So, I am writing this journal entry retroactively, given that I spent pretty much the entire last two days of tour wiped out by some alien parasite. No, not Alex.
So yeah, remember I mentioned feeling like total crap on the first day?
Well, whatever ailed me returned with renewed vigor and malevolent intent during Saturday. What started as a slight sniffle got progressively worse as the hours went by, to the point that by eight o’clock, standing up straight felt like a seriously demanding physical task.
As such, I was in no particular mood to take photographs or utter witty observations on the day’s proceedings. I frankly just wanted to sit in my pants and cry, with a plate of beans on toast, watching videos of cats freaking out at cucumbers.
Alas, we had no beans.
Anyhow – the long and short of it is, my recollection and supporting materials of these two days are far weaker than the others, so I apologise in advance for ending this wee diary on a bit of a bum note.
Nevertheless, to the weekend’s proceedings…
Saturday 24th February
08:00 – Awaken – it’s freezing, hurts to breathe, there’s snot everywhere and the guy above me is still snoring.
08:30 – Alex is going for a shower… I take back every time I questioned his manhood. If you felt how cold it was here and saw the showers – you would too.
Respect, man. Respect.
09:00 – Breakfast is a decent spread. The coffee is strong, hot and thick like syrup.
I down somewhere in the region of eight gallons and the magma-like tar annihilates the inch thick layer of phlegm lining my esophagus.
I feel I’m starting to resemble something remotely human again.
10:30 – Into the van, onto Heerenveen!
16:00 – We arrive at the venue, which looks like a barn at the back of some random industrial estate. There’s a few hours before the show starts, so we go into town to have a look around.
During this time my body starts to ache, every day sights and sounds cause pain and I feel far, far more sensitive to external stimuli than is reasonably acceptable.
It seems I’m becoming the archetypal millennial.
But then, I don’t hate money or people with opposing views, nor do I expect the world to conform to by own deluded preferences – so it can’t be that.
Meh, we’ll see.
16:15 – We’re stood outside a quaint little coffee shop, where Matt decides to do an impression of a cockney thug. This involves him uttering the phrase “I’ll fackin’ shank ya!!” at no small volume, accompanied by a reasonably imposing physical performance.
What he’d failed to notice, was the young man stood right behind him who looked somewhere between mortified and utterly confused at what was unraveling before his very eyes.
The hysterics this induces hurt, a lot.
But I’ve no complaints.
Highlight of the tour. No doubt.
16:45 – I can’t speak or breathe without it causing great pain to do so. This will likely please Alex greatly.
17:30 – Head back to the venue – it’s so cool! From the outside it just looks like a large barn, but it’s really, really nicely done inside.
Well sound-proofed rooms, large kitchen area, recording studio, performance room is nice, spacious with an elevated stage for the drums (which may turn out to be a bad thing) and of course – pristine bogs.
Really nice place to finish the tour on.
Fingers crossed I don’t ruin it.
The bar lady also keeps bringing us cheese baps. Happy days!
18:00 – We catch up with the (awesome) guys from My Mind’s Mine, who also treat us to one of the best meals of the tour.
The bar lady likewise seems to recognise that I’ve gone a lighter shade of green and feeds me several coffees in rapid succession.
It makes breathing hurt slightly less.
18:30 – I hear that there’s only three bands playing tonight and that we’re on second.
Amazing – this comes as an absolutely immense relief. This means we’re going on between 21.00 and 22.00, I can just about keep my head together until then and tear through the set before going straight to bed.
Awesome – this can work.
18:35 – That turns out to be incorrect. There are five bands and we’re playing last.
20:00 – Dorien’s here! We worked together in Mossel Bay, where I was overseeing the design work and she was one of our field specialists.
One of Dorien’s many claims to fame, is the time a great white shark jumped onto her research boat. Cuz y’know – Africa.
We reminisce over times gone by, during which the bags under my eyes start to resemble a geriatric horse’s scrotum, my voice is sounding like Tom Waits doing his best impression of Barry White and every inhalation is followed by five minutes of spluttering.
I know this probably sounds exaggerated for comedic effect, but I can assure you – in twelve years of gigging across Europe, I have never been in this wreck of a physical state before playing.
Chatting to Dorien however, is a very welcome distraction.
Even if she did tell Alex “I’m here to watch Ed literally die on stage”.
22:30 – Apparently there’s another band been added to the bill who are going to go on before us too.
That’s cool. I’m in no rush. No rush at all.
Nope – all good here.
23:30 – The sound-man, seeing how closely I resemble one of the extras from The Walking Dead, takes pity on me and comes baring a cup of Earl Grey Tea.
My heart swells.
Even Alex is looking mildly concerned that I might not survive to the start of the set, let alone finish it. He feeds me a load of pain killers, reassuring me that the current band ‘will be finished really soon, then we’re on’.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel.
00:30 – They’ve literally just fucking finished. One of the members is wearing a Doom T-shirt, too.
Dorien sadly had to leave, maybe she’ll see me die some other time.
00:45 – I stumble my way onto the stage and just about manage to sit on the stool without falling off (second attempt, I might add).
Several evidently-nuclear-powered floodlights, pointed directly at the drum kit all come on in unision. My retinas burn, brain starts to fry, flesh dries, cracks and peels away from my bones.
Now I know how it must feel for ginger people when they step outside on a mildy overcast day.
Alex very kindly asks that they turn down the lights, though I think he’d probably argue that was more for the audience’s sake, than mine.
I wouldn’t argue with that.
I go to take a deep breath before the first song starts, only for a smoke machine – which I had no idea was even there – to turn on and begin filling my lungs with (obviously totally non-)toxic gasses, obscuring all band-mates from my vision.
It’s honestly as if I made a list of things that I really, really could’ve done with not happening and some twat was going through them, one by one.
But then I figure – y’know what? that’s it! All the ball-ache is out of the way, let’s do this!
Think again – no more than ten seconds into the first song, I smash a huge rim-shot off the snare, catching the end of my left index finger between the drum rim and the stick.
This might not sound like a big deal, but just imagine slamming the tip of your finger in a steel door – that’s what it feels like. The last time I did this, the nail grew out with a whole in the middle of it and I wasn’t able to properly grip things for several days.
But no worries, we’ve only got twenty five minutes of ridiculous grindcore to play – I can’t breathe, can’t grip and can’t see.
It’s no small miracle then, that we manage to totally tear shit up.
I mean we really, really battered it tonight. Don’t get me wrong, it was far from an efficient, especially sharp performance on my part, but there was a serious up-level on fury and intensity.
Here are some pictures that someone else took:
01:15 – I collapse in the backstage area and laugh for fifteen minutes straight. Covered in sweat and an odd substance which I dare not attempt to identify.
01:30 – We pack up, say our goodbyes, yada yada yada. Kill me.
02:00 – I don’t know what’s going on. We’re at some place called The Morgue, even though it isn’t a morgue.
The windows are open despite the fact it’s bloody freezing.
I don’t care. I crawl into my sleeping back like a reluctant Caterpillar.
Thank you, Heerenveen!
Sunday 25th February
09:00 – I guess we’re awake? It’s cold.
09:30 – The door’s locked. We wait.
There’s a sign that reads something to the extent of “We stand against the rampant sexism, homophobia, racism and fascism that is normalised by capitalist society”.
Right on, because no-one loves women, homosexuals, minorities and democratic process quite like North Korea.
Maybe I’m taking things overly seriously, due to feeling crap.
It’s like the reverse of how it took me three years to realise that Owen Jones wasn’t a satirical parody.
Ugh, I’m just trying to get through this, man.
10:00 – We drive to the Ferry, I sleep.
15:00 – We board the Ferry, I sleep.
15:30 – We find the restaurant, I eat and sleep.
17:00 – We’re on our way home, I sleep.
21:00 – We evidently hit major traffic on the way – which I missed, on account of sleeping.
21:30 – We drop Riley off. Bye Riley, it’s been fun.
21:45 – We get to the studio, unload the gear, I want to die.
22:10 – We arrive at Matt’s house, bidding farewell to Dani and thanking her for all her help along the way.
22:30 – We drop Alex off. Bye Alex, it’s been fun.
22:45 – Matt drops me off at home. Bye Matt, it’s been fun.
23:00 – I stumble through the back door, pleased to see the lady I love and the cat I tolerate waiting for me on the couch.
Anna prepares the perfectly heated bath for me upstairs. I wander up, lower myself into it’s therapeutic warmth and quietly gasp as every last ache, pain and concern slowly evaporates.
00:00 – I return downstairs to the sound of tapping.
Evidently, there’s an issue with the upstairs plumbing and now water is starting to leak through the ceiling around all the light fittings in the downstairs bathroom.
My bus to work is in seven hours and it’s snowing outside.
The cat just pissed all over my bag.
Bollocks to this – I’m going to bed.
Conclusion and thanks
I’d like to just extend my sincerest thanks to everyone who’s followed my journal over the course of this tour.
The amount of feedback (not all negative, either!) I’ve received isn’t something I was expecting, but is nevertheless welcome and will likely provide strong motivation for me to do so again the next time we take our noise abroad (I’m looking at you Siberia, South East Asia, Australia and South Africa).
This tour essentially marked the culmination of sixteen months worth of rebuilding for Krupskaya, following several years of minuscule steps forward in the midst of frankly arduous stagnation.
So, thank you to everyone who came to a show, took our photographs, shared in our conversations, cracked open a beer with us and played any sort of role in the experience being as enjoyable as it has been.
Extra special thanks to Matt, Dani and Petra for their work on all the logistics etc too.
We live – we grind.
Until next time – peace!