Le Havre was a formerly quaint little port town until an event some have called “a bad time” occurred in the early 1940s, transforming the town into a smoldering wreck. It was rebuilt in the 1950s with a consistent modern/linear/square style by a team of architects including Raymond Audigier (thankfully not Christian Audigier). This gives it a clean but somehow slightly cold neorealist utopian style. What the hell am I talking about? You got me.
We arrive at McDaid’s, an irish pub in the middle of town. That’s right, an irish pub in France. Why not? I saw one in Moscow, too. They are everywhere. I guess some people just like the comfort of home.
Tonight we played with We from Le Havre and Ultra Panda from Paris/Lyon/Tours. Bands these days, what can we do? We play on the internet since rent’s too damn high. Both bands prove their mettle and we get our act together and improve on our inconsistent modern/linear/square style to make it more people friendly.
There is some sort of hazing university ritual going on today where hundreds of students dress in tyvek/painters suits and pelt each other with paint and eggs all the while singing songs and drinking, of course, champagne. I’m pleased to announce that the U.S. does not have a corner on the market of really annoying drunk college students. Celebrate! Nor do we have the corner on drunken idiots smashing bottles and getting in fights. Tonight, for example, one clean shaven headed individual approached me and said something like, “byrlrkrrk bleeehhhhh frrrgrgggg wjssnntttttâ€¦.” which I took to mean “hey, I would like to engage you in some pointless banter and then get pissed off about something pointless and then commence fighting with you. A’right?” I carefully declined his offer but a larger more able bodied individual took him up on the challenge and the chaos ensued. After smashing some bottles and glasses, getting into some chokeholds and tossing each other around, including a quick detour inside our van, they took the action around the corner. Bottles breaking, words exchanged, shirts ripped off, adrenaline and fluids adequately swapped, the fighting eventually ended. The “no no, he’s not a stupid skinhead” guy returned, unbloodied but slightly chastened announced he had beaten “the english guy.” Then he turned to the crowd and said, “are you english?” Everyone was quick to admit that, sadly, no, they were not english. Maybe next time. See? There are idiots everywhere-we are one-remember that the next time you point your fingers and denounce u.s.!
Well, today is the first day of this short little september Paramount Styles jaunt. Everyone is arriving from all over the world at the very last minute. This keeps things interesting and hopefully not extremely unprofessional. Paris may not be the best place to start this tour and work out the kinks, but hey, it’s not a major city or anything. And it’s Paris-the city of lights and men in blue and white striped shirts who ride bicycles while carrying baguettes. It’s a fantastic city to start in because it constantly defies boredom or ordinariness-it never ceases to amaze, this city.
Sadly, Simon is unable to join us on this tour because blah blah dragons plague smallpox economic crisis of the miserchordia. He will be sorely missed because a. he’s awesome and b. he’s quite fashionable and dapper. We will joined by the lovely and talented Katka from Brno, Czech. Watch out, the power is swinging wildly from Belgium pride to Czech Certitude. Wars have been waged over less.
We are playing in a new venue in a boat on the Seine called Le Petit Bain with 2 groups: Nickel Pressing and Cvantez. It should be fun and this boat is full of very nice people, exceptional design and no damn decibel police. My god, they are everywhere with their little meters saying “You’re too damn loud!” Is this a Quiet Riot video or something? We will persevere, especially since, for now, you can make noise on a boat with no neighbors to complain. I’m sure they will emerge soon enough.
And luckily, the boat is tucked away enough for most people to miss our, well, misses. There are some clams in this performance. We are making clam chowder!
Well, we are getting ready to head to Paris in a few days. We are now playing on this cool boat in the Seine called le Petit Bain. It should be pretty nice-Paris, the Seine, baguettes, fromage. Come on, it’s France! Maybe next time we’ll play at Divan du Monde up near Montmartre but not this time. What’s not to like? Well, I’ll tell ya – this:
We are once again unable to make it to the UK due to some unforeseen circumstances. We are gutted like I’m sure you all are. I can feel your guttiness from over here. It takes guts to say we are gutted that we have gutted the UK guts of our fabulous journey. Why? well, many reasons, none of which are very good. Sooo, we can only say we are really sorry and hope to get there soon. But hey, this could be a great reason to take a vacation in Spain!
Allow me to tell you about Spain! We have 3 shows there including Barcelona, Valencia and Vitoria. Now I know you are thinking, “but the weather here in England is so great right now!” You could be right, depending on the minute you are reading this… however, no one in their right mind would disagree with your newfound yearning to have a nice little vacation in Spain. Ryan air is practically pleading with you to do it (taxes and surcharges extraâ„¢).
So, I hope all of you english citizens will forgive us for not gracing your beautiful shores this time. We hope to get there one day, perhaps with the help of Neptune or Fortuna or David Cameron.
ps-my favorite overheard line of the day: “what’s that british air company called?” “British Airways?” “Yeah, that’s the one.”
Well, so here it is…the middle of August. We have been working diligently on a European Tour for September and now probably November. Everything is looking pretty good – we’ll be hitting France, Spain and England for the September section and some other countries in November. That is, assuming that the world still exists by then. In America, the stock market has lost about 45 Bazillion Dollars or whatever it is that the financial gurus push around on paper, the UK is suffering from major rioting, the EU is looking a bit shaky with Greece, Portugal, Ireland, and Italy all having financial problems. The credit demons are hungrily eyeing France now. La vie en rouge, I think.
So, what can we do to take your mind off this calamity? Sing some songs about beautiful New York and beautiful Prague? Why not. They are still beautiful after all. I still love italian food and we still have our health…
Andy at Orange 94.0 in Vienna has very generously invited us to do an interview on his show – Musikbeisl. There it is- we showed up, played a bunch of songs, answered questions as inelegantly as would could, performed one song live and then called it a night. Beer, here we come! thanks, Andy! Orange 94.0 is a cool, independent station with real djs who really push buttons when the songs begin and end and really talk, too.
We got back to Vienna and say goodbye to everyone. Once again, we will disperse to our varies hideouts throughout the globe. Interestingly enough, another person going into hiding is Otto von Habsburg. He died July 4th and today there will be a massive funeral for him. His full name is impressive: Franz Joseph Otto Robert Maria Anton Karl Max Heinrich Sixtus Xavier Felix Renatus Ludwig Gaetan Pius Ignatius. Not bad at all-I’d like to see someone outdo that! He was the last in the line of Habsburgs, named Archduke Otto of Austria and before that the Crown Prince of Austria, when he was 4 until it was dissolved at age 6. Not to get all grandiose, but this is a family that goes all the way back to the 10th century and has a lot of big titles like “King of the Romans” and “Holy Roman Emperor” and “King of Bohemia/Hungary/Croatia/Spain/Portugal” etc. etc. etc. You can even throw Transylvania in there – see? got your attention. As an a citizen of a country with a pretty short history after colonization, this is an impressive historical moment.
Well, today is the day we head up to Ostrava. Libor and the gang are ready to go and the heat is unbridled and relentless. Into the massively tiny Volkswagen we climb and head east, heads held high. But alas, as I am the rainbringer, it starts to rain. Again with the rain…it seems to follow me into every corner of every state and every country where I travel. I think it is time to head to the Sahara or some drought stricken province. Maybe even Arizona and Texas could use my help – though, god knows, it would be the first time they would ever ask for the help of a yankee.
Ostrava is right on the border of Poland so I expect to see a pretty varied crowd. Known for its coal mines and steel plants, Ostrava stopped doing most of that in 1994 though it’s still pretty sooty looking. It’s like a kind of Pittsburgh/Allentown amalgamation – they even have a perpetually burning underground disaster site called the Emma dump just like us (see Centralia)! Pittsburgh and Dresden are actually Ostrava’s sister cities. They also have something I didn’t see – a unique drinking street unlike anything in the Czech Republique, I’m told. I assume this consists of bars on StodolnÃ Street where you can drink which makes it… well… not unique in my mind, but I didn’t see it, so what do I know?
The lineup is pretty interesting though most of the bands I know – mono, pil, grinderman, joan as police woman – are all english speaking, which is pretty lame on my part. The Plastic People of the Universe is playing which is pretty great. I just learned about this group but my quick summation: they formed in 1968 right after the Soviets returned to Czechoslavakia following the Prague Spring and began their undoubtedly pleasant “Normalization” process. The band was essentially outlawed and I am told that often they would call their shows “weddings” and everyone would just pretend they were going to a big wedding. Pretty brilliant idea, really. Many of the members were arrested in 1976 which led to the writing of the Charter 77 by among others, Vaclev Havel. So, that’s a pretty darn historical group.
We were pretty much first up on the festival lineup, starting at 7:30 so as not to conflict with another better known band. We were a little afraid no one would show up but we were nicely surprised at all the sizable crowd. It was a great show for us, the Colours of Ostrava festival did an amazing job at setting up the great looking stage and space and making everything run smoothly. We even got to see Public Image, LTD. who I’ve never seen – they were in fine form even though it started to rain in the middle of their set. Nice job, Ostrava folks!
So I fly through Zurich. It’s rainy and awful. California-rainy and awful. Paris-rainy and awful. Antwerpen-rainy and awful. Vienna? It’s close to 12000 degrees here. I feel like I’m on the surface of the sun after a lengthy glacial nightmare. Thank you, Vienna, for remembering that July is typically quite hot unless you are in Australia or Buenos Aires. I am not.
Tonight we play at WUK in Vienna with Joan As Police Woman. It promises to be a good show, especially since the outdoor garden has more beer than you can shake an Austrian stick at. And it’s outdoors. And it’s really hot. And there’s a lot of beer.
Well, we say goodbye to the U.S. of A. after all the stars and stripes and explosions and head over to Europe for 2 upcoming shows… We’ll be playing with Joan as Police Woman in Vienna on Wednesday, July 13th and then at the Colours of Ostrava festival on Thursday, July 14th. Joan as Police Woman is a band featuring Joan Wasser, fomerly of the Dambuilders. She has a new record out as of April called The Deep Field and it will be cool to see her/them play live. Looking forward to that and then playing in the Czech Republic again at the Colours of Ostrava festival. This festival features Mono, the Horrors, Swans, Roy Akens and, uh… Public Image Ltd. plus more! lots more! We’ll be there Thursday so we’ll introduce the festivities and then sit back and let the magic happen.
Last night I had a tour nightmare. A tour nightmare is a kind of panic dream that most people probably have; mine just happens to pertain to tragic tour mishaps. Usually, it entails showing up late to a show, completely unprepared and embarrassing yourself horribly. They are pretty funny once you wake up, at least for me, especially since they are over. Last night’s episode was a good one. We were playing in a fancy nice club, let’s say le Botanique in Brussels, since I just played there. We were somewhere, I don’t know where, when it was announced that we were supposed to be on stage and we were already 5 minutes late. We went to the stage and the stage manager looked at us disdainfully but I wasn’t that worried. I got onto stage, assuming that I had already gotten the drum stuff together and soundchecked but alas, I had not. The drums were there but not completely set up correctly. No big deal, I thought, just move this here and that there and I’m ready to go. Upon closer inspection, I noticed the the cymbals weren’t really set up on the right stands, so I quickly rearranged them and Scott turned to me and said, “ready?” I said, “yep, no problem…” They opened the curtain as I was putting the hi hat cymbals on the hi hat stand instead of whatever weird way they were arranged… Since this is a dream there is no explanation as to how everything could be so screwed up. Anyway, getting ready to start the song I noticed that the bass pedal wasn’t on the bass drum… oh, wait, the floor tom was using the bass pedal as a leg… oh and all of the drums were set up in front of the carpet which meant that the drum set was going to slide all around. Pardon me, non drummers, for this boring story. There is actually an intricate magic to making drums work and it can all go horribly wrong if it’s done incorrectly. Then I noticed that there was a wooden clothes dresser right next to the floor tom. Wait, there was also a stack of chairs between me and the left crash cymbal. Wait, there’s a ton of dusty old furniture piled high all around me on stage and the bass drum just fell over. I have to stop the song we are playing and frantically grab drum pieces and furniture and move them all around. Scott looks at me in total desperation and I say, “no, no, it’s fine…” but it is not fine… I’m surrounded by piled high dusty furniture that seems to be moving in on me. They close the curtain and the crowd starts booing and nothing is working right. Then I open my eyes in panic. Hang on, I’m not even on tour! Bizarre. Bizarre especially since I was essentially attacked by a bunch of old furniture on stage – where was the outrage at that, Scott? Not, “oh my buddy is being attacked by 19th century antiques” but “dude, what are you doing? You are always screwing up!” Thanks. Sheesh.