By Jake “Haggis” Wiffen
Sunday, September 13th – Pratteln
This venue has had them all: Dio, Helloween, Overkill, Rose Tattoo and just about every band any f*cking metal head worth his salt would love to see.
The crowd tonight are revved up. Switzerland is always good to us. We have played this country every tour since 2011 so it’s good to see a few DCR shirts in the audience.
This far into the tour we have each other figured out. We know who likes to joke around, who likes to get a few quiet beers in and who likes to sit up until it’s all foam and empty tin cans. We have all started to push the bar.
The shows have all reached the next level and each member has found their groove. Now the only thing to do is to find new ground, something else to push and to test one’s own boundaries. Members of the audience seem to have gotten the extra planetary message; hash is the password if you want to stick around after the show.
There’s a chain gang rolling and another chain gang cracking beer tops. Words are secondary now. The right hand gesture gets you where u need to be. A nod of the head shows your down for it. This circus is spinning and churning, perhaps a little off axis but all together as one entity.
Monday, September 14th – Milan
Have you seen HBO’s ‘The Walking Dead’? That’s where I am. Some sort of government conspiracy gone wrong. I have been told that Milan is the fashion capital of the world. Well, I find myself in a cold concrete hall called LoFi. They hit the f*cking nail on the head there. I’m flanked by rotting ex government buildings, abandoned and surrounded by barbed wire. I’m cut off by eight train lines, like steel veins pumping commuters to distant lives. No fashion in sight, luckily the venue owner has fresh coffee on the go and my request for half coffee half scotch does not go unanswered.
Feeling my sea legs leave me, Cam and I decide to take a look at this wasteland and at the same time try to film an interview with Blanchy. Oh yeah, I didn’t mention that. GoPro have sent us a box of cameras to film this tour for a short documentary on what its like to be on tour, well, what its like to be on tour with Dead City Ruins.
After surveying our surroundings we throw ourselves at another show, celebrate another win over some Italian lagers and board the bus for the huge drive to Austria.
I literally woke myself up around 6:45am shouting, “f*ck!” My brain has vacated my body, probably off to get a real job and its parting gift sadly, is a bucket of sand poured unceremoniously into my mouth. I stumbled down the stairs and into the main lounge, plugged the coffee machine into my veins then pulled back the curtain to the driver’s section and was gob smacked. Dead City Ruins has done this drive in the Blue Bastard uncountable times, usually with a belly full of energy drinks and in the early morning or late night just trying to get to the next show. Now I find myself leaning against a 6ft plate of glass that makes up the driver’s door, staring at the Alps towering above my head, glacial aquamarine lakes whizzing by and I finally realise the beauty of this magical drive.
We arrive and load the gear down what seems like the steps of the pyramids. I’m in Vienna, a strange place to find myself having a beer with an Afghani bloke and his gorgeous Indian lady friend, even stranger when this guy starts to sing a beautiful folk song in his native tongue. I tip my hat, skull my beer and head back to the venue.
It’s an early bus call so I drink up and head to the bus. On my way out of the venue a stranger hands me a fistful of pre-rolled joints and tells me not to take them across the boarder. F*cker. I dish ‘em out to the crew and sink into some reserve beers I have squirreled away in my bunk.
Wednesday, September 16th – Munich
I woke up lost and confused. In fact, I am so horribly disorientated. I sheepishly ask the tour manager if she could inform me as to where the hell we are. Laughing and shaking her head she says, “Munich ya bloody Dingo” replacing her native English accent with a twangy Aussie one. F*ck me, Munich already.
The lads from GoPro turn up, so I take them on a tour through the bus and Cam shows them all the footage we have collected so far. Luckily they are stoked on it so we crack a few beers before the show.
I almost tore me head off during the show when I jumped on the bar, not realising it was far too small a space from bar top to bar roof. Undeterred, I crawl along the bar top spilling drinks and screaming in people’s faces. They get it. They know where I’m coming from and some lady slips a beer into my hand. I quickly down it between verses and she smiles as if to say, “you c*nt, I wanted that back”.
After the show some Polish girl won’t go home. She seems to think that by talking like Borat and being abusive to everyone, we will all think she is cool. Berg shuts her down hard and we all enjoy the awkward silence. I find myself having a conversation with a cup of neat scotch while Blanchy, Tommy and Martin (the bass player from Dead Lord) crank folk song after folk song discussing, in length, the greatness of the genre.
Thursday, September 17th – Stuttgart
The show encompasses us. This venue is like a sweaty tomb. A second glance brings me to the realisation that this is Stuttgart’s answer to Melbourne’s infamous Cherry Bar. The 1970s peep booth red velour backdrop, the floors that are more beer and lost truckie dust than carpet, the sunken stale wooden dance floor. The only thing missing here is Slug, D.J Mermaid and a constantly occupied disabled dunnie. This place goes off. The venue owner hands me a bottle of whiskey, which I add to the four bottles of rum Cam and I purchased earlier and safely stash them out of view, in my bunk on the bus. After the show I feel safe enough to crack a bottle of the Captain’s not so secret recipe. Stupidly, I inhale it like air and the night rolls into a blur of high fives, merch sales and a sloppy load out.
Friday, September 18th – Oberhausen
Woke up drunk and still clutching an empty bottle of Captain Morgan’s. That cheeky pirate f*cker still laughing at me from the night before. The bus coffee machine is on the blink, so I hit it to Maccas for some dead black coffee water. F*ck I would kill someone for a real espresso right now.
I realise the venue is already open so I head down to take a look at the stage. The last stage Dead City Ruins will take on this tour. F*ck me, is it really over? Did we really just play 17 shows with 2 days off? Hell I’m still waiting to wake up on the floor in some f*cking Formula 1 Motel with Tommy clutching my waist dressed only in his Y fronts snoring in my ear. This tour has exceeded all of our expectations, the shows, the venues, the bus and especially the other bands.
This venue holds a 600 capacity, a fitting way to end this tour.
\We blast through the set and all convene at the merch desk, our stocks are heavily depleted. We sold out of CDs two shows ago and there is bugger all shirts left. Tonight we are pushing what vinyls we have left.
I crack the bottle of whiskey given to us in Stuttgart and we all drink deeply. Not a word is said. We don’t need to say anything. Every one of us knows he’s done his job and now its time to sit back and enjoy the night.
Load out time. Back stage I find someone pissing into empty water bottles. The toilet door is fused shut and all I can hear is a girl moaning and the faint sound of flesh slapping flesh. I come back 15 minutes later to find a girl with a sheepish look on her face being ejected by the bouncer and one of our lads stumbling sideways with a smile 10 feet wide. Oh, it’s been a good tour.
Saturday, September 19th – Wiesau Storm Crusher Festival
It’s a bittersweet day. The tour for us is all but over. We each get to hang out at this metal festival, drink beers and watch our new Scandinavian brothers from Audrey Horne and Dead Lord own the stage one more time. I dive into my remaining rum and seek out some bratwurst. The day quickly turns the right corner when some bloke at the back stage bar looks at me sideways and asks, in a thick Aussie accent, “where ya from mate?”, to which I reply, “Wollongong originally, been in Melbourne the last 7 years though”. Turns out this lout is from Adelaide, been holed up in London for 15 years, wouldn’t know it by his accent though. “Come back to our dressing room,” states this champion. No twisted arms needed as myself and Tommy cut a path behind this bloke.
There’s more vodka than a Russian can poke a dumpling at so we get stuck right in. The room is all sorts of strange. There’s a South American, an Irish man, this Aussie bloke, a Portuguese fella and these lads are passing around an old Vicks inhaler full of liquid speed. I lean heavily on the vodka and almost piss myself laughing at the conversation, only leaving the table to see the sets of both Audrey Horne and Dead Lord.
The night blurs into a mix of laughter, metal and mayhem.
Sunday, September 20th – Berlin/Tour ends
I woke up fully clothed, bullet belt and boots still on, half in and half out of bed. It’s 6:30 am and we are pulling up to Berlin Schonefeld airport to drop off the lads from Scandinavia.
Apart from everyone trying to piece together how the f*ck we all made it back on the bus after last nights dance with the Devil, there is an overwhelming sadness. For the Scandinavians it’s back to real life, back to their homes, jobs and wives. As for Dead City Ruins, it’s back to the Blue Bastard. It’s a full 2 months until we leave Europe for Australia. We have more shows to play in Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and a climactic spot on this years Hard Rock Hell festival in Wales, alongside some of our heroes such as Helloween, Saxon, U.F.O and even our good mates from back home King of the North.
AC/DC said “it’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock ‘n’ roll”. Well, it’s taken Dead City Ruins five years of heavy touring to get here. Consider yourself warned.