Grenoble-the Homecoming!

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.

City Center
Sweet Relief
Ye Olde Church
Church Detail
Driver! Drummer!
Katja Explodes
Holy Cow!
Mineral Water
This Is The Kit
Backstage Glory
Rock time
Chris takes a break

Lyin’ in Lyon…errr…

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.

Le Maquis
Le Sonic
Calm Before the Storm
Name in Lights!
Backstage Glory
The Chief
Cotton Wood
Late Night
Monument à Pierre

Rodez not Rodez

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 98℉/37℃ 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?”

Bordeaux Organ
Bordeaux Church
Fossil Fuels
Pay up!
An Expensive Sandwich
Poster du jour
Thieves Everywhere
Vink Vray

Bordeaux Bordello

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.

Vitoria le vieux
In Lights!
Bell Tower
Bordeaux Bordelle
Eddie & the Hotrods
Tower of Power
I will

Spaghetti Western to Vitoria-Gasteiz

Driving through the dry plateaus of this part of Spain is pretty impressive. Vast, open land with a big sky, full of sun and blue and a whole lot of scrub brush; I can only hope Clint Eastwood shows up on the horizon and rides past and doesn’t shoot me. That doesn’t happen but we find a restaurant in the middle of nowhere and get lucky with some tortillas, patatas bravas, calamari and lots of little tapas. Not bad for a gas station but much needed because we’ve been eating a whole lot of sandwiches lately.
We head to Vitoria-Gasteiz, the capital of the Basque Country, for a show in a university.
We are feeling a little burned out and sometimes university shows can be a bummer. This one is great though – really nice hosts and a whole lot of people all of the sudden. It was looking a little grim because it was an early show but the people came and seemed to like it, therefore, I like it.
The show is early enough that we are taken to a great restaurant and are treated to some risotto, fish with patatas bravas and then a very elaborate chocolate concoction, plus a ton of delicious rioja. They even have escalators on the street so we don’t have to work too hard to get up the 5% incline. Heaven, thank you for allowing us to enter your pearly gates. I will remember this next time I’m bad and if I believe in you.

Good Morning, Valencia
Man oh man
Smog Apples
Stage Time
Town Square
Food Desperados
Tools of the Trade

Valencia-Dub Club w/ Cigüeña

It is time to escape the hot, hot heat of Barcelona for Valencia. We’ve never been to Valencia before so we are excited to see a new city but also sad to say goodbye to Barcelona. Not enough time to eat all the tapas and drink all the sangria here. Perhaps if they could put it all in a blender and make a big catalan specialty soup (tapas de gambas, jamon iberico, sangria, puta madre, queso fresco, chocolate, etc.) and then turn it into a powder so we can just drop it into hot water at the next rest stop. Seems reasonable to me, not to mention extremely marketable.
Valencia is right on the mediterranean and we see a couple of thousand castles on the way down the coast. Where we come from only Disneyland has castles but here they are like rotting fruit on the ground, like stray cats, like so many grains of sand on a beach, like stars in the milky way. Ok, I get it. Still, they are pretty cool to see and very impressive.
Valencia has all the potential to be amazing-it’s pretty big, it’s on the mediterranean and there’s a bunch of old shit. Apparently. I didn’t really see it. All I see is the Dub Club and a cafe that sells, oddly enough, beer. Here we relax and enjoy the weather with the Betunizer guys-a band from Valencia. And tonight we play with Cigüeña (Stork), a band half from here and half from Majorca which is just god damn exotic, if you ask me. Which you didn’t, but I don’t care, I’m going to come right out and say it: exotic. Eat it, naysayers.
Rock. Sleep. Drive. check.

The Ocean
Blinky the Clown
The road
Window Tourism
Better be good
Dub Club
Dub Club 2
Stage me

Barcelona-Heliogabal w/ Lazy Juo

Today we have a long drive to Barcelona-home of sun, tapas, and iberico jamón. You can say, “come on with the jamón, ramon” if you want. People in Spain will think you are really funny. I haven’t tried that yet, but I’m positive it will make people laugh. Seriously, try it. Really. But don’t do it in Barcelona because they speak Catalan here and are liable to punch you in your fat face.
The trials of life and the hardships of this tour 4 days in have become too much for some members of the tight unit known as the Paramount Styles Attack Squad. It has, therefore, become virtually impossible to wake some of them up. I’m not naming names but let’s just say it rhymes with “Fasshole.” So, after some wrangling and some twisting and some harsh dialogue, we are on the road again. Heads clearing up, eyes opening, odors emanating, we are treated to yet another day of gazing at the beautiful french countryside. Whatever-seen it, been there, done it. Next! We arrive in Barcelona perfectly on time, like the well-oiled if not slightly over-lubricated machine that we are.
Il Gruppo di La Castanya treat us like stars-we play in Heliogabal in the Gracia district of Barcelona with Lazy Juo from St. Felieu and many people come out on a monday night. Thank you! We have managed to deceive our hosts into thinking that we deserve good food, nice friends and lots of alcohol. I’m terrified of their reaction when they discover the truth. Don’t let the truth set you free, Joan and Albert!

Dead Man
Leads me
Hungryman dinner
Wine me!
Saucy Town
French Countryside
Hand of Fate
Cartell de la Jornada
Lazy Juo

Flight to Niort

Plenty of fighting and drinking at the end of last night made for a very interesting evening. I don’t what is happening that seems to be following us… maybe it’s a full moon that brings out the “I’m so drunk I want to fight somebody anybody” folks. Anyway, we awake and the chaos is behind us, thankfully. No… wait… it’s not. Our van is gone.
Yes, yawn, our van has either been towed or stolen. I prefer to think it has been towed since there are no thieves in Lorient, only people who like to fight. Oh, wait, there are thieves everywhere. So we head with our friend JB to the police station where they eye us warily as wanton criminals and, indeed, our van has been towed. Phew. That is the better of the two options. After a particularly jarring morning ride around town we retrieve the van from the impound lot. People who have been up quite late carousing don’t always make the best morning drivers but it beats walking…though I suppose walking beats death. Rochimbeau!
Paperwork behind us, we drive through some, again, beautiful countryside to get to Niort. Niort is the home of insurance agencies in France and therefore a pretty important economic engine for the country. It’s also a pretty nice little city. They have canals, castles, steep narrow little streets and cognac. Our friend Eric has arranged our show tonight outside at a little restaurant facing a canal and the castle and a bunch of french people. It’s sunny, warm and it’s a lazy sunday. I could think of worse things to do than relaxing in a little café facing a canal and an old castle in the sun. Wait, how about a delicious meal and some wine with that? Oh, how about some champagne too? When people say, “wahhhh, touring is hard…. wahhhh….” this is not the part they are talking about.

For Real
Niort Donjon
Niort City Hall
All Styles
Niort Market
Niort Donjon
Poster du Jour
Niort Downtown

Lorient with Tax Station

Our kind hosts, David and Sylvie, rescue us from the horrors of city life, transporting us way out into the country to stay in their circa 1520 farmhouse. We are treated to peace and quiet, stars, homemade jam and a whole lot of green nature stuff. It’s terrifying, frankly.
After a typical stroll through the french countryside to inspect our horses and pastures, we hit the road for Lorient. Pretty everyday stuff for us, you know? Strolling through the french countryside, eating croissants, home made jam, tilting at windmills; all pretty much a daily routine at this point. But Lorient is different! About 95% of Lorient was destroyed during the war as this was/is a pretty major port town. Last time we were here we found this massive submarine base that was heavily bombed but virtually unharmed since it was built of about 120,070,003 meters of concrete. That’s a lot. But all of that is forgotten now as we search the city and find only McDonalds, H&M, Monoprix, Converse store, Levis store, etc etc. and a massive cconcrete cathedral by Jean Baptiste Hourlier.
Being back at Le Galion is like being home again. Everyone is here and we wait outside with the stench of dead fish as they wrap up a journalist forum/interview/competition inside the venue. Then we get down to business: fighting!
It seems Paramount Styles has become the Corrosion of Conformity of lite acoustic rock. Somebody got the message we were hard and heavy, lean and mean and that we take no prisoners! I think they might want to go back and reread the fax.

Les Vaches
Concrete Cathedral
Concrete World
One Ship
Le Galion
Poster du Jour
Writer's Revenge
Tornado Logo
Tax Station
Nautical Night
We're Back!
Press here
Calmez Vous
Fight #1
Fight #2

Nantes at Le Violon Dingue

Our stay in Le Havre was successful in that we did not get sucked into a fight with the angry bald guy from the night before. Treated to cocktails chez JP and some conversation about stuff and stuff and some angry stares from our hotel patron because of our rather late arrival, the hotel exacts their revenge by commencing a full on barrage of sawing, hammering and smashing the room next to us at 9 am. The experience of awaking to the sounds of screaming saws cutting through steel and sledge hammers on concrete is alarming, to say the least. I could imagine the same feeling if I put my head in a metal cylinder and rolled down a mountain of stacked, rusting shopping carts. Actually, it was quite funny, especially in retrospect. We calmed our nerves with the hospitality of Manu at his little house up in the hill. Hey, not a bad ending! Bread, coffee and sunshine. Did I mention it was really sunny and beautiful? A nice change from the constant rain of the entire year.
Then, after a grueling, hard fought day of driving through the french countryside – forced to look at the sea, cows, a bunch of trees and a whole lot of green stuff, we claw our way into the civilized and, yes, again, beautiful city of Nantes. We pass Mont St. Michel, which, if you’ve never been there, is one amazing sight. We see it, both 20 km away, and in the Mont St. Michel Rest Stop/Gas Station. That’s as close as we’ll get. Oh and Happy 1100th birthday, Normandy! What do you get for your 1100th birthday? I have no idea-don’t you have everything already?
One of the great, fantastic things about being an unknown band is that you get to play in small venues that can’t accommodate big bands and crowds and so on. Often, you play way outside of the city and everything is very “professional” and impersonal. Le Violon Dingue is in a tiny little street in Nantes in the center and was an old theatre during the war. Very cool, very well laid out and staffed by very kind, generous, gracious and, well, nice, people. And we have a french feast! Whole chickens, tons of vegetables and bread and wine. I’m not even sure I can figure out a way to be unhealthy… oh, wait, I know. Beer. So here we are, in a very cool bar, meeting very cool people and getting to actually experience the city. I like it! and I like the band we are playing with: DAN!
update: no fights tonight.

Blue Monday
Good Morning!
Le Havre church
Sun's out
Out of Time
Le Mont!
Lazy Afternoon
Le Violon Dingue
Tonight's Menu
Puking Machine
Food Festival
Le Dingue au Violon
Any questions?
Ciao Nantes!