Friday 20 June 2014

Tour Diary - Gozu Euro Tour 12th - 25th April 2014

First week of Gozu Tour

First off, I will try to remember as much as I possibly can. If I forget a name or an instance, then I probably was not into it. Keep in mind, if I forgot and remembered when somebody told me, now that is a fucking great night.

The thing is, if you have met us, we are all very different characters and that is why we get along so well. Each member has a uniqueness about them that lends it way to doing shit that the others plain do not feel like doing and it works well as moments seems to fall into place for us.  So, do yourselves a favor, put on some nice music, keep an open mind and join us for a few of the places we were able to grace. There is no behind the music bullshit or any turmoil. This was truly 16 days of 4 guys having an incredible fucking time. I mean this with all of my heart as the shit we did and saw together was amazing.

Here we go, Roadburn.  Saturday, and it was beautiful day for a show. We get there and this place is hopping like nothing I have ever witnessed. The band checks in and we are shown where we will be playing and the gear is all set for us to use. I mean, we did not have to move a muscle.  They set up all the gear and let us do our thing before we even got there. It was like being in a guitar shop and just pointing to stuff and telling them to put it on the Underhills tab.

They take us to our dressing room where there is a fridge stocked with beers and waters. We grab a few beers and take a walk around. Now understand, these shows run like a clock, pure professionalism at its finest and nice as can be. Any question, bam answered, wanna know where something is, it’s right there, need to know whom to ask for something, he is right in front of you. We are talking making shit happen and they were all incredibly willing to make the event the shiznit.

Back to the dressing room and in walks Ben Ward from Orange Goblin. It was great to meet Ben as I have spoken to him via email and he has great ties to Boston via the ass kickers themselves, Roadsaw. Now I am 6’4 270, Ben is the size of a small condo in Charlestown, MA. He is perhaps one of the nicest gents you could ever meet. He was the tour manager for the Texas band, Scorpion Child.

It is time for us to hop on the stage and let the rock fucking roll. We perform our ritual shot of whiskey, crush a few cold ones and proceed to fucking destroy the green room. A special thing about the gig was JJ from the Obelisk was there, right in the front row. If you know JJ, he can certainly bring a smile to your face as he is one of the true rock ambassadors of the musical genre we play. Seeing JJ brought the bands performance to a new level, so Thank you JJ for everything you do and continue to do for us, we are humbled. It was a packed house and we certainly aimed to please and from the applause I would say we did.

The energy in that room was infectious. Heads bopping, asses shaking and a wonderful aroma making its way through the building. The sound was impeccable. Now that is where the man with a plan comes in, Saso Kotnick, our tour manager. This guy is the real deal, a true motherfucking badass in every way possible.  He had the sound so dialed in that it was a pleasure to play. We finished the set and then came on and did an encore that was met with tremendous applause. From there, the band set out to enjoy ourselves fueled by a river of whiskey and pure delightfulness. One of the highlights of the show for me was watching Doug rip the fuck out the tunes. For me, there is not a more soulful motherfucker in the world than he. He laid down the thickest riffs during the set and danced like a thicker Travolta from Staying Alive. Yeah the one where he is an actual performer on a wonderful dance set, Travolta, but Doug also. Each night, he has the energy of a 20 year old kid and has fun every time we play. He is a catalyst if there ever was one.

Joseph and Hubbs were so tight that the rhythm made me feel like I could do this all night long like Lionel Ritchie if I needed too. The interplay between the two was so right on. Every thump, upbeat, crash, the two executed with flawlessness.  I am pretty blessed to look over my shoulder and to the side and know that I have 3 pretty much insane fuckos that are gonna put the hammer down every night. That night, they had a fucking air gun, shabang bitches.

There was a kind area where merch was being sold and the band decided to hang as it was such a nice day. Here we met people from all over the world that dug the band. Therefore, that brought on shots, beers and chatting with people that had a fondness for Graham Nash. The interesting fact is how sincere people were. They go to these shows because simply put, they love music. They get off on it and we in turn get to turn them on with what we do, play music we love to make and perform. When you can truly turn someone on with any type of art, it is a magical feeling. Abracadabra.

We meet one of the production cats that could not be nicer and he was a fan of the music and certainly made our stay a better time, if you dig. He did not miss a beat either while helping us. Taking care of business and making the world a better place. He looked like a young Lowell George and was our Rock n Roll Doctor.  We went back to the dressing room to grab a few more beers and we were able to speak with Ben, which for me was a true highlight of the day as he is such a revered figure and after you meet and converse with him, it is so evident why. Thank you very much Ben for your kindness and words of wisdom.  Hubbs and I spent some time chatting with guys from other bands in this crazy glass room they have at Roadburn. It is a treat and if you are there, pop in and enjoy the serenity of it.

While strolling back to the merch area, we met a great guy from Italy that was a true character, this motherfucker lived life to the fullest and loved music. We saw him at Desertfest and he was again great to hang with. So upbeat about the whole scene and just putting a smile on the faces of all of us. Thank you sir.

As the show boiled down, it was early and there was a lot of life left to be lived. We had heard about a place called the little devil and decided to make our way over to see what the happs was. It was pure heaven. People are chatting with us about the show, certain music and there were a few Fathers and Sons that were at their first Roadburn together and were thanking us for making it a memorable time. That was pretty heavy. I can probably equate that to the time my dad told my mom we were going to see some bullshit movie and he took me to see Lone Wolf McQuade, starring Chuck Norris.

Within 2 mins, after chatting, it was on. This place had a dollar beers and 2 dollar shots. I decided to order 8 shots just to see if it was true, 16 dollars please, I said you gotta be shitting me and it was true. Bang bang, you’re it. This wonderful room quickly became known as the Hesher Prom. I can still see the grin on Hubbs face; I am laughing thinking about it. Guys were literally passing out on the bar. A few of them would be chatting with us and all of sudden be slipping into darkness. What the fuck. A few kids threw up right at the bar. Then, without missing a beat ask us if we wanted another shot. Well, when in Rome, or the Netherlands.
To our delight they had a backroom that opened up, 'A-fucking-men.' The room was straight out of a Krokus video, bullet belts, studs; spandex pants and let me tell you, the night was going to get even better. It was packed and looked like a video was just shot and the extras were able to take over the bar.

By the time we rolled in, a DJ was spinning tunes of every genre available. I look up after ordering a few drinks and Doug is on the stage. What happened next was pure brilliance, that motherfucker got up there and sang along with Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing and the crowd went ape shit. Saso, Hubbs and I almost pissed our pants. He made Steve Perry an afterthought.  Hey Steve, fuck you, go back and sing for Journey and stop being a beeyatch.

Anything you could think of was going on in that club. Broken bottles just laying there, people dancing up a storm to anything from Dolly Parton’s Jolene to Lay it Down by Ratt. Smoke filled that place like someone had been asking if Dave was there if you get my drift. If not, go look it up.  I went to secure a few more beers and looking into the crowd I could not help but smile so goddam wide. I was beaming from ear to ear. Upon looking up all of us in the band were getting funky with patrons of the bar and it was pure Valhalla. Joe was holding court and he has such a way about him that people love chatting with him. The reason, he actually listens people and while crushing his 16th beer of the night, does not miss a beat.

The DJ took requests and on came Steelers Wheels, Stuck in the Middle with you. This song has always had a special place in my heart as during lacrosse games in High School my buddy and I would be on the field singing away while kicking the shit out of the other team. Steelers Wheel also made a wonderful appearance at the E2O club in Italy, hey now.  Simply put, we were wholeheartedly drizzed, had a superb day of music, hanging, meeting people and were on our way to such a wonderful and crazy fucking week. We hopped in the van, made it back and slept like newborns.

So now it is Sunday and we make our way to Hamburg. In the back of your mind you are probably thinking, it is a Sunday night, probs just chilled and took it easy. Well, you are fucking wrong.  We arrive in Hamburg and our met by our boy Alex. The reason this is a big deal as Alex is the artist behind the Locust and Fury Albums. What a super nice guy and fun to get to finally meet and hang with him. Great to talk about music and to get to personally thank him for the superb work he has done for the band.  Since it is a Sunday the opening band went on around 830. However, beers and drinks started flowing around 630. People started coming in and for a Sunday night, it was a nice crowd. What we did not know was that the people at the show knew our shit. There was one kid dancing like he was trying out for Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, starring Helen Hunt and the woman from Sex in the city. I can’t remember her name right now and really who fucking cares, lets’ get back to the kid.

He knew all the words to ‘Bald Bull’ and I was floored. Holy Shit, this kid was singing along with me, Take Me Away, like he was on Star Search and it was fucking good. While the two of us were speaking after he was telling me how he digs a lot of the Smallstone bands and was so thankful he got a chance to see us play and hang with us. To be honest, I probably dug hanging with him more than he did with us. That is the thing, when you get to meet such a genuine nice kid, and he is into what you are into, it takes things to such a nice hang. 

Thanks brophus.

The whole crowd was dancing and it was a hell of a show for a Sunday night. You can feel it onstage when people are into it. The last thing you want on a Sunday night is for people to be bored and looking like they would rather be passing a kidney stone. By the way that fucking blows. Nothing like a piece of shale ripping through your cock to see the light of day, check please.

We ended and the crowd wanted another tune, I broke into ‘Alone’ and Joe decided we were thirsty so he graciously went to the bar and got us shots and beers and when we kicked in, a beat was not missed.  From there we hit Brown Sugar and the place was fully into it. Dancing, swigging drinks, clapping, it was probs one of the best Sundays I have had in a while. Hubbs broke into a nice swing that Joe and I followed and Doug took a solo that was pure ice cream bang bang. Simply put, it was sexy and you could get your fuck on, if you were so inclined to that sort of thing.  We finish the set and the people could not have been nicer. One of the people went to Desertfest and introduced herself to us as we were walking in. If you read this, drop us a line so we can personally say Thanks.

So, we hang with the crowd, exchange a ton of laughs followed by the mantra of the week for Joseph and I, the common saying, “Gaff,  shot.”  The people in the bar were so gracious and really enjoyed the hang and treated us as nice as one could be treated. You all made us feel incredibly comfortable and for that we were able to have a fun show and an even better hang.

So, it is time for the crowd to leave but the bartender and a few of the workers at the bar decide that we should all have drinks together and let us know what and where we should go for the night.  The Bartender wanted a shirt and I asked if 8 shots would be ok, he chuckled and no shit lined them up like he was Tom Cruise in Cocktail. From that point on, it was pure nonsense. This guy kept pouring shots like he was on a mission to get us fucked up. Guess what, you served your mission well sir, we were speaking in tongues when we left.

They allowed us to leave our gear in the bar and told us we could load out in the am. How nice was this to hear, as hauling gear would not have been top of my list at that date and time, I and the band would have rather been monkey punched in the dick.  So, Hubbs, Joe, Dug, Saso and myself hop in the van and make our way to downtown Hamburg. If you have never been there, read up on it, it is funky up in the piece and I mean funky like ouch ouch you’re on my hair funky.

Saso takes us to a great bar called Lunacy with a nice crowd, great bartender and nice music filling the air.  Now 99 percent of the patrons were great, however, there was one guy that was a fucking assclown. If you need to look like Ben Foster from 30 Days of Night and foaming at the mouth, take a break and take your yayo sniffing ass the fuck home. When Robert Plant so eloquently stated, “Don’t you want cokay, cokay, cocaine.” He was addressing this tiny little guy.  One word, Sanka.

This stunod thankfully would be loud and then go away. That is all the ink I am gonna waste, so fuck him.  Now one thing I will say about my boy Hubbs is that you will not meet a nicer motherfucker in your life. He got talking to the people and they loved him. He has a sweet demeanor and when you get a chance to have chill time with Mikey, you will understand why we all love that fucking guy.

So, they have these drinks called pizza shots that might be the tastiest things we had in a while. They were practically giving them away and we were gladly indulging in their kindness. The bartender, god bless her was incredibly nice to us. Doug and Saso were looking on at points and would just smile and laugh like little kids. That as I would learn can be a great thing to witness as you know the wheels are turning, at a hyper speed rate.

While we are hanging and enjoying ourselves I decide that I should help out the bartender and decide to go behind the bar and help serve a few drinks. What I did not know was that this is not allowed in Hamburg. The look on her face as well as the manager was pure ‘what in the fuck is this guy doing’.  I let them know I had done this before so they could rest easy, they however said that I did not need to show my thankfulness, she was just fine pouring cocktails. Fuck it; do not say I did not try to be a nice patron.

We took a ton of pics and had a great night. It was late, actually 5 in the morning, and decided we should reign it in so we went back, hung up our soaking wet clothes and let the dreams of the night carefully rock us into a babe like sleep. Hamburg Thank you so much for a great night. They also now use the term click it or ticket when ordering.

Now, we had a show in Slovenia which killed, but the thing about being in Slovenia was that every 10 feet, Saso knew someone. He was greeted with such enjoyment on the people’s faces. For me, and I think I can speak for the rest of us, we could not have had a better Tour Manager if we tried to dream one up.  Saso is one of those rare people you meet that from the first hello, you know he is a wonderful person and you are in for a great hang. He took care of so much for us that Thank you does not even do him proper justice. You are truly loved by us all and we all have a great friend that hopefully we will be seeing soon.

It is Good Friday and we are in Milan, on our way to Montecchio, to the E20 Club.
Before we hop in the van our friend Claudio takes us out for a lunch which was off the fucking hook.  A wonderful meal that elates out taste buds as well as our souls, amen.

Now, I have not had a sip of wine in 8 years.  That is a whole other novel. If we are in the same room and have some time, I will tell you about it. Joseph decides to order a jug of red, which in turn turned into 6. It was so good Doug polished 2 by himself and then started discussing something called the 5 pound hand, which lead Hubbs and I to almost piss our pants. Joe was at the Adult table.

We finish up and are on our way. At this point none of us are dragging from the night before. We are well fed and could feel that tonight was going to be something special.  As musicians, we definitely vibe on things. If you are in a bad mood or do not feel well, you have to try and get yourself up or the gig. Well, we were all up for this motherfucker.

Doug, in a brilliant move, throws on D’Angelo live from Sweden. All of a sudden our ears are romantically filled with Pino Palladino’s bass line from Devils Pie. As I looked around, each member of the band was feeling it. Hubbs was grinning like he just found out he won a special prize, Joe gets his shoulders going, Doug is getting funky like only he can and he has put us in a melodic and soulful trance.

We ride it out and the last hour is usually time for headphones, getting your mind and body together as one. Hubbs is getting his Stones on and I am listening to the Allman Brothers.

For me, when I am at the height of feeling good, the Brothers can elevate me to a spiritual existence, in which only music can do, and it is a Divine Intervention. At this point, Duane and his baybrah Gregg have me in tune with ‘Hittin the Note’. It is as if I am getting a shot of adrenaline and all my senses are started to boogie in the utmost sphere of my being. When ‘Don’t Keep Me Wondering’ comes on, forget about it.

We pull into Montecchio and the vibe in the van is one we have not felt in a few days. At the Club we are greeted by a young woman with a wonderful infectious smile, Giulia. She shows us around and informs us that since it is a Holiday people will most likely be partying until the morning and this is music to our ears. Her excitement has made its way to us and we are completely amped for what is going to become of the night.  As a musician that is what you want to hear as you know people will be present in great spirits, you do not want to hear, tonight is gonna fucking blow, if we are lucky a few people will turn out, time for sound check.

We unload the gear have a few beers and sound check.  Saso is so fucking good that even in sound check it sounds magical and this ripples through all of us. From there we are taken upstairs to where people are already hanging out. Each person we meet truly makes the band feel welcome. Besides Joe, the rest of us are in our 40’s, but age is whatevs, if you soak in the communal vibe, you feel like you are in your 20’s, and that night we were in our teens.

Each of us is chatting with people discussing music, beers, NY, many different things, including a fondness for Graham Nash.  After great discussion and beers it is time for us to enjoy a wonderful sit down meal with our new friends, and we could not have asked for a better banquet.

It is at the meal that we meet now a truly beloved friend of us all, the promoter and my main man Jack. Jack booked the gig, and is the promoter at E20. He is a super nice guy and incredibly knowledgeable about the scene and music. He and Joe strike up a great conversation about beer and Joe is grinning as he is now in Heaven.

During the meal we are treated to more wine which in turn gives us a kick into a place that will later reveal its beautiful head.

When dinner is over, Jack takes us down to the club and there is already a nice amount of people digging the whole vibe of the night. I go to the bar and here is where all of us meet a friend I hope to stay in touch with for a very long time, Andrea. He serves Joseph and I our first shot of whiskey which is then shortly followed by another. This would later lead to a story Hubbs would fill me in on just yesterday.

So I go back to the dressing room and grab a beer and start talking to the guitarist of the first band up, Enrico. He was probably in his mind asking himself who the fuck are these bearded wack jobs and what the fuck is going to become of this night? He tells me it is the first gig for his band. I ask if they would like me to introduce them and he gladly replies ‘that would be great’.

I make my way back to the bar where the others are crushing drinks and Doug has a grin on his face that I have witnessed many times, and it makes you feel like you are in for the utmost treat. Hubbs is enjoying himself and chatting it up as if he was running for mayor. I think if there was a vote, that sumbitch might have won. Now we come to the part of the story where for me personally, I meet my favorite bartender of all time, Hugo. This motherfucker poured me and the boys so many goddamm shots that all of us were utterly and completely drizzed.

While at the bar, a younger gentleman asked me if we usually drink before we play, as we all just polished off a cocktail. I kindly asked him a question in which you can email me about later.  The other guys and I are truly amazed by the kinetic energy and how welcoming everyone is. This is a huge plus when performing, because you want to play your best show as to not let anyone down.  I slip to the back as Enrico and his mates are getting ready to hit the stage. I did not inform the others that I would be introducing his band, so the look on their faces when I walked up to the mic was priceless, especially Hubbs.  The band killed it and ended with a Kyuss tune. Which I was quite happy about.

We all go back and chat with them and let them know we dug it the most.  A lot of high fives and hugs were thrown down. Smiles were from ear to ear and we all enjoyed a fresh beverage together. Digging the other bands is an overlooked thing. If you can vibe off the other bands, you are mos def going to have a better show than if you think they suck dick.

Next up a Forest Mighty, guitarist Meo and I have a great chat before and after the gig. They also slay it and were having so much fun that we all truly got off on it. All the while Hugo is treating us to a Keith Richards extravaganza.

They finish and Hubbs, Joe, D and I have our communal drink together. Joe and I meet for two more as Doug and Hubbs get their shit squared away. From the first note of ‘Ghost Whipe’, we all know that we are in for a good one. Saso has the sound so fucking dialed in, we are grinning from ear to ear. We can hear everything so clear, so vivacious; it is time to let the rock roll. Hubbs at the end of the tune gives me a smile and says, “You ready Hoss,” and ‘Bald Bull’ truly takes us away.

The rest of the set is fired up by the wonderful audience that we were so privileged too play in front of. We finish the set and then go on for the first encore which is then followed by a next encore. Remember how I said Hubbs was nice enough to share a story with me yesterday, well he explained to me that I had come through the door with an empty bottle of whiskey and we ripped into another. Then I went out on the stage by myself and kicked into ‘Brown Sugar’. In my mind I assumed that we had all walked onstage together, whoops.  I remember Doug ripping into a solo that was so fucking good. His leg was going like a fucking mule kicks. He absolutely tore the fuck out that tune. That is the thing, we are a band, but really dig it when we can hang back and watch the others fucking kill it.

So we come offstage and for some reason I feel the need to get my dance on while the others were getting their cocktail on. It was as if I was Kevin Bacon in Footloose, I truly needed to dance at that moment in time. If I would have had a ruffled tux, I would have made that thing look like a million euros.

So, I made my way out to the dance floor and the look I got from Saso was pure fucking entertainment. He told me in the morning that he laughed and knew that it was going to be a long night once the dancing started and he was right.

Now I am not going lie, when I am in the mood, I can cut a rug, even at 6’4 270, I am very light on my feet.  The Gods were clearly looking out for me as I was able to have a dance partner, Francesca, whom was truly the nicest person I met on tour and hopefully will be able to have as a great friend. I cannot thank her enough for taking the time and dancing with my old ass. It is truly a moment I will cherish.

After dancing, I went back to the bar, where Hugo and I enjoyed more cocktails, watched the boy’s pound drinks with the ease of drinking water and had a wonderful discussion about writing for The Sludgelord. I discussed how I was able to chat with bands I am a huge fan of. I talked about speaking with Bob Balch, Both Reeders, Brant Bjork and of course, Mr Creepyfingers, Brad Davis.

It was great to discuss music that you love and why it is so dear to you. If I did not dig those dudes, I would have never been on tour and would have never met the great people that I did that week.

We had to get up early the next morning and drive to France so we all gathered ourselves and made our way to the hotel. I threw on my ipod and the warmth of the Spilt Milk CD by Jellyfish eased my way into a wonderful sleep.

Now, to hop a week forward, we are in Desertfest Berlin, and who do we see but Jack and Andrea. All of us in Gozu were like little kids seeing our buddies that we met in summer camp all over again. That is how you know you have a wonderful bond with someone, by the smile that you wear when you are around people. We shared stories of the night and again discussed Graham Nash.

We walked away from a place that we had never been and left with friends and stories that we will discuss for a long time. Gozu is truly amazed by your hospitality, warmth and true kindness. E20, you will always have a very special place in all of our hearts.