Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Nurse the Hate: 2015 Euro Tour Diary Day One, Lorrach

Day One- Lorrach

The flights happen without incident.  This is a rare case of me flying with the rest of the band as I normally use frequent flier points and get placed on other options.  Traveling with Leo it is important to be prepared.  I have already memorized the German phrase “Das ist nicht von mir. Das ist Leo’s . Bitte nehmen Sie mich zu meinem embassy”.  This translates to “That is not mine.  That is Leo’s.  Please take me to my embassy.”  I just hope I can remember it when I am being flailed with batons at the border.

I sit next to a guy with the worst travel day I have ever heard.  Chicago to Frankfurt to Kuwait City to some shit city in Afghanistan sitting on a jump seat on a cargo plane to try and track down a helicopter to get set down in a huge base somewhere else.  He is a construction project manager that makes $125,000 a year.  The downside is that he lives in a cinder block bunker with a roommate and spends his off time watching downloaded movies.  He could go off the base but he would need a group of guys with machine guns and hope a bomb doesn’t go off near him.  He spends 10 months a year like that and is somehow still married. No thanks.

The toughest part of transatlantic travel is the first day.  The whole experience is a great magic trick.  A person climbs into a metal tube.  The next seven hours are spent eating bad food and watching crappy movies.  Then you get out of the tube and it is morning in a place where everyone speaks in a manner you cannot understand.  There is a technique however.  It is a six hour time change, so generally when the airplane lands it is early morning where you have arrived.  You have to adjust to your new time zone, so that means the first day is spent staying awake.  There can be no sleep.  You just have to power it out.  Everything becomes dreamlike and murky due to lack of sleep.

We have a routine after having done this so many times.  Christoph is driving us again.  He is a detail obsessed punctual German stereotype.  He will pick us up in the van at a pre arranged time/place in the van we rent from a company called LSD Trips.  Why a company that rents vans to rock bands has decided it is prudent to paint “LSD Trips” on the side of their vans is unclear.  Perhaps “Fuck the Police” or “Support Smugglers” was too wordy.  Every single time we have been in one of their vans we have been pulled over by German police. “Das ist nicht von mir. Das ist Leo’s . Bitte nehmen Sie mich zu meinem embassy.” 

In Germany the police can pull you over and search the car if the fancy strikes them.  There is no concept of “just cause”.  It is very unsettling to have German police demanding to “see your papers”.  I always think that I will end up in a spartan room with a single light bulb where a sinister man in a black trench coat will calmly sit down and question me in terse language.  He will never identify what organization he is from or what he is looking for, but there will be no doubt his authority is absolute.  “Herr Miller… It is, how do we say?  Interesting?  That you have come to Germany and claim to have no information about recent events involving the smuggling of refugees…”  Eventually I will be left crying and writing out some sort of “confession of crimes against Germany”.

We have to go to Wurzburg to get our rented gear.  One of the most common questions I get when people discover we play overseas is “How do you get your equipment over there?”.  The answer is that you don’t.  Even if you wanted to pay the mammoth expense of shipping it over there, once the amps arrived they wouldn’t work because it is a different electrical system.  We bring our guitars, a snare drum, bass drum pedal, cymbals, and my microphone.  That means we rent everything else.  This leads to little businesses like Navigator, who has rented our gear for years.  When we first started renting from him he was in a modest little garage.  Now he has a huge warehouse in an industrial park with a mountain of top quality backline.  There is no doubt he will make more money on most tours than the artists he rents the equipment.

We pick up the gear and head further south to Lorrach.  This is a small town on the Swiss/French border with Germany.  BMWs and Audis rocket past us on the autobahn.  I try to stay awake in the front seat.  I fall asleep in the middle of a story Christoph is telling me.  Sugar starts snoring behind me loud enough to wake me up.  We drive and drive.  The sun goes down.  At complete nightfall we reach the club.  It is 7pm.  I don’t even know what that really means at this point.  I walked into the Cleveland Airport late afternoon on Thursday.  Now it’s 7pm Friday and I still haven’t had any real rest.  We have arrived for our first show.

Heimat Hafen is a well put together club with a pirate nautical theme.  I have no idea if we are near any body of water so I question if there are any real pirates around.  This is coming from a guy from Ohio in a cowboy hat.  I walk in and immediately get a Lasser Pils.  My gameplan is to keep a constant flow of this pilsner going into me to make it through the show.  A rookie might slam coffee and energy drinks, but that will only result in a sleepless night that will result in complete madness and insanity on Day 2.  I have found that if I tie on a manageable buzz, I can surf through these rough waters and make it standing to the next day.  I will drink this frankly outstanding beer, play the show, and then fall asleep in a heap.

We head downstairs to the restaurant to eat.  We are going to be set up with enormous burgers.  Our friend Mr. Evil has arrived with some nice people he knows across the Swiss border.  Evil gets the enormous burger and what can only be called a cauldron of carrot soup.  I did not know it at the time but this soup is specially prepared with a local alcohol added after the soup is poured making it in reality a 80 proof 700 oz carrot soup shot. This will later explain how Evil becomes as drunk as a British sailor on leave.

The show is the first trial for Sugar to play bass with her broken arm.  Six days ago she was doing some hillbilly shit with Pete and fell.  This has resulted in a fracture in her right arm.  The good news is that the break won’t stop her from playing but she will have to “manage the pain”.  She has a splint she puts on during the day, and then wraps an ace bandage at gig time.  I have to hand it to her, she is tough as nails.  Not everyone would have the toughness to do what she is doing nine times in a row.  Sugar appears primed with painkillers and alcohol.  I hope she doesn’t die in her sleep tonight.

The show goes better than expected.  We play pretty well all things considered.  We are trying by trial and error to figure out which songs are difficult for Sugar to play.   Of all songs, our swamp blues cover of The Exploited’s “Dead Cities” is a tough one.  Who would have guessed that one?  We play an encore and finish.

After the show I sign a lot of LPs.  We are sleeping in a band apartment upstairs.  They are individual rooms but are in midst of construction.  I have a nice bed with covers that also has unattached new pipes coming out of the wall.  The lighting are these little discs that you can place where you want on the floor.  I head up to sleep after considering going to another club nearby with a gaggle of German guys that have surrounded two little Swiss girls.  It hits me that I am the prize they can bring with them.  “Hey!  Look everyone!  We found an American cowboy!”.  I recognize that this is a stupid idea and go upstairs.

I pass out immediately.  After what seems like hours I wake up needing to piss badly.  I walk down the pitch black hall trying to remember where the bathroom is near Christoph’s room.  After a successful mission I walk past one of the doorways in the long hallway to see Sugar standing there in a bra.  WTF?  Why is she almost naked with her door open?  What time is it?  How is she still up?  I walk back to my room to note it is 447am.  Sugar has been awake for 46 hours.  Insane.


At November 10, 2015 at 9:06:00 AM EST , Blogger Robert Barrett said...

When I read "she was doing some hillbilly shit with Pete" I choked on my coffee.

At November 12, 2015 at 12:04:00 AM EST , Blogger AZ said...

Again, one of the better stories of every year.


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