Exclusive: UberByte Tour Diary [USA]

We get exclusive access to UberByte‘s US tour diary. The band’s synth player Carbonel gives us his first lot of updates!

PART ONE

“And it all started out so well…well not really, since it ‘started out’ at something like half past four in the morning, with a taxi ride across the Pennines to Manchester airport. All pretty un-eventful, tho the countryside as ever was superb.

Check in was similarly unremarkable, apart from the desk guy who looked like Ron Perlman(!) and the usual fun of New Rocks and metal detectors. Once through though, we set about the important tasks of finding breakfast and (inevitably) checking Facebook.

That may have been a mistake, since Thomas [Rainer, Nachtmahr] posted that Massimo had found a vuvezala app for his iPhone, which prompted Char [synths/vocals, UberByte] to bloody find it too! There followed several minutes of what sounded like an elephant desperately trying to clear sinus trouble, followed by a polite but pointed warning from Rich [vocals, UberByte] and me that she could cease and desist the racket, or we could cease and desist her iPhone.

Thus, in golden silence, we completed the first flight to JFK, and then things started to go wobbly. With only an hour to go through immigration, customs, security and the rest, it was a bit of a run to the boarding gate. Still, at least we got our cardio workout for the day. Plus I got the lulz of describing our Korg D888 backing mixer as, ‘like a giant iPod‘ to a slightly confused security guy! Guess they don’t get many industrial bands. Oh, and I got to describe my profession as ‘musician‘ – Win!

We thought that would be the end of a long day (we arrived at San Francisco, 7pm local time, or 3am BST), but the worse was to come, and we found out when the baggage carousel shuddered to a halt with one of our bags is still missing! An important one too – with the keyboard controllers and power transformer in it. AAAARRGGHHH!

A check with the airline suggested it ‘should’ be on the next flight, so that was a further three hours sitting in the airport lounge. I’ve had enough of airports now, kthx? Thankfully the bastard thing did show up though – HOOYAH! – so, at least we have everything!

Thomas and Max were waiting for us at the hotel, and since pretty much everywhere was closed we headed across the road to a cafe diner for some food and a (very!) well-deserved beer!

So, here we are in Frisco..let’s see how the show goes..Though, it was a bit surreal as we were leaving and saw what appeared to be a fellow engaging in an act of…shall, we say simultaneous defecation and self-pleasuring? In a shop doorway! Decency forbade me from getting a photo.”

PART TWO

“Well, given we’d been up pretty much 28 hours straight yesterday, I was expecting to sleep like a sleepy thing.

So it was much to my surprise I flicked awake at half past four, snoozed for a bit, and finally woke up proper by 8ish. Guess my body’s now in tour mode, and reckons four hours is enough?Carbonel_UberByte

Anyway, we decided to go check out a Mexican place called Pancho Villas that Rich had found – cue much hilarity of UberByte working out the BART network (like the Tube in London). It was well worth it though – the food was fantastic! In fact, Char said it was the best she’d had since her and Rich‘s last visit to Mexico in 2007.

Thomas and Max had gone to pick up Nick (our tour manager – an absolute legend) so we jumped on a tram and headed up to Fisherman’s Wharf to do some tourist-y photo taking and kill a few hours. Managed to see Alcatraz and the Golden Gate bridge from very far away, and several pics of Rich pulling his pose (which is becoming a bit of a theme of the tour! ‘Check out Rob Green OMG‘ on YouTube if you’re confused) Then off to the DNA Lounge for show number one!

I’ve been looking forward to this venue since it was announced. Being a big geek myself, the amount of tech in the place (half of it running on software written by the people there) is awesome. Plus it looks like a massive converted warehouse, it has a wicked cool two-tier stage and serves (more) amazing Mexican food. And the bass response on the front of house when Nachtmahr were soundchecking made the hairs on my arms prickle!

..and oh my god the audience were incredible. I had a lot of worry over how they would receive us, but the simple answer is, ‘Awesomely!’ They were singing along, clapping in the clappy bits, and generally going nuts. Even to total new song ‘Money Shot‘, which is one of Rich‘s ‘I’ve just released one album but written half the next one‘ songs, and which Thomas insisted that we include.

They went even more nuts to Nachtmahr – a truly triumphant start to the tour! Apart from the poor girl who fell asleep on the stage and could barely speak when Thomas was chatting to her –  I think she may now be immortalised!

There followed a fun, if very brief, after-party-ette, with much dancing. It was also great to finally meet some of our label-mates (Ben and Kat from C/A/T), Dave from Cervello Electronica and Paul from Syndika Zero).

Then we all piled off to a motel and listened to Thomas making disturbing noises through the wall.”


PART THREE

 

“I always knew America was bigger than I thought, today just illustrated it. Leaving our (not particularly) seedy motel, we drove for an hour or so before lunch. Lunch was a fast-food place called Carls Jr, which was sort of like an English fast food place except nine million times nicer and tastier. Especially the strawberry milkshake I had, which was heavenly.

I also managed to find some utterly insanely powerful energy drink. It’s got a massive warning to ‘Never exceed one can daily‘, and appears to contain 300mg of caffeine! Considering standard Red Bull clocks in around 32mg, this sounds, frankly, suicidal. Thomas also got me one of those little concentrated energy shot drinks, which he claims is pretty lethal too. Story goes he was jet-lagged at a gig, had four hours sleep in the last sixty, took one of these and partied ’til some stupid hour in the morning!

It should have been plain sailing from there, but I ought have guessed it wouldn’t be that simple.. Half an hour on the interstate, the engine cut out and left us cruising along in neutral! Not exactly what you expect from a motor vehicle. Nick (Tour Manager, remember – are you keeping up?), being awesome, was able to get us to the hard shoulder and start up again. An hour later, it bloody did it again! Thankfully no death happened again, but by now we were really thinking we could use another vehicle.

So, five hours of, admittedly, really quite pleasant American countryside later we found the car rental office, un-loaded everything, loaded it all into the new van, and set off again. EXSpromo

Thus, finally, we rolled into downtown LA..and by ‘downtown’, I mean it – the venue, Das Bunker, is right on the edge of Compton (yes, as in ‘straight outta’). Still, the place itself was pretty sweet – a massive venue with at least four rooms (that I remember!) although sadly no in-house Mexican food bar like yesterday (did I mention that?).

The audience, again, rocked. We swapped in our sing-along stomp-fest ‘The Miracle‘ tonight, and since James isn’t here I took over shouting the ‘Fire!’ bits. Which was hugely fun, but my voice is hurting a bit today. And, everyone went totally nuts to ‘Money Shot‘. Again.

Oh, and that energy drink stuff Thomas gave me really worked! Even though, I only had half if it in with some vodka and random lime-type drink, I was happily bouncing around all through our set, all through another blitzing performance from Thomas and Massimo from Nachtmahr and pretty much to the end of the night. There was a very cool night running after the show in the club too, and we got to meet a great bunch more cool people. Oh, and it was sweet to see Jason F again (manager guy from Combichrist and stuff).

All too soon, though, the night was over (and they stop serving at the bar at like 2am here – how crazy is that?) and it was heading back to motel time again. Tomorrow we leave California and head for Phoenix, Arizona.”

PART FOUR

“Mmm, pancakes…Breakfast today was courtesy of iHop, a very yummy breakfast-serving place where I had excellent bacon (push the button!), pancakes and other good things.Then back on the road and into the desert. Well, sort-of desert – there was vegetation for a while.. But we had amusing anecdotes from Thomas, like from his last tour with Alter Der Ruine. Apparently they were staying at a posh hotel (the sort that pushes your morning paper under the door) and Thomas, bless him, hadn’t heard of The Onion. So the ADR guys push a copy of said periodical under his door, wait ten minutes, then burst in in a panic, saying that everything’s fine terrible, and that the then-newly-elected President Obama had been exposed as a con-man, embezzling millions of dollars in campaign funds before disappearing. Thomas didn’t believe it at first, but then he looked at the morning paper and there was the story in black and white!

Seems the ADR folks were able to keep the charade going for a good fifteen minutes or more, before they had to leave or else collapse in hysterics.

We also had great fun educating Thomas about Yorkshire ways, including vocabulary (he can now say ‘proper minging’ – I’m so proud!) and ritual customs (‘tarted up, happy hour vodka, ten pints of lager, a good glassing and pulling a munter’).

But, we should of known it was all going too well (again!), Just two miles from the venue, there was a dull pop, and the car started shaking like crazy. Nick ‘The Legend’ swiftly pulled us on to the hard shoulder, as the smoke, burning smell and shreds of rubber flying around quickly led us to the conclusion that we’d blown a tyre! So poor Nick and Massimo ended up switching the tyre in about 40 degrees of heat.

Somehow we got to the venue alive – despite the second attempt by Thrifty van hire to kill us – and got prepped for the night’s show at Sadisco, a rock bar in Phoenix, Arizona.

The audience was amazing yet again, and we even had the coolness of semi-local band Waste opening for us (big ‘Hello‘s to Anthony, Jesse and Shane – you guys rock!).

However, Thomas did seek to be making a proper effort to actually kill us tonight, with some evil drinking ritual invented by. This basically involves pouring a load of sherbert into your mouth, taking a vodka shot, mixing them around then drinking. After three of these in the first ten minutes, I was beginning to worry, but I was mostly able to see throughout our set, so it couldn’t have been that bad! Tonight’s set list roulette also saw us bringing in the ‘Fun In Fundamentalist‘ track for the first time in America, and it was pretty well received. ‘Money Shot‘ though continues to own all comers, and was given an extra boisterous edge tonight by the Nachtmahr guys joining us on stage, going mental, and bringing a did four foam phallus with them 😉  Like Rich said, ‘It was like Rammstein on a Blue Peter budget‘.

Once it was all over (Nachtmahr kicked ass again, despite the fight club event continuing outside during he show) we headed back to a proper hotel (none of your motel 6’s here) to crash out for the night.”


PART FIVE

“So, with the first batch of gigs done, The Imperium Of Noise tour is taking a two-day break to drive through the desert to San Antonio.

First though, food time! Today, courtesy of Joe’s Farm Grill, quite rightly described as the “best diner in Phoenix” by Legend.

Oh, yeah, I ought to explain – Thomas read my diary from the other day about Nick “The Legend”, and has decreed that our Tour Manager is henceforth known only as Legend. He’s even instituted a dollar fine for anybody caught using the great one’s former, mortal name.

So yeah, food – including the best milkshake I’ve had in America so far – then coffee at the nice little coffee shop next door, where one of the waitresses took a definite shine to Massimo – well, I guess you can take the man outta Italy.

Then, onward into the desert! In the third vehicle supplied to us by Thrifty “death comes as standard” Car Rental.  This car is slightly larger, to be fair. I just hope the engine don’t fall out of this one or anything.

On the first day we got as far as Las Cruces, New Mexico, and dinner at a decent place called Applebees, where we all got carded when ordering beer, and where the rest of the guys taunted me mercilessly over my alleged crush on the girl who was helping with our merch in LA (who was, admittedly, very pretty). Rich in particular has taken it upon himself as a personal mission to see me lose my temper on this tour – he’s not doing terribly well so far.

However, to further the noble cause of bugging the hell out of me, they did attempt to compile a list of my good and bad points to send to the aforementioned girl. In the name of entertainment (and because Rich has threatened that if I don’t post it, he will), I will hereby selflessly sacrifice whatever dignity I may have acquired, and present my touring party’s impression of the complex, intricate and mysterious persona that is me.

So is there anything much else to tell from our epic mission across the desert? Well, we nearly got lost in several Walmarts, Rich bounced off a rock while trying to run up it, we ate some great food at some nice places, and some mediocre food at some others, we’ve seen a lot of pickup trucks and cow ranches, and even more desert. I found some eyeliner with the awesome name ‘Lasting Drama’  and Rich and Thomas went swimming at the hotel in Fort Stockton at the end of our second day’s travel (looking more like brothers than ever).

Fort Stockton, incidentally, is one of those places which, as I think Terry Pratchett might have put it, ‘exists mainly because you can only have so much road before you have to have something else’ A dozen shops, maybe the same number of hotels and restaurants, and a feeling of slight displacement from the rest of the world. Let’s just say the most rock ‘n’ roll thing I did that night was hack into the router at the Dairy Queen restaurant (which was still on all its defaults), change their password and (unsuccessfully) attempt to set the SSID to ‘moneyshot’. Wireless security kids: look it up.

Ultimately we made it onward, through Ozona (where Thomas and I both fell in love with the waitress at the restaurant) and survived another 300-odd miles of desert to San Antonio and a funky venue called Nachtmahr. What will tonight’s show hold? Stay tuned…”

PART SIX

“After three days of nowt but road and desert, I was itching for another show, and Atomix in San Antonio was a good place to have it.

The venue may look a bit like it’s just been plonked down in the middle of an empty car park, but it had a really really amazing lighting and laser system. As in, they were even spelling ‘UberByte‘ out in lasers when we were playing.

..But before the playing, there was the set-up and the drinking, Including some very tasty cocktail called ‘Hell No’ (or something like that!) Plus our rider tonight included champagne, of all things – although apparently it’s been on the rider every Empires_Of_Noise_tournight, it’s just this is the first venue to comply. I also made my own awesome cocktail from vodka, orange juice and the super-hardcore energy drink I found the other day – it was actually really nice. Even though some b***ard mine-swept half of it while I was packing the gear up! Grr!

The show, though, went well. Maybe not quite as well as the California ones, but still pretty fantastic. ‘Money Shot’ is continuing to prove an absolutely mental hit with folks everywhere (even when we don’t have a foam phallus on stage – although the lasers were tracing out various imagery which was… appropriate to the lyrics) and we even had a guest vocalist for part of ‘Industrial Bi**h’ (shout out to Ryan – you rock dude!).

Nachtmahr
put on possibly their best show so far – or maybe it’s just because I was dancing tons on account of aforementioned energy drink – damn but that stuff’s good! I did have a funny, if slightly embarrassing moment though when a policeman patrolling in the club took my beer away, claiming I was a minor. It turns out the wristband I had (I’ve been building a collection of wristbands at every possible venue – in fact I’ve even still got mine from our show at Plug on the 11th) is the one they give to under-21s to ensure they don’t go bingeing it up.. Doh! Thankfully I had my passport on me, so order (and beer) was quickly restored.

I met an absolute load of totally cool people tonight too, many of them at or round the merch stand. Alison, Jaime, Aimee, Harley, Jenna, Forrest, Anne, and loads more – hopefully photos will appear on Facebook soon and I’ll get tagged in them (if anyone from our gigs is reading this, my Facebook name is the utterly ridiculous ‘Carbonel Elderkin’ – yeah, it’s daft, but it amuses me).

The after-party was freakin awesome too – of all the places we’ve played so far, this reminded me the most of home, both in the dress-style of the people and the music (it’s the first place in the US I’ve heard Zombie Girl, and a wicked mash-up of RATM‘s ‘Killing In The Name Of’ and some unknown house-type track. Dunno who did it, but it ruled!?)

Pity I was a bit busy doing merch to dance much and talk to folks, but I still had a cool time. Rich, I think, had too good of a time, given that he apparently ended the night by barfing on the San Antonio pavement and exposing himself to the remainder of our wonderful audience who were there (for a bet. Allegedly..) – hopefully some of them will still come back if we ever play here again.

Of course, as seems to happen a lot, things can’t quite all go great. We’d nearly finished the load-out, and were just trying to marshal everyone together in one place, when someone uttered the immortal line so feared by bands: ‘Anyone seen the promoter?’ Turns out the silly sod had headed off and forgotten to pay us! He’s going to sort it out tonight in Austin though, so all’s cool.

Austin today then before the Imperium splits its forces, sending Nachtmahr to Mexico while we take on Birmingham, Alabama.”

PART SEVEN

“It was another epic journey to get to Birmingham – not quite as far as from Phoenix to San Antonio, mind, and definitely far better scenery.

Our stop-off point was Monroe, Louisiana, and an utterly amazing dinner at a restaurant called Coda. Nick also got a chance to catch up with an old mate of his, which was a bonus.

We even got to meet some local character outside – some hobo who approached us asking for money ‘fir food’. We’ve heard that line before.. Nick finally called his bluff by pointing out that he had some food right here, and handed the guy the take-out box from the restaurant. With no credible argument, the fella moved on..

..as did we, the next day – another six hours to Birmingham, and tea with Lauren and John (two-thirds of Panzer AG, plus they’re acting as promoters for tonight). Much yummy barbecue ensued, then off to The High Note for the show.

..It was amazing! An almost unprecedented reaction to the Byte, with an incredible audience reaction, all of us going utterly nuts with the locals on stage during ‘Money Shot‘, and the first time I can remember being actually called back on stage for an encore!

The rest of the night was pretty amazing too, meeting fans from far (Richie, Kyle, Sam and Will all the way from south Florida!) and near (Jay, Ashley, Crystal and Kevin) Thankfully everyone seemed to enjoy our set, and all the comments I had afterwards were positive, so that’s all good.

Special mentions must go to the DJs Michael (Maelstrom) and Nathan (Aesthetic) too, especially Nathan’s utterly insane mash-up of Lady GaGa, Metallica and some other stuff I can’t remember… Oh, and he told me of a musician friend who, for kicks, books himself at redneck bars under some Country and Western-sounding band name, then turns up and plays industrial at them! Astonishingly, he’s still alive, although apparently he’s become very good at dodging bottles!

It was also fantastic to see my old buddy Oz, whom I ain’t seen for…must be going on eight years or more. We had a great time nattering and catching up, interrupted only by trivial things like me having to do the show.

The following morning was a bit of a scramble to sort ourselves out from John and Lauren’s place OK, but thanks to the efforts of our Legend Tour Manager, all was good.

So, one more day of travelling, then the Imperium forms a pincer movement on Pittsburgh.. Will be good to see Thomas and Massimo again.”


PART EIGHT

“Yet another epic journey, from Alabama, through Virginia and West Virginia, and all the way to Pittsburgh. However, the scenery was far nicer this time – rolling hills covered with lush forests, shot through with winding rivers. There were times some of it was almost as nice as the Peaks or the North York Moors back home. We stayed overnight in the poshest Motel 6 I’ve encountered so far – this one was like a proper hotel! It also had the essential feature – free WiFi!

Then onward, through many, many miles of forested mountains, to Pittsburgh.

Tonight’s venue is another rock-style bar, bit this one gets extra rawk points for having autographed guitar, drums, cymbals etc from various acts who’ve played there – pity my camera was too low on power for me to get piccies. Though I did get one of the ‘No Covers’ sign, which I thought was very Blues Brothers.

We actually had two opening bands tonight, though due to eating food (in the most-graffitied dressing room I have seen to date!) I was a numpty and missed the first one. I did manage to catch the second act though, who were pretty neat (I’m afraid I don’t know power noise so I can only say ‘I liked it’) A slight rookie mistake though on having his laptop at eye-level, which impaired his cried interaction. However, given the limited stage space that may have been the only option..

Then it was our turn.. A slightly muted reaction to the Byte initially, but after a few songs people were warming up, and by the second half of the set seemed happily into it.  Of course, ‘Black Classroom‘ and ‘Money Shot‘ slated them as ever.

Another special mention to Kyle, Richie, Rise and Will, the guys who travelled all the way from Florida for this gig (and who called by Birmingham!) They were the hardcore of our crowd – hell, Kyle’s tall enough to be a one-man crowd on his own; the guy must be closing on eight feet in New Rocks!

Then we had the fun of an extra fired-up Nachtmahr, who once again put on a storming show. They even had a couple of genuine mädchen in uniform (girls in uniform) dancing down the front (one of them in stockinged feet, which is an incredibly brave move considering all the big stompy boots around!)

Then it was all done for another show, and time to hit the road ahead of our epic journey to Albany the next day. Before we go though, a special mention to Jim [Semonik], the promoter, who not only beat cancer, he owned its ass with extreme prejudice. He’s the guy behind the ‘Electronic Saviours‘ compilation and a thoroughly nice bloke – it was a pleasure to do a show for him.”

PART NINE

“So after a solid sleep at the hotel, we prepared for a long trip to Albany. To fortify us for this epic mission, we first called at a unique and mystical place which is oft spoken-of among our more experienced travelling companions. A place where all things are possible, and where your wildest imaginations can become reality. A place, indeed, which can offer you almost all you can dream of.

I’m talking about Sheetz

For those who don’t know, it’s kinda like a self-select Subway: you have a touchscreen with your basic options – subs, bagels – then you pick the stuff you want on it, like extra cheese, salad things, sauces and so on. When you’re happy you print out a receipt, the nice people go and make it up and shout when it’s ready. In time there will be an instructional video from me explaining it all.

From there it was a long, long slog for our long-suffering Legend up into and pretty much across New York state.. For our foreign viewers, the state of New York is pretty much the size of Great Britain (I’ll work it out exactly later). Either way, Legend did the first five and a bit hours, before we forcibly installed him in the passenger seat and Massimo took over for the last two hours or so…and thus did the Imperium arrive to bring its might to bear upon Albany, at a bar called Valentine’s. It was actually a lot bigger than I expected – possibly the largest stage so far?

We had Sonik Foundry – a band all the way from Maine – opening for us this evening; they were a really cool bunch of guys, and their drummer Dan reminded me of Trevor from Combichrist when he was playing!

We had a fantastic fun-time, and an awesome reaction from the crowd, even though they were comparatively fewer than some recent audiences. As often happens, though, a smaller crowd can make a larger noise, and that was certainly the case tonight. I do need to get Nick-the-Legend back though for pulling the Rob Green pose in the sound booth and nearly putting me off!

..have I mentioned the Rob Green thing yet? We’ve been getting photos of Rich pulling the Rob Greensorry guys‘ photo from the footy (the USA game – possibly England’s worse performance against America since 1776..) and the others in our little touring group have started doing it too!

So, after a fun time meeting people (including folks who’d travelled almost as far as us for the show!) we piled into the car and headed out of town to Motel 6, Nachtmahr and UberByte‘s preferred overnight residence in America.”


PART TEN

“Another easy drive today – a mere three hours or so down the road to Providence, in the ickle state of Rhode Island.

For lunch we returned to Cracker Barrel, a pleasantly quaint chain of restaurants with gift shops attached, all made around an old-fashioned, rustic, wholesome American sort of theme – rocking chairs on the porch, all wooden floors and tables, memorabilia on the walls, that sort of thing.

I tried the campfire chicken, which came all wrapped up in tin foil and was extremely yummy. I also found (in the gift shop) a fluffy kitty and a rooster (those of you who know the words to ‘Money Shot’ should be laughing right about now.

After nommage we went all rustic and sat out on the porch in the rocking chairs. Of course, this being us, the conversation wasn’t quite the weather and the price of corn.. No, Thomas was outlining his idea for a World War 2-themed restaurant, complete with swastika tablecloths, bunker-type decor, a stuffed Deutscher Schäferhund by each table and, of course, mädchen (waitresses) in uniform. I don’t think the old-timers in the rocking chairs next to us were getting the light-hearted nature of the conversation.

Then we headed out to do some interviews for a local radio station. Well, Thomas and Richard did the interviews, the test of us hung about and tried our hardest to distract them.

And so, at the end of the day, we wandered round the alleged ‘trendy’ district of Providence. To be honest, though, it was just sorta like Division Street back home, complete with Rocky Horrors-style alternative clothing shop. Though it was amusing to find some flyers for our show in it! We finished off by Massimo finding us a proper Italian restaurant, where we ended up with double helpings cos the new chef burnt our first round of pizzas (rookie mistake!) so did them again for free!

The next day (yesterday was a day off) we wandered round the mall in Providence. I spent most of the time in Hot Topic (which is like an American chain store Rocky Horrors) and the equivalent of Forbidden Planet, finding all sorts of cool things. My favourite find was not just one, but a whole range of Kingdom Hearts t-Shirts (I love the Kingdom Hearts games)! Sadly I could only afford one – gonna have to see if Hot Topic does delivery to England.

The gig itself was.. a bit of a blur, to be honest. A cool venue, though due to some confusions over provision of projection arrangements (for the visuals) we were only able to use around half of the main stage. It was also something of a late crowd, but those who were there seemed pretty enthusiastic so it was all good. We also had Roger (from the radio station, the day before) videoing some of the set! Here’s his recording of ‘If Something Gets Hard‘ – there may be more up in the future.

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The place was filling up more and more through Nachtmahr‘s set, and by the end (when the gig hands over to the alleged fetish night) it was pretty packed. You’ll note I said ‘alleged’ fetish night there; it was talked about as a fetish night, but to be honest felt more like Monday night Corp, albeit with more girls in their undies. Not that this was necessarily a bad thing (well, it in a couple of cases it was. But I digress).

I’m not sure the rest of the guys enjoyed it as much as I did, but then their taste in music doesn’t run quite as.. erratically, shall I say? Anyway, I loved it, although should maybe have taken it a little easier in the drinks, especially the so-called ‘Kamikaze’ shots.”

PART 11

“Feeling slightly delicate the next day (well, I was – everyone else was fine) we began the second date of Phase five (the last five dates of the tour).

First things first though: lunch! At the quaintly named ‘Monkey Team Diner’. This so-called, according to the blurb on the menu, after an incident in which the boss threw the keys to a regular customer saying, ‘Watch the place, I’m going to the bank.’ He didn’t mention that the bank was on Reno, or that he was stopping off for a week in Vegas on the way back! The aforementioned customer’s response was that, ‘They’d let a monkey run this place!’

Anyway, I do wish I hadn’t been feeling quite so queasy, as the food was again top-notch (in fact, Thomas said it’s the best scallops he’s ever had, and from gourmet Rainer that’s a hell of a compliment!

From there it was a straight run down the coast into the welcoming arms of New York Traffic…ahh, New York Traffic, how I’ve missed you…not! New York is the only place in America I’d ever been to before the tour started, and one of my abiding memories was how utterly insane the roads are. It’s as though lanes and lights are pretty much optional, though that doesn’t matter since everywhere’s gridlocked anyway.. We were suggesting that, if all these Grand Theft Auto-type games were really true to life, your most challenging mission would be to simply travel five blocks in a freakin traffic jam!

But anyway.. We found the venue, down in Greenwich Village, a trendy area I didn’t get to see on my last visit, and started getting set up. I also finally got to meet Jet, who runs VampireFreaks and is also promoter and one of the DJs for tonight – he’s a lovely, lovely fella!

Just a note on the food – I ordered pizza, and while it was very good, it was pretty much the size of a single slice! For thirteen bucks! We must be in New York!

Anyway, the show went really well again, with much cheering and audience banter. Then, just before our final ‘Money Shot‘, we spotted Thomas and Massimo hiding at the back of the stage with the biggest mischievous grins I’ve ever seen! ‘What are they up to?’ Rich wondered, just before they burst onto the stage brandishing a fluffy toy cat and a large rubber dildo and proceeded to go barmy with the rest of us.

..at this point I ought to explain: ‘Money Shot‘ is not what you would call one of our more complex songs, lyrically speaking. In fact, it only has about eight lines, of which the last two are, ‘Pussy cock, pussy cock, money money money shot.’ So, now you know, and hence the stage props.

By the way, given the way it’s been going down over here, we’ll be releasing ‘Money Shot‘ as a single sometime soon after we get back – just gotta get it mastered and stuff first.

..but back to the show. Nachtmahr were on ass-kicking form again, particularly Thomas‘ shmexy flamenco dance moves in ‘El Chupacabra‘ – hopefully there’s a video of it out there somewhere.

..and a special mention once more to the traffic. Even at 2am as we were leaving it was still gridlocked! New York, New York, eh? A seething, bristling mass of fractured dreams and impossible stories, and maybe the only true remaining fairy-tale city in the world. I still like it.”

PART 12

“I think the less I say about the drive from New York to Richmond, Virginia, the better. Not because of anything controversial of dramatic, but because nothing really happened. Other than sitting in traffic jams. For three frickin’ hours.

It was a few miles north of DC things started to get slow, on the I-95 (henceforth known as the ‘parking lot’). Those who have travelled to or from London will know what running the gauntlet of Luton can be like. Well, imagine pretty much eighty miles of Luton traffic jams, and that was us. The worst of it is we have to run it twice more: once to get past DC and up to Philadelphia, then finally into Washington itself. Oh my…

Still, the Fallout club where we were playing made it all worth it. The folks have really gone to town with the place, decorating it with all sorts of nuclear bunker decor and war-themed posters – fantastic. They’d even invented two cocktails specially for the gig: the ‘Boom Boom Boom’ and the ‘UberNacht’!

The promoter – Jackie – was lovely and made sure we had everything we needed, including a very generous tab at the bar (apparently the last folks to max it out were Funker Vogt a few years ago – that sounds like a challenge to me!) and two very, very lovely girls (Jen and Rhiannon) who were our..well, waitresses is probably the word for the night. Or, as they put it, ‘beer wenches’. I asked if they could be ‘vodka minions’ too.. We also had Rhiannon’s fiancee Brandon doing merch for us tonight – he’s a dead cool guy who I think looks a bit like Geoff from Modulate. Or possibly how Geoff did look when he was about eighteen (though to be fair, there’s times Geoff doesn’t look much older than that even now!).

So, the girls kept the drinks coming, we kept drinking them, and by show time it had all got a little silly. Again, I was taking it relatively easy on the drinks (after Providence) but some of the interesting cocktails the girls were coming up with were dangerously yummy. Still, I think we got through the set in one piece, and it says a lot that, after someone in the audience shouted out for ‘You Don’t Get It‘, we changed the set-list on the fly and played it. Even if I played it in the wrong key for the first three-and-a-half bars.. oops!

Oh yeah, and Rhiannon and Jen joined us on stage for ‘Money Shot‘, along with Thomas, Massimo, some other folks (I think!) and, of course, the kitty and the cock. It comes to something when your performance is upstaged by a sex toy (said the bishop to the actress).

I think Nachtmahr were in an even messier stage than us by the time they were on stage, but they still played a blinder, complete with cage dancers and a stage invasion in ‘El Chupacabra‘!

The afterparty was hilarious fun – I think I managed to say hello to/hug/talk at/scare/one or more of the above, pretty much everyone there. I remember Morgan, Tommy and Alison at the very least, and I know there were more, but names escape me.

I also got to meet Dracos from FGFC820, who are actually playing the club today; which is crappy timing because we’re in Philadelphia and I would of really liked to see them! I love their ‘Anthem‘ song on the ‘Endzeit IV‘ collection (I think that version’s technically a remix, but they’re still great!) Rexx from the band was also about, but he was DJing and I didn’t get chance to say hey..

The night had one last amusement for us though. Due to the diligent efforts of our lovely drinks girlies, most of the gang were in a fairly heroic state, and none more so than Char, who doesn’t normally drink much, but seemed to be condensing a whole tour’s worth of quaffing into one night! Suffice to say, even getting her into the car was challenging…but she made up for it by ranting hilariously at everyone and everything on the trip to the hotel, and ‘helpfully’ unpacking one of the bags from the van right on top of one of their flower pots!

Ahh, and still two days to go.”


PART 13

Ah, back on the I-95 today.. Thankfully without so much traffic, so we actually arrived at Club Polaris in Philadelphia in good time.

The venue was fantastic – massive, and the guys had gone all out in decorating it. The stage was huge too, and comfortably fit all our stuff on without us needing to squeeze in!

So once sound had been checked we headed backstage to find drinks and .natter with folks. Good to see Ilyssa (DJ Totentanz) from New York again, who turned up carrying a huge Austrian flag an a half-dozen vuvuzelas! Turns out word of Max’s vuvuzela app (from the first day) had spread, and she thought she’d supply the real thing! 🙂

I also got to meet Vlad, who is not only a DJ, but one of the gang behind the show tomorrow in DC, an ace designer (he did pretty much all Nachtmahr‘s tour artwork, and the design for our tour t-shirts), and on top if all that is an utterly lovely guy to boot! Plus Katy and Natalia (friends of Thomas and Max’s from last time they were here), Amanda (from New York again) and Amy.

This being nearly the end I’d the your, things starting to get more light-hearted and goofy, so while we were waiting there were vuvuzela.duels, toasts to the gods of Industrial, and us being tight-lipped as to why there was a toy cat, a rubber penis, wads of fake money and some party poppers on the table.. I think, dear readers, you can guess, but all we would say was ‘wait for our last song’.. hehe!

..and so showtime rolled around, in that way that it does. A lovely big crowd tonight, and once again, though unsure of us at first (which is understandable, given I wouldn’t have expected them to have heard much, if anything, of us) they warmed up wonderfully, and by the end were loving it.

Speaking of the end, I think Money Shot tonight set new levels of bat**** mental. Not only Thomas and Max (with the cat, cock and a big Italian flag, which I ended up wearing for half the song!) but also Ilyssa with a massive Austrian flag, plus Natalia and I’m sure a couple of others with vuvuzelas, more money, poppers and seemingly anything else from the dressing room they could lay their hands on!

It was fantastic meeting folks after the show, including a good few more from New York who couldn’t make it on Thursday.. Special hellos to Eric from Interface who did one of the ‘Break You‘ remixes off the VF single. I autographed my strangest items to date – namely a baseball hat and a vuvuzela – and had a small-world moment when I met a couple of fans Shalya and Chris.

Chris is a DJ from Ohio, and came down to check out us and Nachtmahr, while his fiancee Shalya is actually the sister-in-law of a guy called Matt..who’s only the singer from Nick’s band! Yeah, did I mention our Legend is also in a band? They’re called Access Zero and you should check them out – he played some for us and they remind Rich of Gravity Kills and me of everything I like about KMFDM (back when they were more electro).

We also sold a goodly amount of merchandise, and the only real downside to the whole thing was having to be up so early the next day to get to DC.

So, this is it – the last date of the tour, the 4th of July.. Independence Day..

FOR THE GLORY OF THE IMPERIUM!!

PART 14

Hey kids, guess where we’ve been today? Yep, back on the ole’ I-95, heading back down south once again.. This time to DC, for the final show of our tour – sniffle! Thankfully our journey to the capital was without incident, and even the traffic was OK..

Unfortunately, that was as far as our luck held.. Traffic delays and such-like for other people meant things didn’t start rolling properly until nearly one o’clock, and with six bands playing today – Nachtmahr, us, Mindless Faith, Life Cried, Angels On Acid and Panic Lift – it was a bit of a logistical tangle. Thankfully once we got started everything worked as well as you could reasonably expect. The venue is pretty amazing – albeit in a decidedly punk kind of way.. There’s all sorts of junk backstage (including a hosepipe, several mirrors, an assortment of frames and bits of them, a cash till, a toilet, feathery angel wings, a plastic skull and a mixing desk) and I was wondering if in a previous life it was a theatre.. or perhaps a dance studio, given the room with the huge full-wall mirror next door.. Either way, everything had a decidedly rough-and-ready aspect to it! Still, we managed to get through soundcheck, even if I have heard better sound quality from a chav’s car speaker system than from the on-stage monitors! 🙂

Then we had a few hours to occupy until things started happening..Rich and Char went to chill by the pool at the hotel, while I had fun just lurking about, chatting with the bands and watching them soundcheck. Food time rolled round blissfully soon, courtesy of Vlad’s wife, Heather, and was duly extremely yummy, just as Thomas had promised!

It was amazing to see tons of people from our previous shows too – it was like a greatest hits collection of previous folks! Ilyssa and Annabelle from New York; Bailey, Jackie, Pete, Will and Becca from Richmond; Kit and Mike (DJ Mighty Mike Saga) from Philadelphia, and I’m sure more I can’t remember now! I also got to meet out genius designer, Nathan, the guy behind all our album artworks and a couple of t-shirts.

Then we spent a while watching the fireworks on Capitol Hill from the car park before showtime!

..showtime for Mindless Faith, that is – unfortunately I’d missed Panic List and Life Cried while doing barbecue eating and fireworks watching.. doh! But Mindless Faith were incredible: more guitar-driven electro noise, and the keyboard player (Chris) even had a steel oil drum and a chain in his percussion section – very industrial

Due to some slight slippage in timing, we were playing a slightly cut-down set, but came on storming to ‘Break You‘ instead of the slightly slower starter of ‘Soma‘, and I was very pleased to be able to deliver my special 4th of July greeting of ‘Good! Evening! (You Colonial Barsterds)’. We also decided we needed to ditch my old Alesis drum pad, since every single pad section on it has broken at least once, and it would just be extra weight on the way home.. So ditch it we did, in Combichrist-style, with Rich smashing it against the stage during ‘Black Classroom‘ before throwing it to the audience to finish the job! I suspect a lot of people went home with a chunk of electronics as a souvenir! 🙂

As for the last ‘Money Shot‘ of America, we managed to get nearly as many folks as yesterday on a stage a third the size, and a mental time was had by all. Quite what English audiences are going to make of what could be considered ‘Black Classroom‘s younger, more demented brother remains to be seen. But the good news is we’ll be making it available as a FREE download as soon as Rich has made a couple of final tweaks, so keep your eyes out for Scooter-style insanity on a dancefloor near you..

Nachtmahr put everything into one final, blowout performance, joined by Rexx from FGFC820 as a guest vocalist on ‘I Believe in Blood‘. It proved it works well as a duet, and.. well, I can’t really say any more just now.. But wait.

On the downside, since this was our last show I was doing load-out and tallying merch during Angels On Acid’s set, but what I heard of them was fantastic – hope they can come to England sometime before too long!

..and then it was all over.  Back to the hotel, overnight, one final goodbye lunch (Mexican, and damn good Mexican at that…) with Thomas, Max, Vlad and Heather, then Nick the Legend dropped us off at the airport for our voyage home..

So, what have I learned over the last two-and-a-half weeks? I’ve learned America is as big to drive across as I thought it would be; I’ve learned it’s even warmer than I expected, and that ice and air-con are staples of life; I’ve learnt its food is better than I imagined, even at fast-food places, and that they have some crazy strict laws on drinking in some states. I’ve also learnt American audiences are wonderfully willing to give a band a chance, even a relatively unknown bunch of Brits, and that even if there are fairly few of them, you should never underestimate their ability to go utterly nuts and make lots of noise for you!

America, it’s been an honour and a pleasure, and we dearly, dearly hope to be back someday to give you more crazy British industrial. You rock, every last mad one of you.

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