Our three dates in Czech conclude with a show in Prague where we tried to play ten years ago, only to by a dodgy generator. So rock 'n' roll.
08:00 – Alex appears to be talking to our host about crap music. I go back to sleep.
09:00 – Breakfast time! Another mega boss vegan spread. Sadly, I don’t get time to ask the gent with whom we’re staying about his vast comic collection, blessed as it is with a few favourites of my own – Maus and Batman: Hush, in particular.
Perhaps he saw the glint in my eye and opted to escape while still grasping his sanity.
There are almonds in my pocket.
One second passes.
There are no longer almonds in my pocket.
10:00 – The novelty of keeping a tour diary is starting to wear thin. It’s almost as if there’s only so many ways to reword “We have great food, it’s cold, we make a noise” before you start wanting to shove bamboo down under your fingernails.
I decide a mental/physical refresh is in order, opting to shower and seemingly shedding three stone in the process.
Dat’s some serious drummer grease.
11:00 – We leave for Prague, but not before taking a few photographs of the local buildings – as if trying to break into one of them last night wasn’t embodying the cliche ‘Brit abroad’ stereotype quite enough.
We get into the van.
I play some Dungeon Keeper 2, then fall asleep.
11:30 – I wake up on the odd occasion to take more photographs.
13:00 – We arrive and do some sight seeing. I’ve always wanted to visit Prague and we did have a show here back in 2008, but that was cancelled because of a problem with the generator.
Turns out pieces of electrical hardware demand higher standards of the music they’re subjected to than our crowds.
Yes, three people counts as a crowd.
13:15 – A discussion begins about where we should go to get some lunch.
I fear this is going to escalate into one of those month-long conversations where nothing gets resolved, because no-one’s bothered enough to insist upon a particular option, but everyone’s bothered enough to disagree/dismiss anything anyone else might suggest.
I tend to just sit these ones out and enjoy the surroundings, lest I wish to go postal.
The conversation continues.
I roll my eyes, sneeze and get ice cold, wet snot in my beard.
Sulk mode initiated.
15:45 – Eighteen million years later, we finally decide to find a vegan restaurant… unpredictability, thy name is Krupskaya.
We find a place which seems to be both vegan AND chinese.
Either way, we get a shit ton of really good food for a stupidly small amount of money.
I eat to an extent which I know I will come to regret by the time we start playing.
16:20 – We start walking back to the venue, taking the time to enjoy the architecture and distinct sense of history along the way.
One of my favourite art directors is a chap by the name of Victor Antonov, famous for his work on Dishonored and Half-Life 2, especially. I’m sure I remember Eastern European cities being cited as an inspiration/reference for the latter and the views enjoyed while walking around Prague certainly evoke memories of treading the streets of City 17, gravity gun in hand.
There’s a lot of Dunwall (the fictional city wherein the story of the original Dishonored takes place) here too, as I fantasize about blink-teleporting from roof-top to roof-top in pursuit of corrupt aristocrats.
But now’s not the time nor place to discuss the paralells between videogame and real-life environments, particularly given the number that meal is starting to do on my insides.
16:40 – We visit the Charles Bridge. It’s amazing. I have nothing more to say on the matter.
My brain is tired and back is aching. I want to take a picture, or at least just a moment to find a way of expressing the unique sense of time, place and presence in as few carefully chosen words as possible – but I cannot command a single shred of arsedness to do so.
Plus, my stomach is starting to sound like a death metal cassette on a tape player with really old batteries.
We need to get back soon.
17:30 – Upon returning to the venue, we’re sadly informed that Needful Things have pulled out of the show and are being replaced with another local act.
It’s a shame, as they’re a solid band with whom we also played back in 2008 and I was starting to enjoy these little reunions with folk who first came to see us a decade ago.
Great that another band is filling the slot though – DIY ethos in full force.
I decimate the toilets.
20:00 – Behavioural sink are up first and I have no idea what they’re doing. Their most resounding musical influence seems to be 90s nu-metal, with some riffage and vocal patterns that seem distinctly ‘KoRnesque’.
There’s a real crust vibe to what they’re doing as well – it’s a bizarre mix and there’s a definite sense in the air that tonight’s going be a far more ‘metal’ occasion than those which have preceeded it.
They entertain and I enjoyed chewing the fat with their drummer afterwards, in regards to decent cymbals that pack a wallop without disintegrating on first contact.
First world drummer problems, yo.
20:40 – Choked by own vomits are up next and for some reason it takes them a week to setup, which perplexes me even more than it usually would since they’re a two piece using a drum machine.
Literally – two guys and a box.
Drum machines are a problem for me, because I interpret them as a challenge.
Generally, in the DIY/Grindcore scene, they’re used by bands who want beats which you wouldn’t normally consider possible. Often to great effect too, ie: Austalia’s Wounded Pig and the first The Berzerker album.
Which is cool! If you want to push yourself or can’t find the right personnel, I’m totally behind utilising technology so you’re able to execute your creative vision. The problem is, this seems to flip a little switch in my brain which says “Bollocks to that, tonight’s set is going to be played at twice the speed simply to put the drum machine to shame”.
Up yours, Skynet – essentially.
I shouldn’t do it, it’s not done on purpose and every joint in my body screams when it senses the prospect of me punishing it more than usual – for literally no good reason.
Anyway, the drum machine on this occasion is actually very laid back, compared to what I’m used to. The band’s sound sits somewhere between goregrind, crust and d-beat and it sounds as though the machine has been used to replace someone who used to actually play, given the style of the beats.
Not up my street at all, but solid enough at what they’re doing and the crowd is loving it, which is a far greater priority than my own musical tastes being served.
Cyndi Lauper would never play with us anyway.
21:40 – The show needs to finish at 22:00 and the previous band’s snail-paced approach to setting up means we’re now running twenty minutes behind – which obviously becomes our problem.
I know the following is going to come across as more bitter than is a genuine reflection of my position, which is unfortunate and unintended because the promoter has been really good to us and is clearly working his arse off throughout the evening to make sure everything is running smoothly and on time.
By the same token, I want this to be an honest, fly on the wall look into tour life. So, speaking frankly:
I fucking absolutely hate it when bands piss about despite being given very clear, concise set times by the promoter.
This bloke’s invested a lot of this own time and energy (as the vast majority of promoters we’ve worked with do) into booking bands, making sure they’ve got a place to stay, are fed, that the gig is well promoted so feet come through the door and that above all else – everyone has a good night.
When the venue has told him “You need to be finished by X” – that’s not so he can nip home for a pot noodle, quick poo and an early night – those are their rules and if future shows are to be approved (thus ensuring you have a place to play your music), they’re to be abided by.
He doesn’t want one band to have a better show than the others, he wants this to be a success for everyone. So when times are given for set length – trust that those serve the best interests of everyone involved with the night’s proceedings.
If you have technical problems – those are your problems, not mine and that time should come out of your own set. If the band before you took longer than they should’ve – that sucks but set a better example than them and move your arse so the rest of the night is impacted as minimally as possible.
Furthermore – we know you’re in a band, we’ve just seen you play and so you don’t need to have a three hour conversation with your mates, stood infront of gear that you should be packing away.
You also don’t level up your drumming XP by unscrewing cymbals, stretching behind the kit or putting your shirt back on like some reversed, satirical play on the classic striptease as slowly as bloody possible.
Likewise, you don’t need to run through an entire song to sound check every single time you move one little knob on the PA.
Just to clarify – tonight’s acts aren’t guilty of all the above and I’m giving a fairly broad summary from ten plus years playing tours across Europe. But these things do happen and there’s genuinely no reason for it I can discern beyond “Well, sucks for you”, which is hardly inkeeping with the community-centric ethos of this scene.
Again – Shit happens, it’s rarely down to any one person’s actions and sometimes problems occur. I accept all this, but do think that the effects of said problems can be mitigated greatly if people get their arses in gear and are a little more mindful of others involved.
Rant over, time for faces to be removed.
21:45 – On we go and brutality absolutely ensues.
I don’t know what it is, maybe we’re pissed at all the arsing around or our collective OCD insists that we try to fit the entire set into half the usual run time, but bloody hell do we sound fast, heavy and friggin’ tight tonight.
My playing is a significant improvement on last night, but these blisters are making certain patterns far more work than they should be and thus, segments of blasting which jump between time signatures and involve lots of demented stops are sloppier than I would like.
Plus, my foot work is much lighter than it should be, which I consider might be something to do with my back. Definitely feel a bit more pressure on my lower back when we roll into those semi-quavers – of which there’s a bugger load.
So yeah, aches.
Anyway, the resounding response is that this was a level of insanity and punishing audio intensity that no-one in the crowd was prepared for, nor will ever be the same for having endured.
I played average, the sound was good and the band played great.
Well, except for the bit where Matt appeared to have become lasooed by a rogue mic lead and had to hop on the spot while Alex attempted to untangle him.
I couldn’t tell if he was being a twat or just doing an impression of one.
But y’know what – guy didn’t skip a note throughout.
22:00 – Show ends, people dug it, drinking begins. There are people on the floor, Alex looks like a beetroot, a really nice guy named (VICTOR) spends a considerable amount of time asking Riley and myself about technique/approach and I lose my shit when a sausage dog walks into the room.
01:30 – We’re staying a bit of a distance away from tonight’s venue, with a young lady who I believe is friends with Petra.
My back is really starting to feel the effects of sleeping on concrete floors, van chairs and carrying around a ton’s worth of electronics all day, every day.
Looking forward to a matress.
And a poo.
Not in that order.
No, no definitely not in that order.
01:40 – We arrive at our hosts apartment (which is lovely, to be fair: beautiful high ceilings, awesome view of Prague, big rooms) and are immediately introduced to the true owners of the property – TWO CATS!!!!
One is giving me evils from atop his mother’s bunkbed. Nothing that a careful rub behind the ears doesn’t fix.
I absolutely adore the second cat, a small black with a little bit of white on her chest who reminds me so much of mine and Anna’s second cat, Wilfred (who lost a fight with a car).
The comparison extends beyond her aesthetic, as she jumps between attacking my feet with true disdain and then accepting tummy rubs like they’re going out of fashion.
Every time I try to take a picture, she sits on a black rug, against a black wall or runs at the lens, making my task impossible.
I endure, to poor effect:
She does looks like Wilfred.
Bites like him too.
I do miss that little shit.
02:20 – Our host insists those of us who do not snore be kept seperate from those who do.
She is my absolute hero – I could cry.
After a couple of potato rums, I am gifted a ginormagantuan sofa bed to myself and we breifly discuss films worth watching while the others continue to indulge in liquid doom.
I suggested Okja. She will regret heeding my advice.
Alex and Petra enter the room, everyone but me falls alseep, I spend some time talking to Anna before half an hour on Dishonored, which seems suitable after today’s adventures.
A good day.
Thank you Prague!