The entry to the squat in Leipzig. Come through the door and pay the man in the van. Ass, gas, or grass -no one rocks for free.

Dresden, Germany – some Swedish guy with DAILY LIFE SUX tattooed on the side of his head proudly wore the rarely-spotted mohawk-with-mustache fashion I had been hoping to do for my next driver’s license picture. Let me tell you, those are two terrible tastes that taste even worse together. It is actually worse than the sum of it’s parts. He seemed to really like DESTROYER (who can blame him?) and even went so far as to dry hump Steffen in the classic ‘sitting wheelbarrow’ position. Later that night he and a small group of nomadic crusties decided to hang out next to our van where Devon was sleeping. Well, trying to sleep. Devon explained that it was difficult to sleep with the guy drunkenly yelling things like, "Pizza, assholes and speed are all I need!" over and over again. Just before going to bed Max went to retrieve something from the van and walked right into the guy with his pants around his ankles, spreading his asscheeks and yelling, "Kiss my Scandinavian ass if you don’t think DEAD DRUNK is the best band ever! Go on, suck my asshole!!!" Max never did make it to the van.

There he is - on the far right, with the mustache.

DESTROYER have thee BEST style of any band I have seen in recent years. And they are just so fucking good.


Braunschweig, Germany – Had a sweat-off with SEVERED HEAD OF STATE but Jack Mind Control alone beat the four of us combined. At the show were two Israelis, one of which had the YOUR MOTHER Last Show t-shirt on. Both were good peeps and unafraid to rock out when all about them were indifferent.

The DESTROYER guys tried to convince us that bubbly water (the most common kind of water in Europe) was more manly than flat water. Like it was harder or something. But then Stephen said "it’s like a disco in your mouth" and the manly factor flew out the window. Devon tried to envision soldiers on the battlefield dying of thirst and finding a well and thinking, "Nope, not tough enough. I need a disco in my mouth if I’m gonna quench this thirst!"

Husum, Germany – met up and stayed with longtime pen-pal, Dirk. Reminded of what touring was all about: rocking out and then hanging out with great people. It’s pretty fun to meet someone half-way around the world that would be your best friend if they lived within driving distance of your house.

Go DIrk!

K-Town Fest – Kopenhagen, Denmark – showed up at 4pm on Friday afternoon, like instructed. It was the first night of a 3-day festival and people were already passing out drunk in the bushes. Nobody knew what was going on and nobody could tell us where to load, when to play, when dinner was, where to set up our merch, etc. We ended up erecting a table outside in the occasional rain and were assured that it would stay light enough all night so we could stay set up as late as we needed without lights. A demonstration was going on downtown and someone told us that when they returned someone with a clue would let us in on what was going on. So for two hours we waited for someone with a clue to show up. In the meantime we dodged drunks and stray squatter dogs, sold a pair of sweatpants (it was cold!), abused the neighboring McDonalds bathroom (entrance fee = $.01 USD), ate expensive vegan sandwiches, and wished we had spent a few more hours at Dirk’s house. Eventually we heard food was being served but after waiting in line for it we were told we needed food and drink tickets. Of course we weren’t given ours and the food was going fast. More confusion, more frustration, more dogs with open sores roaming around. Someone finally did show up with the wherewithal to help us out. From what he told us we would be headlining tonight’s show which meant playing at 3am to a room full of passed-out hippy punx. More frustration, more trepidation about where and when we were going to sleep. The squat was a huge town meeting center with four floors. The basement had an enormous kitchen, the bottom floor had the stage, a bar/restaurant and a bookstore, the second level had a gymnasium where most people had sprawled out their sleeping bags already, and the forth floor was the reserved Bands-Only quarters. Little did we know at the time, but the room reserved for us was where the body of dead junkie was recently found – 4 months decomposed. A thorough cleaning of the van afforded us 4 comfortable sleeping spaces.

Once the bands started playing things started to pick up. It was like once things were officially moving the event didn’t seem so much like a car wreck. By the time ASBEST played I was in great spirits again, partly because they were so damned good, partly because the whole vibe of the evening was really quiet positive. Max saw it more as a hippyfest. A walk through the building proved he was more than just a little right. People were humping and getting wasted in every corner. Better than fighting, I say. ECHO IS MY LOVE from Finland played next and they were an unusual cross between FUGAZI and the SUGARCUBES. I didn’t know what to make of them as I walked in halfway through their set and was not expecting something so ambient. After their last song the musicians switched instruments and became HERODISHONEST – quite possibly the hardest rocking hardcore band in all of Europa. Ho my, were they unbelievably rad! I guess seeing them go from ECHO to HERO showed their diversity and talent as musicians but when all was said and done – they just fully rocked. Hard. Really hard. It was a terrible act to have to follow. Thankfully the audience was not the unconsciously limp wastoids we were expecting but rather a surging pot of hyper-ecstatic punkers waiting to have an excellent time. I can’t verify if they did but I know we sure did.

It was just after 3am when we finished but there was still a LOT of energy floating around. We packed up the van and when we came back a long-haired DJ started spinning the rocking-est dance music ever made. Iron Maiden followed by Guns n Roses followed by Motorhead followed by Black Flag followed by Slayer… If you’ve never seen a hall full of punks dancing nightclub-style to hard rock you’ve not seen enough. It was hilarious and mega-fun. Robert appeared out of nowhere and started grabbing random people and dancing with them. Upon closer inspection he was drunk which was another sight to behold. We all danced and flailed and made asses of ourselves until the music stopped at 5am.

With a long day and a long drive ahead of us we headed back to the van for a couple hours sleep but not before seeing a group of yuppies (not punx from the squat holding an anarchist festival) smash a cop car window and flee with the cops in tow.

Sunday June 22, 2003 – Linköping, Sweden
Met up with TEAR IT UP again. If I’m correct this is the 5th time we have played with them since we’ve been together and they live 3000 miles away. The fine folks of Linköping performed for us a special dance maneuver called the ‘crocodile’ wherein at the exact start of the 6th song the 40 people closest to the stage all laid on their backs and wiggled around. I wasn’t paying attention until the chorus but I looked up and they were all still in formation. I am told it is a special ritual reserved for bands that don’t suck. TEAR IT UP were disappointed they did not receive the honor but then they got it last year and really, something as special as the ‘crocodile’ can’t happen more than once in a lifetime.

Devon and I were walking back from the drink counter with waters when we had to pass through a narrow opening between a table and the bar. Three Swedes were coming in the other direction so as I was talking to Devon I was only half-paying attention as we squeezed through. Then I came face-to-face with the young lady in the middle. Her bright eyes and wide, white smile gave me a slight pause and I stuck a mental post-it to the refrigerator door of my mind reading: quietly obsess over super hot Swede with blonde hair and gray BEYOND PINK shirt.
And so I did.
From afar, of course.
After our set I packed my stuff away and grabbed my non-show shirt and towel and went to ‘shower’ in the bathroom sink. I stepped out of the backroom and Bam, there she stood. She stopped me and asked which CD she should buy because I was ‘sweet.’ As stunned and stoked as I was on the inside, on the outside I was three days and three shows since my last shower and change of clothes. I told her I would be much better company if I could just have five minutes to clean up. We ended up talking most of the night and she was as radiant as she looked. She works with elderly folks, didn’t seem to bat an eye as I hung up my brown and smelling show clothes on the van’s inside laundry line, and likes Skit System and Totalitar. In short, she was quite a catch. I was bummed that we were driving back to Stockholm as soon as the show was over.

Being the only single guy in the band I am forever given advice and encouragement in matters regarding the opposite sex, usually unsolicited. After Ms Linköping 2003 went home Max pointed out that since I never approach anybody I am basically limiting myself to whoever has the personality to approach me. In his case this has often meant aggressive and crazy women (those are mild and polite terms) and so he warned me to keep my spidey senses up. I told him he may be right, but that was no reason for him to have his hand on my knee.

How is that one man can sleep so damn much? Devon sleeps roughly 16 hours a day. It’s phenomenal. I can’t even lay down for 16 hours a day, much less be sleeping. It must be a defense mechanism against boredom. When we have a long drive ahead of us and our host asks if we can make it to the next destination we usually say something like, "We can do it with our eyes closed" when in fact, Devon usually does.

Umeä, Sweden – BRUCE BANNER, our tour buddies for the whole of Sweden, are not only stand-up gentlemen but they’re also older than us! We had a fun and long drive to Umeä in which many, many cookies were shared. In Sweden it seems unusual not to be a hipster or a sexpot (or at least act like one) and yet, the entire BRUCE BANNER collective manages to aspire to neither. I mean, usually at least one guy in a band has some hip haircut or shirt that’s too small. But BRUCE BANNER just play hardcore because that is what they do. And they do it well. Interestingly, their drummer Peter was the first drummer for INCANTATION. Per and Daniel were in FILTHY CHRISTIANS back in the 80’s and by the looks of them now I guess maybe they do have some small sense of current fashion. To top it off, all of them like the Descendents which makes most people A-okay in my book, buddy.

Somehow we ended up picking up a kid named Stephen who was supposed to get us to the venue. He was stoic and condescending and it took a while to figure out he was actually really funny. An all-night quote-fest from the Simpsons clued me in. He got us lost getting to his place, then he got us lost getting to the venue, two feats not lost on our gang’s group ability for ribbing people on their shortcomings. Thankfully he still let us stay at his place after the show.

At midnight twelve Swedes and I went mini-golfing. Yesterday was Midsommerset (Summer solstice) and tonight the sun only set for about 2 hours. This meant it would be light enough to play a game of midnight mini-golf for about the next 10 weeks. But it was a cruel juxtaposition to be in the sun and be freezing cold at the same time. I’m from California but I wasn’t the only one hopping around and rubbing his arms trying to stay warm.

At the 8th hole tee one of my fellow golfers was kind enough to spell out WHN? in small rocks and then take a clean, firm, tapered shit next to it. It really improved my game, I assure you.

Some notes about Swedish mini-golf: it’s HARD. Back home a standard hole can be done in segments – you putt, get past one barrier but stuck on the next, then go from there. I can’t really explain Swedish style mini-golf other than the holes are not set up to be played incrementally. You swing and make it through all the obstacles and into the hole or the ball is either returned to the tee or lost in the bushes or a pile of human feces. The hardest obstacle of all though were the mosquitoes. When you’d stop to putt you would be able to count at least 20 on your body trying to borrow through your clothes.

On the way back to Stephen’s we bumped into the bass player for International Noise Conspiracy who was wandering the streets in a tight, short-sleeved, black and white striped shirt. I tell ya, these Swedes take their fashion seriously!

Where do I begin when trying to explain Jön to somebody? He used to play in OUTLAST but has since grown his hair out like Bruce Dickenson ("I love Iron Maiden so much I extended my appreciation"). He also plays guitar in VICTIMS and ACCURSED and recently took up bass for WOLFBRIGADE.

Tonight he was wearing the exact same clothes he was wearing four days ago ("These pants work well with my package"). When he plays he drools heavily because "Saliva and drool are the last vestiges of punk rock vulgarity. People feel bodily fluids belong in the body. I don’t." He also makes every face in the book while loudly and aggressively berating the audience throughout each song ("You must mock the audience or they will do nothing for you"). The best is that he ends each song like it was the end of an encore – guitar overhead with one hand, finger pointed at someone in the crowd with the other, big grin on his face that clearly says, "I love you guys, I really love you." I have a new guitar hero. Between him and Mattias Destroyer I have all the inspiration I will need to make me a better player.

I asked him if I would see him at the show on Friday but he said he couldn’t make it because WOLFBRIGADE were flying to Germany. "I will be playing bass and it’s so boring to play D-beat for 45 minutes. I would rather shit my pants, so I probably will."

To everyone who thought WHN? were form Canada: sorry, but we’re from the U.S. We started booking the tour just as Gulf War II broke out. We were fearful of anti-American actions directed at Americans advertising they were American (i.e. flyers reading "Playing tonight at So-and-So Club – WHN? from the U.S.") so we thought billing ourselves as Canadian might help us sidestep that problem. We put the word out to promoters but a couple days later we all decided that it would be better if we traveled as an openly American band. We hoped to prove that not all Americans were Bush-supporters. By the time we made this decision it was too late in some places to retract the idea and we got billed as Canadians anyway.

Our first show in Finland got cancelled so we canceled the other one on account of it being too expensive to ferry over for one show. With two days in Stockholm I entertained the idea of taking the train to Linköping to meet up with a certain skön unge fru. Daniel offered me his car which was not only a magnanimous gesture of trust and friendship, but also about as truly Bro a thing as one dude can do for another.

On my way to the second level of the Inferno, home to Cleopatra, Helen of Troy and other famous fornicates throughout history.

Andreas poised to head the search posse assuming I did not reutrn from Linköping.

Parting with BRUCE BANNER was a sad occasion. No matter how many people I have met through this little underground rock and roll network I never get over how quickly certain bonds can form. I will truly miss them as I already miss the guys from MY OWN LIES and DESTROYER and Dirk in Husum and the people of France and …

On the way out of Stockholm we took Robert’s Finnish friend Markku to the train station and so far the occasion stands as the closest we’ve come to danger on this trip. He was drunk (which as I’m told by other Fins is redundant to even mention), but he was also intrepid and belligerent. He spent most of the 20 minutes we were with him running through and stopping traffic and being mean to people who were in the process of giving us directions to his train station. He never did take his clothes off or wield a knife but the night was young.

Dear Diary,
I just pissed in a bottle, as is van policy. Even when we pull over to a gas station we pee in bottles. My pee just now was not very much, but it had a robust color to it. The bottle, however, was glass and had a very small mouth. As such, the pressure of the pee, mixed with the inflexibility and narrow opening of the bottle made the pee spray back at me. I was thankful I was wearing my swimtrunks and sunglasses.

Ow, crimeny! I just ran out of cold water?! What the heck? I was in the middle of washing both myself and my clothes in the sink and now I am dirty and soapy at the same time. Lame.


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