Monday, December 6, 2010

VLADRM in Bordeaux Friday the 13th 2008

I cant stress enough how beautiful the weather is right now. Au Cafe Pompier, where we played, is an art school. So lots of very young art students. Not at all different from any other art school in the world. The building was real old with huge, arched doorway fitted with another tiny door to walk through. The cafe area had murals, artwork, photos, an old upright piano that Jeff immediately sat down and started playing Monk tunes on. We walked around the narrow streets for awhile, stopped in a shop with a ton of synthesizers and pedals, etc. Came back and had a good soundcheck, dinner, wine, coffee and hash. Met Jay Decheman , a guy who looks vaguely like Steve McQueen and has a one-man electric organ band. DISCOUNT ORGANS was the name of the album, apparently. We also met Buzz, the promoter for the show, who rolled us plenty of cigarettes and had a stroke recently. He was friendly and funny and seemed healthy enough, I guess. Also met Simon, who seemed in charge of everything. He reminded me of a more subdued Matt Melton. Simon was to take care of us during our stay in Bordeaux, did an excellent job of it, and almost made me want to grow a mustache. I think he's got a band called the Weakends and they're gonna play with us sometime soon. I talked to the young,  French kid from the opening band for awhile. Cowboys from Africa, they were called. He was excited about us being there, but I dont think he knew us from Adam. A few of the dudes saw Jay when he played there and liked the Barbaras. The kid mentioned Bennet alot. Ill have to remember to ask them about Bordeaux when I get back. While I was talking to the little dude out in the courtyard behind the cafe, the young girls surrounding us would pop up and fuck with the kid, making fun of him in order to flirt with me. His buddies thought this was hilarious. But I was deep in conversation with the kid about guitars and shit like that. To get the girls back I brought up a foolproof, entertaining line of questioning concerning dirty French words. The girls quickly became embarrassed and split.
His band sucked. I mean, they were just kids. It was sophomoric garage punk, but the kid was actually a pretty good guitarist, especially for his age. While they were playing, the club filled up with more kids, young girls, art-fags (literally - art students in half-drag), older rockers, etc. It was past midnight when they finished, although it seemed earlier because the sun goes down so late around here. They took forever to break their shit down and the kid never broke his shit down at all. His guitar (A nice Eko. Italian, I think) sat under my keyboards the whole show.
Once we started playing the place was packed. The people went bonkers. Fags dancing on top of the bar, people making out, singing the lyrics to the songs even if they didnt know them. I had a teenage girl standing on the bench right ahead and next to me the whole set, waving her hair and dancing and screaming in my ear the entire time. I watched the bench bounce up and down as she danced, but it never broke. Blah. I think she bought a record later, she enthusiastically promised me she would between our set and the encore. After our last song I went over to the merch table, within direct site of my shit setup only 15 feet away. As I was selling records with Nick, like every night, I noticed two young dudes dressed all in black, one with dark curly hair, looking at my setup. I thought I had seen them before that evening. I didnt see them rummaging around or anything. Regardless, after a couple minutes I left the merch table to go and check on my shit and immediately noticed that my Electro-Harmonix Small Stone phaser was gone. I double-checked the area very quickly, to make up for my bad memory and then firmly decided that it had been stolen. I raced around the club looking for the two dudes, mentioned it to Jeff and Simon very quickly but made my way around, into the courtyard and then out front. The school is flanked by an old hospital-turned-squat (common in Europe, I guess) and an enormous, old church. I'm sure I had a crazy look on my face. I was fucking livid. I searched around the lot, questioned a couple of drunk kids who I'm sure were mocking me, and went back inside. It was over, gone. It pretty much ruined my night. Then, to top it off, I misplaced my sunglasses for a few hours, only to find them in my keyboard case the next morning. That shit with the pedal, though. That will never happen again.
Nick deejayed records for awhile and the people at the show danced crunkenly for quite awhile until it was time to close up. Simon took us to an apartment nearby that was pretty small, but had enough mattreses laid out in the living room so that we could all sleep comfortably.
Early in the morning I could hear a baby crying in the hallway. I spoke out, with my eyes still closed, "Does anyone besides me hear that baby crying?"
Then the door opened and in walks Buzz, who later said he was still drunk. "I forgot my keys," he said, and walked into the kitchen where there was a rack of several dozen keys hanging from it. But behind him, standing in the doorway, is a little kid maybe 2 years old at the most, who isnt crying anymore. He's just staring into the room at the 4 of us sprawled out, bewildered. I looked up at him and said, "Bonjour." Jeff and Harlan also said hello. The kid just stared. He was dumbfounded. Then Buzz came back from the kitchen, scooped him up and split.
Later we met Simon back at the school, packed up our stuff and walked around for a bit. Ate a falafel, went to a record store where Nick found a Television Personalities record before I did. Is it better to start at the 'A's or the 'Z's when having a record-digging race?
There were all different types of people walking the streets outside. Middle Eastern folks, French wiggers, girls in high-heels. A scary looking little old guy was slowly walking in front of us, hunched over with a copy of a Stephen King novel in his hands, held behind his back. We thought he was half crazed and looking for prey. It was sunny and warm out and we headed back to the van, took some photos, said our goodbyes to Simon (who we were to hook up again with in Toulouse in a couple days), and split. Next was La Rochelle.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

France, the Mediterranean and bitching in paradise


Dont remember much of this. I think Jeff and Nick and I went into a fuck shop before the show and looked at french dildos. Theyre much smaller here (wowm, WOWM...).


I dont even know where I am in France. All I know is that there is all the ice cream I can eat and the flat Anne C. has got set up for us is in spitting distance from the Mediterranean Ocean. We are staying in a small, very very small resort villa, 40km or so from Perpignan , until our next show there on Thursday. Anne's family owns an ice cream shop near the beach, bunched in a group of boardwalks filled with cafes, arcades, gift shops, bars, more ice cream shops, etc. Im brushing up on my French. I walked out to the beach with Nick and Jeff and we rolled up our pant legs and stepped in the sea. Too cold to swim, but we marched up and down the surf, yelling and carrying on. Looking out over the water towards Africa, I stared at the emptiness, the sea was flanked by a dark range of the Pyrenees, and to the west sat a castle up on top of a long peak surrounding that side of the bay. The view was incredible.

I ate two ice cream cones, Pistachio and Dulce Le Leche. We sat at the bar on the other side of the shop and drank wine with Anne's family for awhile until we were good and drunk and the sun had set. Harlan was really excited about his rendezvous with Anne. He was nervous and giddy. The street are filled with rich, old European women, parents with their wild children, young brats, loud teenagers, lotsa couples holding hands, kissing, hugging, which makes me alternately angry, jealous and homesick. I saw a dad holding his daughters hand, pulling up her skirt while her undies were around her ankles, pissing in the gutter. Fucking French! Nick pointed out that many of these vacationers have smug scowls on their faces. Its almost as if the more fun we are having, the more depressed they get. We also spent much time discussing our enjoyment of food signs that portray the animal consuming itself as a food item in a cannibalistic way.

Anyway, we made our way back to the flat after ice cream and I immediately turned the record player on super loud as Harlan and Anne rushed into the bedroom. I went for a walk, looking around the beach and the boardwalk. Later Nick and Jeff came with me and we hung out in the arcade for awhile, found some telephones and computers and sent messages home. It has become extremely difficult to email or call our girlfriends. I think L is sore at Nick. I dont think she understands the conditions over here. Every girl I look at makes me miss home.

Harlan and Anne made us a huge dinner with duck, pasta, salad, beef and pepper skewers and several bottles of wine. We also had some kiwi juice left over from a roadside stand. After dinner, tho, everything in town closed up. Harlan and Anne left to get a hotel room and we couldnt figure out the television, had no cigarets, no entertainment; we couldnt call our girlfriends, no internet, etc. All of a sudden it was a crisis. It was funny that we could get so bored and frustrated in a place like this. So we went to bed laughing.

Then, in the middle of the night, the kitchen light popped on and Nick rushed into the bedroom saying something in an alarming tone. I was half asleep and said, "Hey would you turn that light off when youre finished." But Nick was frantically looking around the apartment. I got outta bed and went out to the kitchen. He was telling Jeff that he woke up just a half a minute earlier and someone was standing in his room. My blood turned icy and Jeff shuddered. Nick continued, saying that when he sat up and said "HEY!" whatever it was turned and ran out of the room and around the corner. He searched the entire place and the weird thing was, the dog, Murph (and the Magi-Tones), wasnt spooked at all. In fact, when Nick came rushing out of his bedroom the dog was standing there wagging his tail. So as I laid back down, still half-asleep, I started to try to make sense of what happened. I could see Nick at the large, glass double-doors to our balcony, trying to lock it. He was serious. But he couldnt get the latch. If it had been a burglar, the dog would have freaked. Now, I very strongly dont believe in ghosts. So, if it wasnt a burglar, then what the fuck was it. The intruder would have had to vault the wall of the balcony, 2 stories up, or escape out of a locked door. The power of the imagination can be very strong, especially in the proximity of a sleep state. But Nick was pretty convinced. He has been known to see things. So I ended up laying in bed with my eyeglasses on, staring out my door at the balcony door across the kitchen, waiting for something to happen. The moonlight was flooding into the room from above the courtyard outside. Eventually I slept.When I woke up, Nick was still a little confused about the whole thing. He made breakfast and we put some Joe Gibbs on the record player and sat out on the patio.

Turns out that someone was in the apartment. Anne heard about the incident and said that it happened before where someone would crawl along the rooftops and over the wall of the balcony and into the flat. We started locking the patio door.

We decided to stay another day in L'Argeles. We have been walking around town, eating ice cream, trying to find telephones, internet, laundromats, etc. I was able to finish making the covers for my CDRs at this little internet cafe. Nick found a Tangerine Dream LP, WIlliam Friedkin's Sorceror OST. We played it and bugged out. Jeff and I took a walk last night around dusk, south along the beach and into a harbor filled with dozens of sailboats. I almost bought a seahorse at a scubadiving shop, but let the impulse pass and saved my money. We walked out on the peninsula and climbed on some giant rocks down into the water. You could see right through to the bottom of the ocean floor. Lotsa fish, tiny ones, swam around in little schools. There was all kinds of strange sea life rooting around down there. Some large fish, too; as big as your arm. I peered into the little cave behind the rocks and watched the water ebb and flow into it. I could have stayed there for hours. After climbing around I stood up on the highest rock and looked out into the distance towards the mountains. The sky was filled with clouds, rolling over the beach and into the mountain range. I could see huge, crumbling fortifications standing up on some of the peaks. And even further in the distance, towards the west, I could see a huge peak with snow on the top. I just stood and stared.

Last night Nick cooked a big dinner and we drank wine and watched French television. I went to bed early, exhausted from being in the sun all day.

This morning I woke up early and Nick and I went out to the beach. It was gorgeous out there. Nick had his captain vacation uniform on, consisting of a terrycloth Philippines shirt and a pair of green bathing briefs. No one laughed at him, surprisingly enough. I guess when youve got old men in even smaller bikinis and topless women of all ages and sizes, a skinny, Italian guy in an antiquated bathing suit isnt really a big deal. When we hit the beachhead, I undressed and hit the water immediately, and it was fucking cold. I was only in for 30 seconds or so. And when I went far out enough so that my feet werent touching the bottom, I got kind of spooked and started swimming back towards the shore.

The beach wasnt really that crowded. It was still pretty early. So I went back to my beach towel and laid down in the sand. the ocean was amazing, and the sky again for the 3rd day in a row is filled with dark, rolling clouds.


Went out drinking last night at La Divine Comedie, set in a narrow alley a few steps away from Anne's place in Perpignan. Its busy here, wild. Lots of Pakis, Indians and North Africans. And, again, many rich Mediterranean women, dudes on motorbikes, fat, crazed-looking Frenchmen, etc. Anne's apartment is filled with Indian artifacts, strange musical instruments, blankets, pillows and window dressings. A tall door opens up into a courtyard. We picked up all the instruments last night, smoked some hash and went crazy making up stupid songs. Really, really stupid songs. Anyway, me, Nick and Jeff went out to the bar (Harlan is staying with Anne back in L'Argeles, and I dont blame him. We are on a stoned rampage) and when the bartender found out that Harlan was in our band, he gave us our beers for free. Our flyers have been put up all over the narrow streets and alleys in the neighborhood surrounding the apartment.

I went out today, had some coffee, walked around to the grocery and hit Music Action for a couple hours. I found Kraftwerk's Exceller8 LP, Can's I Want More 7", T.Rex - Hot Love b/w Woodland Rock & The King of the Mountain Cometh 7" and Arthur Brown - Fire b/w I Put a Spell On You 7". The weather is beautiful. We had oysters and crawfish for dinner, drank wine and smoked more hash.
The show last night was okay. The club, El Mediator, was a really nice, new typa club in the center of town near the canal and right across the street from a huge carousel or la menage. Our soundcheck sounded good. The guys from Zoo Trash were nice enough and again, very enthusiastic. We told some jokes in the green room, compared some French slang, talked about Farfisa organs and Holger Czukay (I saw one of his singles at the record store, but ran outta Euros). Me and Nick walked back to the apartment to bathe and shave. My union suit has been temporarily lost, so thats out of the question for the time being. When we got back to the club, Harlan was standing out front, waving his hands frantically. Apparently, Anne had gotten some band beers from the front bar instead of the green room and when the bartender charged her, she threw the beer on him and then made her 'cute face.' Well, this didnt go over too well with the bartender (who was a jackass, anyway), who promptly threw her out. When wind of this got out, that Harlan T Bobo's girlfriend got thrown out, I guess there was some hubbub about it. And somehow Anne found a way to get back into the show by mopping the barfloor. As Harlan finished his story for us, Anne came outside and cried on his shoulder (they were both wasted already) lamenting how "Yoo think Im stoopid" and saying "Fuck yoo, 'Arlan." Ah, love. C'est tres amuse. I beat it inside and found Jeff. We had a good dinner at this wavy-gravy vegetarian restaurant called 'Peace N Love' with a ridiculously corny mural on the wall of the Beatles (Ringo had a huge, cartoonish nose, etc.) and Christ on the cross and maybe Jah or something, too. But the food was great and the waitress was helpful and spoke some English. Jeff is desperately trying to grasp the French language. He was about to fucking EXPLODE! earlier in the day as I was trying to help him find a pisser. We were standing in the back of this Biomarche in front of this door that said 'Personnage' or whatever, and I kept telling him, "If someone comes out that door say "Ou est la toilette?" or "Avez-vous une toilette?" I wasnt so sure myself, but I figured when the grocery boy saw the look on Jeff's face, he'd get the picture.

Anyway, back at the club, things were getting crazier still. There were a bunch of people both backstage and out front. I sat down in the green room where they had watercress salad (my favorite - remember that swan ate that at the Waldorf Astoria in E.B. White's book Trumpeter of the Swan?), roasted chicken, rice, tomatoes (which are completely different from tomatoes in the US; they actually have a meaty taste), olives, plenty of wine, cookies. Shit like that. We ate with the French bands (I only had coffee at the veggie place) and talked about E.B. White, invisible cars, Philip K Dick movie adaptations and Alan Arkin (The Russians Are Coming, The Slums of Beverly Hills, 13 Conversations..., Little Miss Sunshine) in broken French and English. After dinner I sat alone, trying to get a moments peace before the show, and this older French woman in her 40s walked in a rolled a giant cigaret with tobacco and hash. She kept getting embarrassed and blushing as she tried to attempt speaking English, but it wasnt that bad. She wore dark eyeliner and deep red lipstick, had long, thick black hair and a black dress. She looked good. Her name was Linda, I think. And she kept going on about how young I look for my age. One thing about older French women: Alot of them try to remain in vogue and stylish. And many of them are classic and beautiful, even as they get older. The men, however, young and old, are shit.
Right before we went onstage, Anne grabbed me and gave me some shit. Nick took a little as well. And I assume Harlan had also done some. Nick and I took the stage first and started a guitar and organ rally for several minutes. I set a random LFO rate on the Realistic on a super-slow pace, and set the resonance filter real high so I could get a wider range of frequencies, and then clicked on the delay pedal. Nick began to play open E octaves with a quick delay. This gave me a chance to look out over the crowd. They were your basic bunch of hip French people. There was one guy I recognized from the street earlier. Harlan introduced him as Syd Barrett, but he looked more like some asshole that stepped off the set of Les Miserables or Straw Dogs. He had a book of music he had written that was the size of a telephone book. But he had no knowledge of written music and just spent months scribbling notes down on staff paper. There was also grumpy guy, a young guy that stood there, his arms hanging down, looking like he would rather be waiting in line at the post office than watching us. This guy is usually standing next to the dancing girl, who is very excitable and will usually buy a
record. Sometimes they can be ugly, but most of the time they arent. There are also groups of girls, very made up and pretty, usually smoking cigarets, that just sort of stand there. Every time you look at them at least one of them is staring at you intently. The other ones are usually staring at Nick. I can almost always read their minds. I always wonder why people dont want to have more fun. During the show I connected with Jeff, who can never really hear the entire band during the set. Me and Nick match match solos on Recovery and High Numbers, which goes well. The only problems tend to be technical, which the most annoying part of being on a European tour, having to play on borrowed equipment. Or being in a band like VLADRM, which is still very much on a street level even after all these years, and has to rely on cash flow from within, or from extraneous day jobs, to fund equipment. I mean, I like my equipment okay, but if I had some real money to get the shit that I really need, than I would never have problems with volume or guitars cutting out during the solo in Hashishans or any of the bullshit that happened tonight.

Harlan climbed up on his amp for J'ai Mal Aux Dents again, and played a drunken balancing act until his guitar cut out and a frantic dash of Frenchmen came to his aid, all swarming around below him like in the movie where the guy climbs on top of his wrecked car while all Gene Simmons' poisonous robot bugs crawl around below him until Tom Selleck comes to his aid while Giorgio Moroder plays in the background.
After we left the stage, as I walked back to the green room, I heard my fucking organ being played onstage. None of us were up there, but Nicks guitar was sitting there, feeding back. I pointed out at three dudes standing nearest to where I was set up.
"Who was it? Who the fuck was that?"
I was fucking pissed. I didnt want to play any longer. Nick told me not to worry about it. But if theres one thing that you dont do, you do not fuck with someones equipment onstage. I shouldnt have played the encore, but everyone was trying to tell me, "Oh its okay. No big deal. They didnt hurt anything." Which wasnt the point. But with everyone acting like I was making a big deal out of nothing, like I was crazy, I went ahead and lulled thru two more songs. The three, young crunk dudes, waving around their beer cups and acting like assholes, eventually disappeared. And after packing up my shit, I went out for fresh air. The place cleared out pretty quickly, and as my adrenaline from the show wore off, I realized that the shit that Anne gave us was completely fake. Not weak, but a complete fugazi.
I sold one Teledildonics 5000 CD to an older guy who remembered 68 Comeback, yawned my way through some conversations with some girls. And Jeff, Nick and I took off on foot back towards Anne's apartment. Once we reached the canal, which Nick had been hoping to go down to but was never able to find a way - beautifully landscaped lawn and huge flower gardens down there, these French disco fags rolled up on us and one rather clumsy looking, frosty haired beanpole came up to me and tried to reach into the box of food I was carrying. My hands were completely full and all I could do was turn away, Then him and his friends started yelling shit at us. Well, Jeff steps up with a big bag of potato chips he was munching on nonchalantly and goes, "Hey man you want some chips?" And then he throws the handful of chips in the dudes face and says, "Fuck you!" It was fucking hilarious. The guy tried to grab the bag of chips, but Jeff was too quick for him. I had dropped the box and had my knife in my hand, and all I could think was, "Alright guy dont do something stupid thats gonna make me do something 10 times stupider. Cause I would love nothing more than the feeling of stabbing a French guy right now." But the dudes backed off as Jeff continued to yell at them. He started laughing as they ran off.
Once we got back to the apartment, I was asleep before my head hit the pillow. Sold VLADRM records to Action Music today. Got coffee, rolled a hash cigaret, rendezvoused with Harlan; and now we're off to Bordeaux.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Biel to Neuchatal, Switzerland


No trouble at the border. But there's some huge football match going on so there's a bunch of drunken hooligans milling around.
As we drove in we came up into the mountains. There were low, white clouds reaching up from the trees into the sky. Very ethereal and weird. We all watched them for awhile without speaking. After getting lost a few times, we found the 007 Club on the corner in the center of town. Our GPS has now been personified as a female. As in, “Why the fuck would you take a left there?”. “Because she fucking told me to!”
Biel-Bienne is very green and sits between Lake Biel and the densely wooded Jura Mountains. Its absolutely beautiful. The 007 seemed like a strip joint, but wasn't. And the show was in the basement, decorated in sort of a Halloween, tiki design with a large, dark green room behind the stage. A real sweet girl named Lillian brought us upstairs to our apt. after the soundcheck, and cooked us a Thai dinner that was outtasite. Matthias, the promoter, came up with some hash and some dudes. So I went into the bedroom and passed out for awhile. Matthias is an incredibly jovial and enthusiastic kinda guy, laughing at everything even if he doesnt understand what the fuck youre rambling on about; which is kinda nice, actually, at this point.He and Lillian really took care of us. This treatment seems so alien to me. Does anyone else remember the first time they toured Europe? It was fucking weird, huh?
So Harlan was drunk before the show started. Nick was stoned on hash and got stuck in a hash-hole creating elaborate setlists.
Eventually, when the crowd seemed greased up, we put on our hats and went out a started playing what was to be a perfect show. There were actually girls in the crowd in Biel, which helped the vibe. The guys in the crowd like watching the girls dance, and in turn, they start dancing and having a good time. It was the first show this tour with that kind of crowd, minus Berlin perhaps. Right around Recovery, though, Harlan broke the E string on his bass and had to rethink the rest of the set. Regardless, the show was killer. Afterwards the deejays played a bunch of soul tunes, R&B, garage, etc. Enough to make everyone dance, anyway. Lillian came up and talked to me after the set and said she lives “a cowboy lifestyle.” Im not sure what she really understood that to be. But she seemed convinced and earnest enough about it. She had visited the American Southwest in the spring and also ran through Southern California. She even knew where Riverside was. Nice girl.
Danced just a little, watched Harlan go crazy, had a lot o fun. The place was packed with crazy Swiss people dancing and smoking hash and freaking out. Eventually I went upstairs where we watched a bizarre musical on Swiss television. It was about singing gangsters and this fat, German geisha girl stood in a window and sang out to an ugly guy sitting at a desk with a red shoe on it. Then some gangsters wearing suits sang and shot at each other. But they would perform elaborate dance moves, including the worm, to elude the bullets. Finally the hero gets shot in the back while riding his motorcycle by a guy who looks like Orson Welles. He falls on his back and dies singing some stupid song.
We woke up to more crazy television. A 90s movie this time about a black rollerskating crew in the 70s, dubbed in German. Really stupid and really funny. Even made Harlan laugh. I watched a scene where these white rollerskaters diss on the black kids. And as they skate away they all point at them, twice, in unison and they skate away in formation like this:
We packed up our shit and drove over to Matthias apartment, which was real nice, even cheap he said, and had a gorgeous view of the mountain that overlooked the town and the Rolex factory that sat on the side of it.
I met Philip, who is a swiss watch maker working for Omega. We talked watches for awhile. When Nick met Philip and his buddy Alain in the states, he asked them, “What do you do?”. And Alain said, “Im a banker,” and Philip said, “Im a watch maker.” Natch . . .
Switzerland is just like youd expect it to be, only better. We had French jelly, St. Dalfour, this Vegeline paste in a tube, bread and rolls, yogurt, smoked fish and thinly sliced jambon, coffee, juice and grappe. Radishes and radish greens with oil and wine dressing. I opened the large container of yogurt and took a spoonful. Nick looked at me and says, “that's not just one serving you know.” And I said, “I know.” And Matthias turns around and says, “No, it's American size” and started laughing hysterically.
I also found on Matthias' fridge, one of those post-cards where you turn it and see two different pictures of this nakes Annie Oakley pin-up chick with an image of her in the tub, too. I used to wack-off to this same post-card years ago.
We finished breakfast, stopped by a dub/reggae record store with a decent vinyl section, bought some records, a Joe Gibbs single and some other stuff; went by a guitar shop and grabbed some bass strings for Harlan, and got stared at a lot. The Swiss people have been the coolest so far, but Europeans in general are weird and uptight.
In the van nerd discussion – Best tremelo guitar sounds. “That would either be the dude from Mission of Burma or Os Mutantes.” My buddy Wade in Iowa actually had a super-old Brazilian music magazine that had an article about Baptista's brother, who would make all his guitar pedals for him out of found stuff. And what he found was a sewing machine. So he jerry-rigged the motor to run the volume oscillation of the tremelo and that's why it sounds so awesome.
The drive to Neuchatal was short, only 30km away. The show was in a large industrial building on this enormous lake, built on the side of a mountain on these narrow, winding streets, next to a waterfall. No shit. We unloaded our gear and took a look around. There was some important football match going on so there was lots of crazy people running around like fucking mental patients, yelling and screaming. The building itself had several levels, ours had a medium sized room, enough for 200 people or so, with a bar underneath a balcony where the soundboard sat. Even tho the digs seemed nice and pro, our sound check took for-fucking-ever because of faulty equipment and an incompetant soundman (Isis t-shirt, shaved head with 3 dreads coming out back). We must have sound-checked for 2 hours, no kidding. After that I looked around the place a bit more. There was a giant Euro-Rave going on next door and down a level and there was a gang of European wiggers running around and aggravating the shit out of me. People are always running around here. Me and Nick got our pictures taken with what seemed like the Swiss Army Marching Band that was coming down the backroad and up the mountain. Then we went up to the green room to eat dinner and nap. The food was good and hot, although they never really offer too much in terms of non-dairy stuff for Jeff.
To our chagrin, these wigger deejays and their buddies kept coming up to our green room, which was set up like an apartment with a main room, a kitchen, a bathroom and shower and 3 bedrooms. One guy came into one of the bedrooms and was looking at Harlan's stuff, lifting up his jacket, etc. And Nick walked in on him and told him to get lost. This kind of bullshit was to go on for the rest of the night, pretty much. I was ready to go “crazy American” on them at anytime, tho. Because, 1. I hate electrodisco Eurotrash, 2. I hate them being in my green room & 3. I hate wiggers of any nationality in any green room in any principality of Europe. Nick tipped me off on the “crazy American” vibe that they had learned will accommodate any situation you might find yourself in when some greasy foreigner tries to front on you. An incredibly versatile persona, the “crazy American” can be conformed to your tastes as long as you adhere to two basic credos: that you are crazy, and that you are American.
Matthias band, who had followed us from Biel, was “cute.” Lotsa synth, guitarist was a nice guy and looked like a TransAm extract, except that his guitar was way too quiet, instead of way too loud. The music was like a non-weird Throbbing Gristle playing popular tunes. I dunno really what it was. Im sure theres some band Im not aware of that they sounded like since I have such a narrow-minded opinion about music. As dark and gothic as Swiss synth-pop can get, I guess. They had a lot of sound problems due to the shabby soundguy (who later said we were like an American redneck rockandroll band, which confused us until we realized what our union suits must have looked like to the Europeans) and Monica, their singer, stood on the stage with her chest out, singing at the top of her lungs. That was earnest and cool and brave at the time. Good drummer and keyboardist too. I think they had a Nord Lead of some type, a Juno 106, and a Micro-Korg, which I saw played right for the first time ever. God I hate those little fuggers.
Jeff and I, and maybe Nick, too, drank a gallon of Absinthe before the show. The girl tending bar called me aside and told me that it was made in her village. She was very proud of that and smiled very sweetly about the whole thing. I told her that we were fucking blasted.
After Audio Quattro got done, we went back up to the green room and put on our red union suits. We were all completely stoned on Absinthe and hash. Jeff stuffed his suit with pillows, which was hysterically funny. We were running around like madmen. When we finally went onstage, the room was PACKED with people. Lots of girls dancing, dudes yelling. During a break. I took two feathers out of the headdress I was wearing and gave them to the two girls standing in front of me. A tall blonde dressed in black, wearing gold heels that sparkled. And a short blonde with a white t-shirt and no bra. They were both very very young and reminded me of American girls. Before the show, Harlan bet me 10 Euro who could get a hard-on first while playing onstage. The Union suits were so revealing, I just didnt want to be embarrassed by looking like I had a tiny little mosquito dick. Just put yourself in my shoes: Yer tryin to concentrate on what youre doing, the soundman sucks, you cant fucking hear yourself and you have 2 keyboards, 8 pedals, a guitar and lyrics to contend with. Youve drank a bathtub full of Swiss moonshine, essentially, and smoked a bale of what someone told you was hash. Now you have to pull a fucking strong-dong onstage or you lose 10 Euro. And what's that in Yankee dollars? Like 50 bucks!! Boy, I fucking TRIED. And, MAYBE I could have gotten the fire started a couple times, but as soon as I would have to think about what I was doing, all that bullshit disappeared. I stared at the one girls sparkly gold heels for awhile, which almost worked. But, alas, nothing. Fortunately, neither one of us won the bet, since Harlan is a limp-dick motherfucker anyway. Heh heh.
But ANYWAY, back to the feathers. After the show, Daniel, the mustachiod Trans Am fluffer from Audio Q, tells me there's some weird “how you say” sect of kooks around these Swiss mountains somewhere that has this bizarre ritual thing. There's a shaman wizard leader or something and if he gives one of the girls in the cult a white feather, that means she is his sex slave and can only have sex with him for one year. And the different color feather mean different things. Like a red feather means she's gotta copulate during her cycle, a pink feather would be for a virg, and a brown feather would mean whatever brown feathers mean. I dont know if this dude was pulling my leg or not, but I decided that I needed to get the feathers back from those girls pronto. I even tried to pawn the job off to Monica, but she said, “Oh, no! You dug your grave, now you have to lie in it!”
Creem Dreem Blues and Sgt. Chowder are going off very well. The crowds scream and scream after those songs. They are getting easier to play with the band, too. I was originally too attached to my 4track versions to want to play them with VLADRM. But, they are working out okay.
Anyway, the show went well. The set is becoming tighter,.But, after the last coupla nights, its becoming somewhat boring, Harlan and I have decided. The costumes definitely helped, tho. After J'ai Mal Aux Dents, another one of my 4track recordings (a loose Faust nod) we continued to sing while Harlan stood on top of his amp, playing the riff on the guitar. And Nick, Jeff and I marched out into the audience, singing at the top of our lungs, then out the back door. We could hear the crowd screaming bloody murder inside, so we went back out and did a couple more. And after the very last song the whole act turned into this surreal travelling medicine show with Harlan as the carnival barker and Jeff playing the floor tom with his mallets. Our first customer came onstage, a rather annoying, tall, shaggy blonde-haired ape who I had run into earlier. And Harlan greets him and announces to the crowd, “Our first customer, ladies & gentlemen! But where's his money?” The crowd screamed. Positioned at the rear of the stage, I snuck up behind the guy in the commotion and fished his wallet out of his back pocket while Harlan had his arm around the guys shoulders. I held up the wallet on the other side of Harlan for the crowd to see and they roared. We made a lot of money that night selling records. Some deejays played R&B/garage/soul records again and everybody danced and drank. I knew I must have looked stupid, wearing a red union suit, thick brown ROMCOs, and Indian headdress and a suit jacket. But I didnt care. I just felt like dancing. The Swiss girls are funny, too. Theyll sort of sneak up on you, dancing, without getting too close. Then theyll either stare at you or smile and wait for you to do something. Or theyll act completely bored and nonplussed, desperately waiting for you to make a move. I spent most of the night making these girls wait. Too bad for them I wasnt planning on doing anything anyway. I was too stoned and enjoying my own self. Except for this one girl who had pinched my nipples TWICE when I was onstage. She was harshing my ride. I was constantly trying to get away from this psycho. Later I saw her trying to make out with a girl who wasnt as drunk as she was, and the girl was getting ANGRY.
I hung with Monica for a bit, talking and dancing, laughing at all these weird, Brooklyn-ish Swiss chicks. They were definitely taking notes from something. Big Mama Thorton's Hound Dog came on and I told Monica I was from Memphis. I watched her think for a second and then a sly grin creeps upon her face and she says, “SO WHAT!” and turns her nose up on me. This chick was pretty hilarious. I think she was flirting pretty hard with me, Nick and Jeff. She asked me if I was wearing underwear under my union suit. I was explaining to her unusual english phrases when Nick walked up, and I took that opportunity to split and go back upstairs. Jeff and Matthias were smoking hash and talking about Rothschild, Rockefeller and the Federal Reserve. This was more my speed. I jumped in the shower and then got in bed. Pretty soon the whole band came back into the bedroom to sleep. It was after 5am, I think. The pink sky was opening up outside and a mist was coming down the mountain and disapating into the lake. Old Swiss couples were circling in rowboats and rocking violently as the occasional crazed water-skier flew by. It was going to be a beautiful summer day. We all laid there in the dark for a moment and all of a sudden it dawned on me, “You know what guys? You know what sound cats love? 'Chirp, chirp, chirp.'”
The nexy day we packed our gear and hit the road. Into France, thru what I guessed were the Pyrenees. I left my map at home. The mountains are beautiful, unbelievably. And the weather is mild, partly cloudy where they roll by very low and fast, dipping and rising out of the mountains.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

VLADM summer 08 tour blog - GERMANY

Middle Eastern camera shops, used archaic computer parts, sex shows, delis, tobacco shops, old hotels. The club was in a neon hallway outta Xristiane F. through a strip mall in the middle of the city. We found an old Leica camera when they still the Nazi eagle emblem on them in a shop nearby. There was a model train shop across the hall from the club.
The 59 to 1 Club was pretty big. Bad sound. Ian, the promoter/chef there, cooked us a big meal with curried vegetables and celery schnitzel. They also had a Senseo machine, which led me to drink about 10 cups of coffee. We all got pretty drunk, especially Harlan and Nick. The sound was awful, the show was tired, but the music was swirling. Lots of feedback, delay and tone washes. It saved us. Afterwards we sold a bunch of records. The downloads we have for sale seemed to confuse the Germans. The Europeans, all in all, are way more interested in vinyl. But, there's always some chick going on and on about how her parents have a record player, but she doesnt. Nick says, maybe your parents are cooler than you. And I say, then you should buy your daddy one of our records.
The hotel we stayed in smelled like anal sex. Really. Dirty ass fucking. We checked in and went up to our room, only to find a small room with one small bed, no bathroom, no sink and no television. Harlan went down to get a second room and Jeff and I got the key, wandered through the hotel (elaborate, beautifully ancient, but still stinky) and eventually found our room, which had 2 beds, a bathroom & shower, a window with a view of the square and a T.V. We slept late.

1 hour
wrong ways
sgt chowder
dub yello house
high numbers
needle to the heart . . .
that dont make me feel good
getting better
creem dreem blues
jai mal aux dents
the hand

We spent the morning looking for a downtown shop, supposedly with hundreds of Bollywood movies that Nick had found the last time he was there. The search led us to a park where my dope senses started to tingle as I watched a group of Middle Eastern dudes make clandestine exchanges. Nick bought a sandwich with a whole entire herring stuffed inside it. I got a crawfish sandwich with Asian slaw and while eating away on it noticed a donut vendor. I ordered a cinnamon one and watched a big, fat German dude stab it down onto a giant syringe that injected applesauce into it. Hot damn! I immediately started yelling for someone, anyone, to come take a look at this shit. Nick was nearby and turned it down at first. But after watching me eat mine, and reluctantly letting him have a bite, he ended up going back to get one.

The drive to Darmstadt led us through the Black Forest, dark clouds, and an unusual amount of traffic. We are trying to decrease our amount of stuff as much as possible before Switzerland, so there was a lot of cigarettes being smoked along the way. I started to feel sick in the van, so I melted away into my headphones. But they were so huge and ill-fitting that they began to give me a headache, and in turn my tooth started throbbing again. It's like a little man is dying inside my mouth. We listened to an Alex Jones podcast that Jeff had with him and drove on in to Darmstadt.
Very quiet, narrow streets. Eerily quiet. Some parts of the town reminded me of Southern California for some reason. Semi-rural coastal towns like Palos Verdes. The club was actually a music school built in 1835 and used as “alternative schooling” since the War. The room we played in was down a flight of stairs in a dark, stone cavern with several dark arched hallways, a bar and the room with the stage, which was once a swimming pool nestled down in this stone dungeon. Voodoo Kong opened for us. They were awful, but the drummer wore a monkey mask. He was similar in stature to Ian S. or Bobby Conn. But he couldnt save his shitty band. Our show was lackadaisical at best. But Nick seemed to enjoy it. If theres one thing about Nick, he realizes the value of entertainment and will give %100 of himself even if its a tired night or, even worse, a tired crowd. I dont know if he learned this from Jeff Evans in '68 or if he's always had this sense of duty. Either way, its very deeply ingrained. Again, the crowd bought a ton of records. One guy asked me what album Creem Dreem Blues was on. And although all my CDRs arent ready, I havent been able to reduce and copy the cover so I can sell them.
After the show we sat and talked to Roman, from Redondo Beat, for a long while. I gave him a Teledildonics CDR. Cool dude, he reminded me a little of Greg Faison from the Antique Curtains, etc. Roman is going to try to make it to Memphis for GonerFest.

dub s.s.
1 hour
wrong ways
sgt chowder
dub yellow house
high numbers
creem dreem blues
getting better
that dont make me feel good
jai mal aux dents
- - - -
to the park
push and pull
new real politik

After saying so long to Roman, we drove a couple miles to the place we were staying for the night. To our amazement, it was a massive, stone castle with a garden, stone paths, gargoyles and a general “haunted vibe.” We were all pretty wasted, especially Jeff, once we made it up to our room on the second floor. Apparently, the castle had been abandoned and is now run as a co-op with government funding. This seems to be common over here, but obviously very rare in the states, where our taxes mostly go the the military and politically motivated blowjobs. Our bedroom was large, but there was a nest of spiders behind my bed. So I moved to a set of mattresses stacked up on top of each other in the center of the room, which led to several Princess and the Pea comments that got real old real quicklike. Nick and I both thought that when the spiders marched on me in the night, their theme should be Joe Meek. Prolly March of the Globbots. Harlan rolled up the rest of Jeff's stuff and we went out to the garden to smoke. We stood on the winding, iron staircase and got super crazy. I had a big, black blanket wrapped around my head and felt like Count Dracula. Harlan and I wondered how old the castle must have been and what weird events must have transpired there over time. There's a large part of European history that is based on lineage. Some count or lord built this place or his family and his descendants. It's not like that in the US. Americans dont think that far ahead.
I wanted to go for a walk, but was way too tired at that point. But Harlan went for a stroll out in the darkness and came back really spooked. He said he had felt like the guy in the horror movie who was about to get whacked, only he didnt know it but the audience did. He said, “Brendan, youre educated. What do you know about German history? Back in the B.C.?” And I turned my head and said, “Well Harlan, in the B.C.?” And he said, “Yep.” And I said, “the 'Before Coconuts' time?” And he said, “Exactly.” So I went on, “It all started with the Visi-Goths, a roaming group of barbarians obsessed with blackness and Bauhaus. That's actually how painted, black nails came into fashion later.
“The rest of European culture had advanced very far. The Romans subjugated the German tribes.”
Harlan asked me, “Who fought the Visi-Goths?”
I pensively paused for a second and replied, “The 49ers. With lazerguns.”
Nick piped in, “They had a great quarterback that year.”
I continued, “Europe was eventually united through German ingenuity by a series of pneumatic tubes and tunnels that were used to transport goods and foodstuffs. That's actually how WWII got started, because of the lack of air pressure in Germany.”
“And that leads us up to today,” I finished.
My story had lulled everyone to sleep. German History 101.

The next morning Nick and I went over to a park between the music school and the castle and ran around the grounds surrounding this giant house. I have no idea who lived there or what kind of building it was. A government house or a museum of some sort maybe. But the park was great and it was warm and sunny. We took a bunch of photos and then hit the road.