Finally home from the 5 night stint in Las Vegas that closed the chapter on our two month journey. Still reeling from the recent barrage of events passed, I find myself at home, shuffling about on scarce fumes of energy between intervals of consciousness. It seems like that is the normal pre-recovery adjustment when you hit the emergency brake on a 90 mph tour schedule.
I guess the last place that I left off was our escape from Prague in a rented van. I'm sad to say that our splitter van, The White Rider has gone to the big mechanic in the sky and will be sorely missed. We drove her to the ground…although I do have a sneaking suspicion the garage may have hosed us and is using the van as Milosh's Gypsy Taxi Service. A fuel pump can't be that hard to find. Whatevs…we made the shows and got back to the states in one piece.
CITIES WE PLAYED WITH ROMPER ROOM VAN:
MUNICH- Got some beers and bockwurst at the Hofbräuhaus. Bockwurst was identical to a 7-11 Big Bite and our waiter was a total dick. Andy stole a commemorative beer glass to feel better about the experience.
Awesome graffiti on the outside of the venue
ZURICH- In and out…barely had time to see anything apart from the Swiss Alps to our left as we drove in and the reflections of the villages on the perfectly still lakes at night as we made our way to Italy after the show. That was beautiful. We were also drunk and being incredulous so you can take that with a grain of salt but I remember it as beautiful!
BOLOGNA- Show was in an airplane hanger in a deserted parking lot. Cooker was extremely paranoid about theft so I was on heightened alert the whole time. After the show we went to a club where the Crocodiles were doing a DJ set. Everything went foggy after that…I do remember Card making requests and dropping his beer on the ground immediately after. Awesome!
TOULOUSE- Le Bikini was the coolest venue. They had a swimming pool and a rad set up for the bands. The owner of the place was the chef as well. He prepared a three course meal for all three bands and crew, the main dish being my favorite, Duck Confit. Finished off with red wine and a serving of almond crusted ice cream. DAAAAMN! Felt spoiled. After show was a backstage party with the bands. Someone made off with my crazy disco laser pen…I'm looking' fer yew! Following Marco from the Crocodiles lead I wound up crawling on the ledge of the third story window to the White Lies dressing room. What a tit. Made for a funny entrance…Thanks for spearheading that movement Marco! Life and limb is a small sacrifice for a good laugh.
HIGHLIGHT- Daniel was leaving the Crocodiles van after they dropped us off at the hotel and had an EPIC wipeout in the middle of the street. Cooker got footage. AMAZING.
The drive between Bologna and Toulouse was incredible, as was the trip to Barcelona.
BARCELONA- Great crowd. Very enthusiastic about the set. Also ran into some babies who had made their way both from France AND the UK to come and support. So incredible. This was also Cooker's last show with us on the tour. He was stoked to get a shout from both the Crocodiles and White Lies dedicating songs to him for his send off. Wish we had more time in the city. Had such a cool vibe. I was able to get some rad shots of some graffiti at the skate park next to the venue.
Here is a photo of Crocodiles' Anna and Brandon playing baseball backstage with the fruits and veggies. Shaun's depth perception is a little off as this pitch exploded his cigarette in his face.
MADRID- This show was unique as the stage setup was very tight. It was cool playing close together on stage. Also really enjoyed watching the Crocodiles and White Lies perform in this setting as well. Very Rock and Roll. Post show, we went out with our friend and host for the evening Byron. A couple friendly fans joined us for a nightcap at a pub that reminded me of a Spanish Casbah. COOL! About five minutes after we parted ways we heard a scream in the distance. Investigated the sound and found it to be that one of the friends we were with got her purse snatched off of her arm. Didn't get the purse just broke it, but scared the shit out of the poor girl. All turned out ok and nobody got hurt. Just shaken…petty thieves are bold as hell.
The trip to Bordeaux, FR was very scenic. We traveled through the Pyrenees Mountains on the border of France and Spain which made for some incredible views. It made us prematurely nostalgic as we felt the end of the tour coming closer by the moment.
BORDEAUX- I don't particularly remember what the hell happened here. Hazard of the road worn brain. The venue…the place we stayed…shit. I DO remember drinking whiskey backstage and Anna (Crocodiles) talked me into dedicating a song to her and Robin in French. For all I know, I may have said "Hello, I'm wearing an adult diaper!". Ahhhh the faith. I don't think so!
RENNES- Great food! We played the set and ate a fantastic meal afterward. The kid that served all the bands dinner was wearing an Alf shirt! So tubular. Just before we played this show, Anna (Ginger Princess/tour mgr/Queen Bee) MADE us drink whiskey as we were so lethargic before our set time approached…whaddaya know, it worked! Ginger smarts.
We drove for a few hours after the show to make it to Cologne by the next day as we were meeting the White Lies crew for dinner on our day off. This was to be our last show before heading back to the states. Dinner was at a cool German restaurant and was great. White Lies gents picked up the tab, once again proving their chivalry and graciousness. After dinner we went to a small pub nearby and celebrated the last chance to tie one on with our new mates and surrogate road kin. Weird jukebox with a cross-eyed robotic accordion player along with his tuba playing sidekick split our sides with laughter as they squawked out Michael Jackson's 'Billy Jean', polka style. Unreal…It was like Chuckee Cheese in the German Twilight Zone.
COLOGNE- Before we went to the venue we explored the main square where we saw the Cologne Cathedral.
Blown away by the size of this gothic structure. A monolithic spectacle. We wandered about before heading to the venue to prepare for the grand finale.
The show was televised on WDR Rockpalast. So many incredible bands have had history on this program and it was quite an honor to join the list. Our set was accompanied by the White Lies crew doing our sound and lights as a final gesture before we split off the tour. I have to say one last time how amazing of a time we had getting to know everyone. Crocodiles and White Lies made this tour an amazing journey for us and we shall pour 3oz's of each 40 on the ground as tribute to each of you wild bastards…one for my homeys. RESPEC
After the last show we played in Cologne, DE, we drove all night to London to catch our flight directly to Las Vegas where we were set to do 4 nights in a row at The Cosmopolitan. Two sets each night, 10-11 and 12-1…Now about Vegas…
STAYS IN PRAGUE...Or at least our van did.
We showed up to Prague, set for a good time as we had some friends awaiting our arrival to show us around. We had no clue of what was in store. First off, we walked across the street from our hotel for a quick bite to eat and a beer. I was surprised to see that the moment we sat down, we were brought 5 beers, without even ordering.
OK, cool…read our minds. This began our eight hour shift of crafting a wicked hangover. The owner inquired as to what we were doing there and when we told him we were playing the following night, he turned the music off, pulled out a small combo amp, plugged it in and handed a guitar to Card. "PLAY! You play now!". Ummmm…OK, I guess. Card played a couple songs we all sang which turned into a few different versions of our own songs, developing into some improv jazz chords.
Andy singing Back in Black in gibberish french, ala Serge Gainsborg was a crowd pleaser… Card and I were finally escorted out of the place after countless songs and far too many libations. Some locals hung in there for a few hours toward the end, fueling the fire by buying us more drinks as long as we kept playing eventually smoking us out inside the establishment like it was customary. "Please don't park here…the gypsies will steal your things." Were the last words out of the owner's mouth. Well, not exactly true…He actually crossed himself while saying "My God". Great. We had no options but DID have the presence of mind, thanks to Cooker, to bring our guitars in the hotel before we crashed out. Sure enough, I awoke to Card at the phone saying things like, "What did they take? Is it all gone? EVERYTHING?!!" DAMN! I half expected it but you never really anticipate the reality of the moment you find out your privacy had been violated and your things taken. This was the first of events that changed the course of our entire tour. We found out that the only thing that was stolen was our Sat Navigation and a bag with some random things like vitamins, tea and a bottle of wine. This was a drag but it could have been a lot worse, I suppose. We still had all of our equipment so that was a big relief. After we realized there wasn't much we could do about it, we set off to see some sights with our Prague friends and look for a new Navigator… Our friends in Prague are actually extended family. Our violin player, Marta is Czech and unfortunately stayed back in San Diego on this trip. Although, she did attend the Grammy's and perform with Rihanna while we've been away. Nice way to pass the time Martita! Ivanka, Marta's mother and Martina her cousin, with 6 month old Anushka in tow, were our gracious hosts and amazing tour guides during our visit.
Ivanka started our sight seeing session by having us meet up for some incredible traditional czech cuisine at a great restaurant in the square and picked up the tab. Hearts are so warm with gratitude for their help, graciousness and amazing hospitality. After lunch Ivanka led us on our mission through the city.
We walked through Prague craning our necks at the amazing architecture and were pretty much speechless as we crossed Charles Bridge. Incredible scenes of worship and persecution carved in stone, line the bridge and loom over the vendors selling trinkets to the crowd of tourists that strolled by.
We continued to walk to the cathedral at the top of a hill that overlooks the city. We took photos and hung out for a little while and were eventually silenced by the beautiful panoramic view of the city.
After we tired ourselves out, it was nearly showtime so we headed back to the venue to get ready. Our show was cool and the crowd were nearly leaning on the circular stage in the middle of the room. Very American Bandstand. After the show was over, we tried to leave and couldn't start our van…Tried turning it over and over again, pushed it to jump start it…nothing. We were screwed. We phoned a tow truck that arrived just before daybreak to tow the chariot to a garage. The next show was in Vienna, Austria and it looked like we would not make it. It sucked to have to be on the other side of the world and feel like we had to leave our mission incomplete. The following days were stressful trying to translate news of mechanical failure and inadequate trouble shooting. THANK GOD we had our wonderful friend, Martina to translate and offer solutions to help us through this. It was and extra day n Prague which could have been a lot worse. We had an extra day to see the city. We wound up getting a rental van for the next show in Munich…It was fire engine red with decals in the shape of people on the hood that gave it a Romper Room or Special Persons vibe. Our saving grace… We set off to Munich, still not knowing if we would have to get back to Prague the next day to return the rental, missing the following show in Zurich, that is IF the van were to be fixed. Which it wasn't… MUNICH was a great show and pulling up to the venue and seeing the White Lies crew was like the reception of castaways that had been rescued from a deserted island…big hugs and "Welcome Back" all around. Also found all of our gear set up on stage ready for soundcheck. What a great group. Our show felt amazing and the lighting guys put a cherry on top by providing us with a light show along with our performance…So very grateful to them being absolutely legendary. Hats off once again. Now about the van… THE SAGA CONTINUES.
All photos by Rich Cook
BERLIN seemed to fly by so fast. I was excited to meet back up with the tour after two days off. The catering was amazing and was the closest to a "home cooked" meal I had seen yet. We had a good show and got a great crowd response. Meeting the people at the merch table afterward, we were excited about the feedback from the German crowd and the responses seem to be very positive and genuine. After the show we went out for drinks at the Astro Bar in East Berlin. The spot was recommended by our host for the evening as it was stumbling distance from our crash pad. Celebrating friend and faithful guitar tech Daniel's birthday, we wound up pretty smashed which made for an extra long trip to Poznan, Poland the next morning.
POLAND is quite a drastic change from Germany. It reminded me of what it feels like to drive from California into Mexico. Roads were bumpy, traffic was extremely sketchy, and the landscape was barren. We started to feel the difference once we saw prostitutes with fanny packs at the edge of every other dirt road as we drove past. Crazy scene.
Stopping at a truck stop was another awakening experience as we got stared down by prostitutes, Polish truckers and odd looking strangers that made weird noises as we walked through the fart smell of the mess hall. Jesus Christ, that was a bizarre experience. POZNAN, however was completely packed with the most eager crowd we had seen yet.
Very little room to deal with onstage was a minor obstacle but the crowd involvement was over the top and filled us up.
WARSAW proved to be another amazing show experience. People seemed so eager to hear something new and responded to the music right away.
SIDE NOTE - they served hot dogs and a variety of mystery meats in the catering hall at each venue AND the toilet paper was like fine grit sand paper. Also - the house sound techs were very AGRO…I wasn't sure if it was just how they communicated or if they were pissed but the mood was tense.
We blew fuses in the keyboard and the power converters right before our soundcheck so we half expected to have a technical meltdown and made plans to adjust our set for the lack of keyboard power. Hats off to the White Lies crew for all their hard work and willingness to help the show go on. Can't do it without great support and we are lucky to have it. Found the fuses and made it happen. Assessment - POLISH CROWDS ARE AMAZING! We felt very fortunate to have such a warm response despite it being our first introduction to the country. We look forward to returning. Also, LECH beer is gooooooood.
Split the show right after our set to get 5 hours of driving behind us in order to arrive in Prague with some sightseeing time…
PRAGUE…Where do I begin? Van got broken into, then broke down and stranded us for three days. (It's still not fixed)…I think I need to take a deep breath before getting into this. MORE SOON...
Show in Hamburg - Dock's. Very cool venue tucked away in the red light district. Unfortunately we arrived late, so we were unable to tour the city. The show went well, especially given we had to be on stage at 6:30pm! The audience was energetic and responsive, and everyone we met after the show was warm and friendly. I had the pleasure of speaking with a very drunk German woman who offered to trade me her half-eaten bag of gummy bears for a CD. Sorry ma'am, I can only accept half-eaten Mars bars or Biscuit Boosts as currency. Bizarre (and a bit awkward), but friendly nonetheless.
SCANDANAVIA = Long Drives and cold feets…
Caught the ferry over the water with the Crocs.
The drive to Oslo was cold, man. COLD. Grown men huddled under blankets in the vansion, heater blowing full blast, and STILL our toes are frozen! Beautiful countryside, however; definitely a winter wonderland. We arrived at the venue and piled out into the snow to load in our gear and check out the surroundings. We had to do our best to be speedy as we were a little behind the clock due to a long ass drive. Show was good… aside from some technical difficulties we pulled through well and got a warm reception. After the show we blew off some steam by having a spontaneous yet vicious snow-fight in the parking lot of the hostel where we were staying. Let's just say at that point of our collective inebriation, none of us minded being slightly wet and banged up - good times!
On to Stockholm - another long drive through the frigid Nordic countryside. Toes numb, but I don't mind… this place is amazing. Driving into Stockholm is an awesome experience - frozen rivers, buildings built into granite cliffs, blanketed with snow.
The venue, Cirkus, is an amazing theater… gorgeous! Fortunately for us, our man Cooker is on hand so he was able to capture some really nice shots.
The show was great, and the crowd response was even better. Met some really cool locals after the show, and we learned some very useful Swedish phrases. We did a bit of sightseeing the next morning, but had be on the road somewhat early as we were heading back to Copenhagen. Stockholm is such a beautiful city, we will definitely return…hopefully when it's warmer!
Ferry back to Copenhagen. Dig it…
Copenhagen - Sometimes your experience with a city can depend entirely on the locals who open their homes to you and act as a tour guide; lucky for us we met some amazing people in Copenhagen who put us up and showed us a truly memorable time. Johan, local music producer and drummer from The Good The Bad, let us crash at his pad for a couple nights. A very warm person and a gracious host, we feel indebted to his hospitality. Even Andy, or as we refer to his alter ego, Ron Ridley, the regional director of Food and Hospitality, was impressed with Johan's kindness. Not to mention how good his band is… CHECK IT OUT
Michelle, another Copenhagen local and a close friend of our Tour Manager, bravely volunteered to guide us around Copenhagen for the day. What an experience. We filmed a live acoustic performance walking down the oldest street in the city, went through the city center market place, had an amazing lunch at a local favorite cafe, walked through Christiana (famous counter-culture commune), had a private viewing of one of the oldest churches in Copenhagen, and finished the night in one of the coolest piano bars I've ever been to.
We were almost hit by a trucker just now. Andy honked the horn. I was scared for a minute. It's still happening…
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