the final tour report - returning to the states

so, once in heathrow airport, the bullshit started almost immediately. i'll say right now that it's currently 6am and we're all pretty exhausted from not really sleeping after the wolverhampton show. so, keep all of this in mind as you read on.

now, we knew that our bags were likely to be overweight...they were incredibly close to the maximum weight allowance when we were flying over to germany, and now we'd added a significant amount of extra weight due to all the merch that we returned with. of course, the allowance is higher for international travel (as it damn well should be).

so we get to the counter, and the dude weighs our bag. of course, the bag is 4 kilos over the limit. so we start trying to move things around, but it's pretty clear that it's not going to work. the dude suggests that we go buy another bag so that we can split up the weight. now, of course, if we're going to carry that weight anyway, WHY it has to be split up amongst two different bags makes no fucking sense to me (when you're already lugging a suitcase, a backpack, and a guitar, one extra bag goes...where exactly?). picture me getting homicidal at 6am. so, while we wait there at the desk, da5id goes off in search of a duffel bag or something that we can use to haul the merch home. finally, he returns with a duffel bag, we move things around, and are now magically under the weight limit. as we head over towards security, i say "so, how much did that bag set us back?" da5id: "oh...you don't want to know...85 pounds..". at the current exchange rate, that means that we spent 138 dollars on a small gym bag. can you taste the excitement?!

in any case, we made it to security. now, i have to say...security screening in non-u.s. airports is a dream compared to flying within the continental u.s., whenever i fly in the u.s. i have to get secondary screening due to the amount of metal i'm wearing. it's a pain in the ass, and they go through everything in my bags, etc etc. when we were flying through munich, hamburg, and heathrow airports, i didn't have any of these types of issues and we got through security in 1/10th of the time that it usually takes us. this was a good thing. of course, at this point we were starving and had to try to figure out where our gate was, but the gate wouldn't be posted for another hour or so (we got there pretty early).

grabbed breakfast at a rather decent restaurant (actual nutrients), and discussed the tour as a whole, things we did wrong, things we did right, things we would change the next time we go on the road. all in all, a great breakfast, even if it was crazily expensive (i think it was like 60 dollars, after the exchange rate).

we boarded with little difficulty and began the eight hour flight back to chicago. i won't bore you with the details, but it was endless and sleepless (for me) for the most part. next thing i knew, we were landing in chicago...where i walked off the plane and one of the very first things i saw was a bookstore wall covered in copies of glenn beck's new book. at that point, i more or less wanted to turn around and get back on the plane, and go right back...monkey island or not! no such luck, as it turns out.

when you make an international journey, you have to go through customs on the way back into the states. so, we had to declare all of the merch that we had with us (which was something like 80 t-shirts or so, plus some cd's). they had to calculate the value, etc etc, and apparently (as we learned) if the shirts were made of cotton, the percentage they charge you is 29.6%. if it's listed as "other", its 6.7% or so. so, the woman that ran us through customs cut us a break, listed it as "other", and we made it out of there with only a 50$ customs payment necessary to bring our merch into the country (hello switzerland, is it groundhogs day again?). the woman at customs was without question the nicest official that we dealt with throughout this ordeal.

another lovely hurdle that must be passed through is going through u.s. security screening...again! basically, even though you've been trapped on a plane for 8 hours, then dealt with passport control and customs, you are forced out of the security zone, and have to go through security all over again. this makes a ton of sense. so, out we go back in again. this is where i nearly lost my mind. picture me after being mostly awake for something like 30 hours, exhausted, and standing in a capacity security line.

now picture this mutated gate troll coming over and demanding that aaron and i get out of line because we have guitars as carry-on luggage. i suppose i should offer an aside here...on every flight, we always carried the guitars on, and stowed them in the plane coat closet. this was great because a) we did not have to check our guitars and leave them to the baggage apes to destroy, b) see reason a. so, as you can imagine, on the very last leg of the entire journey, to get pulled out of line when it was _never_ a problem before...i could happily have pulled this trolls head off. so we get out of the security line (da5id got to stay), and dragged over to talk to the people who deal with checked baggage. the troll demands that we check our bag. i am too irate to say anything (i know that anything i say is going to get me in trouble, or possibly arrested at this point). aaron tells the woman at the counter that we'll be putting these into the coat closet, and that it's not been a problem on any other flight. the woman at the counter agrees, and says go ahead and board. this seems like the thing to do, but the gate troll isn't having it. she drags us to another person, who says the same thing. not to be outdone, she continues to pull us to person after person until she finds someone that backs her up. we stay firm and just say "we'll take our chances at the gate, if we can't board with the guitars we'll just gate check them". this seems to work, and we bid the gate troll a not so fond adieu...

naturally, there is zero problem getting through security, though when we get on the plane, there is a bit of a problem. the coat closet is full of stewardesses bags. to which i say "no problem" and proceed to start taking out their bags so that i can fit the guitars in. the stewardesses start making a bunch of frantic noises "oh sir you can't do that", but by then it's too late, and the guitars are in place. i'm too pissed and tired to deal with any further shit, so i just ignore them and go sit down.

fast forward another 4.5 hours and we are landing in san francisco. still haven't slept at all, so i'm really pushing the envelope on this sleep deprivation thing. aaron goes off to pick up his car so that he can drive us home, and da5id and i head down to baggage claim. now, of course, aaron has left with his baggage claim numbers. and of course, the baggage was actually shipped on an earlier flight so it's being held by baggage control. aaaand of course, we can't actually get all of the bags without aarons bag claim number. you can taste the frustration, right? i had to call aaron, have him read off the bag claim number to the baggage troll, and then they would release his bag to us. of all the times for us to not have our bags on the right flight...unbelieveable.

after all of this, we finally made it home. i took my first shower in 48 hours, and passed out into a deep, deep sleep.

thus concludes the tour. back in the united states, for better or worse. over and out.


tour report - wolverhampton (uk) the final show!!

after the london disaster, we headed off to wolverhampton while most people on the bus slept off their alcohol induced comas. we arrived just a few hours later, and i thought i'd literally been transported to hobbit-shire or something. to use the word "quaint" wouldn't be too far off, for sure. i went inside to try and locate the backstage, and i'm pretty sure i ran into david bowie in the labyrinthine maze of corridors leading to the backstage...where of course, there was no catering.

so, after parking the suitcase in the backstage, aaron, lisa and i went off in search of some kind of food. we walked around the town for a while, and of course, since it's a sunday everything is shuttered. and of course, it's raining and cold...we probably walked around for at least 45min before lisa asked some guys if there was anything that was open where we could eat. the accent was quite strange, but they managed to direct us to a place that actually had veggie burgers and other edible products, so after walking about 30min further, we were able to get some actual food. it was sort of a series of variations on cardboard and paste, but it was food, so we ate it. nothing remarkable, but edible. "your sources are on the tabble"

then back to the club where we saw the other two opening acts (luckily at this show, no one in between our set time and mesh's set time) loading in. went back upstairs to shower and get ready in general for another early show. everyone agreed that it was sort of an anti-climax to end such a great tour in such an inauspicious setting (rich: "i mean, wolverhampton? on a sunday night? not even birmingham, but wolverhampton?"), but nothing we could do about it. another night with no internet access at the venue, and pretty bad dinner catering.

we missed the first two bands, who seemed aesthetically at odds with both us and mesh's sound, they were more of an 'industrial' type of feel, i suppose. this venue was definitely not used to accommodating bands with mesh's requirements, they didn't have enough cables or channels at the desk to run all the bands on their own channels, and they were pulling cables to share between the bands all night. i mean, hey these things happen, for sure, but this was definitely new to this tour...adding to the whole anti-climactic feel of the evening in general. there was a pretty palpable bummer feeling in the backstage, everyone trying to avoid the obvious reality that this was the end of the line, and we wouldn't be seeing each other every day after this.

finally we went on, and surprisingly, i think we actually sounded pretty good. though they were obviously overextended, i think the local soundcrew did a good job with our sound, and pete of course took over the lights since there was no actual lighting rig in the venue's setup. actually, they didn't even have a fogger or hazer machine! one had to be brought up from london, and arrived just in time for mesh's set. it was kind of weird playing without fog, not something i'm eager to repeat really soon. so, our set went reasonably well, even though i was pretty sad the entire time i was performing. it was hard to really give the show the energy they deserved because my heart just wasn't in it. but there were some people out there dancing, who seemed to be really into what we were doing, and i'm always grateful to see that. i missed the german super fans too, of course.

once we finished, we had to go back upstairs to try and settle up some bills, and repack our suitcases with our equipment and figure out what to do with all the unsold merchandise. ultimately, we packed everything into our suitcases again, raising the weight limit to something like 80lbs apiece, and went back downstairs to watch mesh play for the final time. it was beautiful as always, but much like us, i think they were sad too.

after the show, it was just a clusterfuck of figuring out who was going where and how people were going to get there. we loaded everything back out into the bus for the last time, and started saying our goodbyes. pete, the worlds best lighting designer, was taking all the light rigging with him back to his offices, so he was the first to go. jan, the best tour manager in europe, was heading to birmingham airport to fly back to kologne. once we dropped him off, we were on our way to bristol to drop off mark, rich, sean, wendy and colin. i tried to sleep for a bit and pretend like it wasn't really happening. when we got there, we helped them unload all the merch and gear and pack it into their cars, and saw them off in the freezing cold rain. then we were off to heathrow to catch our flights. i tried to sleep again, but it just wasn't happening. i really was trying not to think too much about returning to the states again, since i didn't really want to come back. geoff and his friend from mechanical cabaret (who looked just like vince noir from the mighty boosh) stayed on the bus, and i think the crew (alex, michael, and tueni) were all passed out when we got off, so we didn't get to say goodbye to any of them. we said our good byes to geoff and patrick, and headed into the bright lights of heathrow international's fluorescent tomorrow....

thanks again to everyone on the entire team: mark, rich, sean, geoff, janosch, wendy, sandra, jan, patrick, pete, alex, michael, tueni, keith, ned, andrew, rainbow, colin, other sandra, pinky, claus, chris, betty, iris, anja, everyone that we met, all the other bands we played with, all the local crew in all the venues (except london and berlin) and everyone that managed to make it out to see us perform!! we love you!!! (sorry if i forgot anyone)


tour report - london (uk)

from belgium, the first stop on the way to monkey island (england) was in calais (france). this is where we had to get off the bus to go through passport control, followed by the ferry ride across the channel. waking up at 5am, still somewhat drunk from the previous nights party...not something i really recommend to anyone, especially when dealing with passport control. but we had the proper paperwork and work visas, so getting through wasn't too difficult. that said, it was very typical bureaucratic nonsense...i cut through some of the extraneous queue lines, and they made me wait extra long before they'd process my paperwork...then it was back onto the bus, and the bus boards the ferry. keep in mind that it's pouring rain of course, freezing cold, and did i mention that it was 5am?

once the bus was parked on the ferry, we all had to get off the bus and proceed upstairs to the lounge area for the next ninety minutes while crossing the channel. i can imagine that during the day, this could be a conceivably pleasant activity, but when you're still half asleep, and half drunk, and the wind is moving at 100mph and the sea is rocking the boat back and forth...it was a bit torturous. we were all pretty unhappy to be there. geoff, sean, pete, da5id, and i all went outside to the top deck of the ferry, where we were nearly blown off by the wind. i think the stated goal was to try and catch the sunrise, but with the clouds and rain all we got was a dull glow off in the distance. with the wind and rain, it was scary, painful and exhilarating all at the same time. you couldn't really stay topside for very long before the elements sort of pushed you back downstairs. so after that, i tried to sleep on a bench in the lounge, but no dice. aaron managed to sleep a bit, and da5id was a bit seasick.

finally, we were allowed back onto the bus to continue the journey into london. i fell back asleep, more or less, for a few hours while on our way, but couldn't stay asleep once the bus had stopped moving. i thought for sure the crew must have loaded in all the light rigging, so i got up and started wandering around trying to find the backstage. however, i'd wandered into the stockroom of an hmv record store instead (oops!). the venue itself was attached to a shopping mall, and i couldn't find a way in, nor could i find anyone on the crew anywhere. i decided to give up and go back to sleep.

when i woke up again, alex told me there was someone waiting to see me outside! it was lisa, who'd come over to surprise us, and catch the last two shows of the tour. quite surprising indeed! she'd been staying with our friend colin for a few days and exploring london before we arrived. we went into the venue, to check out the backstage, and learned we'd be sharing the tiniest dressing room of the tour, with the other support act (kloq). after finding out that the showers were completely non-functional, we decided to just go out and grab some food and catch up a bit. lunch was delicious japanese soup (actual nutrients!), and a pleasant change from the usual coldcuts and cheese sandwiches. came to find out that there really was no catering to speak of at the venue anyway, so it seemed like the right decision.

after a somewhat stressful load-in, we had to soundcheck immediately, since we were to be the first band of the night. this put our soundcheck at approximately 5pm, with doors at 5:30, stage time of 6:30. soundcheck in this venue was a complete disaster. venue staff were quite unhelpful, and we had the worst soundman since berlin. he seemed quite nice to deal with, but as soon as we made a suggestion regarding the volume of the backing tracks ("would you mind cranking the backing tracks up a bit?"), he basically shut off completely. aaron has a good rant about dealing with soundguys, over on his blog. he rushed us through soundcheck, and then we went downstairs to order some dinner. once we'd ordered, we were told we had 15min to stage time, so no time to actually eat dinner. meanwhile, the other support act had moved into the closet size dressing room, and drank all the alcohol, so this was another sober show for me. i believe the brits refer to this as "bollocks".

the show was a complete nightmare from the very beginning. we were paged and told "you have to be onstage right now", so we go up and walk out, and the dj just continues playing some moaning gothic tracks while we stand there looking like idiots to the 40 or so people in the room. finally, i said, fuck it and walked offstage. turns out the soundguy is in the toilet, so we have to wait a few more minutes. finally we go back out there, and get started. it should also be said, between mesh's setup and the gear that kloq brought onto the stage, we had possibly less room onstage than we did when we were supporting combichrist in san francisco at the beginning of the tour. so, already it's all fucked. and as soon as we're into the first song, it's very obvious to us that the sound is completely mangled, whatever people were hearing was wrong, and not what they were supposed to be hearing. i looked across at the soundguy, and he is literally reading a book two feet from the desk!! it was suggested later that perhaps he was studying up on how to properly mix a band or something? in any case, it was quite clear he wasn't going to do anything to help us. it was really really difficult to not just walk offstage at this point, but there seemed to be a few people who were genuinely interested in what we were doing, so we had to power through the show. when aaron and i switched instruments, i asked into the mic that the bass guitar be turned down a bit. i watched, quite stunned, as the soundguy looked up at me, then immediately looked back at his book, without touching the desk!!

needless to say, we played a short set and walked offstage. for me, this was the absolute worst show of the tour, pretty inexcusable on the part of the venue staff, and i was in a rotten fucking mood following that show. finally our dinner was delivered, so we ate that instead of watching kloq's performance, which was unfortunate as i did want to catch their show. i liked what i'd heard from them, and liked the main dude's old band (empirion) quite a bit. but we didn't get to see any of that, nor much of anything else. i sent lisa back upstairs to watch mesh, and went out to the bus to drink vodka by myself for the next half hour. once i felt a bit more relaxed, i went back in to catch the remainder of mesh's set from the balcony upstairs. another interesting weird aspect to the venue was that there's a 'mezzanine' area above the stage level where you can get a great view of the stage, but only if you're right up against the rail, it's like being literally pressed against the ceiling. one thing that i thought was quite nice was seeing a bunch of mesh's family members (even mums and dads!) watching the show. they really delivered that night, so i'm sure the family was all quite impressed! typical of the evening, the whole thing had to be wrapped up by 11pm, so that they could kick everyone out of the venue and open up a pop nightclub that would run until around 4am. i saw the queue of people heading in, and i'm glad we left!

after the abortion of the show, the after party was moving over to the slimelight, which is a sort of legendary club (at least from the stateside perspective) catering to the more gothic and industrial persuasions. there was a great deal of confusion after the show, as to who was going, and when and it was all kind of annoying. as we were heading over to the slimelight, da5id noticed a vegan buffet restaurant, so we took a slight detour and ate some of the most amazing food of the tour. we were like gluttons, going back for round after round of vegan food, it almost (but not quite) made up for the shitty show we'd just done. then it was over to the club to party! some of the awesome german superfans who had flown in from germany that morning were already there, so we had a bunch of drinks with them, and just hung out. those folks are just so cool, and sweet, it's always fun to hang out with them! it was very sad that it would be our last night seeing them!

we explored the many levels of the club for a while, swinging between the ebm room, and the hard techno room, drinking all the while. we definitely had a killer time at the club, i wish we could have said the same about the show, but c'est la vie...

finally around 3am, get back on the bus to find that the crew had consumed nearly all the remaining alcohol on the bus instead of coming over to the club. it was kind of funny. we hung out with alex and tueni for a while, they played us a bunch of german rock music, it was pretty cool, and we stayed up til at least 4am just drinking and hanging out. then off to bed to rest up for the final show in wolverhampton...

thanks only to the catering girls at the venue, you were sweet. everyone else was bollocks!!


tour report - antwerp (be)

it was pouring rain in belgium, never a good sign. though i guess if i lived in belgium, it would just be another day like any other. i guess living in california has spoiled me with regards to the sun. the bus seemed to be parked on a freeway, which i thought was a bit strange, but c'est la vie. i was a bit surprised when i headed inside to the backstage...we were playing in this kind of weird mall structure, though it wasn't really a mall. it's difficult for me to describe the venue itself...i can't think of an american equivalent. the ceilings and stage were low, it was sort of a single story rectilinear room with a rented PA (at least, it looked that way). the backstage was clean enough, and the shower was totally decent. shared dressing room, which i kind of like cause it gives us more time to hang out with everyone.

mesh had a long soundcheck tonight, and when we did the changeover, mark was like "best of luck"...after a few minutes, i could see why! the room shape made the sound a little wonky, although we did ultimately get something reasonably decent happening. i felt pretty good about the show sounding good for a change. took a little longer than usual to get there, but i think it sounded alright. after the show, da5id, aaron and i went on a nice long walk through yet another turkish neighborhood. i was a bit confused by the signage, i forgot that they also have the flemish language in belgium. it was still raining pretty hard, so not the greatest walk for sightseeing, but we saw some beautiful churches and parks. much like copenhagen, belgium seems like a place i'd want to come back to explore more when i have more time.

tonight was janosch's last night on the tour, which was a real bummer. especially since he was still feeling kind of sick after cologne, and wasn't really in much of a mood to party with us. also, since we were heading to england via france after the show, we didn't really have a lot of time to hang out after the show. tonights call sheet was the first to mention "monkey island", which i'll touch on again in my next report. in any case, janosch sounded great as always, and even though there weren't a ton of people (belgium had one of the lowest turnouts on the tour, i think), he got them rocking.

once we hit the stage, i immediately broke part of my wireless unit, the clip that connects it to my guitar. definitely not ideal, but you just have to power through it. the wireless units that we bought turned out to be incredible as far as the sound and range go, but they're not the most durable pieces of plastic i've ever worked with. several shows ago, we lost the battery cover to aaron's unit, and now my guitar clip was gone too. well, i'll order a bunch of spares when i get back from the tour, i suppose, an idea that never occurred to me when we were in the rehearsal stages.

that minor mishap aside, it's worth mentioning that i think that the performance and sound were reasonably good tonight. at some point i jumped out into the audience to play bass during 'a matter of time', and that was pretty fun....flashbulbs were going off all around me while i was out there. luckily the stage was pretty low to the ground, so getting back up wasn't a challenge. aaron wore his 'deuce brucesteen' outfit, which really looked amazing. most importantly, at some point in the set, patrick was supposed to come out and take the wig off of aarons head and take it backstage. when i heard people in the crowd start screaming, i looked to my right, and there was patrick in a 'borat' style man-kini and a rainbow brite wig, he then exchanged the wigs and walked offstage, it was easily the most surreal thing that i've ever seen onstage!! i wish we could get away with doing shit like this every night! it really helped kick the energy of the show up several notches. maybe that's something to keep in mind for the next tour...

backstage we spent much of mesh's set hanging out with janosch, since we wouldn't be seeing him again for a while (hopefully not too long, my friend!). we drank a lot of vodka and tried our best to have a good party backstage! his strategy was to take a train home from antwerp to munich (apparently this only takes about 5 hours...amazing!), and have the postal service pick up his stage equipment and deliver it in a few days (also amazing). i can't think of any reasonably similar possibility in the united states, that's for sure. i took plenty of pictures, and after mesh was finished, we said goodbye and loaded out relatively easily.

fall into a dreamless sleep and be prepared to deal with passport control in france, at calais where we board the ferry to monkey island!!

thanks to pete mastboom and timo (house sound) as well as the local crew, and catering! everything was really great!!


new reviews!

so, one of our favorite webzines, chain d.l.k., has posted some great reviews of 'Arena' and the 'Come Together' single...check it out:

Arena Review

Title: Arena
Format: CD
Label: Metropolis Records
Rated: 4 of 5 stars

Only one month after their teaser ”Come Together”, INFORMATIK are starting a new autumn offensive by releasing this new studio album. In further news it needs to be said, that ”Arena” got licensed to the re-animated German label Dependent, so European-wide distribution should be saved. And to complete the good news, INFORMATIK are supporting the British Synthpop-institution MESH on their tour currently in Europe while I’m writing this. ”Arena” reminds a lot on INFORMATIK’s album ”Re:Vision”, released in 2004 – it follows a quite comparable concept. Both protagonists of this project, Da5id Din and Tyler Newman, are known for their skills, so they have decided to follow the example of ”Re:Vision” and have produced several new remixes of some of their classics.

Tracks like ”A Matter Of Time” or their known small club hit out of the EBM-days, ”Entropy”, got completely revamped. You’ll too get the two announced winner remix contributions of their Spring remix contest, PULSE STATE and their remix of ”My True Love”, as well as THE SYNTHETIC DREAM FOUNDATION and their interpretation of ”Temporary”. As for new tracks, ”Come Together” of course is included, but the new smasher ”Falling” really impresses me – that’s one of their best tunes ever composed. And check also out the fat layered last instrumental track ”The End”, which reminds a bit on their classic ”Retrogradation” if you check the rhythm performance of this slow tune. Although I still prefer ”Beyond” in its kind, ”Arena” is the ideal album to put a footstep into the doors of the European listeners.


Come Together Review

Title: Come Together
Format: Download Only (MP3 only)
Label: Metropolis Records
Rated: 4 of 5 stars

With a 5-track Download-only release, the prominent US duo INFORMATIK adds another chapter to their ongoing successful story of the furious past year. All good things started with their last years’ album ”Beyond”. Never before Tyler Newman and Da5id Din could earn so much recognition for their new celebrated musically direction, to combine the always high-skilled synth-driven Electropop-sound of Da5id with the rather Rock-/ Alternative-oriented acoustic efforts of Tyler (BATTERY CAGE). A self-organized remix contest has received international attention, the two winning contributors will make it on their upcoming new album ”Arena”, while the further rest out of this contest can be still downloaded directly from the INFORMATIK-website. ”Come Together” is the appetizer for the new album, a rather straight and quite college radio-compatible track, which follows the newly discovered style of ”Beyond”.

Asides the ”Radio Mix”, this track is available in 2 further different remixed versions, the ”Clubmix T” (Tyler) and the ”Clubmix D” (Da5id) – both attractive enough produced to share some floor action. You should also lay your focus of interest on the both additional tracks, because you’ll get rewarded with an intense remix on the ballad ”Don’t Be Afraid”, one of the outstanding tracks of ”Beyond” – the rather Goth/Dark Electro-oriented audience will fall in love with this moody reinterpretation. But also ”Bottom Feeder” is much better than someone might expect from a b-side and impresses with ist cold synth pads, the attacking guitar-riffs and the deep blurring bass-lines. ”Come Together” is an attractive teaser release, which promises a lot for the new album.

tour report - cologne (show day)

i got woken up because the bus was rocking back and forth rather violently. good thing i'm on a bottom bunk! in yet another incredibly impressive feat of driving, patrick has somehow managed to squeeze the bus and trailer backwards into an alley that looked just big enough for a vw beetle to drive down. i assume that he has some kind of ability to warp the fabric of time and space, but who knows? the key element is that we were parked and we could start loading in.

the venue was sweet, nice big room with a big stage and good sound. no complaints there. showers nice and clean! essentially the same catering as dortmund, even the same dude how was doing it. da5id woke up, and cut my hair, and i grabbed a shower. the little things like this take on totally disproportional importance when you're not in your daily routine at home. so i was happy to be clean again after not showering the day before, feeling human again.

janosch hadn't been with us the day before, on our day off, because he had some friends in cologne that he wanted to spend time with. when he showed up again, he looked pretty unwell. apparently he'd eaten something that hadn't agreed with him, and he had been sick all night the previous night! i was surprised he even made it, he looked pretty rough, so you know he's a trooper. he slept most of the day in the backstage to conserve energy for the show. i might have thought about cancelling if it was me, so you can imagine how serious it was.

we had plenty of time before we went on, so da5id, aaron and i went out for a walk around, to try and see a bit more of the neighborhood. since we were just two blocks away from the "shoot your car in the head" lot, we went in some different directions, and found the main street with all the restaurants and stores. that was pretty cool, just walking around. we went back, and did a fairly unremarkable soundcheck that sounded pretty good. after the previous two shows, i wasn't all that hopeful about the night itself.

after soundcheck, we saw stefan herwig there again, he'd missed us in dortmund the previous night and came by to chat more about the show. so we hung out backstage for a while, talking about ways to improve the show, and some theoretical ideas for tours next year and some basic ideas about the next album. if there's one thing i can't stress enough, it's how many new ideas i have from doing this tour, just a ton of concepts about the shows we'll do, and the album we should make. so all this is good raw data to go into my brain, even if i don't always agree.

janosch managed to play his set, which was amazing. not his most high energy show, but i was just happy to see him up there doing it! at least we knew he would live, at that point. we went onstage, and pulled off a perfectly great set, in which i wasn't too worried about the sound mix in the audience. people seemed to react to what we were doing, and seemed to be enjoying themselves. so i was reasonably happy with the way the set turned out. and we talked to stefan a bit more after the show...he said it was "ok to average", well i'll take what i can get after the fucking disasters in berlin and dortmund, you know?

we went downstairs to watch mesh, who had brought julia back to guest on 'who says?' again. as always, they sounded and looked amazing. even after all the shows we've done with them, i'm still constantly impressed by their show. i had to go back upstairs to do some repacking, and when i came back downstairs, the venue security was forcing everyone out of the venue. this did not bode well for an afterparty, which we were hoping to do because it was the end of the line for claus and chris (part of the german super-fan contingent), and we wanted to have a special party to celebrate. but, no dice, and that sucked.

after loading out, the bus moved back over to the 'shoot your car in the head' parking lot, and there was a bit of a commotion because of the scheduling. i guess the proper bus call times hadn't been communicated, and people were a bit scattered with their after-parry plans. oops! well, i just stayed on the bus and passed out, since there didn't seem to be anything too amazing happening at this point. i was excited to go to belgium the following day and try to drink some decent belgian beer. one last thing about cologne is that i managed to polish off all the beers that damian brought us in dortmund, so belgium seemed promising...


tour report - cologne (day off)

the original plan was that we were going to go from dortmund to holland for a show. however, the promoter pulled the plug rather unexpectedly when we were in munich, causing a great deal of stress and headaches for jan, rich, and mark. apparently he got 'cold feet', which is rather weird considering how incredibly well attended all of the shows were. in any case, the cancellation left us with a day off, so we went ahead and drove to cologne the day before we were supposed to play, so we would have some time to check out the city.

when we woke up, we were parked in what da5id called "a place where you take cars and shoot them in the head". it was a mix between a scrapyard, parking lot, and construction site...all with a giant tour bus parked in the middle of it. after stumbling outside, i realized we were next to a venue...however, this was not the venue where we'd be performing tomorrow night. jan had somehow managed to get the venue to let us park there and use their power for our bus, which was awesome! that dude is smooth. however, there didn't seem to be anything other than dead cars anywhere in sight, and certainly there was no breakfast catering (a day without ham and cheese sandwiches? unthinkable!). most people on the bus went over to the burger king which was just a few meters down the street. we went in, but immediately left in search of better food. we walked a few blocks into what seemed to be a turkish neighborhood, and were able to get some delicious falafel very quickly, perfect!

back at the bus, the showering and toilet situation was basically part of the club where we were parked. i popped in for a quick inspection and it seemed too gross even for me. it was here we encountered the toilet "shit shelf", which i'll leave to your imagination. i'll just say that european plumbing designs continue to utterly baffle me ("the germans like to inspect things", was pete's quote, which summed it up hilariously). so after a quick sink wash, i was out of there.

the big plan for the day was to get everyone over to the giant cathedral in the center of the city, which involved getting 18 people onto the subway and moved several stops. luckily we were fully stocked up with native german speakers, so we managed just fine. it was raining, which was a big downer for me. the first stop was this massive outdoor shopping center, where we all split up to go walk around (jan: "everyone meet back here at the giant penis at fifteen past six."). we weren't really looking for anything in particular, and seemed to be basically in a big mall, so we went in search of gum, which we never did find. next time, i will bring a minimum of twice as much gum as i brought this time. once people know you're the guy with the gum, you run out really fast. da5id and aaron and i managed to get ourselves rather nicely lost, since the entire area seems to be built on some kind of system of interlocking rings, rather than a grid. as the rings expand outward, they don't always reconnect in the way you'd expect. eventually we managed to find our way back to the group, more or less on time.

next stop was a place literally called "music store", so that sean could buy a replacement part for one of his drums and we could get a new cable for aaron and some extra guitar picks for me. i'd been throwing them out into the audience during every show, so i was running out pretty quickly. the store was cool, though overpriced...and more importantly, had one of the worst interior traffic schemes i'd ever seen...if you wanted to go to the second floor, you had to walk outside, around the building and get into an elevator! want to look at a piano? outside and across the street. it was huge and insane and i paid 6 euros for a packet of guitar picks, which is pretty much full-on robbery, in my opinion. it reminded me of the overpriced 9volt batteries we tried to buy in leipzig.

so after all this, we finally ventured over to the cathedral. it's difficult to find the words to describe it, but i think aaron summed it up pretty nicely "it's funny to see how far people will go to instill fear in people". i shot some video to try and capture some of the scale of this place, i would guess that it's about 15 or 20 stories tall, and incredibly large in every dimension. we went inside, and it's pretty much still a fully functioning cathedral, even though it's a bit of a tourist spot. the stained glass and mosaic tiling on the floor were really quite amazing. it must have taken a hundred years to build this thing, seriously. it's hard to imagine how such a massive building survived the war, but there it was. from outside as the sun was going out of the sky, it looked really demonic, practically black but surrounded by this huge outdoor mall. definitely an "only in europe" type of thing, it was amazing.

after this, everyone was pretty hungry. for some totally inexplicable reason, jan booked a steakhouse for dinner...with 6 vegetarians in the touring party!? we tried to find something acceptable, but to me, salad isn't dinner...it's an appetizer, at best. so, we mutinied and geoff, patrick, da5id, aaron and i went off in search of some kind of asian cuisine, something a little more suited to our dietary needs. we found a perfectly cromulent chinese place, where i ate a decent ma-po tofu, and found out that geoff used to be in that synthpop band 'the nine'. who knew? dinner was hilarious, of course, and we reconnected with everyone else outside, and headed back over to the cathedral for some gluevein, which i found not to my liking. hot red wine is just not my thing, but i gave it a go at least. we saw some models at the louis vuitton store, and that was about as exciting as it got for that evening.

a bunch of us split off to go back to the bus, where we drank and watched some terrible movie i don't remember. it was nice to just chill with people and not have to bust our balls doing a show. eventually the rest of the team came back to the bus, and hilarity ensued, as always. finally passed out and got some sleep.


tour report - dortmund

"there is no sex in the sound here" - janosch moldau

after the relative disaster of berlin, we hoped that dortmund would make up for it in terms of show quality. i have to say that the venue (fzw) was really, really nice...i think it was brand new, only three months old or so. so the showers were really great, the main stage was huge, all the key components seemed to be in place for a great evening. after a really nice shower, i grabbed some breakfast, and caught up on email and internets.

mesh's soundcheck went a little longer than usual, because julia from teknoir (she's also in chandeen now) was going to perform "who says?" with them tonight. she did the guest vocal appearance on the album, so this was a nice bonus for their fans. it sounded pretty great when done live, not that geoff can't hold his own when singing the girl parts, haha! so, then it was time for us to soundcheck, and things started to get a bit weird. as i mentioned, the venue is pretty new, and the sound system that they have is totally state of the art. i can't remember who made it, but it was extremely high end. of course, this also means that the club is still working out little details, like having a secondary snake that can reach across the stage to our rack, or having spare 1/4" cables. aaron apparently lost his cable that connected the bass rig to the rack, so i had to run the guitar in mono tonight, no big deal really.

but back to the sound system. it sounded...extremely weird, compared to all the other venues on the tour so far. actually, it sounded pretty weird compared to any sound system i've ever heard in my life. it was extremely dry, with a lot of clarity in the upper frequencies, and a lot of pulsing sub-bass (usually a good thing), but literally nothing happening in the midrange spectrum. we had to keep jumping off the stage, and checking the mix, and making adjustments with the house sound guy (who was very nice, but i don't think he really got what we were saying about 60% of the time). finally, we got it to the point where it was "good enough", and had to let janosch do his soundcheck so that he could finish before doors opened.

while we were sitting backstage drinking, janosch uttered the magic line "there is no sex in the sound here....it's all dry, no wet", which really summed it all up perfectly. he also said one of the funniest things i'd heard in days; "every time i log into facebook, my heart dies just a little bit"...as a part of a conversation in which we discussed all of the many roles that musicians are expected to play in this day and age...

so, how was the show then? well, much as with the venue, it seemed like all the components were there. i think we put on a technically decent performance, and had great lights and were certainly loud, yet i didn't feel like we really connected to the audience somehow. though by the time we were done, we had done a decent job of getting some of the crowd moving, and the venue was filling rapidly during our set time, so i can't complain too much. but the entire way through the performance i had this unsettling feeling that somehow the sound mix was just way off in the crowd, so i never really felt comfortable or confident up there. truly a harbinger of things to come. when i say that 'berlin broke my heart', i'm not joking. it definitely spooked me and set the tone for the remainder of the tour, in a downhill direction.

now, the big upside to this night was that we had scheduled a radio interview with mr. damien bailey of ebm-radio.de, and since he'd read my earlier tour blogs about how terrible the beer was backstage, he told us that he was going to bring us a wide variety of german beers so that we wouldn't think becks and warsteiner were the best the country had to offer. and let me tell you, he was on the money! once we got him backstage, he pulled out SIXTEEN different beers for us to try out, i have to say it was one of the nicest things that anyone did for us the entire time we were on the road! we immediately set about sampling them, while giving the interview, which finally ended after about 8 or 9 beers were consumed over the course of about 2 hours.

i hope we didn't say too many embarrassing things, though i bet we did. aaron shot a ton of video from this night, so i'm really looking forward to getting all of that edited, and put online...some of the footage is absolutely priceless! at the very least, i think the interview was really unique, and probably the best and most candid interview we've ever done. da5id and i definitely prefer to do interviews where our voices are recorded, as opposed to the "questionaire" style interview we always get from the magazines. unfortunately, we missed seeing mesh this evening, but i think we did pretty well anyway! janosch said that it was the longest interview he'd ever seen or heard, haha!

big big thanks to damien bailey for the best interview we've ever done! also thanks to the sound crew at fzw for your help, i hope the kinks get worked out of the system!