In September and October, 2011, New Jersey’s NIGHTBIRDS toured Europe to promote their debut album, ‘The Other Side Of Darkness’ that was recently released on Grave Mistake Records.
Brian Gorsegner, the band’s frontman, kept this tour diary of what occurred.
Photos taken from the band’s Facebook page.
Wednesday 21 September 2011
We met up at my apartment in the afternoon... We had a red eye flight to catch that took off at 7:00pm that evening. A seven hour flight would put us in Amsterdam at 8:00am Euro time, 2am ours. We got our shit together and our bud Evan gave us a lift to the airport.
We checked our massive bags of tee shirts, records, guitars, snare, cymbals, etc and went to get our boarding passes. We got in line right behind The Casualties who were, coincidentally, on the same flight we were on, and were headed to play one show in Spain. Alex D. who was our roadie on this tour, and also puts out our records in the US on Grave Mistake Records was denied his boarding pass after we handed his passport to the woman behind the desk. This complete joy kill asshole, high on the smallest amount of power, told us that it's SUGGESTED your passport be valid three-to-six months after you are due home, in case you decide to extend your trip. She rudely explained how Alex's passport expired 10 days after we were supposed to get home, and had he read the very fine print he would have known that... This was news to all of us and it became quite clear there wasn't much use in arguing. We had already been standing there for about 45 minutes when she told us that if the rest of us didn't get going through customs and security that we would miss the flight. To make matters worse, Alex is from Richmond, VA and hardly knows anyone in New Jersey around where the airport was...
We told Alex to sit tight and we'd call him after we got to our terminal, as I was pretty confident I would be able to figure something out and get a friend to bail us out of the shit storm. We got where we needed to go just in time, and after a few phone calls a great friend of ours, and a total life saver, Andy Scarpulla, volunteered to come get Alex and try to help him with his situation. In the meantime, Alex talked to a much more helpful Delta employee who informed him that if he could get his passport expedited within 24 hours they would find him a flight to Amsterdam at no additional charge. Alex called the New York City passport office which was only about 45 minutes away and they said they could not have an appointment for him for about four days. At that point the rest of us would be in the UK and not able to detour to Amsterdam. He called the Philadelphia office and they said they could take him the next day at 11:00am, which would, in theory, get him back to Newark in the 24-hour window to catch a seat on an available flight. With an appointment booked in Philly and Andy on his way to get Alex, we boarded our fight and took off for Amsterdam.
Thursday 22 September 2011
A few Xanax and three bad movies later we landed and got a cab to Marcel's apartment in Amsterdam. We arrived at about 9:00am, Marcel greeted us, then left for work. We got some breakfast and crashed for a couple of hours until Michl, our driver on this tour, and the man behind Taken By Surprise Records (who released our album in Europe) pulled up for the initial meet and greet and to load the van. Michl is my favourite person on the continent of Europe, and the biggest Bruce Springsteen fan I have ever met, which is impressive from a New Jersey native like myself.
We grabbed some lunch and I checked my email to see if there was an update on Alex's situation. Sure enough there was. Alex caught a train down to Toms River, NJ (getting on two wrong trains in the process) and went to Andy's house where he got some sleep, woke up the next morning and Andy drove them an hour and a half into Philly, waited around all morning getting the passport expedited, and then drove two hours back to Newark to drop Alex off at the airport and to book the next available flight. We would be picking him up the next morning at the Amsterdam airport. Talk about a rough start.
We played the Occii in Amsterdam that night, which looked like a large gingerbread house. We were fed a delicious meal and I watched GLAM from Spain play a great set of tight, fast Hardcore. The room was pretty packed out for a Thursday night, between about 150-200, and it was the smokiest show I had been to in a very long time; something I hadn't thought about since the ban on smoking indoors in NYC and New Jersey. It burned the shit out of my eyes, but brought back great memories of when I first started going to Punk shows in small, smokey, dirty clubs and basements. We set up all our rented tour gear on stage for the first set of tour, worked out a few minor kinks and played what I thought wasn't a half bad set - considering we’d had close to two hours of sleep in about 35 hours - to a fairly enthusiastic crowd. Tour was underway.
Friday 23 September 2011
We woke up very early to back track a little bit to pick up Alex, then head to Leipzig, Germany to play Zoro Fest with SYSTEMATIC DEATH from Japan, BARN BURNER from Canada, CRIMEN from Mexico, and more. It was on the way to this show that we discovered that our van would randomly not exceed 100 km per hour, which is about 65 MPH. A pretty inconvenient but funny issue especially on a highway with no speed limit and cars flying past us going what must have been 120 MPH. A major highway we needed to get to the show was also blocked off so in total it took us close to 10 hours to reach the venue. I believe this was the 17th Zoro Fest, but I might be off by a year or two. The squat was five stories high and massive in size. Approx 1,000 people were partying, barbecuing, hanging out... Some girl was drinking a beer out of a glass with a gold fish in it. Laura was one of the folks doing the Fest, and she helped us load our gear, fixed us with dinner, and soon after we were sound checking for set number two. This set is sort of a blur in my head, but I do recall a guy licking a boot up front and biting my mic chord a lot. Afterwards we slept at Laura's apartment, then met back at Zoro in the morning for breakfast.
Saturday 24 September 2011
After breakfast we made the 10 hour drive back to the Netherlands to play R'N'R Fest in Venlo at Perron 55 that Ronnie from CITIZENS PATROL put together. We got there a little bit late due to our van issues and LECHEROUS GAZE (some ex members of Annihilation Time) were cool enough to swap spots with us. The fest was set up so a band would play in the room upstairs which held about 300 people, then a band downstairs in the larger room, holding about 400 and change, and would continue on rotating so there was no down time for set up. We played what was a top five tour set for me... Lots of energy from the crowd, and I was shocked how many people knew the words to our songs, even on the new album. Felt great to not be sitting in the van anymore too... People came to this fest from all over the place and we met a lot of folks who we would later on encounter at random points. Lots of cool bands played... SYSTEMATIC DEATH, CITIZENS PATROL, VITAMIN X, SPERMBIRDS, and DIRECT CONTROL who definitely played the set of the day for me... Great to get to hang out with those guys so far from home too! We got some rest and shoved off early the next morning to catch our ferry to the UK.
Sunday 25 September 2011
We drove onto the ferry, got some lunch, and enjoyed the view. The White Cliffs of Dover were the first piece of land we saw on the other side and they were pretty incredible. We drove to the Grosvenor in London which is a cool little bar. Tom Ellis from the SHITTY LIMITS put together our UK dates and was running the London show. Unfortunately the DOWN AND OUTS and the ZIPCODES, who share members, broke down on the way and did not get to play, which was a bummer as they were two of the bands I was looking most forward to seeing on this trip. Shit happens. So the three band show kicked off with LITTLE EASE, then SAUNA YOUTH, and we rounded out the bill. It was a good turn out, and a girl who's name is slipping my mind at the moment told me she flew over from Ireland to see us... I thought that was cool. I felt like we really struggled to get going at this show, and it was my least favourite set we played of the tour. The sound was just a bit off, and I felt like we hit a wall. No sleep and long drives is bound to catch up to you, but whatever, we did our thing and tried to make the best of it. Off nights are inevitable, just have to shake it off. We split up after the show, and Alex and I went to stay at Ellis's while the rest went to stay with Thai and Daniel from the RED DONS who we had met and played with a year prior in New York, and Michl knew well from driving them on a couple European tours. We took the subway to Ellis's house and he pointed out the spot where the infamous Jam VS. the Exploited fight / riot had taken place, which is now a church. The rest of the crew did a drunken interview in a park across the street from Johnny Rotten's old house and on the way back to go to sleep, Daniel gave the 30 second car tour of Big Ben, London Bridge, etc.
Monday 26 September 2011
Alex, Ellis, and myself took a bus to meet the other guys the next morning and had an amazing London breakfast thanks to Daniel and Thai: Baked beans, toast, cheese, tomatoes, tea, eggs. If there's one thing the Europeans do best, it's breakfast. We took off afterwards to kill some time before heading out to Leeds.
A short drive (first in a while) got us to Leeds at a decent hour and we quickly made friends with some locals. We were playing a house show with DRY HEAVES (who ruled) and the place, a tiny basement room that sounded really good with a cool Leeds Hardcore banner hanging up with a middle finger, was packed out. We had some butternut squash soup and then played my favourite show of the UK, and one of my favourites of the tour. Felt great to play a basement and felt like home. Joe and I shocked the shit out of each other every time we bumped into one another while playing because of the way the wires were grounded. After the set we hung out with Liam Fox, King of Leeds Punk Rock who taught us funny British insults and showed us weird British dirty movies. Mike actually found a bunch of people to talk comics with and a good night was had by all.
Tuesday 27 September 2011
We got to sleep in and hit a record store with Liam before our long drive to Glasgow, Scotland. We embarked upon what was without a doubt the most scenic drive of tour, and Michl blasted the double disk Springsteen CDs we bought. We rolled up, sound checked, and had a great dinner with pasta and potatoes, then took a walk and checked out the town. An original member of Teenage Fanclub was our sound guy. He was cool as hell, and sported a TF tee shirt. A good show all around in the basement of a fantastic restaurant and was finished early, around 10pm. Everyone was exhausted and we took advantage of the shows early end to head to our sleep spot and crash.
Wednesday 28 September 2011
We got an early start, grabbed some coffees and hit the road down the entire UK coast to Swansea, Wales. This marked one week into tour. Mike had pretty much made a home out of the "hole" area between the back bench seat and the wall, which looked tighter than a child's coffin... not wide enough, or long enough for an adult body but he would disappear back there for hours. Anyway, we listened to some Seinfeld stand up and got to the show that was put together by our friend Jamie from SSSNAKES. The show was with the BONELESS ONES, who had started in 1984 and originated from Swansea. They had broken up for years and now occasionally play shows. They were cool guys and a great band. Then SSSNAKES played a great set, and we closed things out with what I thought was a pretty solid set. Got to hang with some of the Violent Arrest dudes and they ruled. I took a walk across the street to a cool old church to cool off, then came back to the show space and a full on dance party had broken out and Mike and Joe tore shit up. We went back to Jamie's, had dinner round two, and eventually went to sleep. Ryan, in a drunken stupor, woke us up in the middle of the night and asked me repeatedly if we were on a boat.
Thursday 29 September 2011
We had a feast of a breakfast and headed down to the Swansea beach which I'm pretty sure was the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. After about 30 minutes of taking in paradise we loaded back in the fart / Springsteen mobile.
Michl drove like a speed demon to Brighton where we played the last show of the UK at Sticky Mike's Frog Bar. Great show with LEGAL HIGHS, CLIMAX CHANGE, and STATE ICONS. The singer of Little Ease who we had played with in London did the show. Great turn out and the venue sounded good. Tony Whatley who does Suspect Device, an old zine from the UK made it out to the show and it was great to meet him. I had done an email interview with him the month before that ended up in the newest issue of Zonked! Ellis also made it out to the Brighton show to drop off a cymbal stand we had forgot in London, what a stand up guy.
Friday 30 September 2011
We woke up for yet another early start to catch a ferry back to the mainland. We made our way to Korkrijk, Belgium to play the coolest club in Europe, the Pits, with CITIZENS PATROL and DIRECT CONTROL. We were greeted with amazing steak dinners in the upstairs of the Pit's and this may have been my favourite meal of tour. The room where the bands played was really tiny and a third is taken up by the bar, which was getting dove off of all night. Wild sets by all three bands, and totally packed wall to wall. I grabbed a couple of cool silk screened posters for the show, sold records and shirts in the same room as the urinals, and a bottle of Absinthe was getting passed around, which resulted in one of those "what happens on tour stays on tour" kind of evenings... Holland rules.
Fast forward to the next morning...
Saturday 01 October 2011
We kick off a six hour drive to Paris to play a club called Le Parvis. I don't remember much of the drive except for, at one point, thinking I was going to shit my pants and making Michl pull over in a rush. I ran around Paris in a frenzy trying to use restaurant bathrooms, forgetting I don't speak any French, and people just looking at me like I was crazy. A couple of skaters saw the trouble in my eye and luckily spoke English and saved my day and pointed me in the right direction. An hour later or so we get to the club, do the load in / sound check and do our own things to kill some time until dinner. I did an interview for my old band, PSYCHED TO DIE, which was very thorough and cool to do. Went inside, watched LOUD GIRLS and POLICE TRUCK play really good sets, and then we went on. Played a pretty solid set to just over 100 or so Frenchmen and got a great response. I felt like shit all day, but the set was the turning point for sure. After the show we actually got to go do a bit of sight seeing, which due to long drives and our slow van had become a bit difficult. We went to see the Eiffel Tower and it was a real trip. I expected a total tourist trap, but it really is a fucking site. We got there just as the lights were being shut down for the night so it did the freak out, Christmas tree light thing for about four minutes then went dark... Good timing. We went back and crashed at Julien's, who was cool enough to let us use his international phone plan to make some calls home, shower, and get a good night sleep.
Sunday 02 October 2011
Tubingen, Germany was our next destination to play Heimat to Hell Fest with BALBOA BURNOUT, DEATHRITE, and HIGH SOCIETY on the Germany Holiday. We arrived at Epplehaus with plenty of time to do a proper sound check, eat a great meal, and do all the routine stuff. We were shown to the room upstairs where we could crash that night, loaded in all our shit, and hung out till the show started. Thomas was doing the show that night and he turned out to be one of the coolest people we met on tour. The place filled up and the first two bands played. I liked the HIGH SOCIETY a lot, really energetic. We played after them and it was a pretty standard set until about halfway through. Mike was running around the stage like a maniac and did not see a large monitor hiding in the shadows at the edge of the stage. Running full speed Mike trips on the monitor, falls off the stage (which was about a foot off the ground), and landed on his ribs, on his guitar. He continued playing, and never missed a beat. After the song he got on stage telling me he thought he was badly hurt, which kind of freaked me out as Mike is always doing damage to his body, but I had never heard him confess pain. We wrap up the set and it seems like he's feeling better as time is passing. We carry on with our night. Some head out to party, some call it a night and sleep upstairs.
Monday 03 October 2011
At some point during the morning, Mike sneezes, hears a terrible noise like a crack come from inside his body, and asks us to call a Doctor because he is sure there's a serious problem. Our boy Thomas gets a Doc on the phone and gets her to Epplehause right away. She looks Mike over and tells him he needs to go to the hospital for scans and X Rays, because if something is wrong with his spleen or another organ, like she thought, he'd likely DIE in the air when our plane was headed home. With that Mike, Michl, Joe, and Thomas headed off to the hospital while Alex, Ryan, and myself stayed behind and explored Tubingen. It was explained to us that Tubingen was a college town so it hadn't been destroyed in World War II, and the old village and castle, church and brick roads were all original. After a few hours we headed back to Epplehaus to wait for Mike's return.
After a half a day spent in a German hospital Mike and company made their way back to pick us up and fill us in. Mike had lucked out and only severely bruised his ribs, but was very lucky to not have broken them. We sped off to Munich to play Kafe Kult, which we were pretty late for. Fortunately Michl was putting the show on that night so he called some friends to cover the door till we got there. Kafe Kult was in a compound that was all part of a hospital during World War II. Opening band, RVIVR from Washington, USA was setting up when we got there and it was just a two band bill. RVIVR played, we ate some dinner, and soon enough were loading gear on stage for our set. A really good set considering Mike played sitting down in a chair like a latter era performance from the late great Pig Champion of the almighty Poison Idea. After the show Michl took some of us on a tour around the compound, and some NIGHT BIRDS and RVIVR members jammed on an old drum set and a guitar rig in a small room with a guy who lived near by. Eventually everyone crashed out.
Tuesday 04 October 2011
Michl prepared us some breakfast before hitting the road to Bonn, Germany.
Most of the day was spent in the van, which is a blur. Our buddy Marc from Bonn, who we had met at multiple NIGHT BIRDS shows in the States was doing the show this evening. I learned that Marc only likes pancakes, french fries, and cream cheese. We played with a band called MONSTER MASH, who I think were a ‘Famous Monsters’era Misfits cover band. We ate, we played, we loaded, we went to bed early. A fairly short night, as everyone was tired, some getting sick, and Mike in a very uncomfortable state.
Wednesday 05 October 2011
It almost looked like rain for the first time on our trip this morning, so we made our way out of town and on the road to Berlin. This was the last long drive of tour and we were all pretty happy about that. Joe put on some Devil Dogs which was a nice change of pace from the power pop explosion going on in the front seat. We headed straight to the Static Shock record store which everyone agreed fucking ruled. Michl's main man Iffie was booking the show, and by the end of the night he was our friend for life. My friend Jeff Bastard relocated from New Jersey out to Berlin a few years ago for school and work. He met us at Static Shock and it was great to see him. His new band, APOSTROPHE, was going to play their first set later that evening with us. Josh, who worked at Static Shock and plays in a great band called Love Triangle made us some dinner. After-wards we headed to Bei Roy, which was down an alley, on the third floor of an unmarked building. We bitched and moaned and loaded in all our shit upstairs. We got out of each others hair for a bit before the show kicked off. About 150 people packed in for a nice short two band bill. A photographer from Kerrang! came out to the show to take photos and write a review, which I thought was cool since Kerrang! was the first rock mag I ever knew about thanks to Guns ‘n' Roses for calling them out in the song ‘Get In The Ring’. APOSTROPHE hit the stage and it was great to see Jeff playing guitar again. Then we played the loudest set we have ever played before and it felt good after a day of being cooped up in the van and loading shit up three stories. The show ended, the place cleared out, we got our gear and headed back to Iffie's. The group split in half and both went out for a bit before heading back to crash.
Thursday 06 October 2011
We woke up at Iffie's, rolled our sleeping bags, and took a walk back to his record store which was about five minutes away for breakfast. Josh, once again, prepared us a fantastic breakfast before we headed out with our buddy Jeff to lead us on some site seeing. He first took us to Checkpoint Charlie and he and Michl gave us a great history lesson. Then we made our way to the Berlin Wall, took some touristy photos, and headed back to the van. Last stop before leaving town was the Ramones Museum. That's right, the only existing Ramones museum is in Berlin, Germany. It was started up by a guy named Flo Hayler in 2005 and then they relocated to where they are now in 2008. An extremely impressive collection of Ramones treasures from all eras. From insanely rare down to tour shirts from the 90's, and only five Euro to get in including a drink! Highly recommended, we had a blast.
We eventually parted ways with Jeff and hit the highway to Hamburg. The show was right on the water surrounded by ships and ports, and Michl told us this area is where the Beatles played a lot of their first gigs. We played a really cool club called Hafenklang. When we arrived the club owner handed us a key to a room we could sleep in which was just off the club and we would be sharing bunk beds with the other bands playing that night. He cooked us dinner, and the show was quickly underway. Joining us on the bill was CRIMEN from Mexico, who we had played with the second day of tour, and also CRIATURAS from Austin, TX, who are some of the members of Deskonocidos who we had played with at Chaos in Tejas in Austin earlier that year. It was nice seeing some familiar faces and the show was one of my favourite bills of the trip. Every band played great sets and hung out and shot the shit. CRIATURAS played the tightest set I have seen played by any band this year, on fucking point. It was a great turnout and Michl introduced us to his friends Will and Nagi (solid dudes!) who we hit the town with after the show, along with CRIMEN and CRIATURAS. Everyone broke up into groups and wandered the many things to see in Hamburg at 2am. There was a bar that was auctioning off records where they would play the record, and start the bidding very low. If no one bid anything on the record, they would smash it into a thousand pieces. Ryan bid, and then outbid himself on a F.O.D. record to save it from inevitable destruction. Some did some site seeing around the Red Light District, which was likely the trashiest place I had ever seen. Gun stores, jack shacks, peep shows, hookers, drunks, and cops as far as the eye could see. It was kind of like Shredder's hang out spot in the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. At some point the night wound down and we made our way back to the snore fest slumber party for some sleep.
Friday 07 October 2011
We all got ourselves together and back to the club for some breakfast before parting ways. We were playing Copenhagen, Denmark and had a ferry to catch into Scandinavia. The drive to the ferry saw our first rain in the 16 days we had been there, which from what people told us is pretty unheard of in the areas we were travelling. The sky opened up and it poured and the wind rocked our van. It cleared away in about an hour and we got to the ferry just in time for boarding. We drove aboard, got out and got some lunch and enjoyed the view. We hit land and Michl finished off the drive to Stengade where we were playing that night. Ryan introduced us to his friend Martin who was doing the show. The two had met in New York the year before when Martin had crashed at Ryan's apartment. GANG GREEN was initially on the bill but their tour got cancelled so the bill was us, NIGHT FEVER, EXTENDED SUICIDE, and a band called GRRZZZ. NIGHT FEVER got there and it was great to see those guys... We had played with them earlier in the year and they are cool as shit... A few members also play in Hjerestop who we had played with the year before in Brooklyn. Casper who worked at the club got us some great dinner. We ate, sound checked, and hung out till show time. The place packed out with around 250 people and the show got underway. I tried to sleep off a massive headache in the van for a bit until it was time to go on. We played and then NIGHT FEVER closed it out. The show was a blast. I was really impressed with our reaction then NIGHT FEVER played and just destroyed. People went ape shit, it was a great set. We hung out there until bouncers started literally throwing people out. It was clear it was time to go. Martin had arranged a room for us to stay in at a nearby hostel but could not remember the password to get in. He thought it was 1 2 1 2 #... We got our bags, walked 15 minutes in what was now pretty cold weather, and made our way to the hostel. The password was not 1 2 1 2 #. Everyone took a try at randomly guessing what the code could be and after about 20 minutes things started to look kind of grim. It was 3am, cold, and people were getting restless. Joe was trying his hand at the combination and he and I got in - what I guess was the closest thing to a fight on tour - over me saying, "fuck this, let's go sleep somewhere else" and him being dead set that out of the 10,000 or so possible combos for the door that he would figure it out. Well, about two minutes later he proved himself right as we heard the door open and Joe extended double middle fingers to the group. The only thing better would have been the "suck it" gesture. Astonished and thrilled we threw our shit in the room, claimed beds, and a few went back out to a party where, from what I heard, was a group of people sitting in a circle, drinking, and listening to DIO. R.I.P. Ronnie James Dio.
Saturday 08 October 2011
We woke up, fuelled up on coffee and headed back to our van to make our way back to the ferry to get to the last show in Bremen, Germany. The John Joseph audio book made the time fly and before we knew it we were at G 18 in Bremen eating some pasta and drinking delicious Spezi (one of our favourite German soft drinks) courtesy of Franz who was doing the show that night. The show kicked off and we played some action packed games of Foosball with our new friends, TERRIBLE FEELINGS. I had been listening to TERRIBLE FEELINGS pretty much non stop before we left for tour and I was really excited to see them. I'm sure they get this a lot, but the female and male vocal harmonies are so X. So fucking good, for real, check them out. After they rocked us two games out of three they hit the stage and played one of the best sets I saw the whole tour. I wasn't looking forward to following it up, but being our last show of tour gave us a good push to give it our all and we played, what I thought, was a really solid set. Mike also got to use Anton from TERRIBLE FEELINGS amp, which was just like Mike's Fender combo amp at home and he was in heaven. He sounded damn good, too. We closed with a cover of ‘I Just Want To Have Something To Do’ and with that tour was over.
We stood out in the cold for about an hour getting all of our shit together, said goodbye to TERRIBLE FEELINGS and Franz and headed back toward Amsterdam to catch our 10am flight home. Michl loaded up on caffeine and cigarettes and made the night drive.
Sunday 09 October 2011
We arrived at the airport around 7am, gave Michl a big hug and began the trek home. Half a day and many a Xanax later we touched back down Newark, NJ.
More pics at Night Birds Facebook page.