Pic(s) from the Vault #9 - July 16, 2010: Obscene Extreme Festival, Trutnov, Czech Republic
Czech Republic, not a bad place to spend a few days. Mountains, Bohemian rhapsodies, world class beer, a city that still carries it’s Cold War charisma, and culture ripe with a central European flavor that screams “do-what-thou-willst.” We got the invite to play Obscene Extreme many years ago, but it just never worked out. The summer touring schedule in Europe always demanded some stop here or there, in another far flung corner of Euroland, and so we regretfully declined, time after time. 2010 year was different, we said yes, and decided not to do any other festival. Four days in the Czech countryside, among numerous friends, great bands, AND we get to play? Czech it! We are there.
The flight was unremarkable (as they all are these days, so long as we arrive in one piece), dropping us down in Prague for the pickup, followed by a three hour ride north to the town of Trutnov, near the Polish border. We met the drummer for DRI on the same flight, and together we found our “driver” and followed him to the death-cab known always as “the Limo ride to the Fest.” I say that, because invariably these guys who pick up bands are always some kind of tweaker-weirdos. They get paid to drive back and forth all day long in traffic, shuttling bands to and fro, all the while chain-smoking cigs, driving like the mohawk guy in Road Warrior, burning in and out of tiny little towns, looking for some family to wipe out (while we cringe in terror in the back). This guy was no different, and as always, they (conveniently) never speak English, so you are forced to sort of “sign” at him while screaming “SLOW THE FUCK DOWN!.” But alas, its all i vain. Say your prayers to Dio, cause its a 50/50 chance this goon will kill you.
Arriving in Trutnov, with shit firmly encrusted in our pants (after Mr. Toad’s wild ride), we drop the goods off at the hotel, and head over to the festival site. I am not sure how the festival was in previous years, but it seemed well organized and well maintained. I heard rumors of filth parades and mud-mess about this place (perhaps following the “freak friendly” notification on the flyer?). However, I would say that by the last night (Saturday), things certainly did get a bit filthy, but for the first two days, it was just hot, smelly and good times. We went right to the backstage bar and ordered three glorious pints of Gambrinus, one of the best beers available, AND fresh on tap. The “backstage” area itself was really this sort of open-air lodge that sat beneath some trees behind the actual main (and only) stage, which was in an outdoor amphitheater setting. The entire festival area was situated in a very forested area, in a park just outside the main town (itself primarily known as an1866 Prussian-Austrian battle ground). Also, the fest has a reputation of being the punkest of all the Euro fests, with nothing but 100% vegan food available, and plenty of low-priced drink and merchandise options. No disappointments!
Despite the excitement, I was severely jet-lagged and struggled to retain consciousness by that evening, so I cashed in by 9PM. However, I awoke early that morning in our hotel room, startled by my fellow bandmate’s very loud and obnoxious re-entry to the room. Needless to say, they had a rough morning. I am not sure what commenced over the course of the night but I went out at 6AM to check out a local park, and I returned to find Mark in my bed, somehow wearing Adam’s pants! I guess that Gambrinus went a long way… Still, we did not have to perform until the following day, so we enjoyed another day at the fest, more amazing bands live, and more good laughs. Highlights over the entire weekend included Doom, Warpath, Victims (see the picture of Adam and Jon in the hotel @ 6 AM), Catheter, and dozens of others.
We finally felt ready to play by Saturday. After sitting around all day, each day, talking, drinking and well…waiting, you eventually just want to get it over with (and that we did). However, Just prior to our performance on Saturday night, the skies opened up and the rain came down in droves. Mud piles formed around a lake in front of the stage, and things got soggy and even smellier for the attendees (if that was even possible). Nevertheless, we let ‘er rip, and had an enjoyable time. Afterward, we tried to cram as much last-minute celebration into the wee hours of the AM as possible, as the damn flight was leaving so early (we had a 5:30 departure that morning to drive to the airport). Sure enough, “death cab” (but no cutie) arrived on time, but at that hour we were much too tired to be scared, and passed out all the way back to Prague, hoping to arrive alive. A short but sweet weekend in Bohemia -mission accomplished! - JN
We are excited to announce that we are doing a handful of shows around Hellfest in June in Europe. Including
June 20: Kassel, GER @ K19 w/ Krisiun June 21: Dokkum, NL @ Dokkum Open Air June 22: Essen, GER @ Turock w/Pig Destroyer June 23: Clisson, FRA @ Hellfest June 24: Toulouse, FRA @ Le Saint des seins June 25: Barcelona, SPA @ Apolo 2 June 26: Luynes, FRA @ Le Korigan June 27: Milan, ITA @ The Factory June 28: Munich, GER @ Backstage June 29: Zurich, SWZ @ Dynamo June 30: TBA @ Germany
March 29th, Surabaya, Indonesia March 30th, Massakar, Indonesia March 31st, Medan, Indonesia April 1st Yogjakarta, Indonesia April 2nd, Jakarta, Indonesia
Comprised of over 17, 000 islands and at 238 million people, it is the fourth most populous country in the world. Flying in low over rice fields and farm houses, our plane poked through gray, drizzling clouds to touch down at the Jakarta (Soekarno-Hatta) International Airport. This is an airport we would fly in (or through) five more times over the next six days. The muggy humidity outside the cabin slammed us immediately, and after a brief stop in immigration and customs we were then cleared for the real battle- Jakarta traffic. In all my travels I have never seen such overbearing, organized chaos as the roads and highways in and around this metropolis of 10 million people. With no subway system, the roads are choked with what seemed hundreds of thousands of cars, motorcycles, and mopeds, all weaving in and out, with no semblance of structure, lanes or oversight. Because of the unrelenting nature of the system, there are people who stand in the road, and accept payments to block traffic, simply so you can enter the flow from the sides. That said, it was stressful anyway you look at it, but for the people, it seemed to work. They never got angry at each other, as cutting people off is just a given here, no harm done.
Later, we arrived in the city at a musical instrument store, where a press conference was held for us. There were about 30-40 journalists and fans shuffling about, and we fielded a few questions, which in turn made us realize just how big our music actually was in this country. The Indonesians are simply fanatical over metal. It’s really quite surreal, as when the following day we flew to the next city, Surabaya, and entered the “venue” we were to play, we were confronted with a hall that could hold roughly 20,000 people. We stood in awe, soundchecked, tweaked the knobs, and went to dinner. Ah, the food…tIme after time, meal after meal, we were treated to tastes and flavors that ignited the senses. The primary sauce, or spice, in Indonesia is called “sambal,” and it comes in varying degrees of heat, sweetness, and salt. The preference for my fire-loving tastebuds is always the heat, so with shrimp, vegetables, or rice, there was forever a delectable choice of options. Food is never boring in Asia, it’s always an adventure. In this regard, Indonesia is at the top, given its vast array of disparate islands and varying cultures that overlapped throughout history, from the Malay, to the Chinese, to the Indians, and the even the Dutch to some degree.
The first show that evening in Surabaya was an eye opener. I stood and gazed at nearly 2000 people in front of the stage, prompting me to wonder what undercurrents of globalization and interconnectivity might allow a grind/death band like us from Maryland, a world away, to become such a presence in the Indonesian scene? It was the same, night after night, over the five concerts, from the outlying city of Makassar on the coffee-rich island of Sulawesi, to the city of Medan on the north side of the island of Sumatra. To visit these cities, thousands of miles separated, and meet and feel the real culture of the islands, was an easy highlight of all the touring in recent years. In Medan, we even got caught in the aftermath of a monsoon rain that flooded parts of the city under nearly two feet of water. In the mess, we were unsure if the concert was going to take place, because we had to drive through numerous, water-choked backroads just to navigate ourselves to the venue. Once there, Mark joked with the crowd “did you guys come here on a boat?!.” (I still wonder how they all managed to get there in that mess…I suppose it is the resilience of a people who are used to adversity).
The last show was the highlight however, mostly because it was in Jakarta. We finally got a good soundsystem and backline, and with it being an outdoor show, the sound was easily the best of the tour (no big rooms bouncing the noise around). Martin (our soundguy we brought with us) worked out the bugs quite fast, and after four nights of dealing with fizzling amps and blown monitors, it was a luxury to get on some nice gear. The show had the energy and anticipation from a crowd I have not seen in the States in years. In the Baltimore and Washington DC area where we come from, you can see a metal show sometimes 2-3 nights a week. Tours are always coming, and you can see your favorite bands sometimes three times in a year. The thrill of a live show is certainly a bit mitigated by the saturation of touring in recent years, and when you get to a place like Indonesia, where the sheer joy and excitement is so palatable you can taste it in the air, its electrifying. The interesting point here (which should not be lost) is that we were also performing a death metal concert in the largest Muslim country in the world, which only highlights the extent to which cultures can thrive under tolerance and openness.
In retrospect, despite the 17 flights in 12 days, it was worth every second. The food, the people, and the ability to see these places where many in the West seldom tread, is a memory of a lifetime. See you all again soon hopefully.
(From Metal Sucks) “Fulgora, the new band featuring Pig Destroyer/Misery Index drummer Adam Jarvis, his cousin John Jarvis (bass), and B.L. LaMew (guitars/vocals), have released their debut two-song EP today, and I’m happy to report that it’s the aural equivalent of realizing that’s cleaning detergent and not cocaine you just snorted.
That would be good news in and of itself, except oh yeah you can download the damn thing for free thanks to Agoraphobic Nosebleed vocalist Jay Randall’s consistently-awesome Grindcore Karaoke label. I’m putting a stream below in case you’re feeling really super-duper precious about hard drive space and wanna sample the release before you DL it, but let me spoil how this ends for you: the music is awesome, you love it, and then you go download it. You can also purchase a limited edition 7″ from Cricket Cemetery Records here.”
Pic From The Vault #7: The Road to Kiev (Ukraine). In the spring of 2007, we decided it was time to get a little adventurous with things. Although it may sound impossible, we simply had experienced one too many predictable jaunts through the Old World, complete with the usual gothic churches, quaint canals, cobblestone squares, and baroque black statuaries. So, after a few go-rounds, the lure of the “old shit” (although beautiful) just did not bring the same attraction. So on July 12 (2007) we headed east out of Prague (after a show with Meshuggah!) to Ukraine. As we raced across the Ukrainian countryside, in all its tranquil, pastoral simplicity, we felt like Lewis and Clark of death metal, dodging one crazy driver after another on one lane roads. At the start, we were hung up at the boxer for a day because of missing paperwork. After that however, we made very good time, and covered the first 100 miles of our 500 mile journey pretty quickly, until we had our first encounter with the “Ukrainian Highway Patrol.” We were abruptly stopped by a fellow in a long, crusty, gray overcoat, who ran out into the road ahead of us, motioning us to pull over. He walked up to the driver’s widow, and motioned for Tomas (our long time driver) to roll it down. In his right hand he held what seemed to be a radar detector, but it more resembled something from a 1950’s science fiction film. Tomas deduced from his motions and limited Russian, that the cop was accusing us of speeding, and he wanted a bribe. So, after some back and forth negotiations we ended up giving him about 10 Euros, and he let us go. This incident was the first of roughly 8 to 10 times we were pulled over that day along the highways between the Slovakian border and Kiev, far off in the middle of the country. As the sun slowly crept across the sky, we trudged closer to Lviv (about the halfway point to Kiev), where we arrived just in time for rush hour, as well as to find out that the highway around the city was under MAJOR construction. The road went from nicely new and paved, down to gravel, and then down to dirt in parts, with no semblance of order or lanes- just chaos and traffic. (At one point later on we encountered a dead guy laying in the road who had just gotten hit while riding a bike!. Along the way, we kept seeing these gigantic, metallic sculpture-structures plunging out of the earth as city-markers, monolithic tributes to socialist glory and memorials to the battles fought against the Germans here in the 2nd World War. Impressive in their permanence, we pulled over every to photograph (and piss) at every chance. By this point we were looking bad to make Kiev in time for the show, which had an early start that would put us on stage at about 8 pm. So, with only 2 to 3 hours remaining to cover the 300 miles to Kiev, we called the promoter to ask if we should even bother trying. Tomas rang him up on his cell, and the guy named acknowledged we would not make the show, yet he urged us to come to Kiev anyway to stay at his house. We debated the logic of that, since we were to play in Lviv the next day anyway, and we were already there. At this point we were getting sick and pissed from the roadblocks, crooked cops, traffic jams, and disastrous road conditions, yet we decided to go to Kiev anyway. In retrospect, I think we just wanted to say we went there, just to see if we could make it. We had a mission and a purpose, and with a place to stay, so we uttered a collective “fuck it” and kept on going. Upon arrival, the guy brought out a bunch of vodka and dried, salted fish for us!
Pic From the Vault #6: Meeting Andy Sneap and Nick Barker in Austria, 2011. In the summer of 2011 we did a number of festivals in Europe, including a few more “mainstream” trips to the prosaically titled “Metalfest” open airs, which were dominated by power metal and other forms friendly to the Euro-metal masses. We were perhaps one of the few (if only?) death-grind bands there, but the real surprise was stumbling around backstage and running into Andy Sneap. Many know him as the producer/engineer genius that put his work into many notable albums of late, but to me he was the guitarist and songwriter for my favorite band in high school - British pagan speed metalers Sabbat. So, running into the almighty Andy Sneap (who was there playing for the old NWOBHM Hell) was fantastic, but to top it off, he was also in the company of one Nick Barker (who was drum teching for Hell). The lyrics of Sabbat (Walkyier’s) were/are my single greatest writing influence, but they would be nothing without the godly riffs of Mr. Sneap, who nicely entertained my fan-boy questions for an eternity. We snapped these pics backstage in Austria, including the one of Sneap shoving a beer in my face (never thought that would happen when I was 16). That said, despite the ‘mainstream’ nature of the fests, the backstage meetings with my ‘heroes’ (if that can be said?) more than made it a great time. -JN
Pic From the Vault #5:Iceland, 2008. On March 27th and 28th of 2008 we played two shows in Reykjavík, Iceland - one all ages and one 18 and up. During the day our buddy there Johan took us around the island, and one day we went all the way to the east side to see the retreating Vatnajökull glacier and along the way, the melting ice and snow was pouring off the cliffs into rivers next to the highway. We saw this one about a mile off the road, and pulled over. Great timing, perfect day, and a rapturous moment all around. Sometimes being in a touring death metal band has its high points, that make up for the many lows that permeate our underground adventures. However, Iceland was a mega-high point for us, thanks again Johan!
Pic From the Vault #4: The 2006 European Tour w/ Fear Factory. We got a random call at the practice space in Baltimore about 4 weeks before the tour was supposed to start, “do you want to be direct support to Fear Factory in Europe for a 7 week tour?” Okay, why not? This pic will be very familar to any band or musician that has toured Europe, as it was taken on the ferry between Helsinki. Finland, and Stockholm, Sweden, on April 3rd, 2006. We played the evening before, and as usual, we marched out the van (parked below in the hull) and walked up, checked out the horrible breakfast (well not that bad, the UK-France ferry is worse), and just pondered how fantastic it was to be in such a situation. These ferries are standard traveling between places like the UK and Ireland, or among the Scandinavian countries, and they can get quite rough sometimes and really throw you around. This pic was taken by our roadie on that tour Petri (who also toured with us a few other times after that), and I always wondered just what Sparky and Adam were looking at….nice shot.
Pic From the Vault #3: The Generation Records In-Store show, June 7th, 2010. Touring as a 3-piece, we ended the month long “Facemelter” tour w/ Dying Fetus by playing a free show for friends at our buddy Farley’s record store in Manhattan, Generation records (on Thompson Street, right around the corner from Washington Square). It was a great way to end the tour, we busted out a half hour set downstairs, and afterwards we hung out at the store until about 3AM. After many good laughs, we went outside to get the van and pack the equipment, only to discover the van was gone. We didn’t know if it was stolen or towed, but we had a pretty good idea since we had about $500 in unpaid parking tickets dating back to 2004. So, the next day, we spent about 5 hours running around NYC trying to find our van, and then we had to pay $975 to get it out of the tow lot. Was it worth it? Yup.
The chronicles of MISERY INDEX (Baltimore, MD, USA)
Season of Mist Records: Gunnar Sauermann (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Booking USA Pantheon Agency (email@example.com) and Europe: Rock the Nation: (firstname.lastname@example.org)