Salaryman Europe Tour Part 2

Monday Aug 11- Going to the Netherlands

It's definitely time to leave London. London reminds me so much of New York City sometimes that it is scary. You can't understand anyone (even though they speak your language) and everything's really expensive. And the cities smell. And there's some whole culture underlying everyone and everything that you are not part of, in both London and New York. Come on; you know you don't get all the jokes in a Woody Allen movie unless you are from Manhattan.

Airpockets and Seagulls

The spectacle of the day for me was on the ferry between Dover, England (yes, the cliffs are white) and Calais, France. You drive your little van onto the ferry and then go upstairs, and since it is nice and warm out you can sit on the deck outside. The spectacle was that seagulls fly along with the ferry, hovering directly above it, so close you can reach out and touch them. I have never really been that close to a bird while it is flying. It's a really strange sight. They don't even flap their wings; they just sail inches from your head and then get picked up by upcurrents and air pockets.

Drive Through France, Belgium, and then Holland

It's really like driving through Indiana, Ohio, and then Pennslyvania. It's pretty scary how similar the coutryside looks. (sheesh.. i didn't mean to compare Indiana to France now, did i? Is it time to go home?)

I am fucking face to face with a (cr)Applebee's right now, on the outskirts of Nijmegen. It looks really, really weird because all the rest of the signs for the past hours have been in Dutch, and that is one of the weirdest looking languages I know of that uses the same letters as English.

For example:

I think it's a name of something

For dinner we ate french fries and fried hamburgers. I'm not joking. It seems like any food here has to be breaded and fried in order to be served. Rick says it's written on the flag.


We just got to the squat that we're playing at. We are sleeping upstairs on the floor - there are 5 mattresses laid out. We had trouble finding this place, and finally stopped in a little cafe that Alyson remembered and I noticed a bunch of gorgeous Salaryman fliers up on the walls!!! WOW!! The woman in the cafe came in the van with us and showed us how to get here to Extrapool!! I guess it is some sort of printing company, co-op or something. I don't really know how this stuff works, and will have to ask about it tomorrow. I am shy and terrified of asking people stuff, but I really want to know. I am ashamed that I don't speak Dutch; everyone here seems to speak perfect English.

The most impressive thing so far (besides the gorgeous fliers) is the next door computer room, where I almost tripped over myself running towards the computers. I guess I am slightly addicted to going on-line, even if only to update this site. You can feel power under your fingertips when your computer is online, can't you? And I haven't been able to do it, because the phone lines in the hotel were screwed, and I have forgotten all my damn phone adapters. So here is a roomful of Macs. The guy unplugged the modem's serial cable for me and I noticed right then that my designated provider for this journey, AOL, doesn't have a phone line in Nijmegen. Groningen, Amsterdam all have lines, but Nijmegan doesn't. Then I asked another guy at another computer if they have Fetch or FTP and he said, "It's Anarchie." I've never used anarchie. So I have now given up. If you have emailed me (and any of you on the listserv have!) I haven't been able to pick up email for a week.

And I feel kinda funny checking in front of these people. Who is poster kids?? I think I better stick all this on the Salaryman web page like, NOW.

Tuesday Aug 12- show in Nijmegen

It's after the show here. Everyone's asleep except me. I think the show went horribly today. It was a last-minute, thrown-together show, and there was about 15 people here, but I still think everything fell apart. It's SO hard to tell if we had a good show. The woman selling drinks complimented us, and our old European booking agent complimented us. That was it. Alyson said that the Dutch are known to be very, very laid back about complimenting people after a show. People sat and watched. The TV was playing some show about astronomy! They were talking about black holes and stuff, from what I gather. It was all in Dutch, so I had no idea what they were saying!! It sounded great along with the songs though. And at the end of the show, the TV spoke a sentence, loudly, in Dutch, and everyone laughed, so I turned it off quickly. I asked later what it said and people told me it said, "In two days time everything got a lot worse!" heh heh heh...shit, I hope not! 2 days from now is our big showcase at PopKomm, the German equivalent of CMJ, I guess.

The people at Extrapool

We were fed this extraordinary meal today on the roof of this co-op. There was a quiche with everything you could think of in it; eggs, toasted nuts, corn, green things, red things, pineapple!! Other dishes were rice, and then a salad with more nuts, tangerines, and pineapples. They have some big thing about pineapple here; you can get it in everything. I was so impressed with the food, I asked if they always eat like this here, and a girl replied that I was so impressed with the food because it was so "Colorific!" I was impressed with the many colors in it. Everyone here speaks such perfect English, it was funny to hear a word like that being used; almost like she saw it in a Jeans advertisement or something like that!

So tomorrow we're going to Texas. Oops, I mean Germany. I'm almost looking forward to it! Holland is SO STRANGE!!

Wednesday Aug 13- Hamburg, Germany

This morning the Dutch people were really nice to us, so I suppose we didn't play that badly last night? We had hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles) on bread and chocolate-hazelnut spread on bread, and jams and butters on bread. I think that if a European came to America, he'd have chocolate withdrawal symptoms. There are about 10 varieties of cookies that are 2 fist-sized crackers with chocolate spread on them in each country we go to, and I've really never seen that in America. Also, they eat a lot of spreads in Europe. That and meat.

We're finally in Germany now. It really does look like Texas. One of the Dutch persons said at dinner last night that people in Holland don't pay that much attention to German things, even though they are right next door to Germany. I asked why and he said that many are still mad at Germany because of the War. That seems so strange to me. When someone in America talks about the War now, they mean Desert Storm. This guy is not talking about that.

kids hanging around outside the bar after we played.. note the Man Or Astroman shirt

Tonight we played in a smelly little bar with toilets from the set of Trainspotting. The audience was really appreciative though, and some people even bought records. It was again a very small show, in fact, the stage was so small that Howie and I and Rick actually had a fight about it. I was telling Howie over and over again where to put stuff to give him the most room, he was completely tangled up in cords and trying to set his entire drumset, his drum machine and amp, and a box to stick his amp up on all in a space that was about the size of half a bed. That and it was about 100 degrees where we were all standing, no room, and no breeze. And no water without bubbles in it. Howie finally cracked and so did Rick. So I've been moping for a whole day now. I think it's a really bad cliche to have a band-fight in Europe; every band does it. We are not going to be Every band.


There was this huge carnival right across the street from the club - I wish I had taken pictures! I've never seen such a lavishly decorated fair; everything was exquisite, down to the prize displays. There were incredible candies - I saw bright silver-coated little candies, stuffed animals in the shapes of every vegetable you could imagine (including turnips), and the Grosstest Ferris Wheel in Der Welt (the biggest in the world.). The rides, normal carnival rides, all seemed to go faster and looked a lot more dangerous - it must be hard to sue people here when someone dies on a ride - and there were airbrushed paintings of some of the Baywatch crew on one of the entrances of a ride. The best thing I saw was a huge German woman playing that smash-a-wombat game, where the little creature pops up out of circular holes in front of you and you have to smash it - grasping the huge mallet in both hands, pounding on the little game surface, surrounded by her whole family cheering her on.

Graffitti Word Hunt

I keep seeing a word "totten" written in graffitti on the bathroom stalls. I wonder what it means. I thought maybe it was a swear word because it was used in conjunction with the word "Nazis."

Thursday Aug 14- Cologne, Germany

"It's Amazing. Garbage smells the same All over the world" -- Jim

That's the first thing I heard out of his mouth today. Maybe garbage smells the same, but the cows absolutely do not. The manure fields you pass here in Europe are as potent as fine french perfume; it almost smells like there has been some alcohol mixed in to make the smell stronger. It can make your eyes water, and you can feel it stinging the pores of your skin. I don't find it that unpleasant; how could something that natural be bad for you?

Today is our "real" show, the show at PopKomm, the German CMJ. I'm told people from all over Europe will be at PopKomm. I hope we play well. It's been very inconsistent lately. Sitting here in the van, I feel angry at everyone but I don't want to be mean to them because I don't want them to be mean back to me, so I just sit here and don't talk unless someone speaks to me, then I answer in a short sentence. It's an effort to stay mad, especially when you don't want anyone to know you're mad. Even more so, when you don't know why you're mad.

Ok, I found out what "Nazis Totten" means; it means "Kill Nazis." Duh.

Friday Aug 15- Koln, Germany

We are staying in the most beautiful hotel in the world. It's probably just average for Germany, also. We have the hugest bathroom with the hugest sink, and those gorgeous down comforters you encounter in European hotels. See in the picture, the thing at the foot of the bed looks like a pillow, but it's the down comforter, folded over once! (I hope you don't think I am that easily impressed)

I didn't write about our show yesterday because we ended up going on stage about 2:30 in the morning. That kinda sucked; some people stuck around, and I think we played a pretty good show! , In fact, yesterday and the day before were the first times in a Salaryman show that I actually felt like we were a "real" band, like the 10 years of Poster Children had actually paid off and we were playing together. I didn't even notice that the lights were on while we played! People seemed like they were smiling during our set, and some people looked like they were bouncing.

PopKomm Convention Center

Today we went to the convention center of PopKomm, which was about 5 times larger and scarier than any convention I have seen in New York. It went on forever, and there were so many booths! I wanted to go to the WEA booth and ask them about Poster Children, but I didn't dare. We had interviews all day today, non-stop. One of the interviewers, the best one, came in and at the beginning of the interview, told us that he hadn't had time to prepare for the interview because he stayed late to see our show last night, didn't know we were going on so late, and all his friends and his ride left, so he didn't have a place to stay last night. So he watched our show until it ended and then he slept in the park. So he didn't have time to prepare questions. I think the guilt factor alone prompted us to be interesting.

We also saw the Kitty-Yo booth, which is a small German label that Surrogat (remember them?!!) run, and we heard that Patrick was around, and looked all over for him but kept missing him. They are playing tonight, too, but we won't be able to see them because they are too far away, we don't have badges for the convention, and we have no ride. It's hard to get around in a city where you don't know the language. We told everyone we encountered to say "hi" to them for us.

City Slang

Later Christof, the person who runs City Slang, our European label for Salaryman (we are labelmates with Tortoise, Trans Am, Superchunk, Jawbox, pretty much every great band you've ever heard of, and now HOLE!!) took us out to dinner to a fancy German restaurant where the waiter scolded us for not knowing German. We talked about coming back here, about doing a remix for a Salaryman song, and everything else in the world. I am so happy to finally be on a good label in Europe that cares about us; if Poster Children had been on this label back in the days that Indie Rock was hot in Europe, we'd be way more famous over here. He really, really knows his shit!

Actually another amazing thing about Christof is that he knows American slang to the point of being really upsetting. I've heard him say "The cops have already been upstairs twice at this show," and I heard him say "Fuck that shit," once. With just a slight German accent. And I guess he's never lived in America. It took a couple of hours to put 2 and 2 together and realize his label is called "City Slang" (a quote from a song).. I wonder if he was inspired to learn slang.... Alyson said she used to intern at City Slang and when she wrote some sort of press release, he corrected her English.

I'm actually having kind of a hard time writing about him because I think he may be reading this. Hi Christof!

Beavis And Butthead

I saw 2 huge 15-foot tall, walking Beavis and Buttheads, really thin but perfectly accurate costumes, coming straight at me on the convention center floor, I stared at them for a little while as they came closer, and then finally screamed, "AAAAAGGGGGHHH!!!!" and it must have scared the hell out of them, because they clasped their two hands together, bent their heads down and slunk off to the side of me, tails between legs. Then I felt bad for 2 hours afterwards for scaring them. Inside must have been two extremely polite but probably very shaken Europeans..

Saturday Aug 16- Hasselt, Belgium

Try to figure out what language the people in Belgium speak. It's either French, German, Flemish, or all 3 at the same time. Or that is Flemish. Like Dutch, it just looks like someone stuck a bunch of random letters together and then choose places to stick some double OOs and AAs. "Scoor met netheid"... "Eet Smakelijk!" "Heerlijke stukjes kipfilet in een knapperig korstje." Those last two sentences are from a McDonald's menu. I think the word for MEAT is "vlees."

We played in a huge club tonight on a huge stage, in front of maybe 40-60 people. I'm not sure. We got an encore, but Rick says it was a "sympathy encore" because we went back onstage too early after we finished, and so people thought we were going to play another encore. The crowd started doing that "CLAP! CLAP! CLAP! CLAP!" thing though, where they all clap together, so it seemed like a real encore to me. Especially for Europe! The soundguy seemed impressed; he said the audience there is usually very quiet and it's very rare that we get a "Bis". "HUH?" I said. "An extra song," he replied.. (hm....!) Today we used Jim's radio instead of attempting (almost always in vain) to receive a broadcast transmission over the TV. It worked great!

The guy who opened the show was called "Buscemi" and it was just a guy standing up on stage with a keyboard, a little box that said "Roland" on it, and a CD PLAYER. He started the CD player which I think probably had all the drum beats, and then played some keyboards along with it. Sometimes he went over to the other box that said "Roland" on it.

I thought about this for a long time. The music that was coming out of the speakers was great rave/dance music, although once in a while I heard chords that sounded kinda cheesy (but I forgive because he's from Belgium), but how do we know what sounds he was making and what sounds were just straight off of the CD? It was so confusing! I thought that maybe it would be cooler if he had more people on stage with him, at least then it would look like there was work being done. The guy who interviewed us tonight was just as confused as I was about this whole thing. How do you know whether or not to respect this guy if all he's doing is playing along to a CD? To his credit, he usually has a drummer with him, and the drummer has tendonitis today so couldn't play.

This whole thing brings up the question though, as the interviewer said last night, of the differences between rock'n roll and this electronic music. In Indie Rock, he said, you can tell who is doing the work, who is making the noise, you know there are no tapes behind it. (most of the time!) but in this music, with 4 people standing behind keyboards (ok, 3) you don't know who is pressing which button to make which noise, and how long and involved the noise is behind the button. I mean, I could just go out and stick a CD player on the stage and press the PLAY button. Could I get paid for that?