Tour Diary - Netherlands Day 1

DAY 1 – Not So Fresh Princes (15.10.15)

Two nights of broken sleep preceded our first trip to the Netherlands. Long working days and a daughter with a fever made the 2:30am pick-up on Thursday tough. If there’s one thing the last couple of years have taught me - it’s that you can survive and function on very little sleep. I kissed the ladies goodbye and set off to the airport of Manchester.

The guys were surprisingly chipper, fuelled on enthusiasm. Damien provided the first of many laughs, packing his guitar in a soft case even though he has a perfectly good hard case (that's Damo). I told him I hoped it smashed into 400 pieces after recalling his amusement at the snapping of my Thunderbird-bass wing when we’d arrived in Copenhagen (hard cases all the way for me). Arriving with plenty of time to check-in, grab some breakfast and board our ‘easy’ jet, last year’s two Danish tours had prepared us well. I switched myself on ‘flight mode’ and slept until Amsterdam.

We found and met our Tour Manager Jordy in the parking area. A mountain of a man, as most Dutch are – being the country with the world's tallest people, his calm and friendly nature was instantly welcoming on a wet and misty morning. Before our arrival Jordy had sent us a comical yet pertinent list of rules for the tour. As we loaded into the large Mercedes splitter van I might have guessed we’d break a few of them, as well as adding several new ones.

1) Don’t Complain. Bitching, moaning, whining is tour cancer. If something is wrong fix it or shut the fuck up . Goddamn.
2) If you fart, claim it.
3) Don’t Lose shit. Everybody loses shit. Don’t fucking do it.
4) Don’t fuck anyone in the band. There are tons of people to fuck who are not in this band. Dumbass.
5) If you feel like shit all the time, drink less beer at the gig. You will play better & feel better. What are you… a child? Some have the endurance for self abuse. Most don’t.
6) Remember the soundman’s name. He will do a better job.
7) Eat oranges. Cures constipation & prevents colds.
8) Masturbate. Duh… Where & when? Be creative. You’re an artist right?
9) If YOU can’t carry your suitcase 3 blocks, it’s too goddamn big.
10) Respect public space in the van. Don’t clutter, you Fuck
11) If you borrow something, return it. Not Fucked Up.
12) Do not let the promoter dick you or talk you out of the guarantee. If there were not enough people there, it’s their fault. Not yours.
13) Puking after too much drinking is instant rockstar status downgrade. Amateur.
14) One navigator only (usually sitting shotgun). Everyone else shut the fuck up.
15) Soundcheck is for checking sounds. Shut the fuck up while everyone else is checking.
16) Don’t wander off. Let someone know where you are.
17) Clean up after yourself. What are you… a goddamn toddler?
18) Touring makes everyone bi-polar. Ride the waves as best you can and remember, moods pass. So don’t make any snap decisions or declarations when you are drunk or insane.
19) Fast food is Poison.
20) The guestlist is for friends, family & people you might want to fuck. Everyone else can pay. They have day jobs.

Thanks for not being an asshole

Scotty was in his element, finally on the road with the band and not having the responsibility of driving. The excitement was palpable on the way to find what would be our accommodation for the next four nights. Stopping at a ‘Jumbo’ supermarket to stock up on food and drink (mainly beer, of which you get 24 bottle crates for about £10, astonished we bought two), we quickly arrived in Arnhem, a beautiful place. Our base would be a 6-person lodge, complete with shower, kitchen and living area. We were all pleased and even Jordy seemed surprised after previously using the 4-person lodges which are much smaller. Me and Damo (unfortunately - his guitar arrived intact) claimed the larger room, me running the risk of a golden shower from the notorious sleep-pisser (fortunately - he slept like an adult). Bags dumped and food stocked it was straight back to the van and on the road to Breda.

En route Jordy informed us we were required to do two sets of 45 minutes – something we have never done. Having not rehearsed since August I got a slight sinking feeling. We compiled a make-shift set and then got stuck into the beers. Upon arrival at Café Bel Air we were all feeling tired from the long day of travel so the welcome couldn’t have been more appreciated. The venue was nice with a classy looking back room, decorated in red curtains kind of like the Black Lodge from Twin Peaks. A nice long stage and super-friendly staff provided free drinks for the night and a delicious pasta bake which we devoured (bar Johnny, who appears to live off crisps). Not the kind of treatment we are accustomed to in the UK, only sampled briefly in DK – it’s never lost on the SB. The extra bonus for our smokers was, in spite of the ban, the majority of the Netherlands ignores it – so they could smoke inside, which turned out to be all Damo could talk about for the next three hours.

We sound-checked and got the giant sound-guy worried, we were clocking 130 decibels. Scotty is always to blame due to the power with which he abuses those drums – after all, you can’t turn down a drum kit. He was asked to restrain a little and with some amp adjustments we hit 89.5, 0.5 below the required level. Due to the sound restrictions in the area we needed to be finished before 10pm, so the set was reduced to one – relief.

Kal and myself wandered into the town, decked in gothic architecture, seedy looking cafes, cool shops and occult symbology – as most of Europe is. We made our way to a grand toy store. I snapped some Sylvanian Families (for my wife… not my daughter) and Kal tried his hand at the scalextric. We marvelled at a wonderfully crafted train set until Kalum walked into and almost smashed a large glass cabinet prompting us to promptly exit. On our return there was time for a quick blast on the table-football (free as it is everywhere in NL, take note English bars) and got on with rocking the joint (not the weed). This would be the quietest night of the tour but for the folk in attendance certainly had a party. A nice fellow called Hans filmed the set for posterity and then proceeded to project it on the walls. Each song was greeted with a warm reaction and post-show we signed a CDs and enjoyed conversing with the locals who insisted on our return - "short but powerful" the sound guy described us. Following more free beers and chats we packed up and headed for Arnhem.

The first rule we added to Jordy’s list arrived – “If you are going to sleep – call it!”. This has been a Senton rule for years but Damo continues to break it, always resulting in some fine Class artwork upon his angular boat-race. Kal was eager for more but I insisted that ‘less is more’ and I was right, the staff at the services were in hysterics, as were most of the customers at the sight of our gangling knob-head.

Back at the lodge we were in good spirits and ready for some much needed sleep. I made a start on my book(King of Thorns) then called it a 'long' day. If only the next night could have ended in this relaxing fashion, oh regret, regret - my least favourite feeling...

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