The great northern tour 2015: part 11

After all the headaches of yesterday, today we are looking forward to some normality and to get back into the regular tour groove. We are all clearly still exhausted and sleep almost the entire way from Frankfurt to Antwerp.

I think Wojtek is nervous about his van, he knows it hasn’t been fully fixed yet and isn’t sure when it could fail on us again. Today will be our last show in West Europe before we head over the water to London tomorrow.

Antwerp is cold and grey, but I like Belgium and always have. Something about the country appeals to me, and I think its the simplicity of the place. The infrastructure is good and everything is generally modern and clean and things just make sense. Ask ask any one of my band mates and they will tell you I’m a man who appreciates logic and Belgium is full of that.

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Arriving at the venue we have staff members meet us at the van and help us load all our heavy equipment. We are going to enjoy this while it lasts as it will be the opposite treatment in the UK where near body generally gives a shit about you. The venue in Antwerp is cool, it’s a perfectly long rectangular room with a nice big deep stage. The bar is in a separate room and there’s a nice big backstage. They take us to some other backstage rooms and serve us all a cooked dinner. It’s delicious.

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The bands all sound fantastic in the room, we meet some of our Belgian friends from Dunk Festival who have made the trip down to Antwerp to catch up with us. Its really nice to see some familiar faces again.

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Load out after the show is freezing cold, but everyone is in such good spirits (and boozed up) we have a load of fun. Over to England tomorrow!

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The Great Northern Tour 2015: part 10

We got back in to the hostel from the venue at 2:30am, we may as well not sleep as our bus call is at 5am, only another couple of hours away. I figure some sleep is better than none so I rest my head for an hour or so after chatting to my girlfriend back home over the free internet.

I wake to my rude alarm and trudge out the door, everyone is exhausted and we will have to try get some sleep in the van, although its about -2 degrees outside. Walking into the van feels like literally sitting in a freezer.

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We head off towards Frankfurt, Germany. Its a long 12 hour drive, we are absolutely exhausted, grumpy and freezing in the cold. Wojtek turns on the heating in the van but its only really working in the front, Alex and I are sitting right at the back wearing 4 layers of clothes and shivering. This sucks.

We head onto the highway but about 1 hour into the journey, Wojtek pulls off the highway and stops the van. He powers it back on and off a few times but something is wrong. He looks concerned. We see him pop the hood of the van and go outside. It’s 6am and still freezing cold. He cones back in and tells us something is wrong with the engine. This is the single worst time to break down, when we are 1 hour out from civilization on the middle of the highway freezing cold with no heating.

He makes a few phone calls but is advised that all the mechanics in Denmark are shut on Saturdays. We have the option of being picked up by a taxi and taken somewhere but thats useless as all our gear is in the back and we have a show to play in Frankfurt. Right now we dont really care about the show to be honest, we just want to be somewhere warm. After 30 mins or so sitting on the side of the road we decide to look for a mechanic. Wojtek finds one in a nearby town but he doesn’t open until 10am. We have about 3 hours to kill so we sit in the van freeing our arses off waiting for him to arrive. This has got to be the lowest point of our tour, hopefully the lowest. My cold, damp feet and toes feel like they are going to fall off in the cold.

A few hours and an oil and filter change later we decide to take a risk and limp it to Frankfurt but we are going to be 4 hours late at best. We let the other bands know and they kindly change the running order so that we are last on the bill (granted we even make it there at all). Worst case scenario we potentially will miss the next 3 shows. This is going to be a pretty hard hit considering the 3rd show will be London, probably one of the biggest on the tour.

11 hours or so later and we make it to Frankfurt, tired, cold and exhausted. There are drunk people everywhere and the venue is packed with punters. We have to load all our equipment down some tiny stairs past a crowd of people to the non-existant side of stage. Its ceampws abs hectic but everyone is kind of surprised we made it there at all.

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We smash down some beers, load our gear on stage and play a show having not slept in thirty-somwthing hours we are just running on adrenaline. It’d going to be a good sleep tonight!

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Apparently “the macareena” is still a really popular song at clubs in Germany and when the DJ plays it German kids can’t wait to do the dance.

Packing the van after the show and then heading off to the hotel, it’s one of those moments where you dont feel like you’ve actually made it through the day. I’m kind of hating being on tour today. I’m feeling homesick, I’m tired of the constant cold weather, the lack of sleep, the hauling of heavy gear up and down flights of stairs over and over. I miss Julie incredibly. Can’t believe I’m only a quarter of the way through the tour. This had better be the hardest and worst day, surely it can’t get more miserable than this.

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At least we got to order some cup noodles through the window at a petrol station…

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The great northern tour 2015: part 9

Had an alright sleep last night, the rooms each have 5 beds although its only 2 to a room. Surprisingly no noise from the loads of teenagers we saw pile in last night, I think they were all stuck at the opposite end of the complex.

The free internet is pretty great, thanks Scandinavia and please take note Liberal government in Australia. The free internet we get here in Denmark is already faster than what Australia wants to deploy and charge for in 5 years time.

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We cook up a pretty awesome breakfast, I do the eggs, Alex and Otto on the mushrooms and tomato’s and toast. I indulge in some Lurpak butter, I know it will make my girlfriend jealous.

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We have the whole day to explore the city before the show at night. So we take the opportunity to get dropped off in the middle of Copenhagen. I see my first insect of the tour, a tiny fly in a cafe. Thats one thing Europeans take for granted, there’s no bugs here.

The city is small and quaint, beautiful and expensive. It’s the type of place I would love to go on a shopping spree if I had loads of cash. Every store in the city is absolutely immaculate and presented perfectly like some kind of exhibition piece. Its actually kind of freaky and unsettling in some strange way.

We head back to the Lego store, its awesome. These pictures show a bit of what it’s like, Denmark’s national treasure.

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There’s time to explore more of Copenhagen and we venture towards to water and eat open sandwiches and check out the cool scenery.

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The show is in a crazy part of the city called Christiana. It’s kind of a hippie commune on an ex-military base on an island in the middle of the city. The police dont really go there and so it has its own segregated community and rules.

Rule #1: No Running.
Rule #2: No hard drugs.
Rule #3: Have fun.

There’s also kind of a 4th rule; no taking photos, especially at night.

On the way in, someone in a van who works at one of the bars hits the side of our parked van, the dude is probably stoned off his head and our driver is pissed off but he runs into the bar and emerges with a wad of cash. Our driver says its more than generous amount to fix the damage so he’s content.

The venue has a crazy goods lift to get our gear up to the 1st floor plus they have their own beer, which tastes pretty average but I’ll drink it anyway…

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We are headlining tonight. The stage is nice and spacious and the room has filled up by the time we hit the stage. We give it our all and the punters respond enthusiastically. A good night all round!

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The great northern tour 2015: part 8

Nothing really happened today as we spent the whole day driving to Denmark.

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Our stay was at a place called DanHostel. Inside th bathrooms they had a DanDryer to dry your hands. In the city of Copenhagen there was more Dan-stuff. We ate at a steakhouse which had lots of vegan food too. It was nice not playing a show for a change and having a chance to just eat a nice meal as a band.

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Lego store at night. We must go here tomorrow.

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Walking around Copenhagen at night.
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Lots of driving.

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The great northern tour 2015: part 7

We have all woken up today at 4:45am, groggy from only a couple hours sleep in the crappy band apartment bunk beds, we need to be on the road by 5am so we have 15 minutes to take a piss, brush our teeth, then be out the door. We bunked up with the Skyharbor guys and so now there are 13 people all waiting in line to use the single bathroom. I feel like I’m on some kind of year 6 school camp excursion.

With empty bladders we piled into the van and all instantly fall asleep. Otto tries out sleeping in the bunk bed in the van for the first time. Says it’s alright, I might have to give it a go as well at some point on the tour.

The trip is long and painful. My legs are so cramped in the back seat that I’m agitated the whole way. It’s a 12 hour ordeal traveling to Oslo, where we are genuinely excited to go to because we have never been before. The food prices at the petrol stations are a firm reminder we are in Scandinavia. I pay about 6 Aussie dollars for a bottle of soft drink and another 8 dollars for some kind of pastry thing.

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After a long and cold drive we arrive in Oslo, it’s a pretty town and the venue is very nice. It’s this hipster run government funded place with expensive equipment and furnishings. The staff are all nice and awesome to us too, there are also 3 new clean greenrooms although its an all-ages Christian funded place too so no alcohol is allowed. We really don’t mind, its a fair trade off for everything else being great. If we need to drink there are bottles in the van we can drink outside.

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The show goes well and all the bands sound great, however we dont really sell much merch as I think the majority of the punters are here for Skyharbor. Its an interesting tour to be on as different towns will be drawn towards one of the three banda a lot more than the other two, that was kind of the whole point of the tour, to combine our strengths across Europe and UK.

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After the show we go and grab the most expensive Chinese take-away ive ever had. I think 4 dishes with rice end up costing us something like $150 Aussie dollars.

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Accommodation is at a cheap hotel, 4 of us will cram into a little room but it’s better than being in a hostel.

Thanks Norway, down to Denmark next.

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The great northern tour 2015: part 6

Otto and I are feeling groggy this morning. Its a 9:30am wake up (which is late for us) and I take a look in the mirror and my eyes are bloodshot from all the drinking last night.

We have showers then go downstairs for the provided breakfast, which in Europe is generally pretty awesome all the time with a pretty good selection of meats, cheeses, breads, cereals and fruit… Wish their coffee tasted better though.

Today we travel to Hamburg. We were there 2 years ago with 65daysofstatic however Hamburg was the one day where we didnt actually play a show with 65dos as they had some kind of festival to perform. Instead we walked up and down the reeperbahn, Hamburgs red light district full of weird and seedy shops, bars and restaurants.

Today is the day we take the opportunity to also do our laundry at a laundromat. Or “Waschsalon” as they call it in German. Yes these are some of the many unsexy things a band on the road has to do, our clothes have got to get washed somehow.

The venue is smaller than Berlin but just as cool. There’s an awesome chef upstairs who cooks us a great vegan meal and all bands play their sets. We have a really great show and more or less nail our set and the crowd loves it. Playing first is great because you can get it out of the way and then just relax and enjoy the rest of the night.

Otto and I are tired from the previous night. Brett urges me to get a good photo of Otto sitting near the bar falling asleep.

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Sleepy Otto

The night ends and the bands all pack their gear, its nearing 1:30am and we have to leave at 5am. We are hoping for 3 hours sleep as least for an 11 hour drive ahead tomorrow to Norway. The accommodation is really terrible and there’s no hot water for a shower. I fucking hate these “band apartments”, they are always shit. If a promoter ever says the accommodation is ” private band apartment ” be warned.

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Shitty old bunk beds. Gross.

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The great northern tour 2015: part 5

Being on tour across so many countries makes it tricky to get internet on your phone as data is restricted to within the country only and roaming rates are crazy expensive.

Last night’s hotel however had awesome free internet so I used to opportunity to upload the previous blog and then Skype briefly with Julie. Being able to chat to my girlfriend put me in a good mood, it’s nice to have that video call contact even if you are just looking at them on your phone screen, it does make a big difference.

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Maybe one day there will be affordable data roaming sims but until then I’ll just have to try make use of venue and hotel WiFi.

Today we head to Berlin and play a venue called Magnet. Its a pretty cool room and the backstage areas are really spacious and allow us to sprawl out. We get to eat a cake one of our fans Marta donated to us. It’s pretty delicious and a really kind gesture. I love cake.

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Some rider featuring Love of Cartography cake.

The show goes well, we play a pretty strong show albeit a few technical issues with our keyboard.

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Skyharbor are 2nd and they play an instrumental set as their singer has to briefly venture to Iceland to record a video clip for his other band. I ask Devesh how the show went, expecting them to be thrown by the fact they had no vocals this time but he is really pleased with their instrumental version and he should be too. Their show stands up being instrumental as well as featuring vocals, it’s cool to know your band can do both (as we can’t!).

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Balancing stuff on Alex’s head backstage.

Tides close off the night and also have a good show so its all good vibes from the tour camp. We are staying in a hostel in the middle of Berlin. Otto’s chipdhood friend Neil takes us out to a bar he works at and feeds us free cocktails and biers, we get pretty drunk before we decide to call it quits and get some sleep for the next day. We dont have to leave until 11am so its a good night to go out partying afterwards.

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Great bar staff hook us up with awesome drinks.

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Berlin’s IP hostel

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