So I’ve been back for a couple of days now, time to post a lengthy recap… Check it!
October 11, Lausanne/CH – Le Romandie
We had planned this event quite a bit in advance, with the band not only rehearsing intensely in advance, but also a short residency-like stay at the Romandie, which included an extended soundcheck, playing the set from a to z, fixing lights, etc., so that the actual event would be smooth sailing. Plus we tracked the whole show, so some of this just might see the light of day in some form or another.
Attendance was great, Bagheera delivered, and by the time Abraham took the stage (Around 22h15) the room was packed. The show went down with only a few bumps (Renzo obviously managed to smash his head against a monitor on the first song & got himself a nice frontal head wound, plus some technical issues, i.e. Matt unplugging his guitar, etc.), though the crowd seemed to have a hard time getting into the new tracks – Nothing to blame here, the music is as dense as it gets, I’m pretty sure it’s easier when you’re actually able to listen to it beforehand.
We sadly weren’t actually able to party after this, as some of us had to head back home as quick as possible – I myself had to finish some work before heading out the next afternoon for lyon.
October 12, Lyon/FR – Buffet Froid
Got picked up in Renens by the band around 13:30, after a rather short drive (3+h?) we arrived in Lyon. The Buffet Froid turned out to be a small book/vinyl-store, we set up in a humid cave underneath it, which was only accessible through some intricated stairs – Quite the work to get the cabs down there. Incidentially, the name of the place also summed up what we would get for dinner… I don’t have any issue with eating some salads, cheese & bread from time to time, but travelling to different countries, setting up in weird places and rocking hard definitely is work, and you need quite some good amount of food to get through this – So a hot meal is usually quite welome. Just saying. Anyway.
The show was fun as everybody was in good spirits – The gear was crappy and dave’s vocal-line cut out a bunch of times, but really nothing some gaffa tape couldn’t fix.
The cave was pretty packed (About 40 people or so), Renzo & Val tried to approach them as much as possible, and the resulting cable-mess only added to the rock’n’roll-factor.
Packing up was done quite quickly, and the went to the promoter’s parents house for a short overnight stay.
Weird story of the day: We weren’t allowed anywhere outside our room at the place we stayed during the night, as the huge family-dog roamed the corridors, and appareantly that beast had some issues you wouldn’t want to have to deal with – Renzo went out for a quick smoke, and couldn’t get back in for another 15 minutes until the promoter came to pick him up.
October 13, Strasbourg/FR – Jimmy’s Club
Went to the promoter’s own place for breakfast, then drove an unspectacular six hours to Strasbourg. Jimmy’s Club turned out to be quite in the vein of last night’s show: Small humid cave, dangerous & slippery stairs for load in, some cold pasta for dinner & an intrigued audience. Managed to catch some sights by strolling through the nearby streets just before the show, cute city – Def. have to get back there some day soon.
Stayed again at tonight’s promoters’ place, hit the bed quite quickly.
Weird story of the day: Sadly enough, one more display of how rock music is seen in the eyes of the common world… We were only allowed three free drinks at the bar, plus after the show we had to pay for everything, even though I only had used up two drinks so far. Can’t see how this would be an issue for the owner, as the pub on the first floor was packed until late night. Oh, well.
October 14, Torino/IT – United Club
Drove through switzerland (No problems at all at the borders) and over the Gd. San Bernadino-Pass to get there.
Italy always had a special place in my heart, mostly because of how different things are over there – Until now I had that country summed up to whacky technical conditions, turkish poopers and lazy promoters… United Club somehow managed to shift this view. Still felt like italy, things didn’t seem to fit, but at least the dinner was beyond expectations (Two courses), the promoter actually seemed to care and there was some gear to mistreat.
The show was fun & loud, yet another proof of how thight Abraham have gotten over the last couple of months. When dealing with limited technical conditions, this comes in quite handy.
Attendance was low (Normal for a sunday evening), so the owner of the place decided to throw some cash in on his own – Yet another positive surprise. Stayed at the promoter’s place once more, huge appartment with high ceilings, pretty darn cool. Crashed on the floor to get my back re-arranged.
Weird story of the day: During the soundcheck it seemed I had fried the soundcard of my MacBook – activated the phantom-power without thinking, so the crappy desk sent 48V to the connecting cable. I was pretty bummed & already toyed with the idea of buying a new one the day after while driving through switzerland, but luckily enough my computer decided to forgive me once more & worked just fine again a couple of hours later. Six years and counting, yeah!
October 15, Clermont Ferrand/FR – Raymond’s Bar
We knew this was gonna be fun, as this was Abraham’s bookers’ main club where he organizes & promotes shows as well. Punkrock place, but the desk was of decent size.
Catering was nice with loads of cheese to ingest, so soundcheck went down a little slower than planned. The guys did a video-interview for Wild-Guitars (Local company, Jakk uses some guitars by them), then we spent quite a lot of time on planning a bunch of things for next year… There might be a bunch of awesome surprises up on the horizon, fingers crossed!
Sometime during one of the opening band’s set the Front-Of-House EQ had died, so changeover/linecheck took a little longer as I had to adapt the sounds to the new situation. During soundcheck we were trying out «Dawn» from the new album, but since this song depends heavily on great monitors & stellar throats, we decided not to play that song…
Loaded out the same night around 2am, crashed at the venues’ sleep-in, and then took off around 9am. Not so much a spectacular day, plus some of the guys were a bit off anyway.
October 16, Toulouse/FR – Saint Des Seins
Toulouse turned out to be a beautiful city, as previous visits already had made me expect. The club had a nice bar feeling going, plus the PA was of decent size, and there were enough monitors for everbody. Sucked that the place had issues with the neighbors, so there was a limiter on the PA, plus the owner of the place pulled out all frequencies below 63hz, obviously without notifying me in the middle of our soundcheck, which led to some heated argumenting on both sides. Lucky enough for the band this turned out to be managable, as the place had been treated quite decently with acoustic elements so that the sound coming from stage was almost entirely shapable by me… If only I wouldn’t have been stuck at the other end of the club in a 40° angle away from the stage. Oh well.
After a 40 minutes stroll through the city, we indulged in a great meal, and then checked out the opening bands – Lost In Kiev really made an impression.
Abraham’s show went down smoothly, and even though there was an international headliner playing just a couple of blocks down the street, attendance was around 80 or so, which was good. What stuck me was the presence of a lot of girls, since this a sight yet to behold in switzerland – Guitar-oriented music is definitely a male-dominated sector, so it was good to see that the people over here seemed to be a lot more open minded. After the show we indulged in a bunch of free drinks from the bar (I had my one and only white russian of the tour), danced like only white people do to appropriate 90ies classics (‘Wild Wild West’ anyone?), and generally didn’t feel at all like leaving… Even though we knew that the next day’s drive to Montaigu was gonna be a long one.
Highlight of the day: Stayed at Gaetan & his sister’s place one more… Had met these two earlier this year while on the road w/ Impure/Zatokrev and then w/ Red Fang again, when we always stayed at their place. These two have been running this for quite a while now, their place is huge & has beds for everyone, plus who can say now to late night punch & snacks?
October 17, Montaigu/FR – Zinor electric
Driving another 530km meant about seven hours in our van, which is about the limit it takes for me to go from comfortable to counting the hours, so we made it just in time before I decided to shoot everyone in the face. Would have been ugly, even more so since I didn’t actually have had a gun.
The Zinor Electric was situated in an industrial area, and seemed a bit whacky when we got there. Luckily this turned out wrong quite quickly, as we were greeted by none less then four technicians for a club of max. 200 people capacity. Obiously they had their shit together, so setting up & checking went down smoothly… Even more so since none of the opening acts had shown up so far. Sound seemed to be so good that I decided to throw in a bunch of overheads and then track the whole show later that night – Made for a nice bootleg.
Turnout was ok for a wednesday, the show was fun, and we stuck around for a few beers with the local crew after loading out.
We were supposed to crash at the promoter’s place that night, but decided to get a hotel since some of us were feeling a bit under the weather… Plus having a decent night always helps with the vocal chords.
October 18, Paris/FR – Le Klub
Ah, Paris… Yet another city that had me disapointed before, so expectations were already low far ahead. The place itself was some kind of small ceiling disco completely redone in a shabby brickstone-design, the PA was failing and monitors were unusable (Me: «How come the monitors sound off?» Local tech: «That’s normal, I took the tweeters out»…). Did a quick installation/soundcheck, then headed out for a real dinner at a good place, since the promoter was only offering salads… Which became a Meme of its own the following days. I had dealt with this promoter before and knew that it wasn’t going to be easy, but what strikes me every time again and again, is the simplicity in which these people tend to think in – «Here you go, I booked your band, made some salads, and hired a whacky tech, what are you not happy about?». Well, the answer is quite clear: We spend hours and days in a tiny van, this litteraly at some point becomes our job, so a warm meal is kind of standard here. Plus, we’re trying to represent our album, and a decent PA & monitors are much needed for this. No need to exaggerate, but rock music takes some solid gear to be put in the necessary shape. Just saying. Anyhow. Now we’re not a backstabbing bunch of people, but we did feel some comfort in seeing that the promoter’s own band that went on just before us made most of the attending crowd flee…
The last glitch of the day was delivered just before the show: Said band was done around 22:10, the communicated info was curfew at midnight, so we took about 20 minutes to install & check all lines – It was there and then that we heard that we were not allowed to play longer than 23:00, contrary to said advanced info, which would have left us with a mere 30 minutes for our set. How about putting up daysheets with clear infos for everyone?
The crowd was fun though, and the show made up for it. We got thrown out of the club rather harshly just around 00:30, and headed for the hotel which was about 10km out of paris. Sucked to have to leave, especially since we had only 100km to drive the next day… Yet another day in Paris withough partying.
October 19, Rouen/FR – Emporium Galorium
This day will forever go down in Abraham’s and my own history as utter crap. We only had about 1.5h to drive, so we were there a bit earlier than Get-In time, parked the van close to the venue (Which – yet again – was in the basement of an irish-pub), and headed for coffee. Renzo went book-shopping, and we catched him 40 minutes later flinging a a big grocery bag full of old Sci-Fi books in the van… Well, now you know where these guys get their inspiration from.
Anyway, back to the main-issue: We soon discovered that the ‘club’ was yet another humid cave with dangerous stairs, bad lightnig situation & crappy gear (The two promoters literaly only had one vocal-mic and two XLR-cables…), plus we had to lend our backline yet again to all three opening bands. Catering was ok, microwave spaghetti, cheese and apple cake did the trick for me.
Now the event was supposed to start at 9:30pm, but the singer of the first band decided to, and I quote, «Wait for some more people»… So much for running a tight ship. By the third band the event already had a full hour of delay, and we finally got to hit the stage around 1:30am – And just before that, we had learnt that the promoter «Hadn’t made enough money», and was only able to pay us half the fee… We decided to play the show & then discuss this later. Attendance was down to about 25 people, since most of the crowd had already left by then.
After the show I finally got to talk with the promoter and he indeed tried to sell me this exact argument. Now the thing is, there are a bunch of ways to deal with the financial situation when you are negoiating a show – Most common are fixed deals (Band gets a fixed fee), breaks (Band gets a fixed fee, plus some percentage of the benefit) or door deals (Band gets percentage of ticket sales). And the one fucking rule that there ever will be, is that you don’t try to screw a band out of the beforehand agreed deal – Simple as that.
So when the day ever comes that you book a band on a fixed deal, you simply make sure to have enough cash on you to pay the agreed fee, even if in the end this means throwing in some of your own money… You just have to keep doing what you are doing, and promote your events the right way to find your crowd, and maybe balance it out with the next event. Or the one after that. After all, we are all in this on the same base.
Anyhow, back to the situation: He was only able to pay us 50%, and after some explaining on his side and some gentle insisting on our side (Beards might have helped), he wanted to send a check for the remaining 50% to our booker… Which did feel somehow off. Since we were about to sleep at his place, I gave gim until the next morning to find a solution. Add to that the fact that we had to drive a stellar 750km (About 9h in our van) the next day, and therefore had to leave around 7am, we were pretty much as pissed as it gets – Crappy gear situation, lending the backline to other bands, delay in the schedule and finally financial issues is pretty much a failure on all involved levels, so tension was high. Had to stick around until 3:00am to finally be led to his tiny appartment, where we hit the sleeping bags as quick as possible. Made the dude sleep on his kitchen floor, too, as we took up all the space in the main room – Well deserved, I believe.
A couple of hours after we got up, packed our stuff, and then had one final talk with him. He was still not able to handout the negotiated fee, so we took what he had to offer… Including a candy box which he used as a wallet, containing our 50% fee, and – Or at least that’s what some of us claim to have catched a glimpse of – A small fragment of his soul & some desperate tears of lost innocence. We would have taken a TV of the appropriate missing value, but didn’t feel like loosing another half hour to dust this thing off. Anyhow.
October 20, Minden/DE – Papagei
Yet another spectacularely annoying trip. Luckily I dozed off quite quickly & was able to sleep straight through for about two hours. We spent some additional time at some random McDonaldsBurgerKing (Can’t remember), before we finally managed to get to the club. The guys from Never Void (Local opening band, great dudes!) were already on site to sort the situation out. The Papagei was a bar that seemed to have had had its golden years just behind, and was slowly fading strugglefree into age and decay. Gear was limited once more, the mixing desk only accessible by crossing the stage/from a side-window, plus what made it really difficult for me: I had developped a nasty cold over the last couple of days, and the smoke filled room didn’t really help with that situation. After setting up we went for a walk through the nearby center, and just got back in time for dinner.
During Never Void’s set some people started to show up, but it was mostly us and some staff standing in front of the stage. I was once more amazed by the tightness of these guys, plus their new drummer fits this outfit really well – Had a ball watching them.
Abraham’s show was fun, especially since the guys felt like making up for last night’s events. Somewhere in the middle of «Baruch» Renzo was so close to blowing Val in front of everybody that Dave missed a fill because he was almost cracking up of laughter, and by the end of the show Jakk and Matt were both standing on the PA on their respective sides, while Val was on the kickdrum and Renzo on his knees in the crowd – Good times indeed. Plus, they seem to slowly but surely realize how to go apeshit without missing too much notes…
Packed up pretty quick, had to follow Christian (We stayed at his awesome place) as he was dropping off their drummer, had to get back to the venue since Val thought he had forgotten something, and then made our way to Christian’s place in Bielefeld where his wife already had prepared some amazing vegan chili. Ended up chatting in the kitchen until 3am, and then I was finally able to get a complete night’s sleep. The day after we left around 3pm, since the drive to Celle was only about 150km.
October 21, Celle/DE – Rockcave
This show was promoted by our good friend Arnold who’s a buddy of The Ocean & Co, so we knew we were going to get treated nicely. Upon arriving at the club and checking out the situation we had to realize that there was virtually no gear on place, and after sorting everything out & dealing with general consternation over the reason for the current state of things, there seemed to be only one solution to this dilemma: Some of us headed to The Ocean’s Robin’s Dad’s (Who came out to the show as well) old shack to go through some old gear & maybe find the stuff we’d need to make this show happen. We made it back to the club around 9pm, but after messing around with the unearthed cables & whatnot and realizing that there was no way we could make this happen, we decided to pack up and instead head for the restaurant that Arnold organised for us – So what was supposed to be the last show of the tour became really only a visit to Celle.
The dinner was pretty awesome though, spirits cooled down eventually, and by the time we tried to cram the amazing Tiramisu-dessert down our throats, we had pretty much settled with the situation. Never Void went back to Bielefeld after this, and we headed to Arnolds place for the night – Which turned out to be yet another old timber framed house dating back to 18xx or so, beautifully restored by Robin’s Dad (I had already seen one of these back on the Dillinger/Ocean-Tour in 2010). Some of us (Including me) went pretty much straight to bed, while others could not witstand the drinks Arnold was unearthing from his appartment, including beers and fairly old whiskey.
After an odd night with bad sleep for a lot of us we went to a pastry shop, had fresh coffee & snacks, said goodbye to our host, and then left for a 12h drive back to switzerland – Which, once more, included a blurr of gas stations, fastfood-stops, and short naps, with the last two hours being fairly hard to endure. Luckily Fribourg was one hour closer than Lausanne, so I was able to get off a bit earlier than the rest of the guys.
Arkhan just released some music for their new album ‘Primal’, click here to listen to the song ‘Shutdown’.
On this album I engineered & tracked the drums, while the rest was tracked by the band, and then mixed by David Castillo (Bloodbath, Katatonia, etc.) – Everyone is quite happy with the result, the album turned out really fat and warm. Hit the link above to check it out!
Operation Blockhead just released some music from their upcoming album «The Failed Road To Success» (For I produced, tracked & mixed) online, check it out down below – And don’t miss their record release show this saturday/13th at the Ebullition in Bulle/Fribourg together with Crucified Barbara!