I'd arrived in Sydney early December to spend Christmas with my girlfriend’s family. We'd decided to move to Australia after having lived in London (she'd been there seven years and loved it, I'd been there a year and a half and hated it), the plan being to stay in Melbourne after the tour's end and subsequently move out to the countryside. Weeks of stress from moving country breezily drifted away amidst sunny days of beer and laziness by the pool...ah yes. Jæppe arrived in Melbourne on the 17th December, whilst Christina & Jakob followed on the 26th, with Adam & I flying in separately on the 27th, each of us sorted for places to stay by Australia Leg Roadmaster General Timmy.
No rest for the dickheads: it was straight to the rehearsal space in Melbourne. Same place as Nick Cave rehearses, we were told. Yes, it made us feel very special indeed, thank you. Not content merely with breaking in a new bassist and preparing for tour, we'd booked a recording session in Osaka and had four new songs to complete and roadtest before recording. Six hours a day of rehearsal on the 27th, 28th, 29th and 30th ensured that we were ready for our first show...New Years Eve in Melbourne.
Day One: Dec 31st
I spent most of the day finishing articles in preparation for the tour, my glamorous day job as a writer threatening to suffer from the lack of internet access and/or time over the following month and a half. With only a couple of sensible beers quaffed over the day to ensure competence when we finally hit the stage, articles were wrapped up and it was time to head over to Collins Street for dinner.
With temperatures of 40+ in full effect, the BBQ planned at Collins Street became salads due to a ban on fires -serious potential for massive bush fires here. After some great food we stroll on down to The Prague on High Street in Thornbury, sneak a couple of 6-packs in with our gear despite the attention of the doormen (beer is fuckin expensive over here) and are greeted with the most respectable merch table ever...CDs, vinyl, 3 shirt designs, 3 patch designs, pins and screenprinted tour posters...and we'd not even picked up the embroidered patches yet. Awesome! It's a great venue, decent sound and staff, a nightclub but with "edgy" decor meaning it's not the insipid artificial buzzkill such places usually are.
Of all the bands playing, Kromosom are the most impressive, peddling their raw noise in the Jap tradition, whilst Leprosy and Debacle are also noteworthy. We hit the beer and I celebrate the New Year by taking a dump while the countdown happens...the two-year turd...longest crap of my life! We play right after 12 o'clock with Cocksparrer providing an excellent psyche-up soundtrack, and have a surprisingly excellent show. We're tight, the sound is good, people are going nuts...much better than any of us expected, considering the circumstances. Space Bong follow but after a sit down and a beer I need to head out for some air so I miss all but a couple of minutes...no worries, they're playing the next two gigs.
From there on out it's an alcoholocaust. We head back to Collins Street, half the band remaining there while the rest of us go down to a mental houseparty in Northcote. There's a shit ton of people, smoking, drinking, acting cool, all goin' nuts, and the merest whiff of weapons grade amphetamine plus other assorted party favours means that sleep is but a distant dream...
Day Two: Jan 1st
The afore-mentioned stimulants mean that some much longed-for shut-eye remains elusive, and New Years Day consists of weed, gin & tonics, Trailer Park Boys and beers to bring the glory home. Adam, naturally, sleeps the entire day. Myself and the sleepy one walk down to Timmy's place and meet the others, from where we drive for our show in Geelong.
Luckily it's only an hour and a half from Melbourne, so we manage to survive by getting a slab of beer. I'd been looking forward to the gig as also playing were Earthless, but after being up roughly 30 hours I wasn't that interested anymore... Managed to get a few chips into the old gastank, but I wasn't risking anything more going in there. Didn't have the healthiest appetite either, truth be told... I receive the (admittedly welcome) news that three of my cousins and their assorted spouses who'd threatened to come to the gig weren't able to make it. My paranoid head couldn't have dealt with such a situation under any circumstances so with the prospect of familial propriety no longer looming on the horizon, there's clearly only one way to deal with the monstrous hangover...get drunk as FUCK. And we do.
Space Bong are awesome, a 6-piece crusty doom extravaganza of space/time collison and impending galactic implosion. There's a whole load of bands playing, mainly 2 man guitar/drum rock action, none of which I can really bring myself to give a fuck about. We play and it's decent enough, a bunch of people pay attention and a couple of madsers run around knocking into each other. The highlights are probably when Jæppe jumps into the crowd and scares some girls and when some teenage asshole grabs Adam's mic and screams "if you don't mosh you're a gay faggot!"... Tim counts in the next song just as I begin responding with some smart-arse comment, leaving only the first word of my sentence hanging over the PA: "FAGGOTS!!"...oops.
Afterwards I get chatting with the guitarist from Space Bong and he repeatedly insists on buying shots and mixed drinks. We get steadily more plastered and discuss Celtic Frost, sex and how stupid everyone is. Then it's time to load up the van and head back to Melbourne...I smoke a little goodbye bifty, we jump in and after one last beer I'm out for the count, leaving me with only vague memories of getting back to Edwin Street and crashing out on a mattress.
Day Three: Jan 2nd
I'm roused from the most delicious deathsleep by Anji telling me that Alice and Tristan (our fantastic hosts at Edwin Street) have made pancakes and, not having eaten much for the previous two days, I manage to shake the sleep off and rouse myself with the threat that they'll all be gone if I don't hurry up. They are DIVINE!! Big thick pancakes and cashew cream, berries of all varieties and maple syrup. And coffee. YESSS!!
We quickly load up the van, I submit my final two articles of the month, and we hit the road. Our next show is in Goonjerah, a small remote town in the middle of an old growth forest of over a million acres, in between Melbourne and Sydney. A lot of anti-logging protests go on there, since the government continues to allow the destruction of habitats that take thousands of years to develop in favour of minimal profits on logging. We're playing on the 3rd but decide to go a day early to enjoy some time out there.
It's roughly 500km from Melbourne so we leave in the early afternoon, it's a nice day and an alright drive. I get behind the wheel and take some of the strain off Timmy, and amuse/abuse the rest of the band with my driving, it being the first time on tour with them since I got my drivers license...everything's fine except for the Aussie speed limits being so fucking low and that I drive on the wrong side of the road for a minute after pulling out from a gas station...my excuse being that in Ireland and England they drive on the...wait, the same side of the road?
We get to Orbost and stop for gas, as it's the last point before we descend along the windy trails into the forest valley, and there'll be no more opportunities to fill up...the dudes at the gas station are just closing up, but direct us to a big station nearby with 24-hour gas pumps...except that one's closed too...fuck...we're almost empty. So Tim phones up his mate Tom down in Goonjerah and he phones around and finds a mate nearby with a jerry can of petrol -saved! We pick up Lisa and Ramez from Tim's other band, War Widow, and head down along the trail into the valley just as it's getting dark....it’s a crazy crazy drive, windy and mental, kangaroos hopping out and wombats lazily draggin' their asses across the road. The forest gets thicker and thicker, big green eucalyptuses hanging over the road and descending as far as the eye can see. Poor ol' Jakob can't take the twists & turns and loses his lunch by the roadside... We make it down to Tom's late in the evening and drink a beer, hang out for a little while, smoke a little sumthin sumthin and head to bed.
Day Four: Jan 3rd
Wake up in Uncle Tom's Cabin to the incessant buzzing of flies...they're fuckin everywhere! Big hairy bastards! We check out the area around Tom's, it's gorgeous, we're in the middle of a huge valley and all that’s visible on the surrounding mountain peaks is forest stretching away to the horizon...Isengard as fuck. We head down to the Roadhouse where we'll be playing that night and unload the van. Timmy's gonna head back up to Orbost with Ramez to pick up some friends who got the train there and the rest of us are gonna go on a forest walk to what’s known as The Big Tree...it's a rough drive out there, so Tom takes a bunch of people in his truck and myself, Jæppe and Jakob borrow a little 4 wheel drive Suzuki jeep from one of the women at the Roadhouse and follow behind. It's frickin AWESOME!! I've never driven a vehicle like this on terrain like that, and maybe the joint from half an hour before helps, but racing down twisty turny mountain gravel and mud tracks with sheer drops off the side at 80km per hour is frickin AWESOME. There's more or less no traffic coming in the opposite direction but there's a couple of hairy moments when we meet a few lone motorists coming the other way and skid around them at the last second. Fuck, I'm glad I didn't learn to drive when I was a teenager...would have been disastrous!
We get to the start of the walk and head into the forest. There's a walking trail marked with ribbons tied on trees which we follow and it's absolutely incredible. An easy walk for any experienced hiker but a rough trek for shitty city kids like us. It's gorgeous, and after about 45 minutes we make it to the big tree...a majestic Eucalyptus over 500 years old, and get all sorts of interesting mini-lectures from Tom about the forest vegetation cycles, fires, conservation, logging, etcetera. After a few minutes round the big tree we decide to head back by another route which seems to loop around...bad idea! We ascend further and further into the mist and things take on a certain Burzumesque atmosphere... Tom keeps assuring us that it should start winding back soon...it doesn't. After an hour and a half we turn around and head back the way we came. D'oh!! To be honest none of us really mind as the longer we spend in there the better. Just shoulda brought some sarnies. We make it back to the cars and get a drink of water from a mountain stream, and then it's time for the drive back...yusss!!
Fricking awesome, it's Goonjerah Drift all over again, skidding around hairpin bends, whackin on the brakes, feeling the wheels lock, twisting the wheel and catapulting out of biiig slides... I never realised I was such a boy racer dickhead! We arrive back and I'm buzzing off the adrenaline after a couple of close calls, and people have started to arrive at the venue. The majority of the crowd are what's known in Australia as "ferals". Basically, imagine something out of Peter Pan crossed with Worzel Gummidge and you're close...filthy forest crusties who wear colours and politcal patches instead of band patches, or oogles with a conscience.
More arrive...and more...and more...and they're all getting drunk as fuck...this is gonna be great!! Anji turns up having driven her van from Melbourne earlier that day, but we don't get to see much of each other as it's all pretty hectic...boo-urns. The bands start, there's some acoustic nonsense and some dick does a cover of that fuckin Shane McGowan Christmas song, then War Widow play a decent set, followed by the best band I've seen over here so far: fuckin' Hydro Medusa from Adelaide, they RULE. Brutal stoner doom crust along the lines of Pentagram meets Brainoil, they destroy utterly. They're followed by Space Bong, and we're told we’re next, all ready to go, warming up and preparing...and then we're told there's going to be a break, for some disco music. What the fuck!? This wrecks the buzz, obviously, and as much as I like disco and 80s pop, that's for after the show, not in the middle of it. The energy goes, we get too drunk, and play like shit. I mess up loads, Jæppe forgets songs, we fuck up the new tracks...but it doesn't seem to matter as everyone's going fuckin' bananas. People hanging off the rafters, knocking shit over, circle pits, all the trimmings...but I can't really get into it. Forgetting that I'd previously dared him to, I get mad when Adam punches me in the face in the middle of a song...the look of surprise mixed with pain must have been pretty funny. So I punch him in the back of the head. We finish up, get drunk as fuck, Jæppe keeps up his end of the bargain by mopping up our monogamy and scores again, and we head back to Tom's to sleep.
Day Five: Jan 6th
Awesome day! After waking up at Tom’s, eating some fresh laid eggs, drinking a cheeky little cosmopolitan on ice and hanging out doing fuck-all for hours, Jæppe turns up, having been waylaid by certain post-show extracurricular activities. He’s confused by which of his three ‘fans’ he stayed with…noice. Tom leaves early with his kid to Melbourne, a long drive for a hospital appointment. We’ve made a plan with some hairy dude the night before to go and see his collection of mad animals…Adam and I sold the idea to Jakob as ‘going to see baby wombats’ when we were actually gonna see a load of big hairy snakes, of which he’s terrified. Unfortunately there were neither snakes or wombats, but we did meet an inquisitive kangaroo, who hopped up to us and then bounced off all in a tizzy when she realised how many people there were. The place was awesome, a little country shack built from found materials, where these two hippy punky foresty types live who took care of injured or orphaned animals. Their mate was making billions of joints so I got hideously monged and had a few beers…ah yes. Then we went to the campsite where all the various ferals and punks were staying to hang out, but unfortunately Anji had just left…bum. Still was nice, had a couple of drinks and went swimming in the creek, which was bloody glorious. Then we headed back to the cabin and had a sandwich or two before heading out to watch the animals come out at dusk. We walked down some fields over a creek and there were dozens of mad kangaroos jumping around like drunken aunties. Hung out for a bit at some other dudeses from the gig’s house and then headed back, got more monged and made food. Had a read of my book (To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf, actually) and went to sleep.
Day Six: Jan 7th
We get up, drink coffee, clean the place up and leave by 10am, the plan being to split the 1,000+ km drive to Lismore over two days. The drive through the forest is fantastic, and the change in landscape over the day nothing short of spectacular. From deep rainforest to prairie plains reminiscent of a Sergio Leone Western, through little towns, down past dry old dusty Canberra, all the way to the ocean. Things get lusher, greener, more tropical as we get closer to Sydney, where we stop and get an excellent dinner at The Green Palace in Newtown. It’s all vegan fake meat and tempeh fare, and even I have to admit that the marinated fried beancurd is indistinguishable from the majority of spare ribs I’ve had. The fatness continues with vegan ice-cream for the various zoophiles in the band and we drive on. The plan is to stay in Newcastle, another two hours down the road, with a mate of Tim’s. We get there around 10ish and are greeted by the irrepressible Nils with cold beers and salty nuts. I finish off the old funny weed and we sample Nils various homebrews, including a delectable little gingerbeer which packs quite a punch. We get a bit drunk and have fun swapping firework-related anecdotes and then head to bed, since we have to get up at shit o’clock in the morning to leave for Lismore.
Day Seven: Jan 8th
We get up at shit o’clock and hit the road. As we head further North the scenery is mindblowing, reminiscent of the jungles and forest of Southern Mexico and Guatemala. For some reason I’d been expecting things to get drier and dustier as we headed North, but at the coastal areas we’re in it’s actually the opposite. We stop at a beach halfway and myself, Christina and Jakob have a swim. Jæppe and Tim take a walk up the beach and Adam decides to be a tøssedreng and stay in the car because it’s drizzling. As if!
The drizzle turns to a deluge and the landscape becomes the exact image of all those great Vietnam movies…green, leafy, steamy and very very humid. It’s excellent to drive through, though the roads get noticeably shittier halfway to Lismore and the driving becomes a masterclass in pothole avoidance. Some of them are so deep they probably go all the way back to frickin Europe. We arrive in Lismore around 6pm, starving. We meet Nathaniel and Phoebe, the dudes putting on the show. They’re both dead sound, easy-going and fun and do their best to make the most of what’s shaping up to be a considerably odd show. It’s at a strip club/night club called Cocktails, not actually a gaybar like we’d thought, but there was a terrifying bulldyke working there who, I don’t mind telling you, did not like us one bit. Not one silly little bit. Collectively we broke every rule on the sign at the door (no ripped or messy clothing, no boots, no antisocial behaviour, etc), but it was okay because the place gave us a special deal on beers…$2.50 for a ‘pot’ of beer, a ‘pot’ being a pitiable little measure which would nary drown the thirst of a nat. It’s all flash and fancy, with HDTVs everywhere on the walls blaring out awesomely sexy r’n’b & hip-hop videos and poles for pole-dancing on the floor facing the stage.
Well, there wasn’t any food so we got a lot of crisps and hommus and shit for our dinner and then bought a crate of beers to sneak in since we weren’t that into the ’special deal’. Things get funnier and funnier, a very odd crowd of total randomers turning up. Nathaniel is basically the two support bands, first off doing an avante-garde set of improv noise in a skull mask, then playing drums topless in a Mexican wrestling mask with his mate jamming along on guitar. It all sort of reminds me of a show I put on in Roscommon in the ‘90s for Endstand from Finland, when none of the supports turned up and I had to ask my mates to get up and just make noise for twenty minutes as the warm-up… Anyway, it’s time for us to play so we set-up and get ready. Just about to play, my low E string breaks. Arse. Get it sorted…the A breaks. Double arse. The bulldyke gets angry and tells Nathaniel that we only have twenty minutes left before the dubstep DJ has to go on. We play a bemused 15 minute set and Adam is a whirling dervish of sexual lightning, forcing the thirty or so people watching to join in with his theatrics, pole dancing and circle pitting. It’s actually pretty good fun, even though we totally fuck up one of the new songs we have a go at. People are into it…and we sell one t-shirt.
Our mate Jezza turns up, an Aussie dude who’d been living in Copenhagen who’s now moved to Lismore. He'd happened to be walking past and came in after he’d asked someone what was going on and they told him that we were playing. Naturally there’ve not been any posters advertising the gig. My curiosity is piqued, and I ask his girlfriend how much she paid for her ‘pot’ of beer. One guess…yep, $2.50…seems our deal is not so special after all. There are, however, big mango daiquiris for $4, so we all have one of them and get some sexy dancing going on. I put my newfound monogamy proudly into third gear as a hot girl makes it clear that I’m welcome to come home with her and probably not just to check out her stamp collection. The whole thing gives me a mad buzz, used as I am to indiscriminately slutting around whenever I’ve previously been on tour. We all head back to the gaff we’re staying at and Phoebe bakes a load of potatoes and we drink a fuckload of beer.
Things get really funny as a bit of local colour unfolds, one of the few crusty girls from the show revealing the depths of filth which it seems Lismore (apparently the bestiality capital of the world, I’m pleased to find out) is capable of. She reveals a little too much, and bit by dirty little bit I cadge the full story out of her of how she ended up getting down and dirty with her stepmum (who’s only 9 years her senior, to be fair). It seems the two had gotten a little bit too drunk and done a few too many bong hits after maybe a touch too much of crystal MDMA, had somehow managed to get themselves covered in honey, and had ended up bumpin’ uglies after somehow contriving a scene in which they would ‘clean’ each other. The girl finally deigns to let me borrow her phone and give mum a call, so I can ask her to come over and do bongs with us. She won’t pick up so I just leave a message. It’s all too hilarious, and things get even better as we sketch out a family tree of sexual relations between the people present, all of whom seem to be buried in a sex-pit of heinous proportions, mainly involving each others’ parents and siblings. It’s all too much and things are threatening to get very dirty, so I excuse myself and pass out on a mattress in the living room.
Day Eight: Jan 9th
I wake with a splittin headache and manage to go back to sleep for a bit, but my head is still fucked when I wake up proper and we drive into town to meet Nathan & Phoebes at an organic food café. I get a decent coffee and plenty of water into me, and the others all chow down on some healthy eats, but I can’t take it. I get the end of Christina’s scrambled tofu, and it’s admittedly divine…chock full of ginger and nicely grated, a good take on a classic breakfast. But it’s far too healthy, so I go and get a chicken satay pie in the bakery.
The next day is going to be fucking mental in terms of driving, so we go to the supermarket to stock up on food. Then we head out into the hills outside Brisbane with our hosts to find a reputably awesome waterfall to swim at. Things are all a bit much so Jæppe and I take refuge in alco-pop girly drinks, and we pick up this cute little feral dude on the way out. (we also encounter a three Spanish dudes, the back of whose van contains only a large mattress, bottles of baby oil and a bumper pack of condoms…andale, locos!!)
The landscape is lush, completely green and steamy. The waterfall is gorgeous, but recent heavy rains mean that it’s dangerously swollen and going way too fast; the day after we hear of a teenage girl drowned from trying to swim in a river that’s usually fine. The weather is in fact the end of a ten year drought the country’s been experiencing, resulting in massive flooding in certain regions, the worst in 50 years. So, we head down to another creek and it’s awesome, naturally I strip down to my nothins and get my swim on…it’s rough so I get a few bad cuts on my foot, and get away without having my wee-wee pincered as Christina and Jæppe notice a large crayfish being swept past in the floodwaters trying to hang on to anything it can. We head back to Lismore and drop off Freddy Feral and the other two, and head off towards Brisbane.
It’s not such a long drive, perhaps three hours, and the scenery is incredible. Sweeping views of green fields stretching off across the hills, crested by razor-leafed palm trees, finally swelling into the blue Pacific as the road winds up the coast. I have a couple of beers in the van as my hangover is unaccountably awful. We spot a hilarious-looking dude in his 50s or thereabouts hitching and pull over for him; he’s in a full aquamarine linen suit wearing a sombrero and shades, and has a total motherfucker beard; turns out he’s a Life Coach named Shanti who pulled out of the fast lane 25 years ago, spent many years traveling and now coaches people to achieve their full potential. He’s a sound fucker and I don’t feel like messing with him, turns out we see things much the same way and he doesn’t even drop a J-bomb or Buddha anywhere in the coarse of our chat. He’s only with us for half an hour or so before we drop him off.
We arrive in Brisbane around 3pm, going back an hour due to the time difference upon entering the state of Queensland. We’ve got some hours to kill so Jakob and Christina head into the city while the rest of us hang out in West End and get a beer. Timmy’s mate Jane whose house we’ll be staying at turns up and she’s a massive bad influence, attempting to get us on the shots...recalling the drunken debacle of Monday’s show, Adam, Jæppe and I guiltily consort with each other and agree that we’ll probably be fine for the show if we have just a beer or two at this point…and get a pint in the bar where Jane used to work. It goes down nicely and a proper buzz is building, so we’re pretty ready to get some food and hang out at Jane’s before the gig. Seeming to know everyone in the area involved in alcohol-related businesses, she gets a massive discount on a crate of beer, a bottle of Jaeger, a litre of vodka plus juice, all for only $100 –a lot less than it should be. In fact, the prices of alcohol in Australia are fucking mental in general, more expensive even than Sweden. That coupled with the current strength of the Aussie dollar compared to everything else means that everything’s extra costly on this tour.
We head back to Jane’s, meeting a hilarious chancer by the name of Tomunist, who shouts “Nuclear Death Terror!” at us and comes back. He’s already had three bottles of Stone’s Ginger Wine and is in flying form, we all hang out back at the amazing House On The Hill with a great view over the lights of Brisbane and drink a bit before heading to the gig. We get there just as the first band are on and load in; the dudes playing are called Obsessed By Death and play some decent bestial fuckin metal. The venue is excellent, a big warehouse called Burst City, with a really diverse crowd of metalheads, crusty punks, hardcore kids and hipster types all seeming keen and up for it. The heat is unbelievable, outside only a bare improvement on the oven-like conditions in the hall. All the bands are decent, Last Chaos in particular with their brutal raw hardcore assault, though I’m distracted by changing my strings and warming up; we’re all keen to have a decent show after the last couple, and I’ve got a good feeling about this one…we’ve asked the organizer if we can play earlier rather than last as we don’t wanna be too pissed.
It works; the show is fucking amazing. Wildest gig I’ve played in a few years, it’s a constant battle between us and the crowd, with all the amps and drums on the stage and us on the floor. People are going mental, Adam’s hanging off the rafters, there’s mad dancing, Tomunist keeps unintentionally smacking the mic into my teeth and I’m forced to give him a pretty huge kick up the arse, and the entire floor is covered in beer and sweat leading people to slip everywhere in the most hilarious fashion. The bassist from Obsessed By Death slide-tackles me in mid-mosh and I fall back on my arse, sitting on the stage. It’s like trying to breathe water in there and by the end of the gig I’m entirely soaked to the bone, as if someone had tossed a bucket of water over me…fucking amazing.
We hang out and drink after the show talking to various people and Jane heads back to her house, drunk as fuck after polishing off the vodka. The last band play and the dudes from Obsessed By Death say they can give me some weed “just around the corner”. Just around the corner ends up being a half hour walk to their house, during which the cops stop us and I’m made to pour out my beer…but luckily this Romanian metalhead dude who came along is able to help out there. We head back to OBD’s drummer’s gaff and it’s metal party time; he plays me an old demo by this Brisbane band called Iron Lightning and it’s awesome, first two albums Metallica meets Accept. We smoke bongs and drink for a bit and then I head back to Jane’s house, supposedly two minutes round the corner…it literally is. The party is raging on there, and the drinking smoking acting cool continues to about 4.30am when I go out to the van to sleep.
Day Nine: Jan 10th
We leave for Sydney at 5.30am; we’ve to be there for the show by 7pm and it’s over 1,000 kilometres. Jakob takes first shift and then Timmy takes over; I wake up around 11am and take over after a coffee. The drive is fucking intense; torrential tropical rains across Queensland mean that visibility is minimal and rear view mirrors pointless, but we have to keep up a high speed if we’re going to make it. It’s pretty scary, large pools of water leading to serious potential dangers. I have a freak-out, roaring and shouting at a semi-drunken Jæppe after he attempts to put his cowboy hat on me from behind whilst I'm driving and it ends up covering my eyes and blinding me. After about five hours my concentration is shot to fuck and after a running-on-fumes fiasco in finding a petrol station that’s actually open or hasn’t run out of gas (this seems to be a pretty common problem over here for some reason?) we eventually get it sorted and I switch over with Jakob for the next leg. A little bifty cools the jets for me and the weather eventually clears up, and we get to Sydney just after 7pm. Pick up some takeaway in Newtown and make it to the gig just as the first band are finishing. It’s on in a punk record store that doubles as a venue, Black Wire. We get a crate of beer and a bottle of Jaeger and Anji’s there and it’s deadly! There’s two more bands before us, it’s hot as fuck in the venue so we mostly hang around outside. There’s a decent sized crowd of various punks and metalheads, and this mad crusty cunt called Marcus Carcass who I’ve actually heard of before comes up and gives us a serious punishing…he’s convinced that he used to live in the back of a Camero with Anji, which isn’t actually true, but it’s pretty funny anyway.
The gig is excellent, people are into it and go nuts, again it’s like a fucking boilerhouse and I’m drenched by the end. Good show. Afterwards we head back to Miso’s house for party time action and get some booty swinging action going. Her housemate bursts in and treats us to an impromptu display of dance, throwing her skirts around, spinning about and flashing her knickers like there’s no tomorrow. We head down the road to the Sly Fox, a local pub, and start getting into trouble. First there’s some random nerd who interrupts us and is told to get fucked, then one of the dudes with us steals a sausage dinner from some old fella who’d allegedly put it down for just a minute, which had prompted the offending crusty to pick it up. I ate one of the sausages and then felt a small bit guilty. The old dude went mental and got his dinner back. Then something caused me to smash glasses against the wall, I can’t remember what. There somehow ends up being a fight between myself and Miso and this ould boy and his girlfriend, who really wants to go outside and have fistycuffs with me, but instead goes and tells on me to the bouncer. We accuse the old couple of smashing our drinks and trying to start a fight with us cos they’re jealous of us. The bouncer is a funny no-nonsense Islander chap and Anji sweet-talks him and he believes us and makes the others leave, but we also have to leave, so me and Anji go back to the her van and sleep there.
Day Ten: Jan 11th
I wake up dying, hungover to fuck in the heat of Anji’s van and we go and get a delicious breakfast, juice and good coffee at a fantastic café in Newtown called Scrambled…maple syrup pancakes with crispy bacon, aw yeeeah. I feel considerably more human after the breakfast, but predictably it’s interrupted with a phone call from the band… ’where are yis, we have to go’. Boooring, I want to hang out with Anji…turns out that it’s an afternoon show. In Canberra. How fucking exciting...
I am, in fact, to be proven wrong…it turns out to be the maddest day I’ve ever spent on tour.
After saying goodbye to Anj and Miso we head off for Canberra. Uneventful journey, other than that the baking heat and glorious sun of the Sydney morning turns to a muggy heaviness and darkening clouds as we head inland over the flat plains of New South Wales. We arrive at the show just prior to the first band and drag the gear in; you know there’s only one way this is gonna go: beer time. The gig is in a small bar and drinks are expensive, but there’s no bottle shop around and we need to drink, so drink we do. Most notably Jæppe, who’s on the Jaeger before we even start…the crowd is almost entirely hardcore kids, mainly in the modern hipster style, with a periphery of metalheads and punks. Dan who’s putting on the show is a bit of a madser, cart-wheeling and backflipping around the venue in his bright pink jeans and studded jacket. We later find out he’s also a cagefighter and amateur wrestler. He gets people going, and they’re into it for the two local bands who play before us, both in the modern hardcore style. They’re both fairly decent and I don’t feel quite so weird about it being an afternoon show –generally a tired and boring sort of affair, in my opinion.
We set up and start and it’s weird…the crowd are a mile away from us, gradually inch closer, a few big lads sporadically get their mosh on, and then most people inch back a bit further, scared of gettin a dig. Adam’s clearly not enjoying it and says fuck-all between songs, along with everyone else in the entire fucking building. I’m trying to get into but mostly just waiting for it to end. Jæppe’s interspersing the set with trips to the bar. Then it sort of gets good towards the end, and it’s only afterward that it dawns on me…there’s a huge queue at the merch table and everyone wants to buy a ton of shit…even though there was such a weird reaction…wait a minute, it’s simply that no-one had a clue what the fuck we were! There’s no crust bands in Canberra and the scene seems utterly hardcore-orientated, so it took everyone the first half-set to get their heads around what the hell it was we were doing up there.
We head back to the house of Dan and Emma, who’d also been putting on the show, to have a BBQ and a little soiree with perhaps 20 people. Myself and Jæppe pick up a 4-litre goonbag of wine –at $11 a pop we just couldn’t afford not to. The weather turns to absolute shit over the afternoon, grey, wet and muggy, so the BBQ is off. There’s still tons of great food, and some real funny characters there…but the real fun came upon discovering the dungeon.
It turns out that the not-so-innocent Emma, by day a mild-mannered government executive and occasional show organizer, has a darker side…by night, she becomes Mistress Emma, Dominatrix Extraordinaire. With her own fully equipped dungeon.
She says she’ll set it up. She shows me her stuff. We get drunker, smoke more and have some dexys. There’s all sorts of gear down there…kinky stuff! After some more drinks at the house, I gently remind Emma about setting up the dungeon…twice…so she does. And I help her.
Now, I’m not a pervert. Not completely. Everyone likes a little pain with their pleasure…give it a go yourself if you don’t believe me. Go on…next time, give an extra-hard little bite, slap that ass or dig your nails in. You owe it to yourself. Not to mention your sex-mate. But anyway…
When I walk back down there after getting a drink, Jæppe’s stretched out face-down in his boxers on a table. Emma’s wielding some sort of contraption that gives a constant series of electrical shocks, and Jæppe can’t wait to have a go. Within seconds of beginning he’s asking her to turn up the voltage and drunkenly pulling his undies down to allow easy access. It’s absolutely amazing. There’s a crowd of about ten people watching, whose responses range from shock to amusement to discomfort. I’m dying to have a go but I don’t want to upset Mistress Emma by being too pushy (she’s the dom, after all), so I have to play my cards right. This means waiting for two others to have a go. She’s reluctant so I promise that she can whip me within an inch of my puny little life if only she’ll give me a little electricity first. I have to wait even more for one of the dudes to spend some time on the bed of nails. Then I finally get to have a go.
It’s fucking amazing. I lie naked on the table and get tantalizingly shocked all over, the funnest parts obviously being soles of feet, ribs, nipples and…well, use your imagination. The voltage goes up and pretty soon I’m ready to be chained up and whipped. I’m euphoric and Emma insists that I drink some coke and eat some sugary sweets before continuing…I get chained up and the whipping begins. It’s a bit fucking mental to be honest. I get paddled hard enough to make me scream as a warm up before she starts with the whip. It varies between deliciously painful and almost unbearable. I’ve no idea really how long it continues but when Emma’s arm is completely tired out and I’m unchained, almost everyone has left the room, including everyone who doesn’t live at the house. It doesn’t really hurt and I feel amazing, like I’m up on something. I have a smoke and drink some more cola and by then it’s late and pretty much everyone’s ready to go to bed. So we sleep in the dungeon.
Day Eleven: Jan 10th
Wake up in the dungeon after a sleep riddled with odd dreams of death and murder, all shot through with elements of current reality to become particularly unsettling. Have a coffee and we get on the road early, heading for Melbourne where we have a show tonight. It’s not too bad a drive, brightening up in the afternoon and getting hot as fuck when we stop in Holbrook to get some food, a town whose claim to fame is having a massive submarine plonked right in the middle of it. We have a good feed, everyone in the supermarket is fuckin sound, more or less demonstrating the general attitude of countryside Aussies to us: friendly and curious. Except for the tough cunts who sit in their car staring at us and then drive off, roaring “see ya, faggots!” out the window. Toodle-pip, chaps!
By the time we get back to Melbourne it’s fuckin pissin rain; we head round a few gaffs to pick up some gear (and an Anji) for the show tonight, then head to the East Brunswick club where it’s on. They’re famous for their Monday night food, all of which has vegan versions. I go for the chicken parma and it’s amazing. Like a gorgeous pizza without the bread…aw yeeeah. There’s a fuckload of people there, all chowing down on various delectable delights. $12 pitchers of beer too, so we start lashin a few of those bad boys in. Jæppe’s in a world of pain after the night before and can’t even get a beer in, never mind food, so he has a couple of vodkas. There’s a good crowd for the gig, which starts a bit late much to Timmy’s irritation, causing him hassle. There’s a lot of hass going round actually, with Jakob in a bit of a fowler aswell over being kept waiting over an hour for his food.
Some crusty kid outside starts jive-talkin me about it being funny when you find peoples’ cameras and how sometimes it takes a ransom to get it back etc. He’s referring to Jæppe’s camera, which he lost in Goongerah. Timmy’s mate found it and gave it to this joker to bring back, who thought he was being clever. When he found out it wasn’t my camera he gave up. The gig starts with Debacle, spraying their crusty grind across the place like dogpiss. It’s a decent venue, a back room to the pub/restaurant, good PA and a nice size. Much to my surprise my cousin turns up with her mate and we have a good chat, it’s their first DIY punk gig and they’re having fun. Circuits play next and they’re decent; a pretty big crowd has shown up, and it’s shaping up to be a surprisingly good Monday night show.
We start and people are up for it, a few mad cunts going bonkers, jumping off speakers and shit, but the real fun comes with the audience interaction, causing a bit of kerfuffle with some sensitive sorts that ends up going on for days. Introducing Total Annihilation, I say “fuck smack” into the microphone and the smart cunt from earlier with the camera shouts something at me. You know the type: crust as fuck, oversized piercings, missing a tooth, round about 25 and massively disenfranchised with punk, becoming nihilistic and cynical when it turns out that it wasn’t so easy to change the world as it seemed at 19. He’s standing at the side of the stage, so I say something along the lines of “ah, here’s the cunt who stole our bassist’s camera!” and put the mic in his face and ask him to repeat himself. He mumbles embarrassedly and declines, so I slag him off…not such a big-mouth now, are ya. Turns out I’m wrong and he’s the biggest-mouthed cunt ever. We continue the set and I manage to embarrass my cousin by getting everyone to welcome her to her first punk gig. Camera Crusty tries to get my attention and between songs I give him my ear; he says that he would’ve said something earlier only if he did apparently half the crowd would be thinking “of course that smacky’s giving out, he stole their camera to buy smack”. Paranoid? …nah. He’s all on for a big discussion; I tell him I’ll talk to him after the gig.
Introducing World Enslaved I crack another hilarious joke; with people in the crowd shouting something about Denmark, I tell them that they should “give Australia back to its rightful owners…the English”. Most people get the irony of an Irishman telling a former British colony that the English are the rightful owners of it, never mind one who’s in a political crust band, but there’s a always a certain percentage of folks at a punk gig who are rabidly awaiting any chance to take offence. Some of them walk out. We finish the set amidst a pandemonium of crowd lunacy; I talk to my cousin for a while and discuss doing a Kreator/Sarcofago styled dirty metal band with Yeap from Pisschrist: yusss! Then we pack up and head back to the various places we’re staying. Surprisingly awesome Monday!
Day Twelve: January 11th
After a proper good sleep we wake up to Alice in a state of emergency, with massive floods in Queensland meaning that the area where she’s from is in serious danger. She’s understandably worried about her mum, as the phone lines are down and she can’t get in touch, and we spend most of the day watching the news as the death toll rises. The scenes are mental; insane flash-floods have swept whole towns away, and footage shows cars, boats, even whole houses floating amidst the debris. It’s the worst flooding since 1974 and it’s the only thing on TV. Alice finally gets in touch with her family and finds out that her mum is safe, though a number of her friends and relatives are still at risk.
I cook a Thai yellow curry in the afternoon, and we stay in all day. The rain hasn’t abated since yesterday and continues in a heavy downpour, which, mixed with the stifling humidity, means that there’s fuck-all to do all day except get monged and catch up on internet nonsense, tying up the loose ends of the Asian part of the tour etc. We watch some stupid documentaries about sex: Virgin School and A Complete History Of My Sexual Failures, both of which are pathetic and annoying, especially since shitty internet sites mean we don’t get to see the end of either. Timmy comes over just before we go asleep to pick up/drop off some gear and tells us about receiving a funny phone call at 1am; turns out an irate crusty had called him up complaining about the racist in his band who’d said they should give Australia back to the English and wanting to tell me I’m a fuckhead or fight me or some other such nonsense. Guess who? Yep: camera smacky. I’d forgotten to talk to him after the gig since it was more interesting to talk to my cousin, and he’d evidently poured his frustrations into the nearest available vessel: an excuse to be politically offended.
Now, anyone who knows me is fully aware of my, shall we say, “robust” sense of humour. I’d like to think that they’re just as aware that I’m willing to discuss anything and try to make my point of view as clear as possible. At a stretch, I can see how such a joke might offend someone, if taken out of context. If someone says that Australia should be given back to its rightful owners, the first thing that comes into anyone’s mind is, naturally, the Aborigines. A fairly apt subject, I would say, for introducing a song with such lyrics as World Enslaved. Yet I was under the impression that Aussies were known for having an appreciation of the darker side of humour, and such a comment would be taken as it was meant: a joke, and not a statement in earnest. Perhaps I over-estimate that people would be aware of Ireland’s 800 year colonial history and the genocide and deprivation suffered by millions of people at the hands of the English; the destruction of our culture and language; the famine, the horrors perpetrated in the name of Christianity and all the rest of it. And yes, I can understand how indigenous land-rights is still a sore point with Australians, and a valid one, since the Australian government has been horribly remiss and blatantly unapologetic in making up for the damage of past generations, whilst Ireland has at least achieved independence since 1922. It may just be that Aussies outside of Australia are more stereotypically full-on and difficult to offend in contrast to the common-or-garden Aussie at home. Regardless, I’m still baffled that in the context of who I am, who we are, where the joke was made, and what the subject of the song it introduced is, that someone still managed to get offended. Never under-estimate the punks, eh?
Day Thirteen: Jan 12th
We get up around 9am to get ready for our long drive to Adelaide, where we’ll be playing tomorrow. We take a quick look at the news; much of the city of Brisbane is now about to go under, and we later hear that Jane and her gang are out in Mad Max gear roaming the streets and terrifying the population: Surf Crusties Must Die! It’s odd to think that where we’d been hangin out just days previously was now under water, Burst City included…guess that means I won’t be getting the speaker cable back which I forgot there! Anji and Jimmy from Debacle/Pisschrist are coming with us, so we pick up the van and gear and hit the road. We’ve decided to go part of the way along the Great Ocean Road; a much longer though much more interesting route. We drive out to Bells Beach, known to most people as the site of the final scene from Point Break: where Jonny Utah finally catches Bodie, and then lets him go to ride the 50 year storm. I'm keen to hit the surf but Timmy's quick to dissuade me: “back off Cormchild, seriously!”.
It’s a day of beautiful scenery, from the winding coastal roads along the multi-hued azure Pacific to the inland hills and plains. We have to double back and take a different route since the coast road is blocked by a landslide due to the wet weather. We spend most of the day monged courtesy of Jimmy and so I take a break from the driving; as night falls the most beautiful sunset I’ve seen in a while moves across the green trees and grassy plains, the sky going through multiple hues before fading to full darkness. More mongage and I get a bit of a kip, and we finally arrive at 3am at the Animal House warehouse where we’ll be sleeping whilst in Adelaide. Christing Heck but some of these drives are fuckin crushing.
Day Fourteen: Jan 13th
Unsurprisingly, it’s pissing rain when we wake up. I don’t actually wake up till about 12, which is glorious…haven’t been having the best or longest sleeps. We read a bit and check out the Animal House; it’s frickin awesome, a huge place, rented as an “art space” but with people living there. We decide to head into the city to get some food and coffee, though the torrential downpour means I’d honestly rather hang out at the warehouse. But I’m hungry and want coffee so I head with the others.
We go to Chinatown to get some food, as the Laksa there’s been recommended as some of the best you’ll ever try. There’s all sorts of mad Asian food and hundreds of people busily lunching in the large food hall we go to, and I am tempted by some of the crazy lookin $6.50 pile-your-plate-as-high-as-you-can deals…but it’s for the Laksa we came and goddamit I’m having Laksa. Though I’m also tempted by the Wet Ho Fun. But the Laksa is GOOORGEOUS. If you’ve not tried it, it’s a spicy coconut noodle soup; the variety I had was Mixed Laksa and had tofu, chicken, prawns and something odd and fishy in it, all of which was of great quality and flavour. Afterwards we go back to the van to find a parking place closer to the city. It’s not really possible, so we park somewhere closish and walk in the rain. It’s fuckin miserable and I really don’t feel like traipsing about in the wet looking for record shops, so I get a takeaway coffee from somewhere and head back to the van to read.
It’s great to get away from the constant onslaught of sociability… I read my book for a while and am quietly astounded by the manner in which Virginia Woolfe can invest the most painful existential, almost metaphysical, meanings into everyday life, situations and characters. And successfully describe the frankly mad ways that women's heads work. With a brain like that, it’s no wonder she topped herself.
Anji, Adam and Jæppe come back to the van, having gotten sick of the record hunt. Anji’s got a newspaper and we have a look at the pictures of the Queensland flood disaster, along with the various grisly and heroic stories of rescue and death. There’d been continuous shots of a family stranded on top of an SUV over the previous days, two parents and a boy. In a morbid turn of events, it seems they’d died after it became impossible to rescue them. The extreme weather conditions are in fact now spreading across Victoria and into Southern Australia, meaning that we may be in trouble tomorrow if we take the usual route from Adelaide back to Melbourne.
Everyone else returns and we head back to Animal House and spend a profittable few hours in the rehearsal room there putting the final touches on the four new songs we’re going to record in Osaka. They’ve all been well road-tested and are ready to be locked down…time passes quickly and we head back towards the city to get dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant with a sound chap who lives at the Warehouse, Villa. We also pick up a crate of Boag’s and some longnecks. The food is great, and we get the unspoken details on the Ungdomshuset eviction from Jakob and Christina, it having been impossible to get the full story before the trials were over and served their sentences. Fuckin mad shit. This weird white-haired chick in a Led Zeppelin t-shirt who’d been making gestures at Anji in a public toilet earlier mysteriously appears, to Anji’s considerable horror. The Zeppelin menace bounds up like an excited puppy when poor Anj heads out for a ciggie…Christ alone knows what she wanted, but Anji’s discomfort is obvious.
We head to the gig in high spirits, an the first band have already started. Iron Worzel, they’re decent, in the Iron Monkey/Eyehategod vein of sludge. We watch them, get our drink on, and then see Prison Bitch destroy with their Siege-like brutality. It’s two members of Space Bong and Hydro Medusa; seems there’s something in the water down in Adelaide. Or maybe the weed. We also find out that it’s the murder capital of the world, per capita, with the highest instance of serial killings globally. Even cooler than that is finding out that the soundman was in Autopsy and Suffocation, playing on albums like Effigy Of The Forgotten. Amaaazing!
We play well, do all the new songs and they’re all tight and feel good, and people seem pretty into it, but bright frickin stage lights mean it’s difficult to see. Then in the middle of it this hairy joker hops onstage and grabs my mic and demands to know who made the joke about Australia. Intrigued, I ask him what joke? About giving Aussie back to the English. Ah yes. T’was I, admits your humble scribe. Hairy doesn’t do or say anything and the soundman boots him off. The rest of the gig goes well, we finish up and I go to find the dude who jumped onstage. After a bit of a search I find him sitting in the pokie room, pretty drunk. I sit down and talk it out with him and he apologises, saying that he’d heard the story differently…from his mate in Melbourne who’d already phoned up Timmy about it. Captain Crust Camera strikes again. I’ll be havin words with that chap when we’re back in Melbourne. The dude’s a South Amercian guy who’d moved to Australia and was passionate about land rights and so on. He’s alright and we sort it out.
I go and chat with the soundman Josh and the guitar player from Spacebong, whose name I have, rather shockingly, forgotten. There’s a couple of real enthusiastic older crusty dudes who’ve come down from the mountains for the gig, the first time in three years they’ve been at one, and they’re loving in. Really enjoyed the gig and were keen to have a chat about moving out to rural Australia, that being myself and Anji’s plan (let’s see if it happens!). Drinky drinky drinky and the ol’ Australia For The English debate pops up again. This time from a very drunken girl and some other dude, who’ve been talking/arguing with the others about it. They’ve heard a slightly different version again, that being that the comment was said in Danish from the stage. Australian Whispers –great stuff! We have a bombastic argument about my right (or lack of) to make such a joke due to Ireland’s colonial past, and we don’t agree to disagree. We eventually leave, I high-spiritedly denouncing her as a white European who doesn’t have a clue about the plight of oppressed people, such as myself, for example. She’s yelling insults and the whole scene is fantastic. We get back to Animal House and drink a load, get stoned and realize that we have to get up in four hours to leave for Melbourne. It’s gonna be an extra long drive back due to flooding and certain roads being covered, so even leaving at 8am we’ll be hard pushed to make it in time for our second-to-last Australian show. The party dies immediately and we all bed down.
Day Fifteen: Jan 14th
We get fuck-all sleep, again, and clamber back into the van still drunk and groggy to start the journey to Melbourne for our final show there. Serious flooding means that it’s dubious as to whether we’ll make it at all today, never mind in time for the show, but we decide to take alternative routes, the long way round being better than no way round at all. I slip in and out of fitful sleep for hours, and just feel weird. The drive is relentless, Jimmy’s Js the only respite. There’s 10 of us in the van, with some friends Natalya and Banz getting a lift back from Adelaide to Melbourne with us.
We stop at a supermarket for food and I take over the driving around 4pm. It’s actually a surprisingly dry sunny day, though all around us is evidence of the flooding. Many road sections are completely covered, so we have to drive very carefully through them. It’s all too much for me and I get bored and start going way too fast down these shitty potholed roads. It’s fuckin great craic, total Star Wars deathstar madness, weaving round the bad sections in the road and overtaking wildly. Naturally it’s tremendous fun. It gets a bit much when I overtake a car with a caravan and a truck on front of it and swing back in just before an oncoming car would have wrecked us. People are shouting and roaring, and admittedly it was fuckin stupid. But I have to do it one more time, just because, and when we stop for gas a few people separately ask me to slow down cos they’re freaked. Pack of wussies. Nah, it’s fair enough, but fuck it’s boring to drive slow when you’re in a hurry… So, I slow down and settle in for 5 hours boring drive to Melbourne. It’s shit and takes forever. Going through the flooded parts is fun though. We eventually get there around 9.30pm, exhausted.
The show is on at the Black Goat Warehouse, a place where a few of our mates live and put on shows. There’s a lot of people and a good buzz, and after an initial half-hour of shell-shocked post-drive inability to focus on anything, a few beers do the trick. There’s a couple of bands before us; the first one play a WITTR style post-hardcore take on black metal. They’re good at what they do but the style doesn’t really turn me on. Then Kromosom play and are frickin awesome! Then we have to go on and I’m expecting it to pretty much be dull and a bit painful.
It’s actually amazing! People go fuckin mad and we’re sounding the best we have so far. That point where you’ve played around half a dozen gigs and everything’s totally effortless, and every show feels like the tightest you’ve ever been. I nearly shit my pants when I’m picked-up and crowd surfed without prior consent…I feel violated, to be honest...it’s just not fun when you’re trying to play guitar and have to choose between your head and your axe regarding which will take the blow if you’re dropped! I make a few more explicit references to the songs with which I previously caused offence, only this time being more frank about what they’re about. People seem pretty happy about it.
Afterwards we hang out and drink and then head back to Thornbury to sleep around 3am.
Day Sixteen: January 15th
Wake up around 9am and I could easily sleep another 5 hours. But it’s not possible, as we’ve to get to the airport for our final Aussie show in Tasmania. Alice has made a delicious breakfast of scrambled tofu, beans and mashed spuds, so after we’ve eaten myself and Adam bid adieu to the others and leave. It’s a gorgeous day, warm and sunny, a nice break from all the rain.
We get the gear together and a mini-bus picks us up from Timmy’s place and drops us at the airport. There’s some nonsense involving surcharges for not checking-in online (Tiger Airways: the sketchbag cheap-as-fuck Ryanair cunts of Australasia –avoid if possible) but it doesn’t matter as we all enjoy being able to parade around the airport with our instruments, allowing people to imagine we’re a much bigger, more successful, profitable and exciting band than we really are.
The flight is short and we arrive in Hobart around 4pm and get a shuttle-bus right to where we’ll be playing and staying: The Brisbane Hotel. It’s a charming little dump, a nice bar, somewhere between an old man pub and a metal pub, a very decent gig room with a monstrous PA, and two hotel rooms for us. And a tab on the bar…aw yeeeah.
We get food from the bar, it’s excellent, the others getting vegan burgers or burritos while I go for the Reef & Beef…a big steak in a seafood sauce of prawns, scallops and calamari. It’s amazing. Afterwards we head down to the harbour; there’s currently a big free music and performance festival on in Hobart and we have a few beers on the grass with some avante-garde solo violin going on in the background. We get back and soundcheck, and then start drinkin and chatting with people. There’s this long-term ex-pat Polish girl, Agata, who’s hilarious, full of madness and wisdom in equal measures. It doesn’t look like there’s going to be much of a turn-out. The supports are three breakcore DJs and a band called Society Death Something, who are just alright. The final breakcore DJ is amazing though, full on harsh noise clashing with pop hits in a sublime manner, only improved by the dude’s full-body golden Tron suit. Even better are the crowd, all sorts of crazy people going nuts in pretty random ways.
It’s time to play and we sort our gear out and get ready. The room fills up and suddenly it seems there’s a lot more people than earlier.
We play and again it’s fucking great; all the new songs are perfect, the old ones tight as a dolphin’s arsehole, the breaks and stops inch-perfect. Such a pleasure to play well and especially for an appreciative crowd, who are going bonkers. There’s various crowd banter and it seems I’ve found a better balance between piss-taking and more serious dedications…just in time for the last gig in an English speaking country. A fuckin awesome show and the best way to end the Aussie leg of the tour!
…but the night’s only just beginning of course. Immediately following the show a metal dude comes up and thrusts a handful of buds in my hand, “I dunno if you smoke but awesome show bro!” and heads off. Yeah dude. We head into the bar and I chat with Agata for a while. Then start drinking with a vengance. Tassie cunts are mental, people drinking out of shoes and all sorts of other assorted nonsense. It turns out that the cook, Alex, is guitarist and vocalist in a band called Ruins who I’d previously been in contact with, awesome Tasmanian black metal, so we chat a lot and get on well.
Then this German guy that I know from various metal shows and festivals in Europe comes up and says hi. I’m surprised to see him there, having only met him through various metal friends in
Asking why I left
Cue long ranting about racist dickheads and what they deserve.
Not long after he starts getting agro with some other dude over by the pool table. Seeing my chance I run over but the bouncers are already there, breaking it up. I threaten him and the bouncers drag him out but won’t let me out, amidst shouts from him that he’ll see me again and we’ll sort this out. Fuckin right we will. There’s another 10 minutes of trying to get outside after the prick, but when the bouncers finally let me he’s just taking off in a cab after a bunch of shouted threats. Pfffff…probably for the best.
We head up to our hotel room with a bunch of sound fuckers and some more beers and do a few bifties. Jæppe decides he could do with a bath and fills her up and gets in. Someone reckons he’s a bit too hot in there and needs cooling off and gets the fire extinguisher and does just that. He seems to like it, but after another bifty or two he freaks out, jumps up, grabs the fire extinguisher and heads for Christina and Jakob’s room screaming that he’s gonna get them. Ooooh shit…
I leg it after him and somehow he’s prevented from extinguishing C&J…luckily, since I’m sure it wouldn’t have ended in a happy way. The madness continues and one of the dudes with us, a sound lad called Tim, tells us about the Philip Glass concert the next day…I’d love to hear him play, but the tickets are $100…I reckon I’ll try to sneak in.
The room’s full of a fuckin dry lemony odour and extinguisher powder, so I go and have a kip in the other room instead. Fuck knows what time it is, but it’s light outside.
Day Seventeen: January 16th
I wake up to Christina and Jakob talking loudly, way earlier than I’d have liked to…take it outside you bastards. Tim leaves, his plan being to get back to Melbourne a day earlier to take care of some things and spend some time with the missus before we leave to Japan.
I can’t go back asleep so I get up and we decide to try and find somewhere to get breakfast. Everywhere’s closed, but there’s a nice farmers market with some good stuff that we reckon we’ll come back to if we can’t find anything better. We get a coffee somewhere and hang around. Hobart is dead. Very sleepy little city, more of a big town really, population around 200,000. It’s nice though, if a bit too easy-going.
We go back to the farmers market but they’ve just closed up…shite. No food. So we head back to the hotel. An ex-girlfriend of Jakob called Anna actually lives and works in
That’s at 4pm, so first I have a bit of a read and finish off To The Lighthouse and then take a walk to find something to eat since I’ve had nothing yet. Adam and Jæppe sleep and Christina and Jakob go for a walk.
I get a meat pie and then head down to where the free festival is. I go to the box office and tell them that I’m here to review the Philip Glass concert and ask whether I should pick up my pass there or at the venue. They say at the venue, so I head down towards there along the harbour. It’s a gorgeous area of town; it could so easily be smelly and dirty but instead it’s fresh and vibrant, clean and welcoming. There’s various places selling fresh fish, I’m not that hungry after my pie but I can't resist and get a “Bag o’ Treats” of prawn, calamari, crab and a load of other stuff…yum. I’m sort of tired and halfway to the concert venue I decide I couldn’t be bothered and fuck off back to the hotel.
Anna shows up and squeezes us all into her car and we head over to pick up the yute; a yute, if you don’t know, is a “utility vehicle”, basically an Australian pick-up truck. They’re fucking awesome. The others go with Anna, and Jakob & I take the yute. Unfortunately it’s an automatic, but it’s still fuckin cool…he’s gonna drive up the mountain and I back down…yeehaw! The scenery is gorgeous, green forest and strange firs and plants, with an increasingly amazing view over Hobart. It’s about a 10km drive to the top, and when we get out it’s breathtaking. Strange rock formations atop the peak of the mountain provide a 360-degree view of the island, all of the city, the harbour and a number of bays, with the coast stretching off in both directions and towering forested mountains running inland. It’s amazing, and I spend about half an hour just sitting and looking. We have a walk around, and the whole thing is totally energizing, revitalizing, especially since the day was beginning to look like a bit of a write-off.
We decide to have a barbecue at Anna’s and drive back down the mountain. Vroom vroom, beep-beep!! Pick up some food, rum and a case of beer. We head back to her place and set-up on the patio, have a beer and a smoke, a few capirhanas and get the food on the grill. There’s tons of it and we’re all starving and totally stuff our faces. It’s around 9pm now, and as part of the music festival John Spencer Blues Explosion are playing, who some people are keen to see. Someone tells me it’s a bit like Mr. Bungle. We stroll down there and watch for two minutes. It’s nothing like Mr. Bungle. It’s insipid boring shite. So we sit down and start drinking.
The legend known as Big Bird turns up and we have a drink, together with some Canadian traveling punks we’d previously met. We stay there for a bit and piss it up. We were gonna head back to the hotel, but Big Bird’s up for a proper drink, as are myself, Jæppe and Adam, so we decide yeah, fuck it. Heading out of the place we bump into Tassie Tim and a bunch of the madsers from the night before. He’s buzzin off the Philip Glass concert, some of the others have attended too and agree that it was phenomenal. Arse…hopefully there’ll be another chance sometime.
It’s their mates birthday, who’s also there and is staying at a fancy hotel, and no-one's sure what to do. While we’re deciding where to go and what drinks to get, the impatient Danes leave and it’s just me and the Tasweigans. We head up to the fancy hotel and have a drink and a spliff, but the drinks soon run out, so we head to the all-night bottle shop. A crate of Boag's and we head back to the hotel, bumping into one of the Canadians from earlier. She’s got a guitar and back in the hotel she gets it out and starts strumming and playing. She’s fuckin good at it too; energetic bluesy hillbilly nonsense, usually which I’d have little time for, but drunk in a hotel room is pretty good. The guitar gets passed around and it’s all sorts of silly nonsense, Dirty Old Town and that kind of thing. One of the hotel owners comes in, Ivan. We find out that we’ve run up a bar-tab of $450 the night before. Holy fuck. Luckily they took in enough on the door that we’ll still get decently paid too. The Canadian dude has skipped a bag of pies and sausage rolls, so we microwave those fuckers up and eat ‘em up.
As the crate of beer gets lighter, someone comes up with the bright idea of putting my studded jacket in the microwave. I don’t know who. The results aren’t as spectacular as hoped for. In fact, it’s only when we take my jacket out of the microwave that I seem to realize what’s going on. I stamp it out before Big Bird realizes it’s still on fire and puts it in the toilet. In the fucking toilet. As if it wasn’t fucking gross enough.
Canadian girl keeps looking in the mirror. It’s weird. There’s a corner mirror by the sink in the room and every two seconds she’s casting sidelong glances at herself…insecurity is one thing, but seriously love…you look grand, don’t worry about it. I tell her so, but she doesn’t register…cos she’s looking in the mirror again. The beers all gone, the others have to go, and things are getting a bit flirty with Ms Mirror, so I fuck off to the other room and go asleep.
Day Eighteen: January 17th
I’m woken at something past 9, having gone to sleep fuck knows when. Once again I’m wrecked and could do with a lot more sleep. This tour’ll be the death of me. Our flight is at 1.05pm so we need to get to the airport. There seems to be something going on with some people annoyed at each other and various moping and bad humour going on. I’m not even going to ask.
The two Canadians and Big Bird had stayed in the room with Jæppe and Adam. Since the Canadian dude had slept in an outdoor public toilet the night before, no-one seems to mind too much. The smelly trio have showers and I feel a glow of good samaritanism in getting those poor kids off the street…even just for a few hours. Without even riding any of them. We’re having trouble finding a taxi company or bus to bring us to the airport and I can’t find anyone to get paid…pain in the fuckin arse. We manage to get through to a cab company, but the fuckers never show up. We phone again and it seems we’d given the wrong address. It still never shows up. We have to be there 12.20pm to check in or they won’t let us on; Tiger are legendarily cuntish about late check-ins.
We phone the company again. They say we’ve been picked up. It turns out that someone’s after robbin our fuckin taxi on us. The dude rings up the dispatcher and gets a bus on the way to us. A taxi arrives at 11.53 and by this stage I’m fuckin stressed to bits. It takes a fuck of a lot to get me stressed, but when I’m there, it takes twice as much for me to calm down again. Going through my mind is my trip to Nuclear War Now! Fest in Berlin last November, after which we missed our flight back to Dublin by seconds due to pernickety nazi cops at the passport control…there wasn’t another flight that day and we had to wait until the day after…if that happens now, we’ll miss our flight to Japan and everything will be fucked. We get to the airport at 12.14pm, six minutes before check-in closes, and I jump out with all the passports and run to the desk. We make it just in time and check our instruments in. Fucking hell.
After all this I’m unable to calm down for hours. I don’t want a coffee because it’ll just stress me out more. I don’t want a beer, even though I do, because I’ve been on the piss for weeks. I settle for water.
We get back to Melbourne and take a taxi to Edwin Street. Alice and Tristan are preparing food, as there’s a plan to have a big “Goodbye Australia” dinner at Collins Street, since neither Christina, Adam or Jakob will be returning there. To be honest it’s the last thing I feel like doing; all I want is silence and solitude. But I suck it up and be a nice boy. It definitely helps to have a massive fuckin bifter.
I consequently spend the afternoon taking three times as long as I should to print out our itineraries, Japan and Malaysia and Singapore contacts, dates, online check-ins, baggage restrictions, etc. I’m stressed to fuckin bits over it, since from here on in I’m the main organiser in the band. For the other tours it’s generally been Christina doing the booking, and Timmy’s been the man with the plan for Australia. But with this Asian trip being my baby, organised through my contacts there, I’m gonna be the one holding the bomb when it goes off: not a state of mind natural to the likes of me.
I get as much done as possible and we head down to Collins Street. There’s tons of amazing food; lasagna, tempeh, salads, curry, rice balls and loads more… almost too much. Almost! A few beers and a bifty and we head back around 9.30pm; I’m anxious as there’s a few things needing done and we have to get up at 4am for our flight to Tokyo. I need to pack, sort out some last organizational duties and update this fuckin blog thing…by the time I get to bed it’s almost 2am.