European Rock Tour
European Rock Tour
Rock and Roll Your Soul
Sept 27 – London, England.
I started the day early so that Carlos and I could make another $200 in stocks, but then we lost $200 in the afternoon. That is a tough game we are playing…. I headed to Hard Rock Cafe London to work my shift. Dan-Man has been hassling me to come with him and his band across the Netherlands, Germany and Luxembourg for a rock tour that leaves tonight. When I got to work, my manager Des was visiting with me and asking me what is going on in my life. I handed him a printed out copy of Dan’s entice-attempt rock-tour itinerary. Des looked at it and asked, “What’s this?” I said, “It is an itinerary that my friend sent me because his band and another band are going on rock tour through some of Europe. They want me to come along to be their t-shirt/record salesman/professional bullshitter.” Des looked at the itinerary again. He asked quizzingly, “When would you leave?” I told him, “Tonight…” “You really want to go don’t you..?” Good guess. I confirmed. “How long is the rock tour?” “Twelve days.” He said, “….Alright, try to dump your shifts for the rest of the week, and I will make sure you are not on the schedule next week. You can go, but you have to bring me back a t-shirt from the bands, and you owe me a drink after work!” Well holy shit…! I have had so many holidays lately I had been hesitant to ask for more. I ran to the lockable handi-capped toilet and called Dan to tell him the good short-notice news. He was pumped. I was pumped.
I finished work at 5pm, had two beers with Des, and raced home to pack. I met Dan, Lars, James, Danny, Jenny, Matt and Taryn at 11pm, jumped in their yellow bus full of band equipment and luggage and we headed for the ferry in Dover. Fucking awesome! We crossed into France, and then eight of us slept in the bus in a gas station parking lot. This is going to be an interesting 12 days.
It is amazing how much a day can change things…. Instead of two weeks of punching a clock, two rock bands and I are off to take on some of Europe. The ‘hired gun merchandise man’ is who I am. That comes with free food, accommodation and beer as payment for partying, befriending people in the bars, kissing girls, and talking shit for the bands. Awesome. Life comes full of gifts.
After a couple of uncomfortable hours of sleep we headed for Leiden, Nederland. I had forgotten about the wonders of The Netherlands. The canalled cities are so pretty, the Dutch buildings are so cool and the pace of life is slower than it is in London. And the women are absolutely beautiful and thin. ‘Beautiful tall blonds in short skirts and high heels riding bikes around town’: that is the definition of ‘The Netherlands’ if I am writing the dictionary. Unreal. If this country had two extra months of summer, people would forget that Spain existed.
We showed up in Leiden and rock-starring began. We drove into town and got into an argument with a security man because we needed to park in a blocked off street to unload our band equipment to take into the building where we would be playing. The security man would not let us park. He threatened the police, but by the time his threats were made, that bands had everything unloaded onto the pavement and got the bus out of the way. The bands have apparently been through something like this before… Then we then carried all of the street-stacked equipment into the building. Sneaky/clever manoeuvring… I headed to ING Bank to get some money out of my Dutch bank account. They informed me that they closed my account in August. “Umm, what?” “Sorry sir, we sent you letters of this intent to the address you provided in Canada.” “But I had 1000 Euro in that account!” So, I am hoping they find it… The lady at the bank wrote a letter for me in Dutch to send to an office. 1000 Euro is a lot of money for me to lose and is likely not a lot for some rich dickhead COE swallow into his surplus bonus.
In the building where we were to be playing, Flo, the girl from France in charge of the place, cooked a huge vegetarian feast and fed us as much beer as we could drink. We set up our equipment. Knife Cutter played and then Satan’s Minions played. It was a small crowd which bummed me out, but I managed to sell 37 Euro worth of merchandise to a very cool 35 year old, hard rocking by night, long hair ponytailed teacher by day named Bram, whose job is at a Christian school. He is one rad teacher.
After the show, Flo sang and played a lot of passionate Frenchsongs with her accordion and then fed us a lemon cake that she baked. Nice and easy living… We drank beer until about 2am. I crawled in bed next to Jenny, a guitar player in Satan’s Minions, who immediately grabbed my arm, rubbed me and imprisoned my appendage. I touched her hand but that was as far as I went. It seemed too dangerous to mess with the vibe of the group on the first day. She talked to me in her sleep through most of the night.
Huge sleep in! Great. When I woke up there was a cigarette butt next to my head. Travelling with two bands and being a rockstar means hygiene will be taking a break from our lives. I am ripe, and in need of a shower because my body is used to cleanliness, but Dan made it clear that showers are of little importance compared to music and beer, so I will just change my socks and underwear to stay fresh.
When I finally got moving today, I walked into the main area of the squat to find Satan’s Minions singer, Taryn, tattooing Flo’s back. I thought it was pretty cool because it was not me getting the tattoo of a monster holding a flag, taking up about 30cm x 15cm of my back, from someone I had met at a gig 12 hours earlier. That tattoo was a lot to take on…
Sometimes I wonder if people know that a tattoo, like herpes, are both for life. I feel like I need to start a commission where people present their tattoo ideas to me with a convincing argument about why it is a good statement/marking to have on their bodies. They will present a paper of the image to me and where it will be placed on their bodies. I will have a blue ‘Yes’ stamp and a red ‘No’ stamp, and “BAM” I will possibly save society a lot of regret in its future… I have no idea how I am going to control the underground tattoo parlours that are sure to start as a result of my Stupidity Repression Commission.
We loaded our equipment onto the bus, tried to leave Leiden, and backed into a parked semi-truck which smashed out its back lights. So, the Dutch police showed up, on pedal bikes, and could not have been nicer. We swapped insurance information with the truck owner, crossed the Afoluitdyk, and headed for Leeuwarden which is the only place in the Netherlands with its own language. The city is gorgeous and typically full of beautiful girls, bikes and canals. Our group showed up at a bar called Mukkus to free pizza and beer. Hurray for bringing rock and roll!
The bands gave them what they had for the shows in Leeuwarden. Knife Cutter was a busy gig, but the entire bar was outside smoking for Satan’s Minions…the downfall of no more smoking in dirty rock and roll venues that actually need the smoke to look normal. A couple of records sold for the Minions and after the bar closed we went to the loft/roof-terrace of another bar to party/crash. We did a take-over of some guy’s place who was nice enough to host 8 smelly band members on his floor, where we consumed a lot of beer.
We listened to Mastodon’s ‘The Hunter’ and then their ‘Crack the Skye’ album, rocking out until 5am. By then we had drank an additional 30 beers after drinking the free drinks they gave us in the bar. At 5:30am, our very nice host brought out a bottle of Jagermeister. I knew that no good could come out of a bottle of ‘Hunter Master’ at 5:30 in the morning, so I decided to sleep and found a corner where it seemed like I would be out of the way of the impending mess that would develop.
Apparently, last night while I was passed out avoiding the Jager party, 7am came along and some of the band members were on top of the roof screaming out ‘Smells like Teen Spirit’ across the quiet city as dawn broke. I knew it….
I woke up at noon and I showered, which was totally awesome. I was so ready for that… I am interested to know why it is in humanity that people love to smell other people’s shit? Dan made a nasty one in the bathroom and when I went in I turned around and left the room again because it was so bad. Then I watched three people followed each other into the room to sample the scent to voice vocal approval pleads of “Aaaaw!” and “Jaysus!” It is insane how that works. People love to smell other people’s shit.
Once we got out the door we went to a record store run by a very cool 64 year old man who has sold 50,000 records that he has created to some degree. He was fascinating. He told us that the Netherlands has too good of a social security system which is why such few musicians from the Netherlands become really successful. He said, “There is no suffering here, and it is just too easy to go back on social security. There is no pressure to make it into a success.” That is very interesting thought. Desperation and passion are truly key elements of fine art.
We hit the road and had a music quiz in the bus during the drive to Assen, NL. I sang Don McLean’s ‘American Pie’ in its entirety for my bus crowd. It is a good thing I learned those lyrics before I discovered alcohol because there is no way my brain could memorize that amount of words today. I drank soda, an extreme rarity, so I was full of energy while everyone else was hung-over and hurting on the bus. Passing on the Jager experience last night was a clever and cunning decision. I told ‘The Jeff Healey Story’ to my bus mates and I will tell them a story per day on the road trips.
We pulled into Assen and headed to a bar called Docx to set up our equipment. The venue gave us a huge awesome hotel room in the Best Western Inn. Rock star luxury! We got free beer, and they fed us French fries and salad to keep us fuelled. The bands played their shows and I told everyone in the bar that I am the tour manager. With my North American accent, it makes the bands seem pretty important. ‘A North American manager with two English bands…. Hmm…’
The bands are adamant about vinyl and are unwilling to make CD’s to sell. They say that a CD is too easy to throw away and nobody thinks about the music when it is so accessible. That makes their records tough to move, because it takes a real music person to have a record player today. We are fighting the elements a bit but we sold albums anyhow, and a couple of those sold while the Minions were playing because people were so blown away by their sound. The Minions even had to autograph vinyl covers after. With some hope, maybe they will blow up like the people’s imaginations. They sound like they should…
At the end of the night, the bartender told us that we consumed more beer than any other band that had ever played the venue before. Eight hours of free beer…we took advantage…just trying to mould our game. At 3am we left Docx to head to Club Diana, an establishment also owned by the same man, so we drank for free beer from the revolving bar. Perfect. Our dancing was pure madness and some young Dutch guy wanted our lives and desired to come on tour with us as a roadie. At 4am, we tried to get into ‘Cheers’ because I was after a girl who headed there after spending a lot of the night hanging out with me at Docx with her gorgeous smile. But, it was too late to get in when we showed up, the door was locked, and the drunk people inside sang us a Dutch song, collectively, telling us goodbye. Dan and I went back to the hotel to pass out 4:30am.
* “When you get a Beave ‘Yeah!’ at the end of a song, you know you’ve nailed it.” – Dan England.
We were forced awake at 8:30am to make some miles. ‘Terrible’ is too nice of a word. Breakfast was driven down our throats and we hit the road. I was still drunk, but my hangover eventually came to find me and settled in sometime along the way to somewhere, but I never actually have a clue where I am at on a map. Dan and I just jump in the back of the bus and we are driven to the next town. Then we get out and do our thing.
We drove to Den Haag and hung out on the beach for the afternoon. I feel like a rockstar, and I actually feel like a rockstar because we are partying so hard. Matt, the bass player in the Minions, has a huge rash on his arm. His girlfriend Taryn has been drawing around it with a pen to monitor its size. Visual doctoring. Eventually, after a huge, stressful and confusing drive for those piloting in the front of the bus, we arrived in Wateringen, NL. Dan, James and I were in the back just hanging out, so the drive was pretty casual for us. Responsibility separation… We settled into an awesome music venue called, ‘Nederland 3,’ and set up our equipment. The venue came with a very professional sound-check board-man and five free drinks on arrival. It was a quiet night in the bar, but the bands sounded great.
‘In the land of the blind, the woman with one eye is queen.’ Ellen, 21, showed up during the shows. She was cute, and an actual supermodel in comparison to the other three girls with her. Dan and I kept her, the three elephants, and an entire bar staff entertained until 5am. We drank for free from about 3am onwards, long after we had finished out five free drinks as the bartenders just kept pouring us booze into us.
Around 5am, Ellen said she should go home. She was nearly the last to leave, but she seemed to be rejecting my body-contact play all night. I told her that I would like it if she stayed with us in the bar for the night. She told me that she would like that too, but that she used to date one of the bartenders on duty and that the situation was, “A little bit sensitive.” So, I walked her to her bike outside and made out with her. Then I snuck her behind a building where we fooled around for about an hour. She could not stay and it was late, so I re-entered the venue to sleep on the stage in a sleeping bag. The ‘sensitive’ bartender who was cleaning his work area looked at me with confusion upon my return. I was very drunk, still horny, the girl was gone and I had not sold any records. Tough night….
I woke up at 11am because the bar started playing really loud music. It was actually ‘Get the ‘F’ out!’ loud. When I checked myself over I found a love note in my pocket from Ellen, telling me how special I am. That was a nice find. We packed up our equipment to head for Amsterdam. I had a wild feeling just getting into the city. Wow I miss it, though living in Amsterdam now feels like a long time ago in my life. We arrived at a squat and I headed for the Hard Rock, where I received a ‘returning war hero’ welcome when I entered the cafe. Dan came a little later, and my buddy Menno showed up. I mentioned the thought to Menno of going to visit my favourite whore now that I was single and could actually consider the possibilities rather than just “Ooooh” at her sight while showing her in her window to my friends. Prostitutes are never my game but Menno got so pumped about the idea that he yelled, “Yes! I will even pay for it!” That is a good friend.
There were great old faces in the Hard Rock. Rhian, my supervisor from London was there when I walked in. That was crazy and we were both so blown away to see the other standing there in Amsterdam that we ran at each other like lovers torn apart by a hurricane. Bartender Tali fed us plenty of free shots and free beer from the bar, and the cafe bought meals for us. Very cool. We left Hard Rock very drunk, and very full. I personally thanked my piece of shit ex-general manager boss after I was totally smashed on stolen alcohol from his bar; my ‘Fuck you’ to him.
Dan, Menno and I headed for the squat where the Minions were to play alone. Menno rolled two joints of very strong grass and we got super high. It was as struggle of my confidence to have to try to set up the merchandise and talk to people when I was in that kind of shape. Lindy the Brown came to meet me, and the Minions played a killer acoustic set for the crowd. After the show, we all headed to the Whiskey Bar where most of the HRC staff showed up to hang out. I was a disaster by then, and Menno was in such bad shape that he had to go home. Dan and I charged on and Dan ended up with Rhian so he went back to her hotel. I on the other hand tried to navigate the way back to the squat for everyone else. Upon arrival I stole Jenny’s mat and blanket that was alongside the bus and went into the squat to pass out. I have only a small recollection of that, but a heavy dose of guilt.
I instinctively woke up at 9:30am and got on the bus. Wow, last night was a full power party and I ache in a lot of bodily areas today. Dan got back to the squat just as we were loading the bus. Dan got laid which means that Rhian did as well. Excellent. Two very awesome super cool people from different parts of my life had sex with each other last night. That is wonderful…
We headed out of Amsterdam. Thank you Amsterdam-ers. That was so fucking much fun. James told us that when he woke up this morning in the squat there was a grasshopper on his face. That is an omen and the beginning indication of a hangover. As we drove to Delft, NL., Dan slept in his seat against the wall of the bus and I slept against Dan. We woke up in the bus at about 3pm. Dan has begged me that our partying tonight be gentle. We are total zombies.
In Delft, the Minions did an afternoon acoustic set in front of a record store and we were given free beer for the show. We headed for Den Haag where we set up in the ‘Musicon.’ I was hoping Ellen would show up, but alas, she remained absent. Dan and I drank a little, but we did not take it to the limit. We are too sick and run down. We certainly did enjoy a drink called ‘Fishshot,’ that was begging us for trouble. ‘Fishshot’ is a Jagermeister meets Fisherman’s Friends; a liquor made in Denmark, that is fucking awesome.
Between sets, I met a Dutch man in the venue who was wearing a sling on his arm. His story, which I had to put together in order, is this…. He has been on medication for the past 23 years because he has mental problems. He wanted to go to Buenos Aries, Argentina, for a 10 day vacation and liked it so much that he decided to stay for five months. In the meantime his medication ran out. He was living amongst the homeless and the drug dealers which was very rough and dangerous. Somehow, he ended up in a mental hospital. He was there for two weeks and needed to escape, during which, he fell off of a 4M high wall and landed on his back, breaking his shoulder. He went to the hospital but they wanted 500 pesos to fix him and he had no money. So, he went to the Dutch Embassy and they put him on a plane homeward bound. He said he felt like a prince, being wheeled in a chair through customs and passport control. He got to The Netherlands a week ago and had surgery on his shoulder three days ago. That is pretty intense. He was a very weird dude.
Sometime during the second set, a very attractive 40something woman, Jayne, came in and sat at the bar next to me while the band was playing. She had just been on a date with a man at his house where he cooked her dinner. It was her third date with him and they got into an argument after they finished eating and he kicked her out of his house. She had two glasses wine talking to me, and I was hoping that she would stay when she raced for her last bus home. Shame. At about midnight, the bands and I decided to sleep. We had no accommodation, so five of us slept in the bus and three tents in the beer garden of the bar. I should have been more forward in my Jayne approach because, a) she was very attractive older woman, b) going home with her would have provided me with a bed and a shower, c) I am attracted to attractive older women so it all would have made sense! Desperate times make me wish I had changed my measures. Instead I blew it.
My neck has at least 30 mosquito bites on it from sleeping in the squat two nights ago in Amsterdam, and my face looks like a teenager’s from all the bites encompassing that area. And, I am still tired even though we were very well behaved last night. I feel terrible, but it is better than I have felt any morning for the past week. Party party. Ironically, we are half way through the rock tour and this morning, and right after we got up after not partying last night, we had a full meeting with both of the bands. It was sort of an intervention on Dan and I to discuss our partying. They want us to curb it some as they can feel a slight separation in the group. Dan and I just kind of looked at each other when the subject of our evening behaviour came up. I looked at Dan and he had the same expression on his face as I guessed was probably on mine. It said, ‘Umm, last time I checked, we are on a rock rock tour across Europe… Yea, umm, good luck finding a way for us to rein it in…’ I do not plan on taking my foot off the gas until I get home. Dan appears to be on the exact same schedule.
On the way to Aachen, Germany, I found some unguarded showers in a truck stop. It had been days since our last venture with sanitation, so we all embezzled a shower except for Lars, who is now on day 8 without. He is a trooper. After my run through the rain closet I got back to the bus and asked him if he was going to indulge his exact reply was, “I couldn’t be fucked with it.” His response was extremely pleasing.
We got to Aachen, set up and rocked the place. It was too loud for the Germans, and many of them were racing for the bathroom to shove toilet paper into their gentle German-precision ears. ‘Zee noise level is just not efficient for mine eardrums!’ Even one of the other German bands that had played before us were toilet paper drowning the volume into their ears while our bands played. How very un-rock and roll…
I met a girl named Jil, a cute blond who was all over me having long broken the touch barrier. It all looked good and she had beautiful lips that looked ripe for kissing. The band wanted to leave the venue after we finished playing, but I had picked Jil up and my hand was on her leg. I asked her about ‘later’ and when she realized she was going to have to take me home if my crew left me, which would be more than just kissing, the pressure scared her and she told me that I had better go with the bands. I am certain the night would have turned out very favourably for me had I been able to allow a natural progression, but having to pre-face the night that would unfold was freighting for the timid blond beauty with the full fleshy lips. When Dan came over to where Jil and I were sitting, she told him, “I am NOT taking him home,” meaning me, but was very apologetic and told my friend that it had nothing to do with me. So, I kissed her on the forehead and left with my groups to the house of Alex, the leader of one of the German bands.
Dan, Alex and I stayed up all night smoking joints and rocking out to music that I need to learn more about. Those two guys are serious music geeks who make my music geekiness seem amateur. I learned that Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ ‘I Put a Spell on You’ was written and recorded when he was so drunk that he could not remember any of the recording sessions and when he awoke in the morning and he had to relearn the song by listening to his recorded tracks. Awesome. I played with a steel guitar for a while and curled up to pass out on the floor at about 6am.
Dan and I woke up at about 10am on Alex’s floor. We dragged our tired bodies to the bus where Dan and I passed out as we were driven to Den Helder, NL. It is a town at the top of the Netherlands and it translates to ‘Hell’s Door’ in Dutch. The gateway awaited.
When we arrived at the bar, we were directed to the upstairs loft of one of the bartenders and we completely took over his living room. The place was filthy dirty. The seat was broken off of the toilet and for some reason beyond my knowledge of plumbing and physics, we had to manoeuvre the sink tap in the kitchen to run the hot water down the drain at a pace and then the bathroom would be sourced with hot water in the tap for the shower. The building was shelter, but just barely. It seemed a certainty that we will be dirtier when we leave then when we arrived.
After refuse clean, we set up both band’s equipment in two different bars owned by the same man two doors down from each other. One bar was named the ‘Rock Cafe de Engel’ and the other called ‘Bliksen.’ A manager gave us five free drinks on arrival and a feast was cooked. There was a show-bill on the wall from when Mastodon played Bliksen in 2003 for 250 Euro. Very cool. We were told a rumor that when Mastodon played here on a Sunday, it was so loud that it woke up the entire town. Legend has it that a large mob of locals formed with axes and pitch-forks aiming to get the band and their noise out of the town! So, Knife Cutter would rock the Engel and as soon as they finished Satan’s Minions were to blast their own volume from the Bliksen…
Well, our bands smashed it and the crowd went nuts for the music. The crowd was insane, jumping and dancing as they were totally into both bands. We brought the kind of energy to the venues that a good cover band usually brings, and the vibe was so good because everyone in the crowd was so captivated by the sound. It was ‘hang onto your hat’ kind of fun because it seemed like at any minute the walls might blow out with the explosion of force that both bands released upon the patrons. Fuck it was awesome! There are not many things comparable to good rock and roll and a crowd going crazy for the music. Satan’s Minions and Knife Cutter killed it!
At the end of the night I sat at the bar next to Jenny to have a drink, having strategically placed myself in between her and a sitting Dutch beauty to my right. ‘Marka’ and I hit it off so her friend invited the bands and I to a small house party. “Absolutely,” and we headed to one of the girls’ homes. Shortly after we arrived, Dan, Jenny, and Danny wanted to go back to the bar, but I stayed behind with the two girls. The three of us drank a lot of shots of alcohol and got trashed listing to music. Music chicks rule. I kissed Marka, and when we went to leave her friend’s house, she asked me if I wanted to walk back to the bar or if I wanted to double on the back of her bike to her house. What a silly question…of course I did not feel much like walking. Plus, it was pouring rain. Marka found a plastic grocery bag and tied it on me like a bonnet to keep my head dry. I hopped on the back of her bike and we drove through the streets of Hell’s Door in the pounding rain towards her house. The bad luck was the rain, but the good luck was that I was soaked and had to take off all of my clothes as soon as we entered her place. She gave her cat a needle for its diabetes and then Marka and I started a session on her couch, which lead to her bed upstairs. She was a dynamite kisser and we could not stop making out and fooling around, and that excitement lead to me getting Marka naked, and Marka naked lead to us having fantastic heated sex, and a lot of it. At one point she screamed, “I want you to stay here and fuck me for a month!” That was nice really to hear. We selfishly took as much as we could from each other until about 7am.
I woke up naked next to Marka. We were touchy all morning and it felt so good that it was impossible to get out of bed. So, we just stayed there, made out, and kept on fooling around until 5pm, unable to leave each other alone. Fun! Being in a real bed again was fucking awesome. Being in a real bed and spending the entire day naked with a very pretty woman in that bed, well…that was super fucking awesome! Life is a treat…
The bands were calling my mobile, but from her bed I told them of the situation at hand. They were very understanding. When we eventually got up, Marka washed and showered me, made me a sandwich, and then drove me around town in her car before taking me back to the bands at 6:30pm. Life can get worse… Such an awesome girl… Before I got out of the car, I asked her what her plans were for the night. Typically, wonderfully blunt Dutch, and she asked, “Why, you want to have more sex?” ‘Well, now that you mention it… Yea…’ I smiled, shut the car door and headed for the bar, my penis very sore and raw from the insanity workout. What a wonderful and pleasurable pain it is when your cock hurts from too much sex.
For dinner, I told the bands of my sexploitations. They had high hopes that I was going to end up in a threesome with both girls when they left me at the party last night. Yea…me too…, yet I was still very satisfied with the outcome. Then the bands told me that when they got back to the bar they had a version of ‘Fight Club’ with a fat, bearded, bartender. They all kicked each other’s asses and have video footage of the battle. It sounded fun, but I would rather be fucking.
We got ready for the gig: back to back nights in Den Helder, NL. Dan says, “Drive as far north as you can. Hitch up. Bring ‘em rock and roll.” Knife Cutter blew the fucking roof off of the Bliksen. I sold records while they were playing their gig because people were so turned on. It was pure chaos and mayhem in the bar while they played. After Knife Cutter finished, the Minions did a number on the Engel where Dan and I smoked cigars and got drunk on shots from a minty-firey-Jagermeister-y liquor called ‘Fireman.’ I made friends with a psycho waitress named Dominica, who kept on hitting, smacking and biting me. Eventually I took her lead and started biting her as well. She took skin from my right hand with her teeth. Then I bit her shoulder so hard that she kneed me in the nuts. Well, I fucking flipped out, and I was so furious at her for that. I told her how terrible of a person she was, and went directly to bed after because I was so sour. That fucking bitch. The only time a knee to the nuts is ever fucking acceptable is in the extreme situation of fighting off a rape, or fighting off gang members… Never at any other time! That fucking asshole cunty bitch. Fuck you! Fuck you. Fuck you….
I woke up early, still grumpy over the nut kneeing biting bitch waitress. The bands loaded the bus and we headed for Luxembourg. The windshield wipers of the bus stopped working, so we stripped our shoes of their laces and tied them around the wipers to control the blades through each side window. The bus started running very poorly and we had to pull into a little town in Belgium called Tilff. A nice, cheap and easy mechanic sorted us out by cleaning our fuel filter and we were on our way again. Excellent. We arrived in Grevenmacher, Luxembourg at 6:30pm and set up our equipment.
A local band opened for us the gig at about 8pm and it was the worst show I have ever seen in my life. The sound was pure noise experimentation with a guy on a guitar and a guy on a laptop. It gave me a headache and it seemed to create an anger in me to the point where I wanted to go up to the stage, mid-song, unplug the amp, and then smash the fucking guitar over its owner’s back. Anger and fury dwelled in my depths…
Knife Cutter played a show so hard that guitarist James lost one of his shoes while peeling out a solo. Good R + R is reflective upon blown out shoes! I sold a lot of merchandise after the shows and then spent about 30 minutes chatting with a 6’ tall Luxembourg beauty that certainly liked me but admitted that she had a boyfriend. It is a shame when attractive girls do that. Matthias, the guy hosting us, threw a party at his house. He had food for us, a fridge full of beer, and hash for everyone to smoke. We played back to back Mastodon albums, drank, got high, and partied until 6am. It was tons of fun. I needed that after my miserable last 24 hours.
People started moving at 8:30am. That is not rock and roll! Read the biographies! So tired. We hit the road. Dan slept on the wall of the bus and I slept on him all of the way to Utrecht, NL. I checked my email and I had three love letters in my inbox, one from Marka, one from Ellen, and one from Jayne the attractive 40something. None of those letters were a lot of good at the moment, but they sure felt nice to receive.
The Minions played a record store acoustic gig and then we set up band equipment in the ‘Boot Hill Saloon.’ Two Dutchies who promoted the event took us to their house to feed us soup, cheese and beer. It did the job and we headed back to the saloon where Lindy the Brown showed up to watch us. I met a French girl named Julie who hung out with me all night by my merchandise stand. Things were looking good.
Knife Cutter played so hard and so awesome that James got totally lost in the moment during a guitar solo that he fell into the drum kit. Music is taking James and it is amazing to see someone so captivated in the moment of his art. Then the Minions put on such an excellent show that the owner of the bar told them, “You guys come back, and when you do, this is the only place you are playing in Utrecht!” We packed the bus and I said a goodbye to Lindy and then disappointingly as well to Julie as I was forced to load myself onto the bus to head for the ferry and then home to London. I was pretty drunk and the shows were all finished. James tried to sleep while the other seven of us sang ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ in its entirety as a seven piece while driving through the rain in the night using our shoe-lace controlled windshield wipers.
We arrived at Calais, France, around loaded the bus on the ferry for the U.K.
The bus pulled into London where I said goodbye to everyone in a hug line-up, and thanked them a ton for putting up with my antics for 12 days. I departed and headed underground to the tube to get to my house. As I arrived got home, I called Carlos to say hello and he asked me to work his nightshift. Money…. Sure…. I then arrived at work a legend and was nearly speechless in trying to describe the ‘Rockstar Experience’ that I had just put myself though. I had to settle with, “It was just totally fucking awesome…” for lack of better words.
At 7pm, I was told that Tito Jackson was going to be coming into Hard Rock Cafe with his family, and the Jackson’s were all in town because of a Michael Jackson U.K. tribute concert in Wales. I was told that Michael’s kids were in Hard Rock two days ago and my friend Saeed served them. He told me that Michael’s daughter is absolutely beautiful, and people in the cafe actually recognized the kids. The Jackson’s tipped Saeed 60 pounds on top of the 300 pound bill.
So, Tito came in with 17 other people and 12 of them, including Tito, were sitting in my section of the restaurant. I took their drink order and said to Tito, “I understand you are a famous man…” He said, “Some people think that,” shook my hand and smiled at me. I introduced myself and had a good conversation with him about the Jackson’s, Michael, and Tito’s three boys who were part of ‘3T,’ a group who has some radio hits from 1995-2003. The whole family, including the kids and grandkids, were so nice and polite. Nobody missed a ‘please’ or a ‘thank you’ during the entire time they sat in my section. They were just very courteous, down-to-earth, wonderful people. Tito, and his right hand man, Ed Tate, who is part of Tito’s management team, talked to me about how there is no Jackson memorabilia on our walls. I told them about my job as the merchandise man for Hard Rock Cafe London. Ed gave me Tito’s business card, with an e-mail address and a phone number, and told me they want to stay in contact with me about putting some memo on our walls. I showed them the autographed ‘Smashmouth’ drum-skin, told the Jackson’s that it is the worst thing in the restaurant, and that it will be the first thing to go should they want that corner of the building if they bring some Jackson memorabilia. I gave them Big Beaver stickers with my email address on it and we agreed to stay in touch. I hope we do.
When they went to pay, Tito handed me his credit card. It read ‘Tariano A Jackson’ on the card. Huh… It was pretty cool to have that credit card in my hand. So many people are so paranoid when they give me their credit card and they follow me around the restaurant until I swipe it and hand it back to them, concerned that I may rob them or clone their card. After Tito handed me his credit card, he and Ed disappeared in the building for so long that I was concerned they may have forgotten Tito’s card with me. They were gone for about 15 minutes before they came back. The Jackson’s are good people. Perhaps too trusting?
Ed told me two very good stories. He told supervisor Brett and I that he once met Isaac Tigrett, one of Hard Rock Cafe’s founders. Ed asked him, “What is your favourite piece of memo in Hard Rock Cafe?” Isaac responded, “Ringo Starr’s wife!”
Ed also shared a story from the early 1990’s when Michael was playing a show here in London. They did a rehearsal and sound-checked all of the songs that he would perform. Michael had left out ‘Dirty Diana,’ because of Princess Diana, and the slightly raunchy lyrics to a song sharing her name. Later that night, after rehearsals, Princess Diana stopped to visit with Michael. Before she left the family and headed out the door she turned to Michael and said, “…and I cannot wait to hear you perform ‘Dirty Diana.’” Well, that statement caused tides of chaos through the entire operation. Everyone was awoken in the middle of the night to get to the arena so that Michael could rehearse the song live and sound check to have it ready for the show. Awesome!
In the past three weeks I really got into Mastodon. Yesterday I bought tickets for their show to take place in February. Later in the evening I sent a message to a girl to tell her about the concert and tickets. Then, today I went to work and was talking with Sebastian, a host at Hard Rock, who also works as a photographer for Q Magazine. Sebastian told me that he was once hired to take pictures of Mastodon for the magazine. When he photographed them they were really really drunk and guitarist/singer Brent Hinds kept on wanting to look at each picture Sebastian was taking one by one after each image was snapped. Ten minutes after Sebastian told me that story, Mastodon walked into the Hard Rock Cafe… Ca-ray-zy! Did I summon them? Weird…
So, I made friends with the band. Brent Hinds and I really hit it off. We were swapping stories and I was enlightening them with stories from the tour I had just gone on. I was discussing all of the weird circumstance involving them, leading up to the moment they walked in; how I had just got into their music, the tickets I had just bought, the story from my photography friend… I told them that I had sent a text to a girl last night that I am trying to sleep with, hoping to take her to their show. They said I should call her and tell her to come in to meet them. I informed them that I am smarter than that and that I am not interested in any of them fucking her. I also told them about seeing their show when I was on acid at Sonisphere at Knebworth. They liked that. I asked them about the show they played in Den Helder, NL, to know if the mob tale was true or not. They remembered the bar, but could not think of the name of it, but knew it had something to do with the translation of the Dutch word for ‘lightning.’ “Bliksen!” “Yea, that was the name of it!” They confirmed the story about the local mob with bats who wanted their blood. Mastodon drummer Brann Dailor told me, “There were more people outside of the bar who wanted to kill us then there were people in the bar who wanted to listen to us.” It was cool how all of this had just come full circle… I told them how the Bliksen was forced to soundproof their walls after Mastodon left in order to keep it a ‘live’ venue. Mastodon told me that they are even louder now. I gave Brent Hinds a Beaver sticker for his amp. Brent gave me his email address so that I can contact them before their show in February to hang out. I promised to bring weed. As I left I said, “Alright fuckers, I will see you in February.” They all said, “Bye Beaver,” as I left the cafe. It was very cool.
After work I met up with Amber and got smashed in the ‘Hawley Arms.’ Amber danced like a stripper for me to Whitesnake. I was home by 2am.