We have here an exclusive tour diary from Daniel Graves of Aesthetic Perfection, exciting times! In it, documents the highs and lows of getting to England and touring our wonderful country, don’t worry there’s some debauched stuff in here too. Read on…
Tour Diary UK
Friday May 22, 2009 Utrecht, NL – Tivoli
The first day of the tour started off like most other tour kick-offs. I woke up at an ungodly hour in order to catch the train to Munich Airport, so I could catch a flight to Dusseldorf, to catch a cab to Combichrist’s hotel to catch the tour bus which was driving to Utrecht. So with one hour’s sleep I was off. Caught up with Letz and Marc Jackson (of VNV Nation fame who’s filling in for Combi‘s percussionist Trevor for the first three dates) in the lobby and took a bit of their continental breakfasts. Within a few minutes everyone slowly sauntered down from their rooms, hugs and handshakes were exchanged, the bus arrived, and with a quick loading, we were off.
I used the drive to Utrecht as the perfect time to catch up on some shut eye. (Luckily I was able to snag one of the largest bunks.) When I woke up we had just arrived in Utrecht. Gabe (keys) and I set up the newly reborn keyboard stand while Joakim (lighting) assisted with the placement of the banners. These were lookin’ pretty snazzy if I do say so myself.
After soundcheck we grabbed dinner and I proceeded to pound as much vodka as possible. It turns out though, that I was supposed to be on in 15 minutes. I got dressed, taking vodka shots between buttoning up my vest and tying my tie.
The show went really well. I can never tell if the Dutch crowds like us because they’re so still at gigs. I walked out and screamed “Hello Utrechhhhttttt!” and I was answered with mumbled ‘Yays’ and scattered ‘Woos’. Tumbleweeds rolled across the stage and the wind quietly whispered in the silence. Either way we went into it and I did my best to get everyone going. Gabe rocked our mobile keyboard rig and throughout the show people slowly started moving, unlike our lights, which just kind of blinked every 30 seconds. I think I’ll try to bribe Joakim into doing lights for us as well? By the last song everyone was dancing, and putting their hands up, and I was gasping for air. I think I need to build my stamina back up, six weeks off and the first show is quite a workout!
After the gig I got changed, realized that one of the balls on my lip-ring fell out during the performance. I jokingly asked the Combi guys to keep an eye out for it, no such luck. Combi went on and I went for the bar. Taking pics with friends and slamming back the vodka. One fan was kind enough to share a bottle of Jager with us. We even brought him backstage after Combi’s show to partake in a little drinking. It’s safe to say when I stumbled to the bus I was more than inebriated. I planned on keeping the party going in the bus, but I decided crawling to bed would be a better idea. We’ve got border control in a couple hours and, you know the Brits can be a little touchy at the border!
Our Tour Manager woke us up just as we arrived at the UK border. We all filed out of the bus, passports in hand. All the Europeans and UK citizens in our crew breeze right through, but us Americans, that took a bit longer. They sat me, Gabe and Letz down and inspected our papers with scrutiny. I was still feeling pretty drunk, but to my right, Joe is in a daze. He can’t hold his head up straight and he keeps spitting like he always does when he’s beyond gone. Jan (tour manager) hits him saying ‘Joe cut it out or they won’t let you in.’ What is Joe’s response? ‘Fuck that man, fuck that.’ He just kept on spitting…. All over himself. For some reason though, they decide that we’re all suitable for the UK and let us pass. Even Joe.
Saturday May 23, 2009 Sheffield – Corporation
I woke up today, slightly hungover, to find my lip ring with the missing ball had also gone MIA. Maybe there are a couple scenes missing from last night’s memory that could solve the mystery, but I’ve got more important things on my mind so I just asked the Uberbyte guys (Sheffield locals) to show me to a nearby jewelry shop. Since nothing is ever easy, we quickly discovered that my American-size jewelry is different than the standard European measurements and that finding an exact match would be unlikely. So, I just dropped two quid on something similar and let it be. At least I got five minutes to walk through downtown Sheffield.
So tonight’s show was a bit of a let down for me, personally. This was my second time playing in Sheffield, at this same venue, but in a different room. This time we were in the large room at Corporation that, while being bigger, has kind of poor sound. All the bands were a bit disappointed by the sound, but the show must go on. The crowd favorite tonight seemed to be Uberbyte, who really got the crowd going. By the time we went on they were a little less than enthusiastic. After the show, though, we got a lot of compliments so maybe it’s some sort of Sheffield custom to quietly and solemnly appreciate live bands.
I grabbed a few pictures of Joe in the shower and knocked back a few shots of whiskey before heading out into the crowd to party it up. I met Tony aka Carbon Nine, who is a seriously talented web designer, responsible for aesthetic-perfection.net and a few other notable bands’ websites. Also, Z_Marr popped up after the Combi set with a two litre bottle of whiskey and it was on. What someone outside our dysfunctional family needs to understand is that, when there is a bottle of liquor, one is expected to drink out of said bottle. At the beginning we had a few people try to cheat us and put the bottle to their lips and not actually drink anything, that his given rise to my self-imposed rule known simply as ‘Bubbles’. When a bottle is handed to someone they are forced to drink it in such a fashion that it results in air bubbles being released into the bottle. There are ways to cheat this, but so far we’ve caught everyone who has tried.
After a few rounds of this game I was introduced to ‘The Naked Twins’, two girls who claim to be sisters and go out wearing only panties and nipple tape. I’m not buying their sisters story but I doubt there is nowhere to stash their ID so I don’t bother to ask for it. Somehow they circumvented security and infiltrated our group. These two girls then proceeded to make it absolutely impossible for me to sleep. By the time bus call rolled around they had sucked up most of our booze and, sobering up, I got the mind to send them out of the bus! Eat our dust!
Sunday May 24, 2009 Edinburgh – Bongo Club
I tried to sleep but with little luck. I woke up around 4pm with a throbbing head and a swollen throat. My voice was wrecked. Regardless, I found my way into the club (it’s called The Bongo) and find some breakfast. Our promoter Jonathon greeted us and showed us around. The stage at this place was TINY. No one was sure if Combichrist, AP and Uberbyte could fit on it. Still though, the system sounds really good and we’re all excited. The backstage is interesting. I think this place is normally some sort of student center because there were all these art photos exhibited throughout the room.
After convincing the promoter to get me a large selection of throat lozenges I made my way to the bus to pick up my clothes for the show. The line wrapped all the way around the block, so I decided to film my walk back to the club entrance. Moments before getting inside I heard someone yell ‘You know me’ while flashing a tattoo on his arm. It turns out to be this kid Aaron, who sent me a pic of his tattoo of ‘The Great Depression’ lyrics a few months back. He asks for a hug, I oblige and head back inside.
The show was really, really rough. My voice barely held through the first 10 minutes and after that, in my mind, was utter shit. Regardless the crowd was extremely forgiving and sang along and partied with us the whole way through.
I decided to give myself a rest and headed over to the bus after the show to watch a DVD. Of course halfway through the movie a load of drunken musicians pour into the bus and take over my quiet evening alone. After a few minutes though everyone adapted to the relaxed atmosphere and we were content to sit and chat for the rest of the evening. After a couple of hours I started feeling really hungry, especially for a big pizza. My talk of food caught the interest of the others who decided they, too, were hungry. Joey in a drunken bout of chivalry says he will go out for a look and see what could be acquired at such a late hour. He rallies up support from some of the Uberbyte chaps and heads off into the dark. Everyone considered his quest hopeless, but I still held out hope. Around 40 minutes later their shadows appeared on the streets horizon and their profiles began to take shape. Someone yelled, ‘Holy shit Joey has PIZZA!’ And it was true, he returned to the bus triumphant, with a personal pan pizza all for me. Of course, it wasn’t THIS dramatic, but I was seriously happy to get that pizza. Apparently they ran into some guy with anal beads hanging from his ear at the pizza parlor, and Joe got harassed by someone with an odd obsession with his tattoos. Makes me glad I didn’t go. I ate my pizza and headed off to bed.
Monday May 25, 2009 Sunderland – Independent
Woke up today feeling a lot better, my voice needed that rest from getting wasted and acting the fool. I dusted off my shows and headed into the venue around 1pm. This place was really strange. It’s Very small and the floor is sticky. Every time I take a step my shoes resist lifting upward and make a disgusting sticky peeling noise. The stage is really deep and not very wide, so it looks like we’re going to have another Edinburgh situation. Also, the lighting-rig leaves a lot to be desired. Joakim actually says paying him for this evening’s work will not be necessary because he won’t really be doing any work at all. Even better, they have this sex toy vending machine with vibrating cock rings and fluffy handcuffs. Actually, it makes me kick myself for not having that much English money on me.
After sound check Gabe, Joe and I head out in search of fish n’ chips for dinner. To be honest, I’m not so keen on them, but Joe and Gabe love it so I humor them and go along. We found ourselves in a posh looking bar and felt really uncomfortable, so we ate our food and left before Joe’s loud New York mouth got us into any trouble.
Onstage our show was going really well, responsive crowd, lots of energy, it was just a good time. In fact, I got hyped up I grabbed the keyboard and attempted to just swing it around (I mean, it IS on a moveable base and rolls around everywhere.) But instead I just sent it to the floor by the end of ‘Fix’, the second song in the set. We realize that not only had I knocked over the keyboard and broken the batteries inside, I also tore the midi cable that went to the actual synthesizer apart. Of course, we being support, have no backline, from the stage I called on Uberbyte to bring me a spare power supply and MIDI cable. The crowd just kept insisting that I dance. I tried to explain that I am a musician, and I can’t dance, and that dancing’s their job. Andy from Combichrist, being the helpful guy he is, decided to help me out by running up onstage and punching me in the balls. Thanks, buddy. Within a few minutes we’d gotten everything we needed and the keyboard was up and running. The show could go on.
After that the show was great. After the party Joe and I went out in search of cigarettes, which I have to say is very difficult at 3am in Sunderland. Most of the people were actually really rude and spoke in a way that us Americans can’t understand. Finally, after going into five or six bars, we found one with a cigarette vending machine and received our bounty. I don’t generally smoke, but being drunk and with Joe Letz makes it easy. Triumphantly walking back some girls overheard us and came at us with their heavy accents ‘Eyyyy ahr yeww guwys Amerrikan?!?!!?’ and we just replied ‘Uhhmm yeah, gotta go!’ and ran to the bus. Another night in the record books.
Tuesday May 26th, 2009 Wolverhampton – The Robin
We arrived at the venue relatively early and got everything loaded and set up without a hitch. Our promoter brought us some interesting catering. Quiche and pasta salad aren’t at the top of my favorite foods list, but if you’re hungry you’ll eat it. What really made my day was Jim from Uberbyte surprising me with a huge bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos. Now, this may not seem like such an amazing thing, but I live in Austria, and Nacho Cheese Doritos don’t exist there. It really made my day, thanks Jim!
Our show was going really well until halfway through the set, I put my foot on the monitor and leaned forward as usual. But unlike every other show ever, the metal grating that covered the speaker gave way without any resistance. I thought to myself ‘better not go near that monitor again’ and moved on. A song or two later I did the same thing on a different monitor, with the same results. After the show the sound engineer informs me I have broken two monitors and need to pay for them. Now, I’ve played a show or two in my life, and never once has a monitor broken like that. I argued with them for a while, learning that the monitors were over 11-years-old, but before I could even refuse, the bill had been charged to Combichrist, thus ending any chance for negotiations.
No time to sob, however, as it was now Richard aka Uberman’s birthday. I have to admit I was really looking forward to being on the giving end of the Combichrist Birthday Torture Chair fiasco. For some reason, though, we didn’t have any Jack Daniels or a funnel. Andy improvised by making a weird concoction of vodka, red wine and fruit, while I modified a water bottle to perform the tasks. After giving Ricky a good once over, and being in good spirits, he uttered ‘Is that all you’ve got!?!?’ Amazed, we stood in awe and without hesitation Z_Marr gave Ricky a swift punch to the groin and Andy fed him even more of the questionable mixture. Joe took what was left of the pasta salad and dumped it over his head. I cut him free and mainlined it to the bus. No way in hell was I going to be stuck cleaning that up! I went with Gabe to the bus and hid out till we departed.
Weds May 27th, 2009 London – Islington Academy
We arrived in London a few hours before load in time. Unfortunately the weather was horrible so we didn’t get much of a chance to head into Camden as planned. So we sat around inside the venue with no food or water. The place is pretty cool, though. Despite the fact that backstage is three floors down below the stage. Let me say, walking three flights of stairs before going onstage isn’t the ideal warm up. Most of us joked we’d be too exhausted to even play.
Showtime comes and as usual the sound guy requested that I head out to the stage to line check everything and make sure it’s working. A line check essentially means run a split second of audio through each input so you know it functions. I walk out, wait for the cue, and proceed to check everything. I heard it all just fine, gave the thumbs up and started to walk backstage. The monitor girl screams ‘Wait! You have to do it again.’ Annoyed that I have to go out in front of 800 screaming people again, I go through the procedure, hear everything and start to walk off. ‘Wait!’ I heard from behind me. ‘He wasn’t paying attention, do it again.’ By this point I was really pissed off, and some of the people in the front row could tell. I checked everything and stormed offstage.
The show goes on and it was amazing. Great crowd, great vibe overall, I was having a blast. Until during ‘The Siren’ I leaned so far out towards the crowd I could actually hear what was coming from the house PA, not just my monitors. The sound-man was putting a pitch-shifting effect (ala’ every dark-electro band) on my voice despite the fact I told him NO EFFECTS! Not only that, ‘The Siren’ actually has more singing than screaming, so that effect sounded bizarre. I nearly lost it, I saw our tour manager walk past the side of the stage and I grabbed him and screamed ‘That fucking sound guy put fucking effects on my fucking voice, have him take it fucking off!’
By the next song the effects were gone and I had forgotten how pissed I was. We finished the set and celebrated our tour with a bunch of drinks. I met up with Jay from Tactical Sekt again, and Maric from Distatix and proceeded to drink as fast as possible considering we had to load out immediately after the show. From the bar and corner of my eye I saw Uberman onstage with Combichrist, get a cake to the face. After all, it was still his birthday. Combi trashed the stage and it was done. We loaded out and proceeded. Onward, to Germany!
Aesthetic Perfection are currently touring in America with Combichrist.
For more information visit the band’s Myspace and website.
Read our interview with Daniel here.
Watch the video for ‘The Great Depression’ below: