Saturday 29 November 2008


Moving through Irish customs and getting our green stamp of approval - with a smile, I knew things were going to go well.

We started in Cork where we played to a full house of appreciative fans. I was put into a few headlocks and photographed by some that had a wee bit too much to drink. I haven't seen the evidence and am still waiting for them to surface somewhere on myspace.

The next day we drove to Dublin where we played a strange show in jam-packed pub with Romanian headliners that I think either hated us (Nadja) or us (Aidan and Leah). Regardless, the evening was pretty great and here we are surrounded by super nice Polish and Irish metal dudes with a fresh pint of Smithwicks in hand! This one comes courtesy of the shy one in the back.

We had a day off in Dublin where the impending holiday season slapped us back to reality. People were chaotically shopping and clogging the cities pedestrian arteries and as we searched for evidence of Dublin's literary legacy I soon realized that Beckett was replaced with cheap Scandinavian fashions in the mass consumer psyche.

Wednesday 26 November 2008

5 Days & 5 Lads

I'll admit that I truly struggle to love England. I'll only admit so much, and say that we warily* set out on a 5 day tour with Manchester doom metal-ers Atavist beginning, not in England but, in Edinburgh.

Off the plane and I instantly fell for this magical, kind-of-haunted-feeling, thistle-loving town. We only had a couple hours before the show so we stowed our luggage and climbed the hill to the castle.

Where we got a nice view of King Arthur's Seat.

It also very quickly became apparent that our companions - Chris, Rich, Si, Ollie, and token-football-hooligan Matt - for the next few days were actually the most charming, young Britons I'd ever met. Added to this lovely mix were Jo, Justin, and Neil of Cold Spring Records and Satori, respectively. And as we ambled through the Lake District the following day, stops were made to pose for pictures. I love these boys!

The night that followed this day didn't inspire me to take many pictures. Especially as we all sat huddled under sleeping bags, trying to stay warm and out of the freezing and slushy rain as we waited to get towed into a running start at 3am. Later - 3 hours later - we really would need to get out and push a van full of gear. Needless to say, the rest of the tour needed to be rethought and after a small, necessitated, but rewarding collaboration in Bristol we had a van rented and the rest of the tour would go on.

I sadly have no pictures of the boys in their briefs as they played to 4 people in Coventry. But, the opening picture is the band in a high note at our final show in London.

*The United Kingdom is a little notorious for being a cruddy place to tour. We left the continent warned by more than a few people. It turns out that it's not much different than touring the United States.

Wednesday 19 November 2008

The end.

The first two weeks of our tour are coming to a close and the weariness in the air is palpable. Last night we were in Hamburg and tonight is Berlin, our last show with Picastro.

High hopes were not on the table last night, but the show sounded really great - thanks to our very attentive sound woman - whose name I've forgotten, I'm sorry.

It's smoky and I'm a little cranky tonight at West Germany so I didn't take pictures of the show, my bad. The massive skull ceiling ornament and the following were taken at Hafenklang in Hamburg.

Auf wiedersehen Liz and Brandon! Have a safe journey home and we'll see you on the flip side back in Canada.

Bathroom Graffitti - Germany

Germany has a checkered past. Acknowledgment of this runs deep in the politics of everyone here and it seems that a lot of people only feel comfortable airing their various grievances in the privacy of bathroom stalls. Or maybe the authors just hope that as you squat there, you'll consider their opinions.

Here's a sampling of what I've seen so far on this tour.

Sunday 16 November 2008

Religiosity and weefee

This entry is written after the fact. I just neglected to make notes, but this is how I remember it.

Strasbourg, France is kind of a dull place on a Sunday afternoon. I gather it's a town that takes is religion seriously as it's dominated by a massive cathederal - too big to get in one frame so it looks a little scarier in pastiche than up close, but daunting nonetheless.

It was very nice then when Molodoi was good and full for our show. Stephane, the promoter, produced the cutest poster we've ever had and I loved it- it had absolutely nothing to do with music, unless one was to compare the stuff we do with a dial tone. There's probably someone out there that would. The picture of Aidan and I is one that Matthew Smith initially drew of us as an avatar on a web forum. He's also coming up with some complicated artwork for an upcoming album of ours.

Whiling away our hours in the club we inquired about wifi access and nobody had any clue as to what we were looking for. That is until Stephane made the connection - "ahh...weefee?"

Saturday 15 November 2008


Southern Germany is neat and olde worldy and they embrace a frightening version of Christendom that, as Canadians, we rarely see. I guess I experienced some scary Christianity as a youngster, but that's way beyond what I'll get into here and save it for some future therapy.

First was Augsburg, where we played the Lab 30 festival. This was a multimedia & music festival that also featured our good friends Troum. Also playing was Tamagawa - one French guy performing all-enveloping guitar drone under a Japanese-y name. Hard to follow, but it was 3am and we were up next.

There was an exhibition, but upon inspecting the website it seems I missed a lot. From what I did see, big props out to the people who created the machine that transformed your credit card info into a knitting pattern featuring a Space Invaders theme and then stitched up right there in front of you.

In Nuremburg, we had some time to spare before the show so we took a stroll through the Christmas market, picked up some super delicious gingerbread, witnessed the next big thing in craft: hedgehogs, and climbed up to the castle. Being on a budget, we hopped the turnstile to the tower and were rewarded with some amazing views of the city.

Also stumbled upon this paper cut studio - that was closed... Sadly, nothing spectacular in the window, but I sensed that there was some awesome paper cuts beyond my field of vision.

That night we played with this insane Japanese band called Birushanah - 1 taiko drummer that also played bass, 1 drummer on a kit, 1 drummer on various metal things, and crazy guitarist/singer. They were pretty unbelievable and for the complaining I do - not here - about cruddy line-ups, sometimes we get lucky.

Wednesday 12 November 2008

"I think it's so great that people like you, makes music like this." - Michi, Basel

(click on the picture for a bigger version)

In Switzerland, they kiss 3 times (if they're French-Swiss, German-Swiss don't touch you). Also, all across this tiny nation the people are incredibly warm - regardless of cultural leanings - and even the shows held in scary, fortress-like squats where almost no one shows up end up feeling more like a nice evening than a total waste of time. Okay, maybe “nice” is the wrong term, but everyone there was.

Also, since our time is Switzerland is brief with 3 shows in 3 rainy days and highway shots are a little boring, I'll actually post some pictures from our show in Geneva.

Yes, that's Aidan playing with Picastro - he played twice each night of our 10 date tour with them.

We did actually get to Lausanne a little early and we made our way over to L'Art Brut. If you ever find yourself here, go here. It was overwhelming and inspiring and so, so depressing.

Photography was strictly prohibited, but I kept coming back to look at the needlework of Jeanne Tripier. Her 'spirituality' sent her spiralling and her embroideries were the channel. It's hard to find anything about her online and in English, so I leave it to you to search if you want. L'Art Brut's website is a nice resource. While you're there, also look up Alexander Lobanov. His obsessive anxiety put on paper kinda got to me, too.

Sunday 9 November 2008

Lyon, France

The problem with touring is that your schedule generally looks like this: wake up around 10/11am, try and eat something or find coffee by noon, be on the road no later than 1 to make your “load in time” of 5pm (completely useless in more ways than I care to get into here, but every promoter insists on it and everyone else is worried about not being on time), sit around and wait for your sound check to start, sit around some more and wait for the doors to open, sit around even more and wait for your turn to do your thing - then, it’s either 2am or you sit around and wait for others to do their thing until 2am, then you hope that there’s a clean bed somewhere waiting for you - or, whatever, really just as long as it’s not freezing and there’s a shower with hot water in the morning. Then, you do the same thing again the next morning.

We all slept in this room. Not so bad, that's a papyrus plant! This was the view out the window:

Sometimes, you get lucky and you arrive in an amazingly beautiful city and the club you’re playing is a boat, with portholes, called Sonic.

Sometimes, you get even luckier and you only have a 3 hour drive to your next show and you get to explore this beautiful city.

Lyon is the second biggest city in France and it's similarities to the biggest are striking. It's just a little hillier. Also, and they might have one of these in Paris - I don't know, but miniatures are huge here and we stumbled upon a miniature film set museum. Pretty amazing.

Alright, wipe that cheese off you shirt, Liz! We've got a show somewhere in Switzerland tonight.

Saturday 8 November 2008

Thank you for making the conzert

It's an odd sensation when strangers in a strange and small town (known for it's knives) know who are. We've played in Europe before and I've experienced it in the past, but it's hard to get used to.

It was lovely to meet up with some not-so-strangers today as we began our 2 week/ 10 date tour with Picastro. Opening for us in Solingen, Germany were some chubby local teens/young adults who drank as if it was their first time in a bar - though, I doubt it - and made all the food inedible by end of the evening. The show itself was alright, but far louder than it should have been for the space we inhabited.

Next up, was Metz, France. This was a beautiful town with equally kind hosts who fed us well and made sure we were hydrated with very good wines.

That's Liz Hysen and Brandon Valdivia - the two members of Picastro travelling with us - on the left relaxing before the odd concert

Metz is also where I had my first violent outburst on stage. I spun and whacked a local drunk with my bass who imitating my movements inches from me and who Aidan thought would attempt to grope me and had already pushed back more than once. People working or associated with the bar did nothing until they saw that I was getting quite angry. I understand the tolerance of a local idiot, but the guy was ON STAGE! (there actually wasn't much of a stage, but still). Anyway, enough of that. The food and wine made up for everything.

Friday 7 November 2008

O yeah.

I forgot to mention this in my earlier 'Amsterdam' post, so I'll do it now as I sit waiting for a soundcheck that may never happen in Solingen, Germany.

My camera was stowed deeply so I couldn't capture this pretty amazing and strange scene unfolding in front of me as I sat with our pile of baggage at the entrance to Amsterdam Centraal Station and Aidan was off searching for a non-existent pay phone to connect with our buddy Roger.

We heard the results of the election via our pilot who announced it to cheers on board our flight, interrupting my viewing of the very awful new X-Files movie (I know, there's no surprise, but I couldn't help myself); however, the European print media was already being distributed and no results were printed. At 4pm, as I waited, the Amsterdam METRO News started putting out a special afternoon edition declaring Barak Obama as the new President of the United States. Judging by the crowd picking up these papers 2 things became evident:
1. People in Europe were not anticipating the election results with the same level of stress I encountered in my American friends and family. It seemed they pretty much forgot it even happend. That is until...
2. The general populus, or the small sampling of a few hundred Amsterdam citizens that I witnessed that afternoon, is very pleased by the results.

It's hard to describe, but as people looked at the cover of the paper and then up at the crowd more than a few dozen looked so very elated(?), or maybe they were just looking for someone to share a celebratory nod -- or possibly drink, with. It was strange and kind of encouraging in a far off, language barrier way.

Thursday 6 November 2008


So we finally arrived at Amsterdam Centraal Station yesterday- jet beleagered and hungry. I'm not sure of what happened next but there was laundry to be gotten and and some really yummy pizza and then after some 40 or so hours of sleeplessness we finally got to bed and slept for 14+ hours.

Sadly, this meant that we would see very little of Amsterdam before we needed to catch our train to Haarlem where our first show would happen.

The show in question was okay on the lesser side. The sound guy didn't really know what to make of our 'sound' and it took repeated insistence from our friend (and Holland roadie) Roger to make it sound okay.

Tonight we played with a great little rockin' band from Seattle called The Dead Science.

Here's our coming itinerary (there's some Spanish dates there at the end that Aidan has put somewhere and I am just too tired to find right now).

11/07/08 Fri @ Solingen, Germany

11/08/08 Sat @ Metz, France

11/09/08 Sun @ Lyon, France

11/10/08 Mon @ Geneva, Switzerland

11/11/08 Tue @ Lausanne, Switzerland

11/12/08 Wed @ Basel, Switzerland

11/13-14/08 Thurs/Fri @ Augsburg, Germany

11/15/08 Sat @ Nuremburg, Germany

11/16/08 Sun @ Strasbourg, France

11/18/08 Tue @ Hamburg, Germany

11/19/08 Wed @ Berlin, Germany

11/21/08 Fri @ Edinburgh, Scotland

11/22/08 Sat @ Barrow-in-Furness, England

11/23/08 Sun @ Bristol, England

11/24/08 Mon @ Coventry, England

11/25/08 Tue @ London, England

11/27/08 Thurs @ Birmingham, England

11/28/08 Fri @ Cork, Ireland

11/29/08 Sat @ Dublin, Ireland

Monday 3 November 2008

Paper made me poor, so now I have to tour with my experimental doom metal band.

So I've started a blog. It's about the world that I'm seeing as I tour with Aidan. There'll certainly be some paper nerd-dom here when I get a brief chance to stop and explore the cities I visit - however, anyone that's ever done a musical tour knows that to make money you have to play as often as possible. Sadly, this means that I only see most cities for a day, and just barely.

Also, I should mention (with regards to paper), that the rest of my Coldsnap Bindery inventory is for sale at Book City on the Danforth (348 Danforth Ave). **for Book Citizens reading: I forgot to take a photo of that crazy little tree trunk book I made for my archives. Could someone (maybe someone with an iphone) do that for me? Thanks!**