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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Whiskey Daredevils Tour Diary — Day 1: Donkmeer Belgium

Posted By on Thu, Jun 18, 2009 at 8:59 AM


The Whiskey Daredevils just returned from a road trip in Europe. Frontman Greg Miller fills us in on what happened.

I walked through the Cleveland airport and spotted Leo sitting by himself at the gate. It was like seeing him through the eyes of a stranger. Mismatching tattoos and wild facial hair helped create a two-seat buffer between him and legitimate citizens waiting for their flight. As we always have to do things on a shoestring budget, we were all on different flights. I was flying on Continental on frequent flier miles. Leo was on Delta as it was the cheapest fare. Ken and Gary had flown out yesterday, Ken to Frankfurt while Gary went to Amsterdam to catch a day with his girlfriend.

Christoph, our German driver/merch guy/fellow adventurer, would pick us up at the Frankfurt Airport. The key things you need to know about Christoph are as follows:

1) He is very distrustful of anyone different than himself. He doesn’t just believe that the German way of doing things is best. It’s his particular region’s way of doing things that is best. If he thinks an East German is dodgy, imagine what he thinks of a random French guy.
2) He is extremely organized. There is a “masterplan” for everything. I mean, EVERYTHING. He has a plan for driving into Barcelona. He also has a plan for how we will maximize our breakfast at a Swiss hostel, or most efficiently make a rest stop. He has a plan for what he will drink at lunch. It’s all in the masterplan.
3) He exclusively wears camouflage pants and black t-shirts.
4) He may have made the two most impressive park jobs in a tour van I have ever seen or heard about.

Ken had emailed me upon his arrival in Frankfurt. He had made the ill-advised decision to have herring and apple wine for his meal. While that would probably be my last choice of a meal, Ken had decided to go totally native and blend in any way possible. I don’t know how diarrhea will make you native, but it’s his call. With his clunky black shoes and blocky black glasses, I am confident that “The Jackal” will be in country and totally blended in…

I bid Leo goodbye and walk down to my gate. I would connect in Newark, and see Leo in Frankfurt where we both landed at roughly the same time. My flight to Newark is uneventful, and I wait to board the Frankfurt leg next to a gate going to Bombay. An entire plane load of Indians wait to board, and I once again search for the reason why there are no attractive Indian women over the age of 40. How can this be? Plenty of fashionably dressed exotic women in their twenties compete for men’s attention at the gate. Meanwhile, dumpy stern hairy older women wrestle with screaming grandchildren. What happens? Do these beautiful young girls marry and then quickly “give up”, resigned to lives with heavy handed mustached fireplugs of men? I ask you, have you ever seen an attractive Indian woman older than 35? Ever?

I stand in line trying to understand the unintelligible Puerto Rican Continental employee say into the intercom “ContinentalFlight156GoingToHumInAHumInAHumInA…” A serious German man with multiple piercings stares stoically while standing a little too close to me. I pray he doesn’t sit next to me. He seems like he will expressionlessly ask me if I need a place to stay while in Germany. If you took him up on it, he would take you to his apartment, forcefully hold you down with a blank facial expression and puncture your testicles with knitting needles while saying “Das gut? Ja?”.

It turns out OK. I wind up sitting next to a Panamanian gynecologist. How great is that? It’s like the perfect opening line to a joke. “So I’m flying to Germany with a Panamanian gynecologist, and …” He shares his trail mix with me, tells me about Peru, and tells me he likes to get up out of his seat every 20 minutes or so. I tell him that’s not going to happen today, and he remains captured in his window seat.

The flight passes without incident and Leo and I get picked up by Ken and Christoph in the LSD Trips van. Once again, we have rented a tour van from a company that thinks it’s a good idea to put “LSD Trips” on the side of their vans. It’s really big by Euro standards, and has a sleeping loft on top that we apparently can never use due to a myriad of regulations we would be breaking. Leo and I manage to get about 30 minutes of sleep on the way to the first show in Belgium, about a 5 hour drive away. At this point it its Saturday afternoon, and I last slept on Thursday night. I am in that weird dream like trance that comes from no sleep and too much air travel.

The show is at a “Tattoo Convention and Rockabilly Meeting” or so the event poster says. I like the idea of the “rockabilly meeting”. It’s like a bunch of pompadour guys with flaming skull tattoos sit around a conference table discussing rockabilly topics. “Gentlemen, before we move on ahead on the docket, can we get an agreement on the Betty Page referendum?”

The room is a small convention center with a large stage set up in the middle. To the left are twenty booths where tattoo artists are busy giving new ink to excited attendees. Passerbys look on while freakishly tattooed artists ink people up. A man with half of his head shaved gets a lightning bolt applied to his skull. Another man bleeds freely as his entire back is being done in a smiling skull. An 11-year-old boy gets his first tattoo as his proud father looks on approvingly. To the right are booths selling t-shirts, and one lonely booth selling rubber sex toys. Yeah, it’s a weird scene.

“ “ the rock n roll photographer shows up with a “Hello I’m here!”. It is only then I vaguely remember responding to an email inquiry from her. She is working on a book shooting rock bands as they go about their business, and wants to shoot us. Hey, fine by me. I wish I wasn’t so jet lagged and out of it as I struggle to try and make small talk with her. She seems to be OK about it though, and gets to work while we start to set up.

As with all European Tours, the equipment is fucked up. Carmen, our booking agent, calls Manny, who has to drive in from an hour away with new amp heads for the guitars. We’ll be starting an hour late, but Mario the promoter doesn’t seem to care. We drink tiny 6 oz glasses of Bel pilsner and wait.

The show goes like I thought it would. People stand at the bar or sit passively at tables while we try to dial in the strange and unfamiliar gear. We play OK, the crowd is reasonably entertained, and we relax for a quick meal. At the meal, Carmen once again hits me up for postage for the gig posters. This has become the hot potato as the cost of mailing the gig posters has gone from band to booking agent to label back to band. Times must be tough, as she has been on me like a cheap suit for the 200 euros the postage allegedly ran. After we go over a few of the gig details, and Carmen heads back to wherever it is exactly she lives in Belgium and I retreat back to my jet lag haze.

Leo has decided to go out and party with Bux, tomorrow’s afternoon show promoter. This is sure to be a long night as Bux is a True Professional. (Longtime Daredevil fans may remember him from last year as the guy that through that legendary biker party.) Gary and his girlfriend Michelle go out with their mutual friend Sasha for some high-powered ale. Christoph, Ken, and I head back to the “private apartment” that had been set up for us in Wetteran.

The apartment turns out to be part of a larger building. It is basically a three unit duplex probably built in the late 1800s, but our host family owns just one of the three apartments. The best part of the apartment is the staircase. It is impossibly steep, like a glorified ladder. It is almost impossible to walk upstairs in my cowboy boots, so I have to do a weird side step while tensely hold onto the ladder so as to not fall down and break my spine. You would have to be a goddamn billygoat to live here. Christoph remarks, “It would be impossible to live here and drink beer. The guys that lived here must have been straight edge.” Hence, it becomes known as the “Minor Threat Apartment”.

Another down side is that there is no bathroom in it, so a short walk is necessary to get to the main house. This comes into play about 3 am when Ken has to take a leak due to a couple of pre-bedtime Juliper beers. Not wanting to make the “straight edge deathwalk”, he makes a decision to take a leak into a small grate that is just outside the front door of the apartment on the small sidewalk. Everything is going just fine until he hears a couple voices walking down the previously completely abandoned little neighborhood. Since he is standing there in his basically pissing in the middle of the sidewalk, he pinches it off and retreats back to the apartment to wait it out until they pass by. The surprise comes when the people turn the corner, and walk right past the curtainless window of the room to see Ken is standing there. While Ken is standing there dumbfounded, they knock on the glass, and wave “Hullo!”. I guess they weren’t too spooked by an American in pajama pants holding his cock at 3 am.

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