuffed pheasants, 1970s living room pits, wooden traditional chairs, a merry-go-round horse, a wine barrel converted into a sitting area, and an underground bar combine in the manic decorating scheme.  None of it makes any sense.  This place has seen better days.  I bet it hosts cashed strapped couples for sad weddings.  I have this image of thin paper table coverings, balloons flapping in the breeze, and beers in a washtub while the hotel staff brings mismatching silverware to the guests to pick around their food on plastic plates.  The wedding guests all grimly smile and pretend the reception isn't the bleakest thing ever.  It is shabby and magical all at once.   I sort of like it.  It’s like a hotel devised by John Irving. 

Christoph and I share a room.  We go past the stuffed game birds down to the end of the hall.  Christoph turns on his “information machine” (i.e. computer) to scour the internet for tidbits on obscure metal/punk bands and social disasters of friends.  I write a Defend Cleveland column.  I take a shower and opt to leave on only the Xmas style lights across the bathroom borders like I am a member of KC and the Sunshine Band in 1977.  I sing disco songs in the shower.  We head to the club. 

The Alte Hackerei is a club complex that used to be a slaughterhouse for livestock.  The largest room is a theater where a long line of young people wait to get inside to see something that turns out to be new metal band Bullet For My Valentine.  “Do not worry Mr. Jagger.  They are not hear to see you!”, Christoph says with a laugh.  I have absolutely no idea who the band is but apparently a lot of other people do.  We load in to our club for a quick soundcheck before yielding the stage to a local band called Tom Mess.  My voice is getting dodgy after being in all of these smoky rooms.  When I am diagnosed with lung cancer this Spring it will be because of nights in Frankfurt and the Café Limba.  I hope my cancer loosens up during the set.

We get dinner at a local restaurant called Zweibel.  Christoph suggests passing the hotel key to the waitress “Café Limba style”.  This was the way we had become convinced that a suitor in the Black Forest would make his intentions known to the apple of his eye.  Our theory of the “key pass” was to take a major hit the following day.  We learned that when Sugar had been given the keys a couple of days ago at Café Limba, it was only a guy from the hotel passing her the keys for what was supposed to be our hotel.  It was not an invitation to a crazy sex party.  We received a call from the hotel asking us where the hell their hotel keys were and why didn’t we stay in the rooms?  Oops.  The keys join the growing pile of items we have mistakenly taken with us around Germany.

Antje and her friend Porsche have driven from Stuttgart to see us.  This is not surprising as Sugar has created a coven with these two.  They may have already learned some crazy ass spells from the Alps.  Tom Mess starts playing, and it is sort of like a lighter version of Gaslight Anthem.  They’re pretty good.  They are also nice guys that Leo use a cymbal and special snare.  We play and my voice comes back.  Hey, what do you know?

This is one of those weird shows that remind me of the first times we used to come over here to play.  It can be hard to tell if the crowd is disinterested or extremely attentive as they give you very little back.  I tell some stories in between songs when Gary tunes or Leo adjusts his kit.  They seem won over at the end and give us a nice unexpected encore.  After the show a guy says to me, “Every time you open your mouth it is funny.  I was quiet but smile ear to ear.  I did not want to miss anything.”  That does not happen in the States where I find most people have an attention span of roughly 16 seconds.

Leo heads up a hash smoking party outside at the bier garten picnic tables.  I sign LPs for fans.  Sugar orders the bar’s specialty drink called the “Kung Fu Tiger” to enjoy with her ice pack on her arm.  The drink arrives with an umbrella and a guarantee of a headache in the morning.  A crowd of young adults gather around a guy in the corner.  They are all waiting to have their picture taken with him.  It appears one of the Bullet For My Valentine guys has come over for a drink after their show and the horde of kids followed him over.  One of the kids comes up to me.  “That is so and so from Bullet From My Valentine.  Do you want to go over and meet him?”  I mean, no disrespect, but I’m not a 17 year old metal fan.  I don’t even know who the fuck that band is. The guy seems like a perfectly nice guy and all, but this room is also filled with other people I haven’t met yet.  I tell the kid if that guy wants to meet me, I will be over here by the bar.  I do not meet Bullet For My Valentine guy.

We head back to the weird hotel with the plan of being wheels up by 10am.  It’s a long drive to Holland tomorrow.  Christoph opens up one of the beers he clipped from the backstage and turns on his Information Machine.  I fall asleep to the sound of the underground Turkish rap on his computer.