We're 11 days in on our tour with Bishop. Right now, we are in the wan driving through Germany. It's freezing cold in here, I'm having trouble typing because my fingers are numb. The Hungarians are mad at us right now (we left them waiting in the wan for an hour yesterday in Prague while we ate at an awesome restaurant called Veg Food, which I'll post more about later) and I'm afraid to ask them to turn the heat on. It's snowing, the scenery is drab and colorless, everyone is congested and slightly irritated (we awoke to a flat tire.)
We got an overwhelming response on that delightful Beligian cookie spread. It's called Speculoos. Google it! Thanks to everyone who wrote to us about it.
Now let's catch up.
Day 4- Birmingham, UK.
This was the best UK show for sure. Lots of kids, lots of fun and hilarity- like a kid jumping the littlle wall that separated the stage from the floor so he could mosh in place between me and Pierce for an awkwardly long amount of time, and a dude pulling his shorts up like a diaper during his crucial m0sh, as well as flashing me his manly chest with each word at the end of "The Rage That Guides". He also wore a sixers jersey to make us feel at home. What a swell guy. (The bald guy below is him- click for a full pic)
This day also marked day 2 of my alien-foot, which was deciding day- according to French doctors- between my recovery and my death. So as I ate pasta with tomato sauce and drank espresso with my foot up on a table in the back room of the venue, I thought to myself... what if THIS is my last meal? What if THIS is my last night on earth, and I'm spending it drinking push-button coffee, unshowered and cold, with my foot up on particle board in a room that reeks of 15 dude's asses?
Something we ate was making me shit every half hour, so I spent an abnormal amount of time in the ladies room where a constant stream of girls was hanging out and chatting. It was probably during my 3rd trip to the bathroom that I overheard 2 girls talking about how they hadn't eaten that day. One moaned about how hungry she was, but how desperately she wanted to be skinny so she'd rather not eat. The other encouraged her, but sadly. "That's the dream... (sighhhhh)... you're living the dream."
I thought about them the rest of the night. I, like anyone, have my insecurities and try as I may to break down the walls (!) of society's standards, find myself, say, wearing make up or plucking my eyebrows, so I am not judging these girls at all. We all struggle with our appearances and we all feel pressure to look a certain way, whether we want to or not. But there comes a point when we need to stand up for ourselves against the pressure. That point comes way before willing starvation. I mentioned this during our set, what the girls had said and how I think that- especially within hardcore- we should find comfort and freedom enough to shake off bullshit like that. After we played, I went to the bathroom. One girl came over to me told me she loved our set, despite that I made fun of her. She smiled and looked down. This was the hungry girl (I hadn't seen her before because I'd been shitting.) I told her that I had not intended to make fun, that hearing her talk about her hunger broke my heart. She confessed that she HAD eaten, but it had only been "a bowl of shreddies".
The entire conversation shifted to British slang (shreddies= shredded wheat) and I left the bathroom laughing hysterically.
As we packed up the last of our merch I took off my boot and sock to take a look at the ol' foot. Jaws dropped all around, and Dave's eyes darted from my swollen grey skin, to the blood settled at the bottom of my foot, to the top of my foot overlapping my toes- which were all purple, and then finally, to the bottom of my foot, which no longer had an arch, but instead looked like an about-to-burst water balloon. "We need to go to the hospital... NOW." We hastily threw our shit in the wan and Dave, David (the promoter), and I headed to the ER.
The night before, in Gent, I had woken up soaked in sweat and the entire drive to the UK I had been sick to my stomach. I had brushed it off, but now, as I sat in a car with fatal-alien-foot that had turned every color of water-logged corpse, I started thinking my end was imminent. We rushed into the hospital with my medicine (we had no clue what it was, it was in french and I had only been told it was "for my alien") and my x-rays. I was seen within minutes. I had been bracing myself for anything- foot draining... amputation... death... so when the British doc reviewed my chart and pushed on my water balloon then said, "You're going to be fine." I just assumed he meant, like, in the after-life or something.
TURNS OUT that French doctors are known for over-reacting. The British doctor told me that I was in no way dying, and was surprised that I had been told that. My alien was just a severe sprain with an abnormal amount of swelling. The French doctors, he hypothosized, had probably been worried that I would get a blood clot in my leg, which is uncommon in young people, and people who can still move their legs (like me). He also told me that the medicine I was given was just to help with the swelling, and sweats and stomach problems are a common reaction, and if I stopped taking it I'd feel better. He said I didn't need to do anything but try to keep off it, and in 2-3 weeks I'd be better.
And that was that.
Day 5, London.
We had been looking forward to this show since we first heard about it. First off- the line up was sick. Us and Bishop, Hang the Bastard (who we'd been hearing great things about- AND they covered Integrity!), and Ringworm!
Then there were all the friends who were coming. Stu from Your Demise, Simon (who drew our tour poster), Neish, May, Charlotte, Kirby, Pierce's sister, and of course, Hate Edge Josh all the way from Richmond, VA. Kirby brought Dave homemade oatmeal raisin cookies. Simon brought me skittles, starburst (both of which are vegan only in the UK- in the states and elsewhere they contain gelatin), and other goodies. Pierce's sister gave him a huge food bag. If we were not all vegan, we would easily outweigh 100 demons.
Before the show all of us went to a vegan thai buffet just around the corner from the venue (Underworld). This place had been so hyped, and it totally lived up to none of it. Dustin was sick all night from the food. If you're ever in London, don't eat there.
The venue had a backstage area for the bands with a little room with drinks and snacks. Us and Bishop went back there (like a swarm of locusts) and Ringworm and their tour manager were already back there. Sam grabbed a drink from the fridge while the rest of us rooted around the room like pigs looking for truffles, ooh and ahhing over the private bathroom with a shower and the basket of fruit... until the face-tattooed Hungarian manager shouted at us, "This room is not for EVERYONE!" and shooed us out.
We walked out with our tails between our legs. We had just raided Ringworm's personal shit. Ringworm would now hate us because Sam had stolen a soda. Now there was nothing between us but oceans of bad blood.
About an hour later, our tour manager, also a terrifying Hungarian, told us that the room was in fact for EVERYONE (who was in a band) and we went back to claim our soy yogurts and ginger ales victoriously. Ringworm, for the record, did not hate us for stealing our own soda. They're all real nice!
I will tell you one crucial part of our set. Josh sang "Bathory" with me and did this:
ON STAGE MOSH.
...ON STAGE MOSH!!!!
That night we stayed with Charlotte and made big plans to wake up early "soooo early!" to see Big Ben and do touristy stuff. We, as usual, stayed up late talking and hanging with friends we rarely see. Stu told us about how the singer of Your Demise sold out, but how Your Demise had never really been a straight edge band. Dave, always a well-timed antagonizer, just HAPPENED to have a pin on his jacket that said, "YOUR XXX DEMISE". LOLz were had. After fries were eaten and jokes degenerated into sleepy nonsense and all the friends went home, everyone hit the hay. I fell asleep in the bathtub (showers have not been possible for me until a couple days ago) and went stumbling downstairs after my water blanket turned icy. I went to sleep excited to see London, and woke up when Jaki came storming up saying it was time to go. It was a total Home Alone moment. "WE SLEPT IN!!!" So, no sight seeing. No photos. We do not know what Big Ben looks like. We caught our few hours of floor-sleep, then it was back in the wan and onto...
Day 6, Ipswitch, UK
"This is a game called snaps...."
Bishop came to Europe with a game. I'll try to explain, as best I can. It goes like this:
Away from everyone else, I tell Pete a band name. It could be any band. The first time I played, I chose Steel Nation (got them on my brain since we're working on touring together!) We go back to the group, all of whom are spectators on the game, but Daron. Pete then says, "This is a game called snaps.." and a bunch of other things like, "Don't fuck this one up!", while snapping. Magically, somehow, Daron blurts out "Steel Nation!" No matter what band, he gets it. Dave is the only one who's figured out how it's played- it's lost on or uninteresting to the rest of us.
I awoke in the wan to us driving down creepy, foggy roads under a canopy of knotted, gnarled branches. The venue was above a bar... and guess what night it was at the bar? Kaereoke night! Pierce sang "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" (George Michael) while we LOLed.
There were a decent amount of kids at the show, some kids from the night before in London. I don't know if Ipswitch is always like this, or if kids were just tired, but it was a pretty lackluster show. Lots of crossed arms and still standing. On nights like that, things tend to get silly. Our set was ordinary, perhaps a tad awkward due to the sleeping crowd and the super bright lights left on... oh, you know what? People did move! It was when someone accidentally cut the lights during our set, and the crowd got (momentarily) comfortable and moshed for like, a solid 2 minutes.. then the lights came back on and it was as if it had never happened. Funny how that works. But anyway, no matter how awkward OUR set was, Bishop took it to a whole new level.
Dave, Pierce, and I heckled them relentlessly between songs with inside jokes that no one understood but those on tour. And they heckled us back, talking so much that almost 5 minutes would pass between songs.
After a time, Pete said, "Ok, ok... I could talk all night... maybe we should play a song." I yelled, "No, no! Keep talking!" .... and he did. He talked until he ran out of things to say, then just stared at the crowd. I almost fell off the bar laughing. I was one of about... 8 people who found it funny (the rest being in Kingdom or Bishop.) The crowd shifted awkwardly with their arms crossed. Pete got an idea.
"Wanna play a game called snaps?"
The crowd didn't respond, so we told Bishop that yes, they did. I picked a kid in a purple plaid shirt to give Pete a band name. Pete, after making fun of the kids' shirt (awwwwkwwward), listened for the band. No one but Pete heard the name, so when Daron (still holding his bass) said, "Wisdom in Chains!", no one but the kid in the purple plaid shirt was amazed. This was more than we in Kingdom could handle. The crowd blinked. And breathed. I *believe* they were still alive, but I can't say for sure. I was on the verge of pant-peeing.
The British kids were confused and unamused by us. We had become oblivious to them, reveling in our inside jokes and games, and then something surprising happened. One kid, with no warning (!) whatsoever, turned to the crowd behind him and started singing.
"Nah nah nah nah.. nah nah nah nah.. heyyy heyyy heyyy..." and the whole crowd, like every single person there, sang with him,
They did this several times.
We were dumbstruck. We still have no idea why they did that, or what they were singing. They cheered and laughed. We were sobered, officially, and finished the show.
We said our goodbyes, got in the wan, and started our drive to Germany. I awoke an hour later to a terrible grinding noise. Everyone was asleep but Bloodbath and Jaki, who were talking to each other in Hungarian. I popped my head up.
"Blooooodbath??? What's that noise?"
"It is not good."
We drove for 10 minutes until the noise had woken everyone.
Bloodbath and I had a short conversation. I asked if we should stop driving, he said probably, but that we needed to catch our ferry to Germany. I asked if it was dangerous to keep driving. He thought for a moment, then said, "Yes." I told him that I'd like to pull over and check it out, he said we were late, and I said I'd rather be late than dead. He agreed, we pulled over, and that marked the start of:
Our 2 days off.....
(click on this to see us- cold, and abandoned)
(to be continued)