This tour report of our EU/UK tour in June/July 2012 has been written over a long period and it has never been edited. So it probably is very boring and full of spelling mistakes and such. Also, I’ve probably forgotten all the amazing and cool stuff already when I wrote this. I guess touring and all the things that happen is something you got experience, it doesn't translate well onto paper (or computerscreens).
So if you really like to read, go ahead. For me this is just a post so it’s kind of a back up of this file…
June 15th 2012 : Baracke, Munster, Germany
We fortunately managed to get a van on the morning of the start of the tour after being fucked over by a van rental company just a day before. We picked up the van, loaded in, picked everyone up and headed to Munster, Germany. We arrived quite early. We hung out at the Baracke for a while and made a little lap around the city. The show went well, was well attended, and we got to see some friends again (Goodbye Fairground, Social Distrust). Of course every German had to tell us how much the Dutch football team sucked. Fair do’s, we know.
After the show we went to a midnight flea market, which was not a good idea. It was raining like hell so all the stands had already closed. We headed back to the venue to quickly go to sleep.
June 16th 2012 : KaosKeller, Langenau, Germany
After a rude wake up call (Jort played the drums that we’re still set up at the venue), we packed our gear and headed to Julia’s (Goodbye Fairground’s drummer) for a nice breakfast and a shower. We headed to Langenau after a small detour to pick up Rick’s phone. That guy forgets everything.
Halfway trough the ride to Langenau the weather cleared up and it would take at least a week before we’d see some rain again. Not too bad. When we arrived at the KaosKeller people were already chilling outside. We were surprised to see some familiar faces again (Still Bleak). We loaded in and had a walk around the town. Langenau is a really nice German city with matching buildings. A carnival was going on in town so we got to see some typical German bands and beer.
Back at the venue we got served a great vegan bbq. After chilling out in the sun it was time to play some football. We saved some of the Dutch honor by beating the Germans 10-8.
The show started and people were starting to get drunk/dancing. Irish Handcuffs killed it this night! Some new friends were made. Meanwhile some of the Sweet Empire crew were playing Flunkiball (?!) outside, a drinking game. This meant we got on stage too drunk. This also meant we had a great after party. Rowald decided to literally break the place down; he tore down a drainage pipe when trying to get the flunkiball from the roof. After a lot of beers and great conversations it was time to head for bed.
June 17th 2012 : EKH, Vienna, Austria.
The next day we headed to Vienna. With such good weather outside it was a nice day to travel (with air conditioning in the van). When we arrived at the venue Andy greeted us. He showed us the squat, EKH, which is one the most impressive we’ve ever seen. They had a huge dragonfly hanging in a huge hall. Andy told us the dragonfly could flap his wings and even spit fire, unfortunately we didn’t get to see the proof of this. A little later Heinz arrived to make us some food. Jack arrived a whole lot later, as usual.
After a very long sound check we finally got to get to eat some dinner. After dinner Rob and Jort ran out to watch the Dutch football team loose to Portugal. The show was well attended. The venue, promoter, and bands were happy. That’s all you need on a night!
We headed back to Jack’s place, where we also stayed for a night on our previous tour, to get our hands on some ‘insanity sauce’ again. Nobody dared to touch it except for our hero, Rowald. He took a teaspoon of that hell fire. Nothing too bad he said, but it turned out there still was something left on his finger and rubbing your eye after is not a good idea. The rest of the guys went ‘haha’. We all went to sleep. Heinz made friends with Van Der Meulen and used him as a pillow.
- Van der Meulen and John were with us on tour again, as always.
June 18th 2012 : Sub, Graz, Austria.
The main reason why we stayed at Jack’s place was (besides Jack being an idiot and kicking his laptop out of his bed) to get some cheap pizza for breakfast. And so we did. Absolutely full as can be from the pizza we (incl. Jack) headed to Graz early because we wanted to go swimming. We found this lake near Wiener Neustadt. After a cooling swim we were told that we were in a private area. Punk as we are, we didn’t give a shit.
We arrived at the Sub in Graz to meet Hammers (UK) and Iron Heel (AT) there. We loaded in and were served to a great vegan meal cooked by the promoter of the night, Tom. The Sub is a great place but as it was a Monday, with absolutely amazing weather outside, not many people turned up. We played first and after our show we went for a stroll around the city. Graz is beautiful. We went up on the mountain in the centre (some by a spacey elevator, others by the stairs) to have a great view over the city.
When we got down again Jort saved a hedgehog that got stuck in the centre, loaded in, and headed back to Tom’s place. We went to bed almost right away ‘cause we had a long drive and day coming up. Jort slept on the balcony ‘cause it was so warm.
June 19th 2012 : Lucerna Music Bar, Prague, Czech Republic.
The next day we left quite early for Prague to play one of our biggest shows to date. After driving through beautiful Austria and Czech Republic for a while, seen some foxes and deer, we arrived dead centre Prague.
The venue we had to play was huge, and that was not because of us. We were supporting Hot Water Music and La Dispute, a real dream come true. We were being treated like rock stars. We had our own backstage, got restaurant food, got towels, etc.
We arrived quite early so we had enough time to walk around the beautiful city centre. If you’re ever doing a city trip Prague is the place to go.
This night was a night to remember. The show went well and we got to see the other bands play. When we played the room was already quite full, I guess we played to a couple hundred people. The other bands were really nice, and we got to hang out for a bit. Also some of the crowd thought Jort was Chuck Ragan so there were some very confusing conversations going on. Unfortunately we had to leave early because we had to do an overnight 12 hours drive to the next show.
Fortunately we didn’t earn that much weird Czech money so we could all spend it on fuel for the long drive.
- Koen enjoying the beautiful scenery in Prague
June 20th 2012 : Blue Rose Saloon, Bresso/Milan, Italy
Taking turns driving the drive to Milan wasn’t too bad. The only bad thing was that Koen was stung by some kind of insect and he’s feet were swollen. Really swollen. We decided to go see a doctor near the Garda lake, with the idea we could chill out at the lake for the rest of the day as Milan was just two hours away and it was 10am. It turned out to be completely different.
After waiting for a few hours in a hospital (cause we couldn’t find a doctor) we met some Dutch people who were waiting as well, only they were there a few hours longer. Some people suggested us to go to a different, smaller, hospital in the area. We thought this might be a good option. So we arrive at the next hospital. Different hospital, same problem. In the end we spend about 10 hours in hospitals just to get some antibiotics for Koen. We thought we were finally done, but no. We still had to go to a pharmacy to get Koen’s antibiotics. It turned out that there are about 100 pharmacies in one Italian street, but none of them had the antibiotics. It was not until the next day that we found the drugs.
Anyway, we went to the venue. We were greeted by a whole lot of Italians who all helped out loading out the van. A nice venue and nice people, but the whole of waiting really broke us. After the show we went to the hostel that Fra, the promoter, had got us. We had one more beer and went to sleep, which was the easiest we’ve ever done.
June 21st 2012 : C.S. Terra Di Nessuno, Genova, Italy
The next day we were woken up by Rick who spend the night in the van. He was in a fight (verbally) with an Italian guy. Rick doesn’t speak Italian but it was clear it was about our van being parked in a wrong way, so just to be sure we moved the van. We had a brilliant breakfast and headed for a music store to buy some gear. Gear always seems to break down when on tour.
The weather was still really great so instead for going to Genova right away we went to a beach in the area called Recco. Rob and Jort decided to go swimming, Rick was reading, and Koen and Rowald went to a tattoo shop to see if we could get a tour tattoo. This turned out to be the case so after an hour Rowald, Koen, and Jort walked out with a nice new tattoo.
We took the van and headed for Genova. We arrived at the C.S., which is some kind of Italian squad. The place was amazing. Up on a mountain in the middle of some woods. We were treated very well and had the best food ever. Made by a woman who absolutely adores cats, has about 50 of them. She promised if you got a new cat to call it Sweet Empire.
The show went well and was a lot of fun. We got to see some fireflies too. After chilling out for a bit Gippy and his brother brought us to the house we were staying at. We had one more beer and went to sleep.
- On the Italian side of the Mont Blanc Tunnel.
June 22nd 2012 : Deep Inside, Dijon, France
Italy is the best for breakfast, and Genova is known for its focaccia. So we had some, which was not a bad decision at all. We headed to Dijon, which was a beautiful ride. It took us through the mountains and trough the Mont Blanc tunnel.
Dijon is a really beautiful city. We were welcomed by Matt, who does Bomb The Gig together with his roommates. We loaded are stuff in and went to Matt’s place to have dinner. Our good friends of The Early Grave were also playing so it was going to be a fun night.
The show was in a cellar, which was quite cool (unfortunately not temperature-wise). After the show we hung out, drank beer, made friends, told stories, just had a great time. Later that night we went to Matt’s place again where we had some more hanging, beer, friends, stories, great times. We even did some acoustic songs for the Bomb The Gig youtube channel. Don’t look it up please.
June 23rd 2012 : Le Rivoli Bar, Epinal, France
This day we had a short drive to Epinal, so we got to hang out in Dijon for a while. We walked around, bought some great Epoisse cheese and bread. Bought some mustard. Went by a ‘food not bombs’ stand. Just had a really relaxing day in Dijon.
We arrived in Epinal quite early. We loaded in and just sat at the bar. Not much later promoter Nico and the rest of The Early Grave arrived. Also some weird Belgium guys were there too, called Dear Hearts.
We played the same bar as last time so it was fun to see some familiar faces again. We had a great party with good friends, and they all went back to Nico’s place for some more partying. Not much to tell about this day besides we had a great time partying.
June 24th 2012 : Le Juke Bocks, Abbeville, France
Our next stop before we went to the UK was Abbeville in France, near to Callais. It was a Sunday so we arrived in what seemed to be a ghost town. We knocked on the door of the venue and the promoter/owner Romain let us in. There was a huge language barrier here. We speak little French and Romain spoke little English. Fortunately we managed to get by.
As it was a Sunday the show was to be really quite. Quite when it comes to people attending but also when it comes to volume. We set up and hung out at the venue. Some of our girl/boyfriends were in Abbeville to visit us, so that was really nice. We all headed out into town to get some kebab or pizza.
When we got back we played our show and drank some more beer. Romain showed us where we were staying. This was a dark room on the second floor of the venue. We were tired as hell so we said goodbye to our friends and went to bed.
June 25th 2012 : Mozarts, Swansea, Wales
We woke up to find one of the French visitors of the bar still drinking beer and coffee downstairs. He said he wanted to say goodbye to us, what a nice guy.
We loaded out and headed to Callais. It was the first time we took the tunnel to the UK, which fucked a little with Rick’s mind. He was (and still is) convinced he had an extra hour to sleep the coming night. Not true of course, but Rick was happy with that thought.
This was also to be our first gig ever in Wales. We got to Mozart’s quite early to find Pillai (promoter and drummer in the amazing The Arteries) already present. He let us in and we had our first pint of the tour. After we unloaded the van we went to the house we were staying at. Lets say this is Arteries HQ. We dropped off our sleeping gear and went to pick up the PA for the night. This was at a skate park. When we arrived lots of kids were skating, already better than we will ever be able to skate.
We got the PA back to Mozarts and greeted to other bands for the night: The Kidsisfireworks and Dividers.
It was great to be back in the UK and see so many familiar faces. I guess we played quite a good show. After the show we went back to Arteries HQ and drank some more beers. There was this cat that was drinking out of the toilet. This cat came down to the house quite often but didn’t belong there. The cat was nice.
Rob went to bed early because he wanted to go surfing the next day…
June 26th 2012 : Portland Arms, Cambridge, England
Rob woke us all up at around 9, super stoked to catch some waves. We all got in the van to go to Jamie’s mom’s place to get Rob a wet suit. It turned out there weren’t any waves, so Rob (fighting his tears) couldn’t go surfing. In stead we went to a ruin on top of a hill with a great of over the cost line. With typically UK weather, rain, this was a beautiful sight. Also to dogs who came with us had a great time running around.
In the afternoon we left Wales to get back into England, to Cambridge. We went to the promoter’s place, Robert, to leave our sleeping stuff and pick him up. We already played the Portland Arms before so it was a familiar place. Last time we played with a shit load of bands, and we quite sucked, so we were keen on playing a good show tonight, as we were headlining too. Guess we played a good show.
On the bill was It’s Not OK. This band is the full electric version of Oliver John Ward’s acoustic music. We toured with Olli the year before so, again, it was good to see him. We were to see him more often the coming days.
An other band playing that night was new to us; Victory Points. A great band with male/female vocals. These were also some of Robert’s housemates. After a great night at the venue we went back to the house to have a great after party, incl. crisps, whisky, beer, nudity (by some people), and dino baby. When most people went to sleep Rob was still having such a great time that the others couldn’t really get to sleep. Fortunately everybody was able to fall asleep with Rob upstairs and Robert downstairs with the band.
- Part of the ruin on top of the hill near Swansea.
June 27th 2012 : Karma Kafe, Norwich, England
This was to be a beautiful day. We were asked to come by a studio and record some music. So we headed down to this small village in the area of Norwich to be greeted by Adam. We met Adam when he was on tour in Holland with Norwich-based band The Kabeedies and he invited us over at his studio when we were over in the UK. The weather, the views, the studio, it was all too good to be true.
We set everything up, Adam checked the sound and we were ready to record. After having some coffee of course. We decided to record one of our newly written songs called ‘Soapbox’. After four hours we were done. We thanked Adam for one of the best experiences ever on tour to date and left for Norwich.
When we got to Norwich we had some time left and went for a stroll around the city. Norwich is a typically English city, with a cool castle on a hill. The original promoter of the night was on tour himself so he left the show to one of his friends. I guess he didn’t know that about 15 people needed food (It’s Not OK was playing as well, besides French punk rockers Nina School). One tupperware box of pasta wasn’t enough. So we went back into town to see if we could get something to eat. It took forever to find an American Hamburger bar (with bean burgers). The waitress thought we were rock stars so we had a laugh.
We played the show, unfortunately the sound wasn’t the best ever, but we’re a punk band so that’s all right. We also didn’t have a place to stay for the night but after asking for one on stage we were sorted. We could stay at Sophie’s place. Back at her place we had a good chat, looked at the ridiculous amount of empty bottles, and found out Sophie is a great artist (new Sweet Empire shirts coming up soon!).
- In front of the studio (fltr: Rick, Rowald, Koen, Rob (our tourbuddy), Adam (producer extraordinaire, Jort)
June 28th 2012 : Kraak Gallery, Manchester, England
The next day we had to go to Manchester to play a show with Leagues Apart and Apologies I Have None, amongst others. We were stoked to the max, and the weather was great. Until somewhere in the middle of the drive we hit a hailstorm and things got rowdy. It was one of those small storms you get into every five years, but are so heavy that you think something’s going to break down. Fortunately, we survived. We stopped by a field to take a picture with James the horse and went on to trying to find the venue in downtown Manchester. After quite some time looking for the tucked away venue we found it, unloaded, and went back onto an adventure of parking the van somewhere. This all cost us quite some time, but that’s what you get when playing a city. We met Kieran, the promoter, told him he smelled and we went for a stroll around the city. Manchester has some amazing street art and some great shops with lots of stuff everyone would like to buy. We had to resist ourselves not to buy miniature trucks.
After getting some of that delicious Crabbies, we went back to the venue to have some food and to do a little sound check. We found out our friends in Crazy Arm were supporting Lagwagon in Manchester on the same night. We tried to get in but that story would probably take up some more pages, it ended in us not getting in.
The show was really great because we got to see lots of our friends again. Crazy Arm did get in to our show, so we got to say hi anyway.
We went on to stay the night at Andi’s (Leagues Apart) place and played the SEGA Megadrive for a while before getting to bed.
June 29th 2012 : The Empress, Harrogate, England
The drive to Harrogate was one of the shortest on the tour so we had some time to get breakfast in Manchester and visit a record shop. Manchester is a really cool city, especially when the weather is fitting to the scenery (rain!). So after having Mexican food for breakfast and picking up some new vinyl we dropped Andi back off at his place and headed for our beloved Harrogate.
On all of our trips to the UK we played Harrogate almost every single time (we skipped playing there once when we were over for only two days of Crash Doubt Fest). So we knew what to expect. We arrived at Callum’s place and he showed us where we were staying. After putting our sleeping gear in the house we left to the dinner place because Callum can’t cook. Fortunately the girls at the dinner place could. We were treated to a great vegan dinner, with real or even vegan cheese as an option. We also enjoyed the beers we bought at the liquor store before. I still don’t know why the bars in England serve such shitty beers whilst England really has some tasty stuff, but that’s only being sold at the liquor stores. Anyway, the beers were good. After chilling out for a bit and watching TV we went to the venue.
Every time we played Harrogate it was at a different venue. So this time we played the Empress. Again we had to play an upstairs place that didn’t look like a typical punk rock venue. Fortunately we knew better, it was going to get crazy!
Hardcore act Eric Bana, hailing from the Harrogate area, was playing their last show this night cause the legendary Cooper was going to move to New Zealand. Also the almighty Dogfight was playing. We were on last and had a little surprise ready for the crowd. We brought this hardcore band called Crack David to play a little set too, it rocked. We were running late so we had to cut everything short so it ended in singing Bro Hymn with everyone in the room. Again Harrogate proved to be amazing.
After the gig was done we headed into town to the legendary Retro Bar. I can’t really remember what happened that night but it sure was fun/weird/cool/strange/etc.
June 30th 2012 : The Birds Nest, Deptford/London, England
Callum had to kick us out early, which wasn’t a problem cause we had quite a drive to Deptford. We just left Harrogate when we saw a sheep in a ditch. We pulled over and ran towards the sheep to find out the poor thing was already dead. There went our opportunity to do a good deed. So we got back into the van and drove to Deptford. This night was to be recapture of some of the days we had in the UK. It was also the second time for us playing the venue. Last time was great so we were stoked to play! Bands on the bill included: It’s Not OK, Nina School, Victory Points, Darko, and James Choice. This was probably the day we were really tired the entire day but thanks to our friends at the venue we got back into party mode again. And a party it became. After watching all the bands (great stuff, every single one of ‘m) and foolish dancing we got in the van to get to the place to stay for the night, Nina School was staying over too. This place is known as Asburry Castle. We didn’t know what to expect. Fortunately the promoter and good friend / split CD mate Olli forgot his key so we could hang around outside for some longer. One of his roommates came to the rescue and let us in. Soon the entire place was filled with drunk punk rockers. Another night of partying, can it ever be enough? No.
When Rick finally went to bed he grabbed a bottle of water and went upstairs. With his teeth all brushed he laid his head down, but first he took a sip of water, which turned out to be pure vodka. Rick is the party champion, not drinking water but vodka. Some of us got to stay in Giles’ room (Great Cynics) so we left him a thank you note. And a bottle of vodka.
- The front of the great Birds Nest.
July 1st 2012 : JC Horizont, Meerhout, Belgium
Last day of tour, and a big travel day as well. We got up super early to get to the tunnel in time. We stopped by a Tesco’s to get us some breakfast. Most of us just bought some bread and cheese, but Rob had to buy Scottish eggs and that kind of stuff. After breakfast he wasn’t feeling too well, but fortunately he could manage.
We arrived at the tunnel and could take a train early, just like on the way in. After driving through France we entered the world in which people could understand us again: Belgium.
We were playing Meerhout, the same place as where the great Groezrock festival takes place every year. It was a birthday party of Sander and Daan, two of the most enthusiastic young promoters we have ever met. After loading in and fixing some stuff with the PA it was time for Violent City to play. To our surprise Daan was filling in on vocals. After this we had to play. Playing the last show of tour always gives that little extra special feeling of playing a foreign show. Closing band was The Priceduifkes, last time we played with these guys was two years ago. This band is one the best and most fun pop punk bands in the Benelux (at least).
Totally broken and tired we left Meerhout and headed back home. We wanted to buy some more beers for on the way but when the first petrol station turned up we were in Holland already. In Holland they don’t sell beer at petrol stations. Yes, we were home again.