Tag Archives: tour

Euro Tour: Day 16, Sarajevo

30 Jun

Josip picked us up at the hostel and then we collected Sasha and Damir (no Bruno for this last leg of the tour) and headed south to Bosnia and Herzegovina. The border crossing took forever. The customs declaration for our gear was in order, but they had no computerized system and had to write everything down. Our introduction to the country was sobering. Every third house was either bombed out and stood in ruins or was in some state of rebuilding in a process that seemed to be taking a very long time. The country was beautiful — heavily forested mountains and hills and winding rivers, but the depression, both economic and emotional was palpable. Driving through Sarajevo to find the venue was again sobering. Many buildings still bear bullet holes and the top floors of many of the taller buildings still appear to be empty and in ruins.

We arrived at the club and met the promoter, our friend Mirza. For dinner we were provided with a selection of bureks — phyllo pies filled with potato, cheese, spinach or meat. Absolutely delicious, especially the potato. It took a force of will to stop eating. Shortly before Joe 4 started, there had only been two paid entries. Coupled with Mirza’s apologies, we resigned ourselves to another tiny audience. However, by the time they finished their first song, the place was somehow packed. It remained that way for our set as well. Both Jason and I were pretty brain dead when it had come time to write a set list so we enlisted Steve Jobs. The iPod shuffle came up with an interesting list of songs in an interesting order and we didn’t argue. It was a rather ungainly set though that zig-zagged rather than flowed. The crowd dug it though and even called us back for one more. It was a great night and we were humbled even further by the fact that some people drove from Prague to Sarajevo to see us play. Mirza put us up in a hotel called Banana City. It was a bit scruffy around the edges but had a clean shower and relatively comfortable beds.

 

Euro Tour: Day 15, Vienna (Cancelled)

29 Jun

The Vienna show was sketchy from the very beginning. The promoter kept saying everything was fine, but we never got a response from the club to verify. Then we didn’t hear anything from the promoter for three or four weeks despite many messages. Finally we sent a final message saying that if he didn’t call us, we were going to skip the show. He never called. We got to Zagreb around 2pm and us Americans checked into a hostel. We showered, did laundry, and napped during the afternoon and then took a stroll around the neighborhood. We found a little local restaurant full of old men drinking beer and families eating pizza. We lounged for a long time on the outdoor patio eating pizza and enjoying a little American alone time. Exhausted, we all crashed before 11.

 

Euro Tour: Day 14, Leipzig

28 Jun

We had a nice breakfast in the sunny lounge at the hostel. We trekked back to pick up our van and headed toward Leipzig. We found the Zoro squat without too much difficulty but it was early, so we took a walk downtown towards the train station to change our Czech Krunas to Euros. Jason, who had been doing so well with our primarily vegan diet, was suddenly craving junk food and dragged us into McDonalds. The coffee menu was all in English but my perfect American pronunciation of “grande flat white” threw the girl for a loop. Bill bought a t-shirt because he couldn’t stand the smell of anything in his bag. (We still have not found a place to do laundry.) We strolled back to the club stopping for ice cream and sight seeing. Once there, we met Maria and Ralf at Zoro and they showed us around. We loaded in to the basement and then went upstairs to the third floor for yet another fantastic vegan meal.

Tuesdays at Zoro are a music/game nights. People come to play fooseball and ping-pong and check out a band. Ralf had assured us that though the show was donations only, it usually works out quite well. By the time Joe 4 played the music room was full and Ralf was working the crowd for donations. Joe 4 was really loud (and amazing) as usual but the crowd dug it and a huge drunken German guy danced like a hippy. Jason danced with him and then they took turns picking each other up. Later Bill did a waltz with the guy. We all grabbed the mic at various points and sang along to Johnny, Ilova, and Spartacus. Josip wrote our set list and we rocked a pretty tough set. The crowd had grown a bit and it was nice to see all the heads bobbing. One kid right up front had a shit-eating grin on his face the entire time and was really getting into it. We didn’t sell any merch, but ending up collecting 160 Euros in donations. All and all another excellent night.

Since Vienna appeared to be totally flaking out for the next day, we opted to get in the van after the show and drive to Zagreb. The drive started with the biggest Croatian blow-up/shouting match yet and we were a bit hesitant about getting in the van while WWIII was going on…

An hour or so into the trip, someone suddenly announced that he had to piss and couldn’t wait a second longer. He was going to piss out the van window but someone else convinced him that it would be a better idea to pee in a beer bottle instead. So an iPod was used for illumination of the process. Half asleep form the front seat, I kept hearing the admonition, “don’t overfill it!” Suddenly I heard bottles breaking as they were flung out the window. I heard desperate cries from the back seat: “What are you doing? Don’t do that!” Now, having used all the bottles, hanging it out the window was required anyhow to finish the call of nature.

 

Tour Video: Parts 1 and 2

27 Jun

Tour Video Part 1:

Tour Video Part 2:

Euro Tour: Day 13, Prague

27 Jun

I woke up with a sore throat and a runny nose but some juice and coffee went a long way to making me feel human again. The ride to Prague was a continuation of a conversation I had with Jason the night before. This morning Josip joined in the discussion about the tribulations of being in a band. This tour has been fun, but as far as a smart “business” decision goes, it’s been a disaster. We are losing money and show attendance is slim at best. No one knows who we are or gives a shit. How long do you go on paying your dues before you just say enough is enough? I mean, we feel like we have forward momentum with our music and our playing and our recordings, but there never really seems to be an upward curve to people knowing about us. Unsane played to 80 people in Zagreb recently. If a band of that notoriety and stature limps along like that, what chance in hell do we ever have to be heard? Despite what Bruno keeps saying from the back seat, life’s NOT all about bitches and money. I don’t want to be famous or to be rich. I just want to be able to be known and respected enough to roll into a town and know that some people are looking forward to it and will come to the show. You can’t become known if you don’t tour and it’s almost impossible to tour if you’re not known.

The show at 007 Strahov did a bit to restore some self confidence for both bands. There were probably 30-40 people there and they were there specifically for this show (advertised as “old-school noise-rock”). There were kids up front singing along to our songs. WTF?!?! There were a few mistakes during the show, but it didn’t matter. In fact, it almost seemed to add to the show — to increase the visceral impact. Having people right up to the lip of the stage, savagely banging their heads, fueled our performance and Bill and I hurtled across the stage at and away from each other, always in danger of banging our heads on the extremely low ceiling. Bruno was besieged at the merch table afterwards. Quoth he: ” they were attacking me.” The promoter, Petr was super cool. He gave us a great spinach and potato curry for dinner and was really enthusiastic about the show and our performances. He even arranged a secure parking spot for our van and an awesome clean hostel. All in all, a great night. Too bad the whole tour wasn’t this great.

Euro Tour: Day 12, Ansbach

26 Jun

We waited around forever, for Bruno to make his toilette. So long, in fact, that we had no time to go to Andy’s house for coffee, showers, laundry, and internet. I was most disappointed about missing out on laundry. It’s day 12 and I have one pair of clean socks and underwear and no shirts. My jeans are pretty much able to stand up by themselves at this point. It wasn’t to be. The traffic to Ansbach was continuously bunching up and we didn’t roll into the small town of Ansbach until around 7pm. We never asked, but it appeared as thought the club was some sort of Christian youth center. I kept cringing as the Croats kept tossing around the MFers, but our hosts didn’t seem to notice or mind (or just seethed indside?).

The bass amp started buzzing again during sound check, so we popped the back plate and discovered yet another connection had broken. It appeared as though it was an attenuator circuit that wasn’t being used, but Jason soldered it back together anyhow and it seemed to take care of the problem. The show was supposed to start at 9, but since no one had showed up, they kept pushing the start time back. Finally after ten, Joe 4 played to a ground of six or seven kids. They really dug it, banging their heads to brittle metallic fury of the Croats. What a great band. I still haven’t gotten tired of seeing them night after night. We played to the same group of kids. They also watched enthusiastically as we pounded through a pretty darn good set. I’m not sure the people that ran the place were so keen — the emocore before and between bands seemed to indicate that ours was not the genre of choice. The flat we stayed at was clean and comfortable. I climbed into a little loft in the living room, kicked off a couple of YouTube uploads and went to sleep.

 

Euro Tour: Day 11, Berlin

25 Jun

Sasha loves Berlin. He had been bugging everyone to get up early so that we would have more time there before the show. I dragged myself out of bed at at 9:45 only to find everyone still sleeping and none of the equipment broken down or packed up from the night before. We finally got on the road after noon. The drive to the autobahn was a gorgeous little road crowded on either side by trees and we sped by fields of wheat, cows, and pretty little brick houses. The gas stations have their porn magazines proudly displayed and everyone seems to have machines in the mens room selling travel pussies. The approach into Berlin was through Russian built tunnels but would have been much cooler without the snarls of traffic. We finally found the Hauscherer squat in the northwest. This neighborhood is purported to be one of the worst in Berlin with large immigrant populations (largely Turkish). As we told Thomas from the squat, anyone describing this as a bad neighborhood has clearly never been to Detroit, Chicago, or even Milwaukee.

We took a walk for a drink and a fantastic falafel sandwich and then back to the squat to set up. Our friend Andy from Dublin (now Berlin) showed up soon after and we hung out exchanging insults round-robin style between Croats, Americans, and Irish. Later our friend Carl from Madison (now Berlin) showed up with a couple of other visiting American friends. The music room was cool, but the stage was bizarrely set up — an odd shape in the corner that made it almost impossible to set up in any kind of coherent way. Joe 4 played a good set with Josip in a USoT t-shirt. I climbed on Josip’s back during “Johnny” and sang the chorus over his shoulder into the mic. The crowd was sparse but appreciative. Andy had asked that we play songs from the first record so we obliged him with six. We all felt that it was the best we had played all tour. Damir and Josip politely and not so politely, respectively, demurred. The eye (or ear) of the beholder and all that… After the show I talked with Carl for a long time about the messed up state of Wisconsin politics and the human drive to exploit. I’ve been re-reading George Orwell’s 1984 in the van and this conversation just served to fuel my hopelessness. Josip tried to lighten the mood with ridiculous drunken antics to no avail. After much discussion about going out on the town with Thomas, we all just crashed in the squat’s band dormitory.

 

Euro Tour: Day 10, Neu Tramm

24 Jun

The Hafenklang staff gave us an amazing breakfast and after load out and a bit of walk about, I took the wheel for the two hour drive to Neu Tramm. We had all the usual adventures getting out of the city without GPS and then again trying to find the small village but we pulled into the squat compound around 5. The place is right next door to a nuclear wast storage facility housed in a WWI military complex, but the setting is forested and idyllic. Again, we had an fantastic meal, though this time with meatballs for the carnivores. We snoozed, played fooseball and hung out with Jason, a Seattle transplant living in the squat.

The show was very thinly attended, but Joe 4 played their new instrumental “Neuro” flawlessly and to great affect. They were incredibly loud though; louder than I’ve heard them so far. We played well, thought the sound was a bit weird. My guitar was lacking in low-end and the vocals sounded at times distorted and at others oddly hollow and ringy. We were coaxed back to play one more song by an incredibly vocal group of audience members who would not shut up until we played more. I think everyone was a bit down later on partly because the discrepancy between the expectations set up by the promoter and Bernd and the actual number of people in attendance. Still, they made it right, even going so far as to go person to person to collect a bit more in donations.

 

Euro Tour: Day 9, Hamburg

23 Jun

Crawling over the snoring Americans and Croats, I wandered down the street to a grocery store to buy bread and cheese and coffee. I sat in the sun outside Jeroen’s place until deciding to kick the rest of the crew into consciousness. Now armed with directions from Google Maps, the Croats managed to find the way to Hamburg, though not without the usual shouting and cursing at each other. Hamburg is a huge port city and despite the horrendous traffic on the outskirts is remarkably likable. Hafenklang is right on the river and there are huge cargo ships loading and unloading right across the street from the club. We were greeted by Thorsten from the band Lars Bang Larsen and Martin the club manager. They had gotten our message about the guitar cabinet input jack that had self-destructed in Leiden and their tech had it replaced in about five minutes. Jason borrowed a soldering kit and swapped out one of the switches on Josip’s Ben Adrian pedal.

The club is an awesome place with a great music room and stage, a comfortable backstage area, an a nice clean band flat around the corner. Again, we were treated to an incredible vegan meal with the ever-present (but delicious) vegetable fritters. Attendance was sparse as Joe 4 started playing, but a knot of enthusiastic onlookers clumped in front of the stage and obviously impressed. Bill and I jumped on stage a few times for sing-alongs of our favorite songs. Lars Bang Larsen played next. They were very German both in terms of appearance and sound. They had a teutonic restraint that worked best with grinding baselines and spoken/shouted vocals. At the they end of the set, they invited Bill and I up to sing on Conspiracy of Conscience, the song on the split 7″ we share with them. We wrote and recorded the vocals back in March and (obviously) had never had a rehearsal with them. Still, it was fun and I think came off pretty well. Bill dragged Sasha up on stage for the howling parts and despite his initial bewilderment, rose to the occasion.

Our set was a bit loose, but what we lacked in precision, we more than made up for in the rock. I fell off stage during Echota when I jumped and then lost my balance. I staggered backwards and knocked a monitor off stage on my way to the floor. Unhurt, I scrambled back up but had totally lost my place in the song. We stopped, Jason counted it off again, and we played it again without incident. Later during the last song, my boot caught the smallest of lips in the stage and I went down again, taking the mic and stand with me. I managed to keep playing this time. The small crowd enthusiastically demanded another song and since our German label boss, Bernd, was in the audience (and plays in the new-wave cover band, Boy Division) we quickly decided to play Shadowplay. I broke a string during the lead at the end but soldiered on and to rather tumultuous crowd response. After the show, we had a great time hanging out with Bernd and with Peter and Thorsten from LBL.

 

Euro Tour: Day 8, Leiden

22 Jun

We woke up in a place that reminded me of the Project Mayhem squat in Fight Club. The bathrooms reminded me of the first scene in Saw every time I had to use them. After everyone checked their e-mail and Facebook on the squat’s computers, we headed into the Amsterdam city center. We wandered along the canals, stopped at the train station to change money (and pay .50 euro to take a piss), eat some sandwiches and fries, drink some coffee, and stop into a coffeeshop. We managed to find our way to Leiden (sans GPS) and made to a club early for the first time on tour. We had a drink in a little bar and then hooked up with Gabry from the the band Boutros Bubba, who helped us set up the show. We loaded into the tinniest room I have ever played in. Then went upstairs to hang and to eat a fantastic vegetarian meal.

Boutros Bubba played a great show. They reminded me of Hoover or Unwound with some spazz-jazz influences. Joe 4 played a great show, but were somehow restrained — holding back. Despite a few stops for tuning and Josip’s heckling, we played a pretty good show. We had neglected to write a set list so we called out the songs and it worked OK. I met Ivica from the Dutch band Gone Bald and we discussed our love of old guitars and Touch and Go and AmRep bands. He has been playing our stuff on his radio show and seemed genuinely happy when we played some his favorite songs during our set. We stayed with Jeroen, BB’s guitar player, and the size of our accommodations matched the size of the venue last night. Josip, Sasha, and I spent some time messing around trying to download updated maps for the GPS unit with little success. We may have to navigate the old fashioned way — with maps!