Monday, July 27, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
And yes, I know, those of you who have actually gone to bed with a Dreadnought understand entirely what Armin's experience was like.
However, I awoke the next morning and said to Armin: "Hey, let's get pissed!" So we did. Instead of, you know, beginning the 23-hour journey to Galicia, we sat in Armin's basement, listened to obscure European folkpunk and drank all of his booze. I somewhat regretted this move later, as I lay mostly comatose on a hill in France, completely in the middle of nowhere. Everyone else slept in the van, and when I heard wild dogs howling in the distance, I decided to cozy up into the driver's seat and pass out on the steering wheel.
We sleep in the van a lot.
The next day, somehow, we made it to Spain. To Galicia, where Cider (or "Sidra") is EVERYWHERE, almost as ubiquitous as in Bristol. However, there is a seriously terrible tradition, one which we broke many times, something for which we were almost murdered several times. In Galicia, you pour a bottle of Cider OVER YOUR HEAD into a cup that you sort of hold down by your bollocks. This results in half of the cider going on to the ground. The remaining amount, you're supposed to chug.
We enjoyed this tradition once or twice, but when we started paying for our own bottles, and when people started coming up to us and demanding that we pour half of it on the fucking ground, we had had enough. "Fuck OFF," we said, but they kept coming. Fuck. Idiots. CIDER. Fuck.
Speaking of Cider, we changed the "Cider" song to "Sidra" in order to impress the Spaniards. All over Spain, we've been singing "SIDRAAA, SIDRAAA, SIDRAAA, SIADRAA....". Someone has just informed us that our pronunciation is bad and it sounds like we're saying "SIDA". Which, in case you didn't know, is Spanish for "AIDS".
Spain: 1, Canada: 0.
Anyway, it would be difficult to summarize this wonderful place, but our booking agent has luckily provided us with a decent quote:
"In Spain," he said, "we don't give a fuck about anything."
He is basically right about that. Their Siesta is legendary: three hours a day where everyone fucks off from work and goes to sleep. Alcohol is UNBELIEVABLY cheap, and it's not uncommon to walk past a cafe at 10 in the morning and see hordes of old Spanish men drinking Cerveza on the patio. Usually they look at you like you're completely retarded and they hate you. Every building here looks like it's going to collapse in ten minutes. It's awesome.
At one festival we were playing, a man challenged Squid Vicious to a punching competition. There was a machine that registered the power of your punch. The guy wound up and pounded the bag... we waited for a minute, and his score came up: 1140. Squid nodded, stepped up to the bag, and ploughed into it. We waited for a minute, and Squid's score came up: 9908.
Tonight, we play our final Spanish gig and head back towards a festival in Switzerland where, if you can believe this, we have 4-star hotel rooms, a shuttle bus to the hotel rooms, and a room full of cider waiting at the festival. As wonderful and enticing as this is, we will be sad to leave Spain. It is a beautiful, wonderful, squalid, noisy, fucked-up place, where sometimes, if you're drunk enough and the lighting is right, you can imagine that you're back on East Hastings.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
When you first see one, and you have to do a "number two", the first thought that enters your head is: "why?". The second thought is, "OH GOD, WHY???" And so forth.
So, we asked our friend Tom from Circle J to explain the Shelf to us. This is his response:
Totally unsatisfactory, but hilarious.
We are in Spain now, and it is hot, and full of Spaniards. The toilets are normal. The food is spectacular. The punks are drunk. You can buy a liter and a half of sangria for 1 Euro 75 at the gas station. YES.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
We went to the West Country of England with several high expectations. We expected to find a folk-punk scene obsessed with Cider... Cider-Punk. We expected to find a folklore tradition centred on Cider, represented by a bunch of stout, broad-shouldered, bald guys who say things like "Oi therr lads, how's about wee go out tae the zoider bars an' get roight sottered, wha'?" We expected to be treated to a full tour of the West Country's finest Cider farm, the Wilkins' Farm, a place Johnny Rotten and Joe Strummer have both described as the "best place in England". We expected, in a word, to be drowning in the right old fermented apple in all possible ways.
Sometimes, you set your expectations too high, and it turns out that reality cannot possibly match them. You are inevitably disappointed, because you've been imagining something to be much more than it actually is.
This was not one of those times.
Jaymer from the Surfin' Turnips is the greatest man alive. Every song they sing is actually about Cider. For example, here is a verse from "It's Cider Swillin' Time Again":
Oh aaa! Oh aaa!
It's Cider swillin' time again,
Oh aaa! Oh aaa!
It's Cider swillin' time again,
I might has one, I might has ten
And we'll all go rollin'
Back to the pub again!
OHHH ARRR AYE. Here's another gem, from "Drink Myself to Sleep":
Drink, drink, myself to sleep,
every night a cider by my side
auuuRAAAAA laa laa AAA rauuu RAAAA
Kev, the Turnips fan we stayed with, is also the greatest man alive. Zoe, his girlfriend, is the greatest woman alive. Bristol rules. Cider is everywhere. We drank on a BOAT WHERE THEY ONLY SERVE CIDER. THEY SPELL IT "ZYDER". THEY SING SONGS CALLED "DRINK UP THEE ZYDER" UNTIL FIVE IN THE MORNING. WEST. COUNTRY. FOR. THE WIN.
We staggered away from the Wilkins' Cyder farm loaded with ten gallons of the stuff, bought at something like twelve cents a pint. We are still in the process of consuming the rest of it all over England.
Speaking of England: we do not want to leave. The European continent is OK and everything, but England is simply one of the best places on earth. The cuisine is awesome. Beans on everything. Yorkshire pudding. It is all incredibly cheap. Pints are three dollars. People speak proper English. Simple, basic features of civilization (phone booths, post offices, phone cards for sale, grocery marts, public washrooms) are all over the place, unlike the rest of Western Europe. People are totally polite by default, which is very Canadian.
Essentially, what I am saying is: Rule Brittania.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Well: we have officially gone up six levels as a band. We're at level 32. Why? Three words:
Mushrooms. On. Stage.
That's right: on stage in Amsterdam, The Stupid Swedish Bastard dropped mushrooms and proceeded to play the set.
The man who sold us the mushrooms told him to take, at most, 7.5 grams. He dropped 15.
The set was epic.
Afterwards was even more epic.
Adjectives cannot do justice to the epic. The Stupid Swede ended up at some town 30 kilometers away, jumping into canals with Dutch people while holding a beer and a lit smoke, climbing apartment buildings and stealing plants off of people's balconies, and writing "TEGAN AND SARA" in giant letters on his chest. Europeans simply had no idea what to make of him.
Our recent shows have been with Circle J, an awesome folkpunk band from Holland. They have been incredibly nice to us: booking us a bunch of shows, letting us use their gear and even letting us sleep in their van when our van becomes too crowded. However, I keep getting drunk and (correctly) reminding them that "we liberated your asses in World War II, ya fuckers" so I think we're basically even.
Speaking of getting drunk, I may have hit an all-time personal... high? Low? We found ourselves with an unexpected day off in Kreuzberg, Berlin, and I had been taking it easy for a few days because of a nearly broken toe. I woke up in the van around 11 PM, turned to Squid and said: "Well, I'm gonna find some breakfast, then I'm gonna get deee-RUNK!"
Never have I followed through on a promise with such vigour and enthusiasm. After some excellent turkish-style breakfast, Squid and I found ourselves in the middle of a colossal park, drinking a six-pack each. We polished those off and went to collect everyone else. In very little time at all, the whole band was in the park, gathered around a small beetle and a ladybug. "MAKE FRIENDS!!" we shouted. "MAKE FRIENDS, YOU LITTLE FUCKING BASTARDS!!" When it became clear that BottleBeetle and Spotty Bitch weren't going to commiserate, we decided to play some soccer. As a Canadian in Europe, you have to have a few drinks in you to play soccer, because even four year-old European epileptics are better than you at soccer.
Soon afterwards, I found myself throwing old, rusty bicycles down a 60-foot high marble slide with a small British girl. We were sitting at the world's weirdest playground, a giant stone auditorium-style construction that had completely fallen apart and was full of all kinds of nooks and crannies. We were hanging out with these awesome kids and their moms, running around on this giant complex and generally making fools out of ourselves.
Everything was totally peachy until some dudes started throwing rocks at a woman because she was drinking alone in public. According to whatever bizarre, fucked-up version of Islam that they adhered to, this was apparently the thing to do, and it is not entirely uncommon for such incidents to occur in Berlin. The guys backed off pretty quick when Squid made an appearance in front of them, arms crossed.
Seamus and I headed off into Kreuzberg, determined to find some goddamned cider. We hadn't seen a proper cider since Quebec. So, we wandered into the streets and stopped at every bar, asking "Hast du Apfelwine? Cider?" After a series of negative responses, we realized that we could double our efficiency by walking down opposite sides of the street and going into bars seperately.
As it turned out, the only bar with Cider was populated by four lesbians who kept using scissors to cut our T-shirts into fascinating shapes. This is when things start to get really blurry for me, but I do recall a gypsy accordionist wandering up to our table looking for money. "Why would I pay you for gypsy music," I slurred, "when I've got the best gypsy violinist right here drinking with me?" Seamus pulled out the ol' fiddle and began to engage the accordionist in a gypsy duel. Seamus would play, then as the gypsy dude tried to match him, I would motion him with my fingers and shout "BRING IT!! BRING IT!!"
Apparently, after this, one of the lesbians had to go and find me, as I had wandered aimlessly off into the streets. They brought me back to a bar where Circle J were enjoying a few pints, where (apparently) we played Pogues tunes for almost two hours.
And then I woke up in a Hostel when a bunch of retarded Spanish girls kept giggling at me, for some reason. Fuck.
Next: CANADA DAY IN AMSTERDAM...