Borders, Grenzen

October 10th, 2010 by Fez Wrecker

There aren’t many border crossings in Europe these days, but going into Switzerland can occasionally be a bit trifling. I crossed many times with the Bolshoi Bandits, which was always a fiasco, but on this trip we are warriors & know how to prepare.

Just smile, laugh, play airdrums while riding shotgun & act like you don’t even know a border crossing is necessary… If all else fails, make sure your driver knows how to perform the Jedi Mind Trick. NOT that we had anything to worry about — band policy is “consume or throw out all contraband before embarking to next town,” coz nobody wants to spread their cheeks for the Gendarmarie in France (the Pólice)– we just don’t need the hassle of pulling out bags & gear, plus the time loss resulting from an 8 person strip-search could set back our making soundczeck at the next gig.

Anyhoo, going in & out of Suisse via Geneva on the west side was hassle free… They just waved us through.

We did however get stopped & searched near La Havre on our way to conquer Rennes from Sittard the night before.

They took passports, pulled us out one by one, gave us each the pat down & reach-around & questioned us individually. This was my exchange with the customs officer(Cus):

Cus: Do you smoke cannabis?
Me: Uh, no, not really.
Cus: Do you smoke cannabis?
Me: Well, yeah, okay sometimes, but NOT in France…

Now, the tone of my voice & the inflection was that of “do you think I’m stupid enough to carry cannabis WITH me?”… & I like to think he was impressed enough with my honesty & non-chalance, but for whatever reason that concluded my interview. Then they brought out Bowser the dope-sniffing pooch to scope the van. Must’ve been an off day, coz if that dog was worth his salt, he’d’ve sniffed flecks & trace amounts of various Dutch goodies on our clothes & whatnot. A sigh of relief & the emphatic restating of the band drug policy ensued.

So again, we always seem to travel in the best weather, and today is no exception. We drove around the Val-du-Travers much to my dismay, as I would like to have seen the birthplace & heaven of Absinth, aber trotzdem the fall colors & valleys in France are breathtaking on the road to Marseilles…

Marseilles… The Atlanta of Europa. A port town on the Côte d’Azur in the south of France, full of criminals, thieves, charlatans, gangsters, rubes & other dodgy dregs of society. Even the gig is dodgy coz the French go-between promoteresque guy is a rib or two short of a barbecue, if you catch my drift. Natch, I’m looking very forward to tonight’s misadventures, in the spirit of keeping it weird. Saturday night in Marseilles… I guess there are worse places to be… & they’re probably being added to the itinerary.

The Customs Police near Le Havre in France...

The Crew: (L-R) Charis Halbtruthan - sound engineer, Kaptain Kurt - tour manager, Schleppel - The Merch Dude

Pensive & candid tour musings

October 10th, 2010 by Fez Wrecker

We’ve already reached that point in the tour when water has become more valuable than beer.
While I do enjoy indulging in a new region’s local cuisine & customs, sometimes a hot cup of soup is enough to get me by. The ‘tour cough’ has started going around & we’re all banding together to nip it in the bud before it gets worse, so no more sharing bottles and sampling each other’s menu choices. This is reality, & rules as well as roles must be maintained in order to function as a unit.

The French are very innovative when it comes to Pissoir Technologie

On a good day it works like this:
We arrive in the town of the gig & czeck into the hotel first thing.
Between the rhythm section & lead guitarist, there is always a single room up for grabs. At the beginning of a tour, a rotation of the single room is established, usually by a game of cards, Roschambaud or a pissing contest (distance & accuracy both taken into final scoring – see appendix for details).
In the rare but occasional case there are three single rooms, OR the due recipient waves his right to the single room, the order is reestablished the following night either in continuation or determined anew via Gnagno, gin rummy, poker, backgammon, ping-pong, shit on your neighbor, or Scopa, etc.

Bus call determines the time everybody is to be ready to board the BSAV (burgundy suburban assault vehicle)the next day for travel. We’ve trained to be able to wake up, gather our clothes & all sundry accoutrements, zip up the cases, shower & be fed or stocked with edibles & ready to roll. Believe me, this isn’t always so easy, but we’re all getting better at it. Realizing & owning the notion that this hotel room & this van & this club & dozens others just like it are where you will be living for the next 9 weeks is a big idea to get used to. The best part of all the labor is playing– it’s the reward for the gear humping, the learning, the rehearsing.
The soundczecks are either pointless or loads of fun depending on the mood, the atmosphere, the equipment & the backstage & rider. The last two are of utmost importance in determining the mood. If there is, say, a bottle of cranberry juice that isn’t loaded with sugar, or a good local cheese, fresh fruits or a bottle of decent Absinth, there is an immediate uplifting of spirits before the load in begins. This is an ideal situation of course, but hell, I’m happy if there is plates & plasticware and a decent knife so we can properly cut the cheese.

Tonight, “My Black Cloud” was fantastic & so was the introductory medley of songs from the new album– the 3-headed monster of “Lust Pavillion,” “Invisible,” and “Launching Sanity’s Dice.”

OK the reception just called & said in a cute french accent “you must leave the room since 20 minutes… will post more pix when we get to Montpelier.

Sunday morning, Marseilles…

October 10th, 2010 by Fez Wrecker

Dear hotel staff at Le Gens de Mer in Marseilles– your elevator needs to be slapped for being an asshole & punching me in the eyebrow, & when the “Do Not Disturb” sign hangs on the door handle, it doesn’t mean ‘knock on the door and ask’ — it says clearly No Molestar! Marseilles is the Australia of Europe. There, I said it.

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