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Untitled Document

1996

Feb - Apr
Poster Children in Europe
with Steel Pole Bath Tub
1- England
2- Germany
3- Germany, Denmark, Switz
4- Italy-Switz
5- Italy
6- Austria
7- France
8- The Netherlands

April
Norse Raider Tour

Jun
East Coast
w/ Cows!
Cows 1
Cows 2
Cows 3

Sept
Ohio

(we worked on RTFM for the rest of the year)

 

 

 

Steel Pole Bath Tub European Tour (march 96)
3-Germany-Denmark-Switz


Sunday March 3rd, Potsdam, Germany - Day Off!

This was sort of something I was worrying about for the last couple of days: Where would the tour bus be parked on our day off? Would it be parked in the center of a beautiful town, next to a huge restaurant or a mall, with bathrooms, showers, and free phone outlets everywhere? Or would it be parked in a parking lot of an empty club on the outskirts of town? Lately, the clubs have been in the center of town, and it's been easy to find bathrooms and stores - however today for our day off, the the bus is parked next to tomorrow's club, on the outskirts of town and everything is closed. It is really cold outside, too - probably around 10 degrees with no wind chill.

"Ho, Ho, Ho, You Clumsy American"

We are in what used to be East Germany, and everything seems sort of gray. We sat in the bus all morning and afternoon until we got so bored that we walked a couple of long blocks away from the bus around 4pm to find a little "donor kebab" stand and had some really great falafel and chicken sandwiches. The owner of the stand asked us if we had falafel in America and I wanted to tell him that they sold it at McDonald's. As we stood there, a large man with a small screaming baby in a baby-carraige came by and bought two small bottles of vodka, and another large man in his 50s laughed at Rick as Rick dripped falafel juice all over his plastic 15$ Wal-Mart jacket. Rick says this is "schadenfreude" - the German word for "taking pleasure in someone else's misery." Rick is fascinated by the fact that the Germans actually have a word - ONE word - to describe this. The man was laughing and talking to us in German and pointing at Rick's sleeve as Rick dropped another tomato onto the ground, "Ho Ho Ho, blaga blaga blaga blaga..." (a lot of German.) We couldn't say anything back to him because none of us know German; we had no idea what he was talking about. I was still laughing about it later because Rick was sure the guy was saying, "Ho Ho Ho, You Silly, Clumsy American; You have Spilled Tomato Juice All Over Your Jacket, and it is Giving Me Great Pleasure to See You In This State."

Movies, Movies, Movies

So what did we do on our day off? We watched movies in the bus, as the sun set, and it got colder and colder and colder, because the bus wasn't "on." Each time Darren (SPBT's drummer) got up enough courage to go through the "turning on the heat procedure," billows of smoke poured out of the bus and scared us half-to-death, so we'd turn it off. Mario, the bus driver, and most of the others were out running around town looking at the greyish palaces. So as it grew colder and colder outside, we huddled together in our blankets and watched some movie with Bruce Willis as a "Boat Cop" and also watched "Silence Of The Lambs." Later on it got so cold we just sort of sat outside the club and tried to figure out what to do; we were going to build a bonfire in the parking lot. I think our brains were freezing over. There was a small rave going on tonight at the club outside the bus, where Amy (t-shirt+tour mascot) and Jean-Luis and a couple of others went, but the rest of us spent a night quietly at home in the tour bus. Mike (SPBT's guitar) said something about how the last thing he wanted to do on his night off was go out and party. I thought that was weird.

Touring like this is a lot like camping.


Monday March 4th, Potsdam, Germany

It feels like we've been here forever, parked in this little courtyard. At least the bathrooms are very nice and the shower works great - and we visited our friend at the kebab stand again this afternoon. A lot of touring is just waiting around, which is what we did this afternoon. The best thing that happened today is that we discovered art installations all over the "club" compound that we are staying at - there is a huge concrete room with two grey figures that look like a man and a woman, and a bunch of bright orange hippity-hoppitys - you know, those huge balloons with handles that you sit on, and a lot of colored tape on the ground. You walk through a little corridor and see a couple of lights and a metal grid and some other machines, and then you get to this other large concrete room filled with balloons in, you guessed it, the shape of a nuke!


Tuesday March 5th, Copenhagen, Denmark

Terror on the Ferry

At 6am this morning I heard us drive over the speed bumps of the ferry and then I watched as Jean-Luis hurriedly jumped out of the bus and lock it. Then I heard the alarm of the ferry starting to move and I realized that I was still in the bus, and the ferry was moving. When the ferry is moving you cannot go up the stairs from the part with the vehicles to the part where the people are required to be. So I listened to all the buzzers and alarms and announcements telling people to leave the vehicle area NOW, and got out of my bunk, to see if I was the only one left in the bus. It turns out that almost everyone was still in their bunks. I was terrified- if the ferry goes down, the vehicles area gets filled with water first! Then I thought, what if they suck out all the air from the bottom of the ferry? What if they depressurize it? I was sure we were headed for instant doom, but then I fell back asleep. I'm writing this later on tonight, so obviously we've all survived, but all day today I've been in different groups of us where someone has said quietly, "did anyone get out on the ferry last night?" I guess we were all trapped in the bus.

Denmark is Beautiful and Weird

When you get to Denmark, you can tell you're not in Germany anymore. Lots of colors and different fonts on signs, and the words are all twice as long, and you still can't understand them, but it's funnier. I wish we had more time here, but we have to play and then get back on that ferry back to Germany. This show may have been the smallest attended show. Darren has apologized to us now for bringing us on tour with them and not having more people show up but he doesn't realize that there are way more people at each show then were at our last tour. This is a dream for us. But as Mike said today, it's sort of like starting all over again as a new band, the way we did so long ago, playing songs no one knows to new people who've never seen us.

MICROWAVE

Mario finally bought a microwave for the bus today, and he is "pleased as punch." The other night as we drove out of Holland, we noticed we had stopped at every single gas station leading out of the country, and found it was because Mario had to buy a microwave, and he had to buy it in Holland for some reason. When he couldn't find one that night, the next night, we stopped at another gas station (BP, by the way) and Amy said, "We'll find you a microwave here, Mario" and then Mario made a very unhappy noise, and I swear I heard Jean-Luis say something to Amy about "remember our discussion yesterday" and Amy said, "oh yeah, not reopening old scars." I left the front of the bus. It would be so easy to offend someone from another country. Mario seems very ...uh... sensitive. But anyway, today he has a microwave and he's happy.

In fact, he was so happy that he was standing by the microwave swearing at it and I noticed it looking very bright in there. "Fuck! It isn't working. It is making a loud noise, isn't it?" Some other people were standing next to him trying to convince him not to put metal in the microwave. "Yes, it looks really pretty, but it's not good for the microwave," I think I heard one of the Steel Pole guys say. Now I have something else to be terrified of.

I should talk about the hygiene of the bus, Rick tells me. The bus is in absolutely beautiful condition, and smells sort of like coconut and chemicals, which is amazing considering there are 13 people peeing in here and being denied showers on a daily basis. The carpeting on the bus looks brand new and each day Mario scrubs it and gets it clean. Today I noticed a sign with a skull and cross-bones on it that said, "WIPE YOUR FEET BEFORE YOU GET ON THE BUS" on the door. I guess Jim got yelled at. Jim has told all of us to make sure our feet are wiped now. Mike's feet got checked tonight when he entered the bus. Everyone is a little afraid of upsetting Mario. We are all trying to figure out how to get him to stop so we can get some food. Denmark's food tray was rather skimpy.

Frolicking on the ferry

When we went back on the ferry I think there was only about 10 other people on the whole boat besides our 'party, ' and most of us were still... uh... celebrating being on tour. I can't imagine what the people who run the restaurants and the perfume shops thought about us - maybe they were as entertained as we were!

 

 

 

 


Wed Mar 6, Hamburg, Germany

Peek

I have started counting absurdities on tour now, possibly to cheer myself up. It's a good way to cope with things when they are not completely comfortable, and you don't want to complain because you have no right to complain.

Number One Absurdity: My morning ritual now: each morning around 8am when I feel the bus stop, I fall asleep. Then I wake up around 1 or 2pm and look out my little bunk window to see where we are. Each morning is totally different. This morning I see we are in a little parking alcove and I look up and see walls everywhere. We appear to be in the middle of Hamburg, tons of power lines and traffic and huge buildings everywhere. It's the color of a sky in a William Gibson book, the color of static, and nobody in the band is in sight. I get out of the bus and walk around a little and wait for someone to yell something in German at me; lately I haven't really walked around outside at all for fear of having to interact with people. Sometimes it's just too much trouble to make them understand that you can't understand them.

The show tonight is in a huge regular type of venue, and there is a bigger show going on at the same time as us, Lagwagon, a band from the US is playing to a huge crowd in a huge room across the hall from our small show. I've never heard of them, but they seem very nice. They say they are "not punk, definitely more metal." Then they say something about Green Day. It makes me think that Green Day has done the same thing for bands who called themselves "punk" as Pearl Jam has done for bands who called themselves "alternative," sort of makes you not want to use that word anymore for your own band. No offense to either of those bands.

Germans are very straightforward

They will come up to you after you play and tell you in no uncertain terms whether or not they liked you. Before their show, the poor singer of Lagwagon told me that his throat was killing him all day and that he was worried about not being able to sing well. After the show I saw him (I was in a terrible mood) and he asked how our show went and I told him it was terrible. I didn't think the audience liked us at all. (Mike confirmed this later; we don't sound like the Melvins.) Then he (Lagwagon singer) told me that after they had finished, a guy came up to him and said, (now imagine this with a very, very slow, even toned German accent) "I liked you last year when your band was here but today I think your singing was shit. Are you the same singer as the last time you were here?"

Now I really feel terrible. All I can think of is that we have made a terrible mistake thinking we could play to Steel Pole Bath Tub's fans in Europe. The Europeans just sit and stare at us, and to me, it's a good bet that if they are wearing black leather and chains that they are not groovin' to "He's My Star." Everything is so dirty and grey outside and cold. I have to get out of this country.


Thu Mar 7, Dudigen, Switzerland

Today I wake up and peek outside the window and we are in the middle of a cornfield, and it's beautiful and sunny outside! There are a couple of farmhouses off in the distance and I notice white pieces that look like shells embedded in the ground so I figure we're near water! A little investigation proves that we are completely in the middle of farmlands, near a body of water that splits German-speaking Switzerland and French-speaking Switzerland. I went out walking and met an old man who spoke about a million different languages- except English. I had to try to speak Spanish to him. It's still very cold out but at least it's semi-warm inside the little "Bad Bonn" clubhouse, where we play tonight. This place is just filled with local people; it seems like we're in the middle of Wyoming or something like that.

SURROGAT

I haven't talked at all about the other band on the tour yet; they are Surrogat and they are from Germany. There are 3 people in the band, and they are very, very nice. I have asked their drummer, Mai-Linh to teach me German, since she speaks fluent German and English, among other languages. Surrogat has a definite Chicago-Albini-Bastro-JesusLizard Slant to them, and it is great fun for me to watch Mai-Linh because she is an excellent drummer and extremely graceful. It is Surrogat's equipment that we are using here. I hope somehow they will make it to the states so they can play to "normal" crowds - the crowds here in Europe leave something to be desired. They are just cold, mannequins most of the time.

Open Window Policy

In Germany, in each building we've been in, we've all noticed that even though it's about 20 degrees outside, every window in every building is open. Heaters are on, but the rooms are freezing because the windows are always open. It's the same everywhere. Mai-Linh has informed us that it is a German tradition to always have the windows open in each room because Germans love the fresh air.

Being In Switzerland

Switzerland just seems a little happier than Germany to me for some reason. Everything seems to work a little better and there are brighter colors. It might be just my imagination, but I am very happy to be away from a city. (Although that has its drawbacks: tonight Amy noticed a garbage can full of posters that Steel Pole had printed up especially for this tour. There was just no place to post them - unless they wanted to deface the trees around the area.)

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