I’m forever living in the past, in a nostalgia fuelled world where I’ve decided recently to re-read the Harry Potter books and on Wednesday I’m going to see Goldfinger, and I am constantly playing the Tony Hawk video games that made me discover the band in the first place. Does anyone have that stupid app on their phone Timehop? Considering I go for a large amount of poo’s (in one of my former workplaces my boss got obsessed with the idea I was going to the toilet too much that he actually bought it up in a management meeting), I need a few apps on my phone to provide enough poo-time reading, even if they are annoying. Timehop is great if you like to dwell on the past and see how much better of a time you were having a year ago. Last week when I sat down for my second poo of the day and having already been through Instagram I went ahead to check out what I was doing one year ago, and behold was one of the very few selfies I have ever taken, and certainly one of the more controversial photos for my family to see, me sat in a café in Amsterdam with a joint in my mouth, with my ever so humorous caption ‘Abiding by the law in Amsterdam’. More importantly this photo meant that one year ago, I was on tour around Europe with my charismatic group of friends who collectively play music under the name Will Tun and the Wasters.
Before leaving on tour I was in a weird place in life, although it wasn’t even quite a month since I had put on perhaps the greatest event I have ever done – Fishstock 2014, life was pretty shit. The week before Fishstock after finishing to pay for everything I needed to (posters and t-shirts mostly) I found the cash machine refusing to give me any money, apparently I had reached my overdraft limit, it was great to be working full time to basically have no money constantly. It was like I was waking up each morning to go work horrible shift patterns and be treated like a piece of poo all day just for fun. Then I get a text, or a phone call, I don’t remember in enough detail but Will Tun and the Wasters were heading to Europe for a tour the next week and at the last minute they had a drop-out meaning a spare seat in the van if I wanted it. After going through a bit of inner turmoil for a few days about whether I should go or not, about the fact I would probably have to lose my job for skipping it for a whole week and the fact I didn’t have enough money as it was. Who was I kidding? Obviously I was going to go, so the day before leaving I found myself going in the office at work and putting it straight with them what I was going to do, then taking out the last £100 in my bank account to turn into euros and before I knew it we were in a van heading towards Dover.
What followed was potentially the greatest week of my life, I had basically no money, I could be about to lose my job, but more importantly I had some adventuring to do and my best friends to share some epic memories with. It’s almost emotional looking back on it.
The first date of the tour was the unbelievable El Topo Goes Loco, organised by the absolute hero that is Jason Berden, it was a great way to ease into tour considering we got there in time to catch our friends in Faintest Idea playing, and various other friends of ours from the UK scene were about for the event, the sort of event that is everything I dream Fishstock to one day be.
After that messy night and the second night in a row I slept uncomfortably in a van, we attempted to get Ivo who has no recollection of this into the van so we could head to Antwerp for the second date where I piled my face into various portions of incredible chips and all the cherry beer I could handle (seriously the most tasty beer I’ve ever had). A few years ago Joe had randomly befriended this evening’s intriguing promoter and party planner Bert, who very kindly offered his 1 bedroom flat to have our 9 smelly bodies on the floor that night after what was maybe one of the more chilled dates on the tour in a café, but with some mad techno DJing going on before and after the Wasters played. We also managed to have a fierce football battle with some local kids, in which Wasters FC won, definitely much to the dismay of our opponents who I feel might have been taking it a lot more seriously than us.
The third show was in Amsterdam, by this point most of us were a bit worse for wear, Johnny had fucked his knee by acting like a moron on the ferry and Jared was back in England getting emergency dental treatment, but our moods were still high, especially the few of us who were excited to be high in a different respect at the first café we saw. The show that night was in the fantastic Valreep squat which has very very sadly and unfortunately been evicted since (following the eviction they gave one hell of a fight). It was possibly the best venue on tour, and although the gig was a bit weird, if my hazy memory can recall the first band that played were a Polish grindcore band. We definitely connected with the place well, their garden was very attractive and the squat had a great feel to it, having won community awards it was clearly an asset to the local area, even if they did unfortunately have to have some tight security to avoid eviction and the fairly unpleasant security troll who I assumed worked for the government, who refused to let us drive over the one bridge to get to the squat (we had to wait for her to finish work before we could drive through hassle free).
It was sad to leave Amsterdam but the next day was just as great, hitting Groningen in Holland at another squat, this one being in a former pizza restaurant! Possibly the greatest date of the tour in terms of turnout, the gig was opened by someone from the New York squat scene who’s name I really can’t remember and the main support was from the unbelievably good Shitfaced Mermaids who had an array of great instruments including someone playing the saw! It’s fair to say they blew each one of us away with their performance, which has been particularly freshened in my mind recently as their lead singer Rover has been on tour with my friends Ash Victim and Revello, was great to hear some of those songs live again.
Heading to Germany next we headed to Cologne and the Sonic Ballroom venue, which was perhaps the one date of the tour that was a gig in the traditional sense, but was just as equally awesome as the other dates, we got treated well and support band Scruffyheads were also great. We got to stay in actual beds that night, upstairs in the venue, which was definitely some much needed comfort mid-tour. The free wi-fi meant we streamed some Adventure Time that night too! Alas, in the morning, the inevitable had happened and our precious van had been smashed – thank fuck none of us slept in it that night. Joe has merely gone off to grab his toothbrush to have a mini-heart attack when he found the police outside the van. A much bigger lorry had backed into our poor beautiful van which had smashed the shit out of the side, thankfully although it may have pushed us back a few hours, we managed to DIY it back, and by DIY I mean we replaced a window with lots of cardboard and duct tape and fixed another smaller window that’s needed to see the wing mirror with a transparent plastic folder. The bigger hold up was running Ivo to hospital after he managed to get glass in his eye – yet another tour injury.
Relentless, we eventually made it to the next gig, if that’s what you could call it. Not long before the tour Joe had managed to blag an acoustic set at an occupation camp at Hambacher Forest in Germany. Certainly a date we were all looking forward to, if only to show our support for the protest going on. Every day parts of this beautiful forest we were lucky enough to walk through are torn and burnt down in the name of coal mining, with the world’s largest excavator, which having seen with my own eyes the horrific scale of this machinery but also the amount of wiped out forest going for miles and miles it definitely put a chill down my spine and felt like breaking into the land of a billionaire Bond villain – not long after we inspected this area in daylight we were told it was ‘forbadden’ by some not overly friendly security types. The night itself is certainly one I will always remember, after the Wasters’ had played their set there was jamming full into the night as everyone became more and more intoxicated, and at the stroke of midnight it had become Will Tun’s birthday, as if we needed more reason to keep celebrating. Despite such horrible happenings elsewhere in the forest that our excellent hosts were fearlessly fighting against (and good on them), being at Hambacher Forest was only a very positive and incredible experience, unless you count when a bunch of Nazi’s turned up to shout abuse, that was an interesting one, thankfully they were all talk and ran off as soon as approached.
The final tour date was now upon us, heading to MC Amalgam’s hometown, our long-time friend from Reading who eventually became a core part of Will Tun and the Wasters and was obviously on tour with us. Arriving at the venue we had perhaps been in the van a bit too long but the beautiful site right outside the venue Bar La Gouille which unfortunately I believe has closed now but was run by a friend of MC Amalgam who treated us with perhaps the greatest hospitality I’ve ever experienced at a gig, with a selection of delicious beers at an open bar as well as some real high quality food, they really knew how to treat us and naturally it being the final date we all went pretty hard. A great end to the tour with some great company.
So heading home was definitely a depressing experience, although I did find time to grab a fresh pain au chocolat for the journey and having left MC Amalgam behind to spend time with his family we found room to take a hitchhiker along for a while – which in retrospect was maybe a bad move considering we were very tight on time to make our ferry. After getting flagged at the border and having to queue up to get our passports scanned despite the ferry leaving in very few minutes we did make it. That ferry however was possibly the most depressing hour or two of my life, I feel I may have ran away from my problems a bit and in the process had the most fun of my life, but the idea of returning home was certainly not a good feeling. Although I did manage to keep my job, which is kind of sad in a way, and the week of money I lost for not turning up for a week didn’t do me many favours.
Now a year on and I’m pondering if I should take the offer of my friends in Triple Sundae who are off to Greece in a few weeks to join them on their tour, although I have no job right now to walk out of and even less money in my bank compared to a year ago so might not be the wisest move. I may well say fuck it and do it anyway. Fortunately at the very least me and my pals Bandits are going to head on a Euro tour this October so I’ll be able to have a bit of mad adventuring this year, whatever the fuck my bank balance might look like!