AVT: 8h (Tot: 17h, 15 min)
ADT: 663 km (Tot. 1,423 km)
"You guys want to hear one of my favourite songs ever?"
"As long as it's not Van Halen."
- Deni, Ken
What to say on a sunny Sunday?
I like the rhythm of that sentence. ‘What to say on a sunny Saturday’ feels better for me, but this ain’t fiction, so Sunday it is.
The blank page, man.
The blank page.
We’ve settled in now. Nothing like a long drive to re-acclimate you to the road. Yesterday we had a good one – eight hours from Schermbeck to just this side of the Polish border. We became acquainted once again with these tiny hamlets in the eastern part of Germany with their triangle roofs and orange brick walls. With their narrow streets and so much less English.
This time we were bound for the town of Forst, which we have never visited before. You never quite know what you’re getting into with some of these places. We had a quick breakfast with Kenny and family before putting wheels on the highway again and driving, driving, driving (with a noteworthy respite at a truck stop, where Ken and I impulse-purchased hip new belts). Writing blog posts and editing podcasts are great ways to pass the time, but I have to be careful. I don’t want to forget to look out the window, see the countryside, take mental pictures.
The van arrangement for this tour: Sarah in the driver’s seat, yours truly in the front passenger’s seat, Ken behind me, Deni behind Sarah. For the most part, Ken and Deni put on headphones and disappear during the drives. Sarah and I talk a lot. About a lot. Already today we’ve talked about everything from how anger can win an election to Christ consciousness to unsolicited photographs (you know the photos I’m talking about). I like these talks with Sarah. We spend a lot of time together, but don’t always get to spend a lot of time together, if that makes sense.
Album of the tour so far: All The Hours I Have Left To Tell You Anything by my friend – our friend now – Sarah MacDougall. It’s just a wonderful dark pop album and you should listen to it. Sarah’s on tour in Germany right now as well. In fact, we nearly had her appear at the show in Schermbeck, but while she was only half an hour away, she had a show of her own to play.
I digress (again).
We arrived in Forst as the sun was drifting down and, as I said, weren’t quite sure what to expect. It reminded me of Immeldorf, where we have played (and will again play) our friend Walter’s venue the Weisses Ross. Just a sleepy little village in the middle of nowhere. We drove through town and down a dark and winding highway, until we came upon a bar in the countryside. There we met our fabulous soundman, Lutz, and began to load in to one of the strangest rooms I’ve ever played. It was a smaller, somewhat more tawdry version of the Texas River Ranch called Manitu.
Well, much more tawdry – on the wall behind the front door you’ll find Polaroids of naked people doing all sorts of bizarre things on memorable nights in the club many years ago. In the main room … well, there’s a stuffed hare holding a rifle, positioned beneath a topless and substantially well-endowed female mannequin holding a guitar and draped in a American flag.
Funny thing about these strange venues in the wilderness: sometimes you have your best shows at them. Texas River Ranch. Weisses Ross. Manitu. As Sarah says, if you leave your expectations at the door, what’s on the other side can surprise you.
After our soundcheck we went to our hotel to get ready for the show. I scrambled yesterday’s blog post up onto my website and changed for the gig. When we returned to Manitu an hour or so later, the parking lot across the street was full of cars. We entered the club and there were people waiting for us inside (including our friends Lexi and Kerstin). Now as a musician, you hear in all sorts of places that whatever venue you’re playing has a “built in audience” that comes every weekend. Generally speaking, whoever promises the built-in audience will later be heard to say, “I don’t know where everyone was tonight.”
Well, evidently Manitu has a built in audience for real. And when we exited the green room – the censors won’t let me even contemplate describing the décor in the green room – to play, all of those strangers crowded up to the stage to take in the show. We love this about playing in Europe. People come to shows. People listen. People dance.
We crushed Manitu last night, friends.
In fact, the owner said we’re one of the best bands they’ve ever had in the place.
A lot of that comes down to sound, and Lutz did an awesome job for us. It sounded just the way I like it on stage – loud enough that I can really dig into the drums, but not so loud that I can’t hear everyone else. Playing live is so much about feeling. When it feels good on stage, you tend to get a magical show. For me it felt right last night and the band played great. Drummer Boy didn’t blow any arrangements. We played with energy (thanks in part to the response the crowd gave us). We were really on in my opinion. We did Black Velvet by Alannah Myles and Deni ripped some leads that I’ve never heard him play before. It was killer.
We played the last song – a banger from Sarah’s new album – and the crowd ate it up. We said goodnight and they were hollering for more. It’s so fun when the people come up close to the stage and get into it with the band. They loved it and so did we, and I want to thank our new fans in Forst for a show that I will remember for a long, long time.
And boy, did they line up to buy Sarah’s CDs. They even wanted the boys in the band to sign things – the sure sign of an impact made.
Later we packed up and returned to the hotel. Sarah went to her room and the lads stayed up too late being the lads. We really love our post-show hangs. Music life is a strange life. The four of us have this deep, intense experience for six weeks where we’re together in some combination probably 95% of the time, and then we go home and, apart from Ken and Sarah, don’t really see much of each other. That’s too bad, really, because we’re genuinely good friends and we love being together. Yes, we stay up too late, but we know that these moments of togetherness, drinking gifts of wine in the wee drowsy hours of the morning, are worth whatever fatigue comes tomorrow.
A tour like this goes by fast.
You blink too hard and you miss it.
Oh, very well:
And now, here’s Sarah MacDougall: