by Dan Didier
07.09.07 â€“ Dusseldorf, GER
After getting to bed in the bus at about 3AM we arrived at the Dusseldorf hotel around 8AM. Barely awake and sore we all loaded our gear and merch out of the bus and into the hotel rooms because the van's arrival wasn't until 4PM. Isn't touring glamorous!
So after a quick nap and a walk to yet another call shop (this time I learned that my daughter and Justin's daughter - born three days apart - were sharing "pulls" off of the same milk bottle. Like old drinking buddies they would each take a swig and pass it to the other) the van arrived and we met the Home Of The Lame guys. They are a four piece fronted by Felix Gebhard who is quite possibly the nicest human being I have ever met. He opened for our last European tour solo, so I was excited to see him play with a full band. We arrived at the club in a fashionable manner. An hour late. I've never played Club Zakk before, but the last time I was in Dusseldorf I saw TV On The Radio play there. I have such fond memories of that night two years ago that it was a pleasure to be back at that particular club.
Our show, on the other hand, was a wonderfully horrible show. We are borrowing Home Of The Lame's amps and most of the drums for these final two shows and, of course, everything went well during soundcheck. But, as soon as we went on stage and for whatever reason Davey's amp was not acting the way it did hours earlier.
Through the bad guitar tone, spilt beer, squelching pedals, clumsy mic stands, and disgustingly loud monitors we trudged on trying to make the next song be the one to get us back on track. Unfortunately, like running through quicksand, we sank further and further into the mire. But, for whatever reason the crowd wanted more. Now, for this tour we rehearsed a 14 song set and personally I think that is enough. When I go see a band I think my limit is 10 songs, tops. So, I assume everyone else is like me, but apparently this is not the case.
Backstage after our set proper we had to come up with two songs we could play for an encore. But, even that wasn't enough. So, once again we had to come up with something. The only possible song we could do was 'Twins' from We, the Vehicles. The last time we played this song we were in Cleveland in November. I remember this specifically because we were on tour with The Bound Stems and they came up on stage to sing that song with us. Now, it is never a good idea to play an unrehearsed song, but hey, why not. But, you know, it went surprisingly well and, as I was told, all's well that ends well.
Chicken quote of the day: "I will slash the night with my laser blades!"
07.10.07 - Munster, GER
Woke up today feeling fully rested for the first time all week (you will read later that I will need every bit of this rest). After a quick shower I met everyone in the lobby and we left to get coffee at a place recommended to us by our friend Akki Mueller.
There is this social club in Dusseldorf called Brause that some friends of ours run. Actually, the first European Maritime show was held there way back in 2003. It was an impromptu show booked, basically, the day of and ended up being a total blast as well as a nice "warm up" for the actual tour. The coffee shop, Moppete, that supposedly has the best coffee, was next door to Brause and I must say that it was an enjoyable cappuccino. Ahhh, the simple pleasures. They do come few and far between on any tour.
Onto Munster, the city of bicycles.
After an uneventful drive to Munster we arrived at Gleis 22 which is a great small club that feeds you well. This is the fourth or fifth time for me playing here, so I have come accustom to the place, the people, and the awkward backstage. After soundcheck Davey, Justin, and I went to a discount kinder outlet store to shop for our little ones back home. I bought my daughter a Laugh and Learn toy that plays German Nursery Rhymes. She will surely enjoy it. I hope.
After dinner we were interviewed for the local radio station.
The opening band was a one-man show called Green Means Love who heralds from the Canary Islands (the reference to our song Calm is not lost on us). Then Home of the Lame played the usual solid set. Now, I have always found Felix to sound a bit like Anders Parker, especially the Varnaline album Sweet Life. If anyone likes that record you should look into getting HOTL's first album Here, Of All Places.
Now, as far as our show, we could all be proud that we left Germany on a high note. We played without any of the mayhem that happened to us the night before and we were also prepared, this time, for the relentless cheers for more songs.
Chicken quote: "How many times do I have to see Willem DeFoe in the mirror?" in his disappointment of Spider Man 3.
07.11.07 â€“ The 30 Hour Trip: Hamburg, GER to Milwaukee, WI
The following is an act of complete insanity and an act of complete necessity that it is one of those things that separates the "men from the boys", so to speak.
We left the Munster club around 12:30AM to drive to Hamburg (a three and a half hour drive) so we can get to the hotel, shower, and be at the airport by 7:00AM.
About 40 kilometers outside of Hamburg we blow a tire. It was the front passenger wheel and it takes us a little while to make the switch to a healthy one.
While the hard work of our German counterparts was paying dividends I thought it would be a good idea to eat a little snack. I tore open my maple oat Clif Bar and started in. During a hearty chew I felt something I haven't felt in a long while. My tooth break apart! When I was in my teens I had to have a series of procedures to replace two broken teeth. Broken teeth not due to some fight or heroic deed but of one Red Hot candies and, at another time, a Snickers. And now, a Clif bar?! Let me get this straight, I am good about my dental hygiene. I brush at least twice a day, sometimes more, and I floss as much as I can. For this dental damage I am pulling the "bad genes" card.
So, with a quarter of my back tooth left on the side of the Autobahn we finally arrived at the hotel at 4:30 AM and ordered two cabs for a 6:30 AM pick up to take us to the airport. While watching CNN international the volume on the TV all of a sudden got louder and louder. No matter what Justin and I did to try to prevent this decibel surge nothing seemed to work. So, among all the things that I have had to put up with tonight, err, this morning a ghost in the hotel room seems quite fitting.
The trip to the Hamburg airport, check in, and boarding went just fine. The flight went pretty smooth since I could actually get some sleep! Granted I "borrowed" a Zanax from one of my colleagues to aid me in my much needed slumber.
At Newark Liberty International all was going surprisingly well until we got to re-checking our luggage when we were notified that our flight to Milwaukee had been cancelled. This is after all of our gear had already gone through so who knows when we will see them again.
After a long wait in an even longer line we were told that we could fly in the morning and have a hotel comp for the night. Well, this was sort of unacceptable as adding any more time to our trip home seemed like a slap to the face so we demanded that we get home sometime today on a different airline.
After an exhausted search by the unenthused and borderline rude woman behind the counter she finds a flight leaving LaGuardia to Cleveland and then Cleveland to Milwaukee having us home by 9:12PM. This will do.
The trip to LaGuardia was kind of fun because we went through the Holland tunnel into Manhattan and Canal St. to the Manhattan Bridge and then on to the BQE. I love New York so anytime spent in the city is a nice time.
At LaGuardia we check our luggage and get a bite to eat.
After we board and start to taxi the pilot comes on and says due to weather we will have a slight delay in taking off. This slight delay ended up being in the three hour range. So, stuck on this 737 for three hours watching the rain come and go is no way to spend an afternoon.
We finally take off and the flight to Cleveland was full of worry and wrist watch watching because this flight was due to land at 8:20 the EXACT time our flight to Milwaukee was boarding.
Land! Run! I have never ran so fast since running hurdles in my middle school track team. At Gate D14 the sign said 2590 to Milwaukee departing 10:15. Panting, I ask the woman if this information is correct she said "yes, the flight is delayed as we are still awaiting the plane which is coming from Chicago". Perfect, just perfect. If all went according to plan I would of been home seven hours before this flight from Cleveland would be departing.
The flight to Milwaukee was really really nice. Once we were high enough I searched my iPod for Sigur Ros' () album, hit play, and then stared out the window in a daze. Night flights are my favorite because seeing all the lights twinkling on the ground always amazes me. That's why, over what I assume was Kalamazoo, I switched over to Red House Painters "Cruiser" off of Old Ramon.
"L.A. sparkles on the ground, L.A. glitters on the ground..."
We got into Milwaukee at 10:30 Central Standard time and had my cousin pick us up in our van. Since my house is the closest to the airport I get dropped off first. That night I have never slept so wellâ€¦
Dan Didier is the drummer for Milwaukee's very own Maritime. The band will release their third album Heresy And The Hotel Choir on Flameshovel Records October 16.