After a month’s break eating turkey, opening presents, seeing friends and drinking Baileys we’re more than ready to be back on the road with Frank Turner, The Sleeping Souls and Will Varley. W-hoooooOOO!
We pick up The General (Jenilea) from the airport on Saturday so that our merch table is tip top and then we meet up with the rest at Folkestone to get the tunnel over to the mainland. Will Varley is travelling in the Skinnymobile so things are gonna get up close and personal this tour! As usual we play tetris with the stuff in the back and eventually we’re good to go.
First stop is Utrecht, Netherlands. It’s dark and gloomy weather but not too cold still. The venue is one year old and everything is smooth. The show is back on the road! So good to see familiar faces in the crowd again. Next up is Münster, Hannover and Liepzig. All fun shows. It’s great to be back in Europe, the beer, the people, the food all some of our favourites! We can’t get enough brotchen. Here’s a pic of Thom with his breaky…
By day we spend most of the time working on new songs in rehearsal studios, sleeping or driving while watching horrendously gory films. And occasionally we get to look around. Here’s that one time I got let out of the van after a four hour jouney. As you can see the weather has taken a turn..
Kiel is the most northerly point of Germany that we have ever played. We’ve driven through snow storms to be here and we’re hell bent on partying! Great show. We’ll definitely try to get there again.
Bremen is cold. Oh so cold but inside the Pier 2 the temperatures a lot warmer. Then we take Berlin. Meet up with old friends Peter Fast, Maika and their little one before we take to the stage. Post gig drinks in a smokey pub with a tree inside see us bleary eyed and up late in the morning.
It seems like an age before we get an hour out of Berlin and Dan realizes he’s left his computer bag in the hotel. Reset the clock. This 7 hour journey just turned into a 9 hour one. Nice one Dan!
Up at the crack of dawn (or maybe before) – we head to the airport and make our way back to Germany for the second time. Will this trip include lifts in ambulances or other kinds of Skinny Lister fireworks? We’ll soon find out. We arrive at our boudoir on the Reeperbahn which is, for those unfamiliar sex-shop-tastic. Anyway, our place looks like a brothel. There are pictures of ladies, boobs and vaginas (or face lips as the guy promised me) all over the wall and S&M paraphernalia behind the bar. I thought the ‘WC’ neckless was a touch of class.
Getting ready in the sex hotel
Anyway, we settle into our room with bunk beds and pink satin sheets and a shower room with no door on (could be the most intimate we’ve ever been!!)…and decide to have a quick practice. It’s not long before the owner flings the door back (good job I’m not on the toilet) and tells us to practice in the bar, which of course we happily do. We sing amongst the tits and bits and I start to get thirsty as everyone in Hamburg seem to smoke right in the face of the smoking ban. I ask for a water but there’s no water apparently only strong beer or vodka.
Soon it’s time to make our way to our first gig which is on the West Stage of the Reeperbahn. It’s a small affair but there’s a bar and anyone can pop in. Soon there is a great crowd and we make the most of the small PA we have. Everyone jumps up and down…phew, good gig.
Next we get a quick bite to eat and before we know if we’re heading to Angie’s Nightclub where our later gig is. It’s deadly quiet. I’m nervous. I’m told there is lots of important people here but I just think there’s not enough. But do not fear! As we strike out on the first word of the first song, the bar fills and off we go. Lots of singing, dancing, hands flailing and we’re having an ace gig. Excellent.
Free drink wristbands and before we know it we’re drunk and near the strip where only fellas over 18 are allowed though (that’s right – no women at all). The boys take it in turns to go have a look at the ‘ladies’ but come back pretty quick with wide eyes whilst I dance on tables and throw peanut shells on the floor (all encouraged by the barmaid, promise!). Not sure how we got home but glad we did as two gigs on a boat the next day.
Lorna and Mule in Hamburg
The water is rough and a worse hangover would not have been good at all. It was lots of fun with press and some other bands signed to PIAS our distributors. We drink, we dance, we sing and we chat. Then we head to the PIAS dinner which was really lovely and great to hang out with everyone on steady ground. Thank you PIAS – you are wonderful!!
Next we are ushered into a minibus and get a free lift to Berlin (Thanks Udo). Sleepy and a little hungover we decide to head out once we get to Berlin. We head to a bar which has heavy techno music on, dim lights and drink Lagerbier Hell. Think we’re done for one day so head to bed (have to say I protested at this – but with busking lined up for the next day and a big gig the boys were probably wise).
It’s never hometime!
Next day we have a slight hangover…I thank goodness I didn’t stay out. We busk around flea markets, underground stations and cafes before getting moved on. Then we head to the bar where we have a gig. Soundcheck complete we settle down for a few ‘small’ beers. Uh oh.
As before, German efficiency is scary…the bar is empty until we begin…but then a nice sized crowd arrives and yet again there’s fun to be had. The rum flows and we all have a dance. Great. More steins after the gig, then we decide to go to a punk bar and play some more. Entering this quiet bar with serious faced people drinking in there I feel dubious but once we get going the bar seems like a good place to dance.
Mica and Lorna dancing on the bar
We get given jagermeister shots and then everything goes blank for me until we’re outside a famous techno club being refused entry. Not good. I’m not alone though so we head back to the hotel. Next morning waking up, a little panicked as not sure when the flight is…I check who is present and correct…everyone except Dan Hep. Uh oh. I give him a ring. No answer. Well, we may well have to go without him. One last try and a drunk surprised Dan answers. He seems to get the message anyway as he’s at the airport when the rest of us arrive, he’s laughing his head off, with burger all over his face. We all laugh at him, basically knowing that later that day, the smile will be gone.. ho ho ho.
It’s a kinda magic…
Miraculously he makes it on to the plane and off we go to nurse our hangovers. Peter Fast and Germany – we love you!!
After only having been back in England for 2 days following our exhausting Warped Tour experience and still suffering with very bad jet lag, we set off for Germany at 4am on Saturday morning. As we begin the journey we all start asking each other what is planned. We soon realise that nobody really knows any details… – we do know there is a festival though, that we are staying at our lovely friend George’s house (one of the DJs from Coma who we shared houses with at SXSW) and that we are due to play. How many times? Nobody knows…
Skinny warming up
We arrive and glad when someone actually comes with a board saying our names and thank God – they have come in a vehicle big enough for our bass in a hard case. So far so good. The driver tells us we’re playing on a market square with no PA but that was it as our gig in a pub was cancelled. Hmm. We all start looking at each other. Anyway, after 40 mins or so we are greeted in a lovely market place – very quiet and meet all our new and old friends, including Peter Fast, our guide for the day. He quickly enlightens us that we’re to play in the market and on a boat (which will be filmed – for TV i think) then our gig at the pub has just been delayed to 2pm and ‘yes, it does have a PA’ – relief. We sing and dance with smiling faces as people with bikes stop by, sing and clap.
Skinny playing on a boat
No time to hang around though, next we’re in the car and on the way to the bar. It is absolutely packed and people are crowding out by the window to listen to the folk act on. Good quality and people are enjoying themselves. Beer arrives. I worry that the audience will leave when the guy stops playing. I start to get nervous – have a couple of ‘sips’ of beer to calm the nerves. However, there’s still a good feel to the bar and as we start to get ready people crowd in once again. It goes off! SO MUCH FUN! As we come off stage mopping our brow Peter tells us the organiser of the festival loves it and wants us to play on a stage near the main stage at the actual festival in between main stage gigs. Right – had better stop drinking the beer. No, the girls I meet won’t let me. Eek. Very out of practice after a rather sober experience in the states.
Sipping at a German Flagon or ‘Humpe’
The festival is great, small and intimate and there’s free beer backstage. Eek. Things start to get a little hazy here but I remember having some bread and cheese. Then we’re on. We load up a tray with beer and rum (of which we later gaffer up and draw skull and cross bones on in absence of the flagon). The crowd starts to gather…everyone is in the party mood…especially me..anyway AGAIN, this time it REALLY kicks off..crowd surfing, accordion players on shoulders and rum dribbling down people’s faces as they jump up and down.
Events after this become even more hazy. I remember being told beer stops getting served at 10pm which is when the vodka bar opens. Dan Hep falls asleep in the wrong caravan only be to returned by a production officer, I go awol and may have punched Dan Hep, and I remember Sam furiously looking for his tweed. Messy to say the least and there is some rumour that Sam got to the train station in an ambulance as it was the only form of transport around at 6 am. Hope you’re safe and sound Mule!
Anyway, we had a fantastic time in Germany and if you’ll allow us back in the country, we would gladly be there!
Message from Sarah N (production staff) after Mule’s escape from Haldern….
Dear Skinny Listers,
after finding a stray cat of yours sleeping in my pile of clothes, blankets and pillows in my caravan/camper – fully clothed with dirty boots on and everything – and escorting him back to an overcrowed caravan No.18, I came upon a furious guy called Sam ( I think) with whom I had the pleasure of trying to find his tweet jacket and instrument. That included tracing back the party steps of the stray cat, some sinister cursing that goes beyond my active vocabulary and finding out that he had been given the wrong time for his shuttle. Or maybe he had confused it with the train departure time in the next bigger city, he was suppused to be at at 6.30 yesterday. I got him on a new train connection to Brussels and we drove him to the local train station full speed in an ambulance as there were no other vehicles available. We arrived just as the railway gates had come down and I made him cross anyway to catch the advancing train. I’m sure he got that one. I am not sure he got the connecting train and wether he had enough time at Brussels airport (train arrival was 11.10, flight departure was 12 a.m.) to board. It was quite an adventure. I did not get to see you play – although my colleague from the production office told me you were fab. So do come back next year and I’ll try to sneek off from the production office. Also, should you return next year, tell your touring manager to give me more concrete data on who, when and how many people do need a place to sleep for the night. I could have given all of you a sleeping space in a caravan had I known you were to spend the night. Got to run.
13 August – Skinny Lister
Thanks so very much for filling in some missing details on our evening. I am so very sorry for the riotous behaviour! I think we may have got a little over excited at the beer tap and vodka bar. Anyway, thank you very much for returning the cat (always prone to wondering) and also much more so for helping Sam out! It certainly sounds like an adventure and I hope very much he made it to Greece to see his girlfriend and in an acceptable state! (We’ve heard no word from him).
Thanks also for suggesting proper sleeping arrangements if we are to return next year (which we would of course very much like). We had actually intended to sleep at our friends house but as the chaos unwound this became increasingly unlikely!
We had a great time though (possibly too great). What an amazing festival Haldern Pop is. Hopefully we will meet and yes, hopefully you will be able to sneak away from production to drink, dance and be merry with us…we owe you that at least!
14 August – Sarah N
no worries about your extensive partying. This, as well as Sams wild ride is what the town/village will be talking about among the other things that happened last week. See, its really a bit of a nowheresville but once a year for 4 days rock’nroll comes to town and whatever happens needs to bring enough exitement to last for approximately one year. Also the stray cat was really nothing compared to the young naked scotsman from 2 years ago who had REALLY misunderstood me and skinny dipped into my bed with a truely strange discussion following on wether it would make sense to shag. (It didn’t.) I think a few of the other Vodka-tipi-tent guest were a bit worried about you having a quite tactile argument with anoher musician but I did not hear anything about serious fighting, injuries, damage, etc. We all had a peek at your underwear but I still considered you fully covered. No worries also about Sams swearing it was never directed at me or the festival people and greatly extended my vocabulary. I particulary liked “twat”. Has a nice ring. Should use that more often.