The great thing about Europe is that many of the cities are very close and not many people seem to want to travel too far. So our drive was about one hour, except for the traffic which turned it into a 4 hour drive. But stillâ€¦ well, that was pretty long, I guess. The entire reason I play in a band is to be a perpetual tourist but this is not going well, since the two things I know about the Czech Republic are that they make the sun go down pretty early and their president likes to steal pens. So you sit in a dark, cold van with steamed up windows looking at huge dark objects pass by – could be an old factory, could be a fallen spaceship or could be some sort of unholy alliance between a grossly irradiated 50ft. wall of toxic sludge and Danzig. One remarkable thing is that we take a chance and stop at this roadside restaurant which features a stage with real alligators and turtles under it. I guess if you are a bad band they feed you to the alligators?
The club tonight is a cool place called Mumie and we are playing with a local band quite well known called HoupacÃ KonÄ›. I’ll be damned if these people and the promoters aren’t all super nice-what is it with all these nice people? Getting fucking sick of it.
Anyway, we have a great time, the audience seems very happy since they hit their hands together instead of hitting their hands on my face. And we are excited because, though a rare event, Blinky Midnight shows up and shows off his djing skills. The dance party has commenced. And a weird soviet style school hostel awaits us with paperwork and weirdness. But whatever, just one night.
PS-We hear in 3 days that there is a big fire in the club and it does a fair amount of damage.
We wake up after having being savagely attacked by a french bar and a man who hates canadians. We put one foot in front of the other, we insert croissants into our apparently open mouths, drain coffee cups of their coffee and take our places. Today is going to go like this:
stop. look at some stuff in a convenience store, taking utmost care to buy the best products-chips? chocolate bar? coffee? chips? chocolate bar? coffee? chips? chocolate bar? coffee?
It’s a beautiful morning and the sun is shining through the vines into our castle in the sky, but we must leave for France today. It shouldn’t be too bad to leave the land of sausages for the land of bread, cheese and wine. Today we play a festival in Audincourt with Pneu, Jack and the Bearded Fishermen and Tractopelle in Versailles. Should be fun and it’s a good opportunity to pretend to speak french.
Little do we know that we are being set up for a massive ambush. The show progresses well with all the bands showing off their exceptional skills – for example, Pneu manages to play at 221 bpm for their entire set while we stand 40 cm from them. Impressive! We play and all goes as planned – there’s even a fight after the show! Paramount Styles and a fight between some drunk people is like yin and yang, like apple pie and ice cream, like Metallica and Lou Reed. Well that last one, maybe not so much. Speaking of which, if I may digress, there are 2 security guards here: one older, tall and thin, the other younger and not so tall but definitely not one with whom to pick a fight. So some drunk guy starts causing trouble and the tall thin one drops him like a sack of potatoes. Amazing and a lesson to learn-he is not the one I would have picked to win a fight.
Anyway, Jerome and his pals are actually on a mission to destroy us: we return to the backstage area and there is a fully stocked bar ready to attack. We are no match for the onslaught of beer, vodka and whiskey. Out of the corner of my eye I saw it coming but I had no idea of its ferocity. We really could have used that security guard for protection.
Oh so funny… well, what’s actually funny is that I flew in to the Frankfurt airport with a big stupid bag, took the train into the city, ate a wurst in the town square because I was trying to to be all local.. and then I walked to the venue with my big ass bag. Sounds fine right? except the walk was 7.5km so that just means I’m dumb. Big, dumb and stupid, that’s the way they grow us.
Today is the first day of our tour and we begin at the Hafen 2 in Offenbach am Main. It’s a cool club with bounteous amounts of coffee – perfect to fight jetlag. Everyone is happy to be reunited even though it seems like it was 2 days ago or something.
Robert tells us an interesting story about this club and it led me to devise a way to save the economy of the entire world. The city is going to tear down this club to make way for a new school. The demolition will take place next spring and if the club can raise enough money, the city will give (i.e. loan) them money so they can build a new club down the street. Never mind that maybe the city could build the school somewhere else, like, say, next door on the big vacant lot. Or next to the big vacant lot in the neighboring vacant lot. Let’s just say there are other places construction could take place but I realize I’m ignoring the bigger picture! So one thing that really gets the economy going is construction. If the government tells everyone that owns a house or a building that they must tear them down and build new ones and the city will loan them the money at, say, 5%… well, global meltdown fixed! Tons of new building, tons of new jobs, tons of loans-problem solved! You’re welcome, G20-feel free to call me if you have questions.
Well, there it is. That wraps up this particular short little jaunt. Everyone spreads across to the far reaches of the continent to resume their otherwise fabulous and glorious lives. It was great to see a bunch of new towns in France and Spain and sample their differing types of gas, taxes and alcohol. It really seems like these products could catch on with a wider audience.
We will be back in November in the Czech Republic, Poland, Germany, Slovenia and Croatia. We hope that these countries will be more than willing to allow us to sample their gasoline, taxes and alcohol as well. I hear that they have quite a supply.
Ahhh, some of us are well rested in our zero star Premiere Class hotel but sadly, not Chris or Pierre since they don’t get back from the hospital until 5 am. Lesson to those who are willing to listen: don’t have any teeth. They will cause you pain someday. More sage advice later.
We have a short drive to Grenoble, the last stop on our Franco-Spano tour. Grenoble is located at the base of some serious mountains so it offers both a lot of snow and a whole lot of great outdoor activities. I shall do none of them today, except to walk over to see a park with another tower by our friend, August Perret, the man who designed a whole lot of stuff in Le Havre. I went to school in this town and I think I’ve seen more today than I saw the entire time I was there. I mean, there’s a church here from the 4th Century. The 4th Century! I mean, really. Europeans are all like, yeah, we see old stuff all the time-who cares. But even for Europeans, 4th Century? That’s some old shit. That’s like, I see your old busted, crumbling castles and raise you 600 years. So, I’m a little ashamed that I was so ignorant of the history of this town. I’m actually sad that I’m so ignorant, in general. I keep trying and I keep staying ignorant. And also, sadly, I learned that my former professor, a fantastic man, passed away this year, so this visit isn’t much of a homecoming – not that it should be. I spent most of my time skiing instead of hitting the books. Shame.
The folks at Le Ciel treat us marvelously, though we nervously eye the theater seating which often leads to some serious lethargy in the audience. It’s a beautiful place and a nice break from some tiny stages and unsecured backstage rooms. Le Ciel-istes offer us an incredible assortment of cheeses, meats and wines. We even have our own beer dispenser so there’s a lot of talking of moving in here and saving some money on rent. But no, we are kicked out, forced to eat a delicious dinner of duck and potatoes dauphinoise (This is the seat of the Dauphins, after all) and then condemned to our very nice, comfortable hotel room. It’s so nice it’s tragic. A very nice last show and thanks to This Is The Kit from the UK and all the people at Le Ciel.
Finally, after some nice rest, we get up, scrape the scum off our bodies, sprinkle our lithe, finely toned bodies with manly cologne, put flowers in our hair and get some coffee. Poor Chris has finally broken his calm, placid, even-keeled state to proclaim that the pain coming from his tooth is now unbearable. Poor guy: medical help is not going to be easy to come by, especially since it is saturday.
Today’s drive will take us through the mountains to Lyon. It promised to be a very beautiful drive but, strangely for the first time, all we can think about is not throwing up. We wind up and down, right and left, left and right, down and up through the hills and over the dales. Jane, stop this crazy ride! So we stop in a town called Puy en Levant, a pilgrimage stop on the way to St. Juan de Compostella. I suppose it’s a nice town-it has a bunch of old stuff, narrow streets, french stores, even an organ grinder with a monkey. Maybe I’m still too ill from the drive.
Stephan and Pierre and everyone at the Sonic in Lyon are very welcoming. Their boat is right on the river and we can sit on the deck, watch the sunset and make the same jokes over and over again. That’s what we do-repetition=funny. Golden rule of comedy, fyi. Tonight we play with Cotton Wood, a gentilhomme who comes from the nearby countryside.
After rudely devouring more than our share of all of the food made for everyone else, we test the limits of everyone’s patience 1. by being too quiet for some serious drunk fellows, 2. by being too loud for some other non-drunk people 3. by making Pierre take Chris to the hospital, saturday night, for some emergency medical treatment for his tooth. That is way beyond the call of duty and deserves both a statue and a monument in the Sonic’s honor, especially since it may be the last year of this venue’s existence.
After a few days on tour, we are all feeling less than our normal sanitary selves. Our bathing habits can sometimes slip, but luckily our hotel is making me feel cleaner than I’ve ever been. Not to sound like a spoiled child, but man, whoever killed the person in the next room and then carted the body pieces out in separate suitcases sure left an intractable stench. If I may, a combination of dead fish and human feces with a generous portion of eau de 20 day old elephant carcass wouldn’t be that far off. Seriously, the police should look into these 2 guys and their 7 stinking, super heavy suitcases.
Initially, I was eaten alive by mosquitos in our 98â„‰/37â„ƒ room because I dared to walk across the “rug” to open the window. Now I’m too terrified that I will be consumed by a flesh eating disease living amongst all the mold in the shower to actually chance taking one. For hotel showers that’s all de rigueur, but for the love of god, even the maid was horrified by the smell coming out of the Suitcase Slayers’ room next door. Her massive clouds of Glade air freshener were no match for this reeking terror. And sadly, she was going to have to deal with it. Not me, I’m hitting the road immediately. Au revoir!
To make matters worse, it turns out I am living a lie. Though we are supposed to play in a cute town called Rodez, we are actually playing in a town called Onet-Le-Chateau-the town around Rodez. We are treated very nicely by Cyril; we even get a cheese plate/white wine/photo exhibition opening to relax and detraumatize ourselves from this morning’s hotel experience. Vink Vray joins us tonight for this evening’s musical follies. Our favorite quote collection of the past week: “You are SUCK!” “I like your hard!” and “You eat it?”
We say adieu to Vitoria after a nice morning stroll around the city and some last minute food and coffee searches. It’s a very pretty town and the weather is perfect. Seems like a good day to head to France.
Bordeaux is our destination today and we are looking forward to being stopped by french customs as it is their usual habit to stop you far from the border right after you pay one of the endless tolls. Toll roads in France are pretty amazing-the roads are great but, boy, do you pay for it. One 15km stretch of road cost us about 27 euros. It must cost millions to actually make the roads so I suppose it’s a fair trade off. Still, it discourages you from driving and creating more CO2-make less CO2? Come on, isn’t that why we were put on this little blue marble?
Luckily, no legal clampdown at any toll booth occurs and we arrive in the center of a big square in Bordeaux in front of a 14th century tower. I feel I can claim, with very little proof to back it up, that Bordeaux is singularly remarkable for it’s buttery, yellow stone. Almost everything is made in this color and the sun strikes it just in the right way to make the town feel warm and almost tropical. It’s probably because of this that so many crusties with their army of leashed hell hounds inhabit the town squares.
The show promises to be a weird one – there’s us, a r&b band called the Excitements, and a english cover band called Eddie and the Hotrods. The stage is situated well, right in front of the tower, but there are tons of people here and it all seems pretty chaotic. We get some good laughs during the quiet parts of some songs when one of the canine army corps that some drunk crusties have installed directly next to the stage began an all out barking, fighting melee. And a human fight breaks on stage left, so the conflict is in stereo. Good: I hate to have a Paramount Styles show without a fight. It’s been way too long.